Illustration of a humidifier

When you crank up your heat in the winter, the humidity level inside your home can quickly drop from pleasant to parched. Large humidifiers, which generate enough moist air to cover spaces between 500 and 1,000 square feet, can help keep spacious rooms from feeling like a desert. Plus, models with large water tanks run longer on fewer refills than smaller sizes—but they can be pricey: Some large humidifiers in our ratings cost around $200. Do you really need to pay that much to humidify a big room? To find out, we compared a $140 Rowenta model with a Honeywell competitor for $70.

Comparing the Rowenta and Honeywell Humidifiers

The cheaper Honeywell has a lot to offer. It provided a lot of moisture in large rooms in our tests, earning an Excellent rating and outperforming the Rowenta, which earns only a Good rating. It also has a 73-inch-long power cord—about a foot longer than the Rowenta’s cord, making it easy to position the humidifier where you need it.

Our convenience test found that the Honeywell is easy to clean (something you should do at least weekly, if not daily, regardless of model), but keep in mind that it’s evaporative, meaning its fan blows cool air over a wet “wick” or filter to produce the moisture. The wick costs about $6.50 and should be replaced after about three months of use, or when it becomes crusty or brittle. The Rowenta, on the other hand, is ultrasonic, using vibrations to produce mist, and doesn’t require a wick.

More on Humidifiers & Indoor Air

The Rowenta has a few extras for its higher price, including both cool and warm misting; the Honeywell offers only cool. This cool mist can help with swelling in your nasal passages when you have a cold, though people without a cold may prefer the comfort of a warm mist in winter. And the Rowenta has a humidistat, which shuts off the unit when the room reaches a chosen humidity level. (In colder climates, the humidity should range from 30 to 40 percent to prevent window conden­sation.) It can also handle hard tap water better and is slightly quieter, which may be best if you’ll use it in or near a bedroom.

Still, the Honeywell may be the better value for budget-savvy consumers.

Consumer Reports has tested dozens of humidifiers. For more options, see our complete humidifier ratings.

Quick Take

Honeywell HCM-350

Price: $70

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Quick Take

Rowenta HU5230U

Price: $140

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Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the January 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.