10 Things to Consider When Buying a Humidifier

Whether you’re in the market for a humidifier, there are essential elements to consider. You need to do your research because it can be confusing to choose between the many models available.

In this article we look at 10 important considerations to help you disperse the mist of confusion and arrive at the right choice.

Available Humidification Types

First things first: we need to talk about the different types of humidification available to you. These types include:

Cool mist– These humidifiers have no heating element and rely on a wick to diffuse the mist into the atmosphere. They are best used in environments where the water is hard, as they are less likely to malfunction as a result of mineral deposits.

Asthma and emphysema sufferers report that cool mist humidification works best for them to help them breathe more easily.

  • Safe to use
  • Better in hard water areas
  • Better for people living with asthma
  • Uses minimal energy
  • The fan can be noisy
  • Doesn’t heat the vapor

Warm mist – Warm mist humidifiers work better in soft water areas or with use of demineralized water in the humidifier reservoir. They have a heating element that warms the water almost to a boiling point, which then gets dispersed as a vapor into the atmosphere.

Warm mist humidifiers negate the need for a fan, which makes them among the quietest humidifiers available.

Warm mist humidification is particularly effective at killing bacteria and allergens that could cause allergic reactions. Many warm mist humidifiers also have aromatherapy benefits as many come equipped with medicine or scent compartments that enable you to diffuse herbal and medicinal oils.

  • Better is soft water areas
  • Warms the room temperature
  • Extremely quiet
  • Aromatherapy benefits
  • Uses energy to heat the water
  • Dangerous because of hot water

Ultrasonic – These humidifiers utilize vibrating sound waves to diffuse the moisture as a fine mist. Because they are ultrasonic, they are the quietest humidifiers available, which makes them ideal candidates to use overnight in the bedroom.

They are prone to coating your furniture in a white powdery residue, though, especially if you live in a hard mineral water area, so it is advisable to use distilled or demineralized water in the tank. In addition, ultrasonic humidifiers are cool mist varieties as they have no heating element.

  • Use very little energy
  • Safe to use
  • Virtually silent
  • Great for bedrooms
  • Not suitable for hard water areas
  • Leaves a white residue
  • Doesn’t heat the vapor


While both types of humidifier are equally as efficient at humidifying your space, where you live is nevertheless crucial to deciding what type of humidifier you should choose. We’ve already touched on the kind of water you might have in your area, but what about the climate?

If you live in a colder environment, it is recommended that you look at warm mist humidifiers because the heating element helps to emit warm vapor which lifts the temperature of the room to make you feel more comfortable. You could also save money on your heating bills. In warmer climates, you might want to consider the cool mist variety because it helps to reduce the ambient temperature of the room. These varieties are also recommended for bedrooms, where colder air is often preferred to warm.


Warm mist and ultrasonic humidifiers are by far the quietest varieties, as they have no fan to blow the vapor into the atmosphere. The fan is responsible for the noise that humidifiers make, depending on the speed you choose. On a low setting, the fan can be whisper quiet; on high, it could be loud enough to disturb your sleep.

You should ask how quiet the humidifier is before buying, and if possible, see it in action. Humidifiers in bedrooms have to be extremely quiet which is why units fitted with fans are often overlooked.  Warm mist humidifiers may make some sounds as the water heats, but not so much that it should disturb or distract you from what you are doing. If you are worried about the fan noise when running at night, select a humidifier that has a silent feature, one with an operating noise of less than 30dB, or an ultrasonic model that is virtually silent.


Modern humidifiers, be they warm, cool, or ultrasonic, come with many smart features. Not all of these features are useful, but there are a few that are vital in our opinion.

Auto shut-off – To avoid the risk of the humidifier breaking down, consider a model that has this feature. Often, the water reservoir will need refilling every 2 to 3 days, so unless you keep checking the water levels, having an auto shut-off preserves the humidifier from burning out.

Humidistat – Not all humidifiers have this feature, but it is crucial to maintaining a healthy moisture level in your home. Also, look for a humidistat that turns the machine off when the desired humidity level gets reached.

Water tank indicator – Again, as the tank drains, look for a humidifier that tells you when to refill the reservoir.

Filter indicator – Many humidifiers clean the air, and the filter is vital to this action. If the filter becomes clogged with pollutants, they will end up being spread back into the air you breathe, so knowing when the filter needs either changing or cleaning is important.

Features Things to Consider When Buying a Humidifier


When doing your research, ask what the maximum coverage capacity is, as this will determine if it can service your room. Most medium-priced humidifiers can handle rooms roughly 200 to 500 square feet, but some of the more expensive models can easily double or triple that figure. In addition, asking the question about mist output will tell you how capable each unit is, because the higher the output the faster your spaces reach the correct humidity.

If you do want a unit with high capacity, perhaps you should consider a whole-house humidifier, as this will cater for everyone and it means never spending money on another humidifier again.

Water Tank Size

This ties in nicely with the previous consideration about capacity, as the size of the water tank will determine how often you have to fill it. Most humidifiers have a 2 to 3-day capacity when operating on the lowest setting. Some will only last a matter of hours, though, which can be frustrating especially if you want to leave it running all night.

While we’re on the subject of water tanks, make sure that it is easy to remove and refill. Most humidifiers are notoriously messy when it comes to filling and fitting the water reservoir, with spills commonplace.

Ease of Cleaning

Keeping on top of the maintenance of your humidifier is crucial if you want to avoid harmful bacteria entering your home environment, but some humidifiers have quirky shapes and hard to reach places. You only have to read the reviews on Amazon to see how many people complain that, as hard as they tried, they couldn’t get their humidifier clean or the water tank was too narrow at the entrance for them to reach inside.

This is especially true of the table-top, tear shaped humidifiers that are aesthetically pleasing but present cleaning difficulties because of their design. So, do your research, consider the shape, and read the reviews on Amazon to get an accurate picture.


It is also important to think about where and for whom this humidifier will operate because that might affect which one you choose. If you want to place it in a child’s room, for example, then you should select a cool mist variety as they are completely safe and don’t introduce the risk of scalding accidents with hot water. It is equally important that you choose a cool mist humidifier if you are placing it in an elderly relatives room, for the same reasons.

Some popular brands also have interchangeable night light settings to soothe your child to sleep. Other humidifiers, though, have power light indicators that act like a bright beacon in a dark room, so if you are a light sleeper, either place the unit somewhere where you won’t be disturbed by the light, or choose a humidifier that has a feature that lets you turn it off.

Usage Environment Things to Consider When Buying a Humidifier

Aromatherapy Options

The soothing qualities of aromatherapy oils are becoming more of a feature in many humidifier brands in the form of essential oils trays and options to include medicinal additives. Many people like this feature as it means they can humidify and scent their rooms while attending to ailments like colds and flus with medicinal additives like lemon oils, tea tree, and menthol. The results are two-fold, as the vapor can relieve sinuses while the essential oils open airways to make it easier to breathe. In addition, aromatherapy oils have been proven to lower stress levels, ease depression, and aid mental wellbeing.


A decent humidifier will set you back between $30 to $300, but if you have the funds, the sky’s the limit when it comes to price. If you only want a small unit to humidify a specific space in the home, then you should look at the lower end of the budget, because some great little models are adequate for the task. If you want a bells-and-whistles model, then look at the capacity, because you could stretch to a whole-house humidifier and save some money in the long run. You may also want to consider installing a furnace humidifier to really impact your indoor air? If so, you are going to need to budget big, because these whole-house humidifiers aren’t cheap.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right humidifier is an involved process that should be researched carefully. Ultimately the decision is yours alone, but by considering these aspects highlighted in this article we feel confident that you’ll be able to choose wisely.

Further Reading