It is a well-known fact that humidifiers are able to deal with several uncomfortable body conditions like chapped lips and dry skin, as well as reducing drastically, the tendency of contacting the flu in the cold seasons.
However, it’s not a product designed to be a solution directly but instead attacks the cause of the problem, which in this case is a low level of humidity. Since most of these conditions can be attributed to low moisture in the air, humidifiers raise moisture levels, and very few types do it as well as the best whole house furnace humidifier.
Whole-house humidifiers have an enormous capacity of mist generation, as well as how much space they can cover, therefore are more preferred in substantial houses. There are, however, portable whole-house humidifiers that really comes close to matching the quality of furnace whole-house humidifiers.
This review focuses on different types of whole-house humidifiers, and a pick by us on the best one for you in 2020. Let’s get down to business.
Are steam humidifiers worth it?
Steam humidifiers are able to create an impressive amount of moisture. Hence they are much suited for raising humidity levels. They are also able to cover large spaces, and some have extra features like automatic humidity control that gives the user smooth service with minimal stress.
Setting the record straight, this device is sure to rid the air of low humidity; as a result, keeping away contaminants and infections in the process, leaving you healthy and completely free from potential harm.
How does steam humidifiers works?
The work process of steam humidifiers isn’t so much different from that of a regular portable humidifier, as there are only just a few modifications made to the steam model to get it to do what it does.
Most steam humidifiers possess a humidistat or something commonly called automatic humidifier control, which works in a way very similar to the thermostat. It instead measures humidity rather than temperature, and as soon as it senses the moisture level in the atmosphere dropping very low (below a certain preset point), it signals the humidifier to come into service.
The humidifier itself and the automatic control are sometimes apart or in the same confinement depending on the manufacturer’s design. But as soon as the humidifier receives the signal from the control, it starts its process of heating water channeled to it, till it becomes vapor, which is then released into the furnace air that helps distribute it around the home.
Whole-house humidifier steam vs. evaporative
The working principle of steam type humidifiers has already been made pretty clear, as they use some sort of heating mechanism to boil water till vapor and inject it into the air stream. Air going through the duct carries this moisture till it is released into the atmosphere of the home, at its destination. They are most costly to purchase, install, and maintain.
The evaporative humidifier, on the other hand, makes use of an evaporative pad that works by blowing warm air (most times gotten from the furnace system) over the pad that has water trickling down it.
Evaporation occurs as a result of this, and the moisture is added back to the air stream of the furnace, carrying it all the way till it is released into the home. They come at a relatively lower price to the evaporative type, both in initial cost, as well as installation and maintenance.
Top 5 best whole house steam humidifiers
Special features: Electrode steam humidifier, item weight; 13 pounds, product dimensions; 21 x 8 x 10 inches,
This is a very portable device from the ranks of humidifier giants Honeywell and is specially crafted to an end. It is as a result of portability that the device is able to be either mounted on a wall, then channeled to the duct, or simply mounted on the duct directly. Not much fancy is given to its looks, which is expected, as it is preferably made small enough to not take up much space and aid easier installation for users.
Being an electrode steam humidifier, it makes use of electrode canisters, wherein it generates a flow of electrons in order to heat up water.
The technology makes use of the water’s conductivity to heat up water, hence the more conductivity the water possesses, the more steam would be generated, and it is for this reason that the device is very tapped water friendly. Do also know that the canisters would have to be replaced at the end of every season.
The humidifier is also made to serve extra-large houses and comes with a humidistat, whereby the user is able to select a precise humidity level which the device is supposed to work with reference to and maintain. The cylinder of this device (where humidification process takes place), has also been pre-mineralized, which helps to raise the conductivity of any water that gets in and hence helping the device start-up or shut down more quickly.
When it comes to power consumption, though using this humidifier is sure to cause an increase in monthly energy bills, it is very little, as compared to some other energy-inefficient devices. The canisters are, however, expensive, costing about $65 dollars for each, and since it needs to be replaced every season, we conclude the unit has a high running cost. It requires zero maintenance and is easy to install due to size, quickly done by a single person.
Special features: electrode technology humidifier, product dimensions; 10.125 x 20.875 x 7.125 inches, item weight; 27.2 pounds
The Aprilaire 800 whole house model humidifier is a pretty popular device in the market for house humidification today, and it is not for no reason.
This device boasts an impressive mist production rate of up to 32 gallons per day (depending on power and atmospheric conditions) and is designed to be compact enough for easy installation in the home because, really, trust us when we say you wouldn’t need a professional for this. In about 3 hours, you would be done.
The humidifier also employs the electrode technology, taking advantage of impurities in the water used by inserting two electrodes housed in canisters, passing a current through to heat the water to steam. This process is what is responsible for its impressive mist generation rate, and also its suitability to extra-large sized houses.
Becoming more precise about its service capacity, the device is able to cover areas of up to a jaw-breaking 6,200sqft, which is basically almost all modern homes you could find around today. Another benefit of using this device is that it requires virtually zero maintenance. The canisters need to be replaced at the end of every season only, without cleaning or scrubbing or other maintenance stress.
The product can also be used without either an automatic or manual control. The manual control is what it is, and requires your constant input and monitoring. In the automatic mode, the device functions by itself, shuffling between startups and shutdowns in order to maintain a set humidity level chosen by its user by reason of a humidistat.
Special features: digital steam warm mist humidifier, soft-touch control, anti-mineral pad, aromatherapy, sleep mode, econ mode, cleaning mode, product dimension; 14 x 9.5 x 13.2 inches, item weight; 10 pounds, digital LED display,
This device takes an entirely different turn to the ones reviewed so far, and is more of a standalone portable device, compared to the other wall or duct mounted types reviewed so far. It has minimal dimensions and comes with its own built-in water tank, as well as having a digital display screen for showing atmospheric humidity levels. The control buttons are positioned at the front side, as well as very easy to operate due to being touch-sensitive.
It is an evaporative type digital humidifier, therefore applying the same principle of heating water till boiling point and eventually vapor, before releasing it into the atmosphere. This is done, however, through the presence of a heating element, though it has a unique design that helps it release cool mist instead of burning hot, which makes it very suitable for all living areas, including with kids around.
With an anti-mineral pad, be sure to receive clean mist only without any form of white dust, and it also has a special mode called auto-cleaning.
In this mode, the device automatically tries to rid itself of contaminants and particles that have accumulated over time, saving the users the stress of washing and scrubbing, and only leaving refilling job behind. It is ideal for houses of medium sizes of up to 860sqft, as it cannot quite match the capacity of the steam whole-house humidifiers.
Lastly, this product also comes with the auto mode and timer for more comfortable use. The auto mode means it can function on its own, balancing humidity automatically, while the timer allows one to set the duration for which it would function.
It, however, also comes with a special econ mode, wherein it is to choose the optimal mist output level for further control of the humidification process. Essential oils can be used with this device, and it also possesses a refill indicator that glows as soon as the water in the tank runs out.
Special features: whole house fan-powered humidifier, product dimensions; 15.9 x 18 x 10.3 inches, item weight; 15.5 pounds,
This is a preceding model to the 700 humidifiers, and though they have a very similar model of operation, this one has a fan that plays a significant role in the humidification process. The device is smaller in size, as well as portable compared to the 800 model, and comes with the humidifier and automatic control separately. it however requires a preinstalled HVAC system and needs to be mounted on its duct.
This product is a fan-powered whole house humidifier. The fan is of functional capacity and very effective in drawing in hot air, which is gotten from the furnace duct. This hot air is what comes in contact with water already collected in the humidifier through the water panel, therefore heating it up till evaporation, after which both vapor and the air is released back into the dust and eventually, the atmosphere. It has a good mist generating rate and is able to push out up to 18 gallons in total per day.
The device is suitable for large-sized rooms of up to 4,200sqft capacity, and due to its size and portability, it is quite easy to install. From experience, we would say that installations can be done by a single person with DIY ease, and takes about 3 to 4 hours depending on your professionalism. It is very efficient in the use of water, turning off water intake as soon as a holding cup at the bottom gets filled up, unlike many other devices that keeps the water running until it is turned off.
There also exists an automatic humidity control, which basically contains two sensors that monitor outdoor temperature, as well as the moisture level in the environment. With these two parameters, it is able to regulate itself, keeping humidity not too high or allowing it to drop too low in the home.
Special features: whole house humidifier, blower switch, product dimensions; 15.4 x 15.8 x 10.3 inches.
This humidifier bears many similarities with the 700 model, both in size and performance. Being a little smaller, the product is able to produce mist just a little above the capacity of the Aprilaire 700 model. It is also fan-powered, and very easy to install, even with little or no experience, while the humidifier itself and its automatic control are separate.
The technology of the fan-powered humidifier enables it to draw hot air from the furnace into itself. The water inlet is channeled through a water tray and flows down to the drum by reason of gravity, where it then comes in contact with hot air pulled in by the fan, from the furnace. Both coming together is caused evaporation of water into vapor, which is released into the environment of the house.
Being built for large spaces, this device is able to serve up to 4000sqft houses (a little below the Aprilaire 700 model), doing an excellent job in ensuring moisture never falls to an unsafe level. Its operation is also backed up by the possession of automatic control, which is responsible for running the device automatically, by sensing humidity in the environment and regulating its rate of mist control to either compensate when low or shutoff when high.
Due to its small size, this device can be easily installed with little or no help in about 4 hours tops if you are right, and also needs occasional maintenance of cleaning. With time, the water panel would have to be replaced, though you don’t always have to go check physically, as the automatic control has an indicator that signals when it is time. it also has a blower activation switch for setting the humidifier to run continuously or only when the furnace runs.
Special features: Aromatherapy, 2-gallon water capacity, cool, warm and hot mist option, touch controls, product dimensions; 10.3 x 12.1 x 13.7 inches, item weight; 6.5 pounds.
This Vornado A2 humidifier is another standalone humidifier on our list; hence it doesn’t work like the wall or duct mountable type but is rather placed in any suitable area of the house.
It has a pretty cool design, looking like a bag pack with two tanks of 1-gallon capacity each, attached to the actual humidifier unit. This makes a total of two gallons. The control panel is stationed on the humidifier and is quite direct to use, being also touch-sensitive for easy control.
Being a steam type humidifier, this product generates very clean mist and is also able to condition it into either the cool, warm, or hot mist. It heats water collected from the tank during the humidification process, till it becomes vapor, and release it in a case of the user choosing a hot steam option.
For warm steam, the device brings together air and the mist, effectively cooling it a bit before releasing it, and in the case of cool mist, it drops the temperature to a cool range.
With the presence of an aromatherapy chamber, the device is able to accommodate essential oil, releasing sweet smell alongside mist into the atmosphere for those who would prefer theirs to work that way. The device can also be set to work with a timer, which allows for setting the work duration of the unit, after which it turns off.
The tanks are pretty handy and really easy to refill much to the gladness of users, though the device comes with a low water level indicator to alert the user when water gets low. With the auto mode, you can simply allow the unit to maintain humidity by itself, as it both senses and regulates its mist output to match. it is, however, suitable for medium-sized rooms, and should be used with distilled water only to avoid white dust problems.
Features to consider in choosing whole house steam humidifiers
The capacity of a humidifier is always an important feature to consider, and since we are dealing with whole-house products here, its importance just got to a whole new level. Humidifiers’ capacity should be equated to performance if used in the intended area before the purchase is made. This is necessary planning and helps you avoid money-wasting and the regrets that come with it.
- Installing time and cost:
Many whole-house humidifiers need to be installed on an already existing HVAC system for it to function, which is sure to require the hire of technical expertise or a whole lot of study and trial/ error, should you choose to do it yourself.
if you intend to install it yourself, then the only lookout for products with less complicated installation procedures, precisely ones with a DIY manual, and also consider the amount of time it would take to get it up and runny.
When high on budget and have the intention of getting someone to do the job for you, it is crucial you consider the extra cost it would take to both purchase fittings (if any), as well as payment for technical expertise.
- Cost of purchase:
This is simply about the initial purchase cost, which is money parted with, to get the product off the market and into your home. It is essential to look upon the cost of products, in order to get the best value for money, as well as stay within your pocket finance.
Depending on the type of whole house humidifier, it would surely need maintenance at some point or the other. This covers both the cost of parts to be replaced and how quickly, as well as the actual cleaning job. Having a unit that would require less maintenance is sure to give more ease and convenience while using.
- Running cost:
The running cost of the humidifier is majorly in the amount of energy it consumes to get the job done. Depending on the device, it could be high or low, and the higher it is, the more increment on energy bills come month-end, while the lower it is, the lesser the energy bills. It is a good thing that there are many energy star rated devices today, which comes with all of the effectiveness while being every bit efficient in energy management.
Whole house steam humidifier pros and cons
The several benefits and downsides to purchasing a whole house humidifier are;
What we like
- Automatic humidity control:
one of the main strongholds of a whole-house humidifier is that they maintain humidity automatically, leaving you with nothing to do but sit back, relax, and enjoy.
- Less maintenance frequency:
Most portable humidifiers requires some sort of cleaning frequently, as well as filter replacements every 4 to 6 months depending on the device, but not whole-house products. They only requite maintenance once a season, which is most times either changing the water tray or replacing the canisters.
- No stress of refill:
water is channeled directly to the humidifier from a running source, hence eliminating the need to refill, ever.
- High capacity:
The mist generating capacity of whole-house humidifiers are far ahead of their equivalent portable rivals.
- Very suited to large areas:
Installing a single whole house product in a home is most times more than enough to cater for the area, as opposed to purchasing several portable units, and placing in strategic areas of the home.
- Clean mist generation:
Both evaporative and steam type humidifiers generates the cleanest of mists, with zero white dust problem. This is due to their heating water process till boiling point, which kills all forms of germs, before being released as moisture to the air.
What we dislike
- They are Expensive:
The cost of an average whole house humidifier is way more than that of a portable one in the same grade. Be ready to part with two times what you would for a regular humidifier
- Mold problems:
Although we earlier stated that this humidifier type is easy to maintain (and yes it is), one would have to observe the HVAC system, regular cleaning to avoid mold and mildew problems. Though the device itself is easy to maintain, moisture could accumulate in the ducts over time, causing problems.
- Requires preinstalled HVAC:
Before even considering the purchase of a whole-house humidifier, one must have factored into the budget the cost of a sound HVAC system if you don’t have one.
- Expensive replacement parts:
The parts that need to be changed every season, like the canister or water tray are quite pricy, compared to the filters of portable products
- Installation (Neutral):
Although some whole-house humidifiers are pretty easy to install, and can be simply done by yourself with little or no professional experience, other models are quite different. There are those that require professional hires to be installed due to how complex they are. As a result of this contrast, the installation of a product could either be a pro or a con depending on the unit in question.
Summary: Whole house steam humidifier reviews
The Honeywell HM750A is our top pick on the best whole house steam humidifier. This is because of its design and performance (and a 5-year warranty), which efficiently blends everything required to have a perfect whole house product, in equal proportion.
It is able to serve extra-large size houses, with the option of being wall or duct mounted and effortless installation at that, while only adding next to nothing on electric bills at the end of the month. There is also the advantage of a very high mist generation rate, as well as the presence of pre-mineralized cylinders for doping the water, yielding better conductivity.
Make no mistake; the Aprilaire 800 is also the right choice of device in this humidifier category. Backed up by a 5-year warranty, the device is very much suited to large houses and can generate enough of mist to go around conveniently. It is pretty easy to install, and the presence of a humidistat allows users to choose a specific humidity level for it to work with.
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