House & Beyond is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
As the cold winter months settle in, you may notice that it’s a bit harder to breathe and your skin is starting to crack. The unpleasant side effects of dry air are an unfortunate part of winter, but they don’t have to be. Investing in the best steam humidifier can add much needed moisture to your home and leave you feeling much more comfortable.
There are two types of steam humidifiers: room models and whole house ones. While room models can produce enough vaporized air to cover a bedroom or a living room, whole house humidifiers tap into your existing heating system to direct humid air into your whole home. We have rounded up the five best steam humidifiers, including different models of each type. Our reviews focus on important features such as tank capacity and coverage area. This will allow you to find the best warm steam humidifier that will sufficiently meet your needs.
In order to find the five best steam humidifiers, we scoured through manufacturer information, online reviews, and our own observations. This article begins with a handy comparison table that highlights the five products. These are then looked at in more detail and include all their features, pros, and cons. Finally, there is a buying guide that gives specific information about steam humidifiers and answers any lingering questions you may have. Armed with all these, we want to make your purchase of a steam humidifier as easy as possible.
The best BONECO digital steam humidifier not only works well but it also looks really sophisticated. It is housed in an elegant rectangular design and can fit on both shelves and the floor, making it very versatile.
The BONECO Steam Humidifier S450 has a large water tank of 13.25 liters which results in a continuous mist time of 24 hours. This means that you only have to remember to fill the water tank once a day, which can quickly become a part of your daily routine. The coverage area is 860 square feet, which is perfect for a small apartment or open concept living room.
As for cleanliness, a bonus feature includes the production of bacteria-free steam. If you have allergies or suffer from asthma, you will want your air to be as clean as possible, and the BONECO Steam Humidifier S450 is the ideal choice in that case. For maintenance, there is an easy-to-use cleaning function and you don’t have to remember when you last cleaned the machine.
One final bonus with the BONECO Steam Humidifier S450 is the fact that it can also work with essential oils. This means you don’t have to purchase a separate appliance, which will safe you both space and money.
Whether you live in a dry climate year round, or just can’t stand the intense dryness that winter brings, installing a whole house steam humidifier is a great idea. Not only is the Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier convenient and easy-to-use, but after its initial installation, you don’t even have to remember about it, just let it do its work for you.
Included in the purchase is the humidifier itself as well as an installation kit, mounting frame, and control dial. Together, this means that you can easily control your humidity settings with the knowledge that everything will be taken care of.
The unit is recommended for spaces of up to 1,400 square feet in size which means it’s an ideal whole house humidifier for small and medium-sized houses.
Online reviews for the Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier are nothing short of universal praise. While installation is best left in the hands of professionals, once installed it worked perfectly and there were very few reported problems.
Those that have a large home but still want the convenience of a steam humidifier should seriously consider the Aprilaire 800 Residential Steam Humidifier. With an impressive coverage area of 6,200 square feet, this product will ensure that moist air finds its way into every room in a house.
Simply install the Aprilaire 800 Residential Steam Humidifier so that it connects to your HVAC system and the humid air will flow through your existing ducts. There is a digital control panel so that you can set your optimal humidity levels and not have to constantly adjust them as the weather chances.
As for water capacity, depending on the electrical draw that you choose from, it can cycle through up to 34.6 gallons of water per day. You only need to use cold water, and don’t worry about whether it is hard or soft; either will work well with the Aprilaire 800 Residential Steam Humidifier. This is truly one of the best steam humidifiers for furnace use.
The best steam humidifier that looks like it’s from the future is the Vornado Element A2 Air + Steam Humidifier. However, its design does have a purpose, and that is to make the humidity output as customizable as possible. The two tanks make it easy to refill and together they can cover an area of up to 1000 square feet. If you live in an apartment or have an open concept living area, then this is the product for you.
The simple control panel allow you to choose between cool, warm, or hot air. As well, the digital controls can be locked, in case any little fingers want to start playing with it. Another nice bonus is the fact that you can use essential oils with the Vornado Element A2 Air + Steam Humidifier, adding to its versatility and making it an ideal humidifier for cough and allergy symptoms relief. The Vernado is equipped with humidity control sensors that can not only measure the humidity level in your home, but also maintain your desired one. You can set the humidity level you want and rest assured that this machine will turn off once it has hit that level. Many users were really impressed with how responsive it was.
For anyone who has suffered from a dry cough in the middle of winter, the Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier V745A is a product that you can’t pass by. It is harder to breathe dry air in, and as your nasal passage becomes irritated, it can leave you considerably uncomfortable. Furthermore, if your nose is clogged, you will breath through your mouth, which can leave you with a painfully dry mouth and lips.
Thankfully, with the Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier V745A you can combine the benefits of warm, moist air with the soothing medicine of Vicks. Together this is a potent combination that will clear your sinuses and make it a lot easier to breathe. You will wake up feeling well rested and a lot happier.
This best steam humidifier for sinus problems is a smaller machine, which means that it is compact and fits well into even a tiny room. Due to its size, coverage area, no-filter design, and VapoSteam inhalants compatibility this model could also be nominated as the best filterless humidifier for bedroom.
The 3.8 liter water tank lasts for up to 12 hours, which means you can turn it on before bedtime and can rest easy knowing it will power through the night.
What stands out?
Works with Vicks medicine to relieve symptoms of coughs and colds
Compact in size
What cons did we manage to find?
Can’t be used with essential oils, only VapoSteam inhalants
Purchasing your new steam humidifier can seem overwhelming, but the more information you have, the easier your experience will be. We’ve put together a list of the most important features to consider with a steam humidifier to help you decide what is best for your needs.
What advantages do steam humidifiers have?
Steam humidifiers are energy-efficient which not only helps the environment, but reduces your utility bills, too. While traditional humidifiers need a lot of water to produce heated vapor, steam humidifiers need much less. While some steam humidifiers are stand-alone products, many are able to be connected to your home heating system. Then they work in tangent with the naturally heated air to add moisture which is radiated throughout the whole house. If you have extremely dry air in your home and want the continuous benefits of moisture in the air, then investing in a steam humidifier is a good idea.
Features to consider while choosing a steam humidifier
Water tank capacity
There are two types of steam humidifiers on our list: stand-alone products that come with a water tank, and system products that hook up to your HVAC system. For whole house system steam humidifiers, you get the benefit of not having to worry about refilling water tanks, as the water input is continuous.
For stand-alone products, the water tank will need to be refilled continuously to run your steam humidifier. The Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier V745A has the smallest water tank, with a capacity of 3.8 liters. It can only work for about 12 hours before needing to be refilled. The BONECO Steam Humidifier S450 has a much larger water tank capacity, of 13.25 liters, and can run for 24 hours on one refill.
Mist time/maximum output
For stand-alone steam humidifiers, the water tank capacity will determine the mist time. Basically, the smaller the water tank, the less time steam will be produced. As for whole home system steam humidifiers, the maximum output will vary by construction and power. The Aprilaire 800 Residential Steam Humidifier is by far the most powerful system on our list and has a maximum output of 34.6 gallons per day, which means that it will work for very large homes.
If you live in a small apartment, or just want a humidifier for night time use, then you can save a bit of money with a smaller appliance. If, however, you want to alleviate your entire home of dry air, then a large steam humidifier that can tie into your existing heating system is the right way to go.
The incessant hum of a heating and steam humidifier system around the clock can drive anyone a bit batty. Therefore, noise level is a serious concern. Thankfully, the products on our list all have minimal noise levels, which means that even as it cycles through at night, your sweet dreams won’t be disrupted.
Essential oils diffuser
While some steam humidifiers are made for the whole house, those that are made for individual rooms may have the option of being an essential oil diffuser. This feature allows you include a few drops of an essential oil to the machine which is then dispersed into the air. The result is a subtle fragrance that can elevate your mood. The BONECO Steam Humidifier S450 is one product on our list that can double as an essential oil diffuser.
If you plan on using a steam humidifier in a room, then be sure you know where you want to place it ahead of time to ensure it will fit. Some steam humidifiers have nice aesthetics, and therefore will blend in with your home’s décor. Others can be a bit obtrusive and you will want to hide them.
For those wanting to purchase a steam humidifier to work in conjunction with your heating system, be sure to look first at how you will hook everything up. While most steam humidifiers are built fairly compact, your existing space may determine what size will actually work with your current system.
In addition to these standard features, your steam humidifier may come with something extra that will really set it apart from the rest. Automatic shut off is important for stand-alone steam humidifiers as it is a crucial safety element. Timers are also great as you can set your humidifier for a few hours at night and not have to worry about shutting it off while you’re asleep. Some humidifiers require filters. If this is the case, it’s a nice bonus if extra filters are included in the purchase.
Tips on how to maintain your humidifier
For room models be sure to clean them regularly. Bacteria thrives in dark, warm areas, and humidifiers have all these elements. Get in the habit of cleaning your steam humidifier on a weekly basis so that none of the bacteria or mold has a chance to grow and enter your air.
For a whole house model schedule maintenance for it at least twice a year. Turn the machine off and give everything a thorough cleaning. You don’t need any fancy cleaners. Warm water and vinegar will easily sanitize everything.
No, steam humidifiers are safe to use, even in a child’s bedroom. While the mist that is produced will be warm, or even hot, it will not be scalding. While boiling water is produced inside the machine, it is cooled once it enters the surrounding air. Also, some models offer a choice out of not only hot, but also warm and even cool mist, like seen in the Vornado Element A2 Air + Steam Humidifier.
The optimal humidity level inside a house is between 35 to 50%. Many steam humidifiers will have control panels where you can set your target level. It will then turn on and produce moisture until a sensor recognizes that the humidity level has reached its target. For smaller, more basic devices, you may need to have a bit of trial and error and keep your humidifier on until the air feels better. You can get a small hydrometer as well if your humidifier lacks this handy feature.
Like most machinery, if you do not have experience with electrical hookups, then be sure to contact a professional to help you install a whole house steam humidifier. If you feel confident with your DIY skills, then installing a humidifier is not too difficult. You will need hook it up with your water supply and your existing heating system. There are many online videos and tutorials to help you with the process. Keep in mind though that some manufacturers void their warranty if the unit was installed without a professional help.
We hope that the products chosen for our article will help you decide on which steam humidifier will work best for you.
If you want a smaller, single room model, then look no further than the BONECO Steam Humidifier S450. It has an elegant black design, fits well in all rooms, and the control panel allows you to easily set your humidity level.
If you still want a whole home unit, but on even a larger scale, a further best steam humidifier is the Aprilaire 800 Residential Steam Humidifier. It has easy-to-use settings and allows you to breathe a little bit easier knowing that you don’t have to deal with dry air anymore.