Whether you're dealing with dry skin, allergies, or illness, having a humidifier on hand can make all the difference. The only problem is that it can be hard to find a quality unit on a budget — but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. The best cheap humidifiers add clean, healthy moisture to dry air, and some even come with added perks like essential oil trays and smart technology that tell you the current humidity level in a room.
Before you start shopping, it's helpful to understand that kinds of humidifiers out there, since you're likely to come across terms like ultrasonic and evaporative in your search for the perfect model. While both types of humidifiers effectively add moisture to the air, they do so in different ways. An ultrasonic humidifier uses vibrations to expel a fine mist into the air and that mechanism tends to be extremely quiet, whereas an evaporative humidifier blows moisture through a filter, which can be a noisier process. So, for a whisper-quiet unit, ultrasonic is the way to go.
From there, it's time to talk cool mist versus warm mist. Again, both types are effective at adding some much-need moisture to a space, but for overall safety — especially if you have children — cool mist is better because steam vapor can burn.
With that in mind, it all boils down to the size of your room, since you want a humidifier that's going to add enough moisture to cover the square footage of the space. The humidifiers below were selected based on coverage for different-sized rooms. All are highly rated on Amazon and seriously budget-friendly too, with the top two picks priced under $45.
1. The Best Humidifier For Small Rooms
With a large capacity, 4-liter tank, this ultrasonic cool mist humidifier is ideal for use in a bedroom, nursery, or home office. It's designed to humidify rooms up to 322 square feet and can run for up to 30 hours on a full tank. The informative display panel lets you know the current humidity level so you can adjust as necessary, choosing from three mist levels. It runs almost silently, and you can even turn off the LED display for a distraction-free sleep. The humidifier shuts off automatically when the water runs out for safety, and there's a handy icon that tells you when you need to refill.
This TaoTronics humidifier does come with a microporous filter, which is both a pro and a con. On the upside, it works to filter out microorganisms and bad odors, but on the downside it does need to be cleaned about every month and changed out about every four to six months. Reviewers also recommended using distilled water to cut back on the white dust, a common byproduct of ultrasonic humidifiers.
Fans say: "I like how easy it is to clean. Not to mention it comes with the little brush."
2. The Best Humidifier For Large Rooms
Whether you're looking to humidify a large living room, an open-concept space, or even a small yoga studio, the LEVOIT Cool Mist Humidifier is a great choice. Equipped with a 4.5-liter tank, it's designed to humidify up to 538 square feet and can continuously run up to 40 hours on low mist. The ultrasonic, filter-free humidifier is whisper-quiet and comes with three different mist settings (high, medium, low) that can be adjusted with a one-touch button. There's even a tray for essential oils that transforms the unit into an aroma diffuser for a calmer space.
The unit will turn off automatically when the water level is low, and the 3-inch-wide tank opening makes refilling a spill-free experience. The brand recommends using filtered or distilled water, and cleaning once a week (there's a nifty cleaning brush included).
Fans say: "I am happy they put a filter on the bottom of the humidifier for oil diffusing. This allows the water reservoir to stay pristine. Very large 4.5L water container with a handle for easy transportation to and from the sink. I live in Colorado where to weather is insanely dry. This has solved my chapped lips and stuffy nose."
3. Worth The Splurge: A $57 Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier With More Than 4,000 Reviews
With a 4-star rating on Amazon and more than 4,200 customer reviews, it's easy to see why the Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier has earned a large and loyal fanbase. The 4.6-liter, large capacity tank humidifies rooms up to 400 square feet and can last up to 50 straight hours between refills. By far one of the biggest selling points is that this unit is completely filterless, which means that while you pay more upfront, you won't ever have to buy expensive replacement filters, and you don't have the hassle of cleaning a filter either.
The 360-degree rotating nozzle lets you customize where you want the mist output, and the dial lets you adjust the humidity level. The unit features an auto shut-off and runs almost silently, plus it comes with an essential oil tray and nightlight. Similar to the other ultrasonic models here, it's recommended that you use distilled water to prevent white dust.
Fans say: "This humidifier hits all the high marks. It is extremely quiet, puts out two nights worth of high volume mist and even has an essential oil tray so you can add lavender oil or the like."
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