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Best Humidifier For The Money  
Everything You Need to Know to Get a Great Humidifier at a Great Price
Top Five for the Money (Based on our Frugal5 Formula)
How do we pick these products? We spend many hours doing unbiased research to only give you the highest rated products at the best price. We first come up with a list of features, which you can see below, that we feel the majority of people will need. We then look for the highest quality products with these features and only show you the top five with the best value. Our mission is to provide you with the best five options based only on the facts. Don't see the product you were thinking about getting? Click here to calculate it's frugal score.
Crane Drop Shape Cool MistCrane EE-5200B Warm MistVicks V745A Warm Mist with Auto Shut-OffSunpentown SU-2653 Warm MistSunpentown SU-2550B Ultrasonic with Fragrance Diffuser
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Product Rating
Average Price
Cheap ($40)
Cheap ($35)
Cheap ($30)
Cheap ($39)
Cheap ($50)
Frugal5 Score
Additional Info
Water Tank Size
.9 Gallon
1 Gallon
1 Gallon
.6 Gallon
.6 Gallon
Features Needed
Automatic Shutoff
Humidifys Average Size Room
Low Maintenance Cost
Runs at Least 8 Hours on Single Tank
- 24 Hours
- 8 Hours
- 12 Hours
- 8 Hours
Features Not Needed
Anti-bacterial Features
Cool Mist
Digital Display
Humidity Monitor
Medicated Vapor
Multiple Speeds
- 2 Steam Settings
- 2 Steam Settings
Night Light
Refill Indicator
Removable Tank
- 2 Hour
- Silent Operation
- Silent Operation
Warm Mist (Boils Water)
What You Need To Know In 5 Minutes

Dry air can cause many health problems. In winter especially, many notice dry throats and nasal passages, which can lead to colds. Most people use humidifiers during the night to help them sleep when dry air irritates the throat and nasal passages. For this reason, it makes sense to use a quiet unit. It should also have a night light, in case anything goes wrong with the unit during the night and you need to see to address the problem. 

Humidifiers come in three basic configurations:

Evaporative - These units soak up water using a wick and then use a fan to blow moisture into the surrounding area. Humidifiers like this use filters to clean the air it blows, so that microbes and other contaminants that may be in the water don’t become airborne. The wicks and filters in these units require regular replacement to avoid the spread of germs and bacterial. Because they are louder, cost more and require replacement filters, they are generally poor choices. 

Cool-Mist – These models can use an impeller to vaporize water molecules using a spinning disc or ultrasonic frequencies then disperse the molecules into the air. Unfortunately, microbes and minerals in the water end up going into the air, settling on your furnishings in the form of white droplets. Using such a humidifier requires using filtered or distilled water to prevent the deposits.  Make sure to buy a water filter before you buy a cool mist system. Check out our guide on the best water filter for the money before you buy one.

Warm-Mist – The most affordable option for humidifiers, warm mist units boil water to make steam. They tend to be quiet because no fan is needed to disperse the moist air into the environment. Unfortunately, boiling water uses more energy than running a fan. Some of that energy does translate to a warmer climate in the room using the humidifier.

The heat that boils the water for steam also kills bacteria before it can be dispersed into the air. However, many warm-mist humidifiers are a danger to children who may get their hands on the boiling water or heating element. If you have kids and choose one of these units, keep it in an inaccessible location. Warm mist systems can aggravate asthma, so check with your doctor if you have asthma sufferers in the home. 

One version of the warm-mist humidifier is a safety vaporizer. These manage to heat the water to make steam, without getting hot to the touch. They are extremely cheap to buy, making them an excellent choice for the frugal shopper.  


Humidifiers need maintenance to keep them running well, so it’s important to choose one that is easy to clean. Older consumers may prefer to carry water to the tank rather than carrying a heavy tank back and forth from the sink. The average person will do fine with a removable tank.

You should rinse the unit with an antibacterial solution if you ever notice an odor. It is normal to see black particles and mineral deposits on these models. Warm mist units always leave behind mineral deposits, so tanks and heating elements should be soaked in a vinegar solution, scrubbed and rinsed clean as needed.

Don’t’ Over Do It

Because too much humidity is as bad as too little, it’s important to use the humidifier only when someone is in the room to benefit from it. If you over-humidify a room, you may find peeling paint, mold and bacteria growth. Some machines come with monitors to help you check the level of humidity, but such features are only needed if you use the humidifier for more than a few hours a day.

Antibacterial models may include an ultraviolet light or other means to kill germs. However, such features make little sense in a unit that boils water and releases pure, sterile steam. If you choose a warm-mist model, you can bypass the concern altogether.

Brands and Pricing

Holmes, Duracraft and Honeywell are the most popular brands of humidifier, but many smaller companies make good, reliable units. In the last few years, Vicks has come out with some reliable models. Warm-mist systems usually come with a medicine cup or diffuser dimple, nice but not necessary features. Don’t spend over $50 on a humidifier for the bedroom. You can usually find a reliable unit for between $20 and $40. If you need to add moisture to larger areas, expect to pay much more. The price difference is so great, you may be better off with several smaller units. The tradeoff is the inconvenience of maintaining several machines.

Features You Need
Automatic Shutoff, Humidifys Average Size Room, Low Maintenance Cost, Runs at Least 8 Hours on Single Tank
Features You Don't Need
Anti-bacterial Features, Cool Mist, Digital Display, Humidity Monitor, Medicated Vapor, Multiple Speeds, Night Light, Refill Indicator, Removable Tank, Timer, Ultrasonic, Warm Mist (Boils Water)
What You Should Pay
Between $30.00 - $50.00
Top Of The Line Price
Over $400.00