The Best Furnace Humidifier for Home

When the cold wind blows and the humidity dips outside and inside, you might start suffering from symptoms that seem like a cold or the flu, but the symptoms seem to only fade when the weather starts to warm up again. What you're dealing with are symptoms of low humidity. So, it might be time for you to invest in a humidifier.

There are several types of humidifiers from which you can choose but finding the best humidifier for your furnace might be your best bet. It isn't for everyone, but if a whole-house humidifier that connects to your water line and your central heating unit sounds like it makes sense for your home, then you're going to want to keep reading.

Best Furnace Humidifier Comparisons

Brand

Details

Our Rating

AIR-BEAR-265000-001 Humidifier 

  • 7.5 x 5.8 x 6.2 inches
  • 15.4 ounces
  • 5 year warranty

GeneralAire Humidifier Unit 1042-LH 

  • 18 x 14 x 14 inches
  • 25 pounds
  • 5 year warranty

Aprilaire Model 500 M Whole-house Bypass Humidifier

  • 16 x 11 x 13 inches
  • 6.1 pounds
  • 5 year warranty

Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier

  • 7.6 x 12.5 x 12.6 inches
  • 18.1 pounds
  • 2 year warranty

Honeywell HE360A Whole House Powered Humidifier 

  • 21.2 x 17.5 x 16.2 inches
  • 18 pounds
  • 1 year warranty

What's the Difference Between a Furnace Humidifier and All the Others?

This guide will explain the difference between a furnace humidifier and other types, what you'll need before installing one in your own home, and the features you should seek out. Be sure to read the best humidifier reviews below, too, so you can pick the best one for you.

Humidifiers are big right now. You might've spotted one in a doctor's office or maybe your co-worker has one on their desk. Those are small personal or room humidifiers. They're typically cool mist humidifiers, and they use one of three different technologies: ultrasonic, evaporative, or impeller. All have their pros and cons, but these are all too small for your needs, likely.

Options

You can find some whole-house humidifiers that are the console type. These plug into an outlet and you have to keep the large tank full of water. Typically, these are evaporative style and they include a humidistat, so you can set the percentage of humidity and it'll run until it hits that level, and then cycle off and on to keep the humidity level. Of course, as effective as these are, they still need weekly cleanings and refills daily or more often. Plus, they may not work for your whole house, depending on the size of your home. But what is the best type of humidifier for furnace and homes?

More of a Fixed Unit

A high efficiency furnace humidifier works similarly to personal, room, and console humidifiers, but there are some key differences. These are also known as ducted humidifiers because they work by sending moisture through your home's air ducts. They connect directly to your heating and cooling system, so all that humidity it produces is pushed through the ducts and comes through every open vent in your house.

Works with Your Furnace

Not only does humidity get everywhere it's needed, it's also working with your forced-air or gas furnace. So, higher levels of humidity help raise the relative humidity in your house and the relative temperature. You may find that your heater runs less during the winter and you still feel warm.

Little Maintenance

Additionally, a furnace heater needs no maintenance until the end of the season. Mineral deposits could be an issue because you can't use bottled or filtered water with the unit – it hooks up to your home's water line. Minerals can build-up and could harden if left to sit, so it's important to clean your humidifier annually. Still, that's far less maintenance than any personal, room, or console humidifier.

No Refills

Also, because it's hooked up to your water line, there's no need to refill anything. This is practically a set-it-and-forget-it kind of appliance. There are a few different types of furnace humidifiers, though, at least in the way they work.

Flow Through

Flow-through units use a pad soaked in water, also, and it works similarly to the bypass systems. There's no reservoir for the water, though, so you'll need a drain below this unit, as the excess water will drip down.

Bypass

A bypass unit, also known as a drum humidifier, connects to your water supply and your furnace. The forced air pushes air over a pad that's soaked in water. This causes evaporation and sends the moisture through your duct system.

Steam

Steam furnace humidifiers have a built-in reservoir where water is heated. Steam is created, and then this goes through your duct system. It's one of the most effective ways to raise humidity and temperature in your home.

All three types of furnace humidifiers use a humidistat, so they will sense when your home needs more humidity and only turn on and work at that point. Plus, they all require a little more attention when installed.

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Furnace Humidifier

It's tempting to pull a DIY and install a furnace humidifier yourself, but you should be careful about this decision. You may be handy with a toolbox and a little know-how, but unless you're licensed to work on HVAC projects, you might end up doing yourself more harm – not physically, necessarily. Many furnace humidifiers come with long warranties to help protect your purchase, but if you install the unit yourself, you could end up voiding the warranty. If anything goes wrong, you'll be in quite a bind.

It's suggested that you hire a professional to install your furnace humidifier. Although it could be a bit costly, it's likely less than having to buy a whole new furnace humidifier or repairs to your heating system should something go awry.

Remember that you need to clean these units before and after your driest season. And be sure you turn off your humidifier during the summer months, as it could interfere with your air conditioner.

Top 5 Best Furnace Humidifier Reviews

Let’s take a look at the best rated furnace humidifiers with these furnace humidifier ratings!

Air Bear AIR-BEAR-265000-001 Humidifier

  • Type: Flow-through
  • Output: 12.5 gallons/day
  • Coverage: 2000 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 4.25" W x 4.25" H x 3.88" D
  • Warranty: 5 years

You might be looking at your small closet furnace and thinking there's no way you'll be able to fit a regular furnace humidifier in there, but that's what the Trion Air Bear Mister Mini is for. It can easily fit inside a 3.5-inch-by-3.5-inch space, which means it should work for almost any home. Of course, it is a bit smaller, and this flow-through humidifier requires heat from your furnace to work, so if your furnace doesn't kick on often enough, you might not get enough humidity. Also, it's only rated for a space about 2000 square feet in size.

The built-in humidistat and thermometer help regulate the amount of moisture that gets pumped through your air ducts, so it's almost a completely hands-off humidifier. When installing it, it's best that you get an HVAC professional to do it or at least someone who is familiar with wiring. You won't void the warranty if you decide to do a DIY installation, but for peace of mind, pay a little extra for the pro install. The five-year warranty is a decent amount of time to protect you from any defects. Be sure you clean this annually, at least, though. And it's a good idea to replace the nozzle every season, as mineral build up can be a problem.

If you're looking for a furnace humidifier that will fit in a tight space, this could be the best one for you.

Pros

  • Built-in humidistat
  • Includes thermostat
  • Compact
  • No reservoir

Cons

  • Requires annual nozzle changes
  • May not humidify enough

GeneralAire Humidifier Unit 1042-LH

  • Type: By-pass
  • Output: 19 gallons/day
  • Coverage: 2800 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 18" W x 14" H x 14" D
  • Warranty: 5 years

Larger homes need a furnace humidifier that can distribute moist air throughout quickly and easily, and this GeneralAire Humidifier 1042-LH unit does just that. This bypass furnace humidifier uses evaporation technology to produce the humidity your home needs, and then sends it through your air duct system. You can expect about 19 gallons of moisture to pass each day, depending on your humidity needs. You can set the humidity level with the manual dial, and then the humidifier will do the work needed, relying on your furnace to provide the air needed to create the evaporation.

This is an effective unit for a home up to 2800 square feet in size, but it also works well in homes larger than 3000 square feet. You're not likely to notice it doing its job because it operates so quietly, but you will notice fewer dry-air symptoms, such as static electricity, dry throats, or dry skin. Installation should be easy enough, as it can be adjusted to a right or left vent, but it's best that you get it professionally installed, as the five-year warranty requires it.

If you need a humidifier that is rated for a larger home, then this furnace humidifier could work well for you.

Pros

  • Evaporative
  • Includes humidistat
  • Can vent left or right
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • Must be installed by a pro
  • May distribute white dust

Aprilaire Model 500 M Whole-house Bypass Humidifier

  • Type: By-pass
  • Output: 12 gallons/day
  • Coverage: 3000 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 15.62" W x 13" H x 10.25" D
  • Warranty: 5 years

It's entirely possible that you've seen the Aprilaire name when searching for a furnace humidifier because it's one of the most popular brands. This Aprilaire 500 M model is a bypass humidifier that has manual control for humidity. Installing it may be easy enough, but if you do it on your own without being a licensed HVAC person, you'll end up voiding the warranty. So, err on the side of caution and get a professional in to install this unit.

It should have no problem humidifying a large home up to 3000 square feet in size. Most users who had this unit installed in their homes noticed that humidity jumped quickly, and it was maintained at the level they set it. One issue you might encounter is leaked, though. The pad that soaks up water isn't seated well, so it could move a bit, and water might fall down that pad and then onto your floor. Be sure to replace the pad annually when you give the whole thing a good cleaning.

If you're looking for one of the most effective furnace humidifiers, this one may fit the bill for you.

Pros

  • Evaporative
  • Includes humidistat
  • Can vent left or right
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • Must be installed by a pro
  • Might leak

Emerson HSP2000 Whole House Steam Humidifier

  • Type: Steam
  • Output: 13 gallons/day
  • Coverage: 1400 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 7.6" W x 12.5" H x 12.6" D
  • Warranty: 2 years

Not everyone wants a furnace humidifier that relies on the furnace to be on to work, and that's where the Emerson HSP2000 whole-house steam humidifier comes into play. The unit has a reservoir for water with a filter, and when humidity is needed, as determined by the automatic humidistat, the water is heated and turned into steam. All that humidity is then distributed throughout your home via your duct system. One benefit of this type of humidifier is that it helps to warm your house without the use of a forced-air furnace.

Although this humidifier is rated for a 1400 square foot space, it can work well in a house twice that size, if needed. Another benefit of using a steam humidifier is that it's self-cleaning. Water is heated in the housing, which kills off bacteria and even gets rid of minerals in your water. This is a much more expensive investment compared to other furnace humidifiers, but it could be worth it to you. The warranty is much shorter than others, too, at only two years, but be sure you get this unit installed professionally to avoid voiding the warranty.

If you want a whole-house humidifier that uses steam to add moisture to your air and you don't mind a pricey option, this could be the best one for you.

Pros

  • Creates humidity without a furnace
  • Includes humidistat
  • Adds warmth
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Requires filter changes

Honeywell HE360A Whole House Powered Humidifier

  • Type: Flow-through
  • Output: 18 gallons/day
  • Coverage: 4500 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 14" W x 15" H x 10.5" D
  • Warranty: 1 year

Owning a large house is nice and all until you have to add humidity, and then most furnace humidifiers will seem pointless. While most are only rated for about 2500 to 3000 square feet, the Honeywell HE360A Whole House Powered Humidifier can add moisture to the air of a house up to 4500 square feet in size. Of course, that's assuming that 4500-square foot house is well insulated. In any case, you can expect effective humidity from this little flow-through unit, as long as it's installed properly. Many have gone the DIY route with the installation of this unit and have had no issues, except the instructions aren't terribly clear. No worries – there's plenty of information online.

The fact that this unit doesn't have a reservoir could be a pro or con, depending on your perspective. On one hand, there's no standing water, so you won't have to worry about stagnant water and cleaning the unit annually will be easier. On the other hand, there may be a bit of water waste, which could affect your water bill. Be sure you have a floor drain in your furnace room, too, otherwise you're going to have a soggy mess under this humidifier. The short warranty may not be much of a help, as it's only good for a year after you purchase this unit.

If you need a furnace humidifier that's rated for very large homes, then this could be your best choice.

Pros

  • No standing water
  • Includes humidistat
  • Easy to install
  • Lots of humidity for a large house

Cons

  • Short warranty
  • Requires floor drain

Conclusion

Everyone wants the most effective humidifier in their home, but that could mean different things to different people. Some people require a humidifier that helps raise the temperature in their home or a humidifier that doesn't rely on the furnace kicking on to work. In that case, you're going to be spending a pretty penny or two on a steam humidifier.

Others require a furnace heater that can humidify a home up to 4500 square feet, in which case you'll need a large unit. Others still have small homes with a small closet furnace, and they're going to need a compact humidifier. Overall, though, the best middle-of-the-road furnace humidifier in size and cost is also the best humidifier for your furnace with the most effective humidity: the Aprilaire Model 500 M Whole-house Bypass Humidifier with Manual Control.

Yes, the Aprilaire unit must be installed by a professional, lest you be out the five-year warranty protection. It's probably better that you trust a pro, anyway, as installation is a bit complicated. The unit itself is an affordable purchase, though, and it can easily humidify a home up to 3000 square feet in size. In fact, you can expect it to humidify a home that's larger, but make sure your home is well insulated. You'll need to make sure you replace the pad that soaks up the water annually, and you might need to check on its position once in a while to ensure it hasn't shifted to avoid leaks. Other than that, though, this is likely the best humidifier for your furnace on the market, and it's the one that more homeowners trust than any other.

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