Best Cheap Humidifiers
Published on By Raechel Conover
Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier Review
From $42 Best
Consumers rave about the Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier, giving it very high marks for its ease of cleaning and refilling, ultra-quiet operation, and effective infusion of moisture into the air. This is an ultrasonic, cool mist model that covers areas up to 250 square feet with a 0.9-gallon tank, adjustable output settings, and automatic shut-off.
As a user favorite, the Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier is a hit with users at HomeDepot.com where users report it is extremely quiet when operating. One user even says she wouldn't know it was on if the green light didn't indicate it, yet it still puts out a ton of moisture. Others report that it is easy to clean and easy to refill. Amazon users agree saying that it is so whisper quiet one user even used it in his baby's room and it didn't wake her up, plus it's super easy to refill even in a shallow bathroom sink.
The Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier is an ultrasonic, cool mist humidifier that has a .9 gallon water tank and covers a 250 square foot space. It has adjustable mist settings and an automatic shutoff. It comes with a one year warranty, comes in different colors and puts out 2.3 gallons of mist per day. Additionally it has a whisper quiet operation, which from user comments actually works.
We love the Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier because of the whisper quiet operation and we're not the only ones. Users give this low-cost humidifier the best reviews of any humidifier we've seen in the Cheapism category based on how quiet and easy to use it really is. We can't argue with that -- try this cheap humidifier.
Vicks Warm Mist V745A Review
From $33 Good
Users dig the fact that the Vicks Warm Mist V745A really cranks out moisture that helps resolve dry skin and congestion problems (it even comes with medicine cup for inhalant). The only warm mist humidifier on our list, it includes a one-gallon tank that's good for up to 1,200 square feet, an automatic shut-off, and adjustable output settings.
Users of the Vicks Warm Mist V745A humidifier report on Drugstore.com that it only needs the water tank refilled every few days and that it is very effective at supplying rooms with warm, moist air. Target.com reviewers agree and also add that the low-cost humidifier is very easy to take apart and clean.
As the only warm mist, steam humidifier on our list, the Vicks Warm Mist V745A humidifier has a one gallon water tank and provides humidity to an area up to 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. It has two mist settings so that the user can adjust the mist to their preferences, an automatic shutoff and a three year warranty. Additionally, this low-cost humidifier has a medicine cup in which Vicks medicine can be added to it to help relieve symptoms of the common cold or flu, and it has a built in nightlight for use at night.
Overall we like the medicine feature on this budget humidifier and think that it would come in very handy in every household at some point. Users really like that you don't need to refill the water tank every day and that the unit is easy to clean. Our bottom line is this is a good choice in inexpensive warm mist humidifiers.
Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare Review
From $46 Good
Users like that the Honeywell HCM-630 seems able to quietly moisturize areas far larger than its advertised 1,050 square feet. An evaporative cool mist humidifier with a 1.5-gallon water tank, and automatic shut-off, this is one of the few models in the Cheapism niche that boasts an adjustable humidistat along with adjustable output settings.
"No muss, no fuss" is one way the Honeywell HCM 630 humidifier is described on Overstock.com where users say it's easy to use and very efficient as well as quiet. One user at Amazon reports that the low-cost humidifier actually humidifies areas larger than what it is said to and in general Amazon users find it to be a great product that is easy to work with and very effective.
The Honeywell HCM 630 humidifier is an impeller, an evaporative cool mist humidifier with a 1.25 gallon water tank and the ability to humidify a space up to 1,050 square feet. For user convenience, it has an adjustable humidistat, three mist settings and an automatic shutoff. Additionally, it has a three year limited warranty.
We really like that this low-cost humidifier has an adjustable humidistat. This is a somewhat rare feature in the Cheapism category. We also like that users report the cheap humidifier works in areas larger than it is advertised to work in. Overall, we think this is a good humidifier to try.
Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier Review
From $56 Think Twice
This cool-mist model earns poor user reviews, largely because the design of the water tank makes it very difficult to refill. Other problems include noisy operation and limited information provided in marketing materials about coverage and features.
Users at Epinions overall are dissatisfied with the Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier saying that it is a horrible shape and frustrating to refill. You need to use a bathtub to refill it and there is no flat surface on the tank to set it down to put the cap back on it. In addition to being hard to refill, Amazon users gripe that the budget humidifier is loud and breaks after only a few weeks. One user even said his floors became warped after it leaked all over.
Not a lot of information is available from the manufacturer about the Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier. We do know that it is a cool mist humidifier although the exact type is unknown. It works in medium rooms -- the exact size is unknown, and has an adjustable humidistat. Nothing is said about adjustable mist settings, an automatic shutoff or a warranty.
We don't like the lack of information available about this cheap humidifier. To top that off, users report multiple problems with this product from it being difficult to use, loud and faulty. Our bottom line is steer clear of this budget humidifier.
A cheap humidifier is a simple solution to the problems caused by dry air. The symptoms typically break out in the winter months when the heat comes on or in extremely dry climates that are short on moisture. If you or members of the family suffer from irritants like dry skin, chapped lips, itchy eyes, or nosebleeds and/or your house is showing telltale signs like static or cracks in wood beams or furniture, you probably need a cheap humidifier.
Cheap Humidifiers Buying Guide
We found several good cheap humidifiers in the $30 to $60 range that are portable and suitable for areas as small as 250 square feet and as large as 1,200 square feet, depending on the model. Larger units cost more, of course, and add moisture to the air in several rooms or in larger open spaces, but they usually aren't portable because of their size. Whole house humidifiers that connect to your central (forced air) heating system are way more expensive and must be professionally installed.
Among small cheap humidifiers, there are several types to choose from. Warm mist humidifiers, a.k.a. steam/vaporizer humidifiers, heat water to a boil and release the steam into the air. This technology is great for cold rooms and helps fight congestion but is not recommended for use around children because the units get hot enough to cause burns. Cool mist humidifiers are either ultrasonic, impeller, or evaporative. HowStuffWorks.com explains that ultrasonic humidifiers use vibrating technology to produce moisture, impeller models use a rotating disk and diffuser to produce a fine mist, and evaporative models use a wick and fan system to draw water from the reservoir and blow it into the air. All these technologies come packaged in cheap humidifiers. The brand names to note at this end of the market include Crane, Vicks, Honeywell, Holmes, Hunter, and Sunbeam.
There are several things to consider when looking for a humidifier, including size, adjustability, automatic shut-off, and warranty. The area covered (measured in square feet) and tank capacity are two good indicators of size; lower-cost humidifiers are designed for small- to mid-sized rooms, and their tanks typically need filling at least once a day. A built-in, adjustable humidistat is another plus because it keeps a room at the ideal relative humidity of 30 to 50 percent depending on the setting (or level) you choose. Cheap humidifiers with an automatic shut-off turn themselves off when the tank runs out of water, which is a safety and energy-saving feature. Finally, a warranty protects your investment if a cheap humidifier doesn't work properly or fails prematurely.
Based on our research, we found that consumers tend to judge humidifiers by the amount of maintenance required, the noise level, and the moisture output. Maintenance refers to the ease of refilling the water reservoir and keeping the unit clean. Humidifiers have a reputation for being loud, and consumers, not surprisingly, prefer models that run quietly. And finally, consumers expect low-cost humidifiers to do their job and inject enough moisture into a room to get rid of the nagging markers of dry air. In general, reviews of the cheap humidifiers on our list of top picks indicate that most users are satisfied with their purchases.
We found good cheap humidifiers of various types that are worthy of consideration. The Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $38) is an ultrasonic, cool mist humidifier that garners strong consumer reviews for ease of maintenance, lots of moisture, and quiet operation. The Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare (starting at $43) is an impeller, cool mist humidifier that's one of the few in the Cheapism niche to feature an adjustable humidistat. The Vicks Warm Mist V745A (starting at $30), the only warm mist, steam humidifier on our list, boasts the capacity to moisturize up to 1,200 square feet, an automatic shut-off, and a cup that holds inhalant for the relief of stuffy noses and chests. One humidifier we'd pass on is the Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier (starting at $60), a cool mist model that earns poor user reviews and whose marketing materials are short on critical information, like how much space it covers and whether it has an automatic shut-off.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier Review
Tank Size and Maximum Sq. Ft. Covered 0.9-gallon tank/250 square feet
Humidity Controls Adjustable mist settings
Automatic Shut-off Yes
Warranty 1 year
|42||Warranty||0.9-gallon tank/250 square feet||Adjustable mist settings||Yes||1 year|
Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare Review
Type Cool mist, evaporative
Tank Size and Maximum Sq. Ft. Covered 1.25-gallon tank/1,050 square feet
Humidity Controls Adjustable humidistat, three mist settings
Automatic Shut-off Yes
Warranty 3 year
|46||Cool mist, evaporative||1.25-gallon tank/1,050 square feet||Adjustable humidistat, three mist settings||Yes||3 year|
Vicks Warm Mist V745A Review
Type Warm mist, steam
Tank Size and Maximum Sq. Ft. Covered 1-gallon tank/ 1,200 square feet
Humidity Controls Two mist settings
Automatic Shut-off Yes
Warranty 3 year
|33||Warm mist, steam||1-gallon tank/ 1,200 square feet||Two mist settings||Yes||3 year|
Warm Mist Humidifier, Humidifier Filters
Warm Mist Humidifiers.The first decision you'll need to make is whether to buy a warm mist humidifier or a cool mist humidifier.
Warm mist humidifiers are just that: humidifiers that put out warm steam or mist after bringing water to a boil. Alternatively known as steam humidifiers or vaporizer humidifiers, they're among the cheapest; the Vicks Warm Mist V745A, for example, has a starting price of $30. The virtue of this technology is that the boiling process kills off any lurking bacteria or mold. On the other hand, warm mist humidifiers use more energy than cool mist humidifiers, can make the air seem muggy if too much moisture is dispersed, and can be dangerous around young children because the heating element gets very hot.
Humidifier Filters.Some cheap humidifiers require filters. Among those we researched, the Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare, Holmes HM630-U, and Vornado HU1-0021-28 have humidifier filters that should be changed every four to eight weeks, depending on the model; replacement filters cost about $10. The Crane EE-5301, Vicks V745A, and Holmes HM495-UC, on the other hand, do not use humidifier filters -- a design feature that makes for easier maintenance and is often lauded by consumers in their reviews of cheap humidifiers.
Humidity Settings.Experts say the ideal relative humidity in a home is between 30 and 50 percent -- below 30 percent is too dry and above 50 percent may leave you with a dust mite problem. A humidifier with an adjustable, built-in humidistat that regulates humidity levels and can be set at the level you prefer is one way to ensure that your home stays in the zone. An adjustable humidistat is not standard in low-cost humidifiers, however, and among those we researched only the Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare, the Vornado HU1-0021-28 Whole-Room Evaporative Humidifier, and Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier boast this feature.
But all is not lost for frugal shoppers: in lieu of a built-in, adjustable humidistat, you can buy a humidity reader, like the Honeywell TM005X Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Thermo-Hygrometer (starting at $24). This handy accessory displays the temperature and relative humidity so you can adjust your humidifier accordingly. Moreover, good cheap humidifiers at least let you control the speed/output of the mist with a dial or settings of low, high, and sometimes, medium. Our top picks -- the Crane EE-5301 , Vicks Warm Mist V745A, and Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare -- include adjustable mist settings.
Automatic Shut-off.Humidifiers with an automatic shut-off turn themselves off when the tank runs dry. This is a particularly valuable feature for energy-saving and safety reasons. The Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist, Vicks Warm Mist V745A, and Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare all include automatic shut-off; the Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier features an automatic on/off timer that can be set in one-hour increments up to 16 hours.
Cool Mist Humidifiers, Portable Humidifiers
Cool Mist Humidifiers.Cool mist humidifiers disperse cool moist air using one of three technologies: impeller, ultrasonic, or wick/evaporative. Impeller humidifiers, like several low-cost models sold under the Sunbeam and Vicks brand names, produce a cool fog created by a spinning disk that flings water onto a diffuser, which in turn breaks the water into small drops of mist. Ultrasonic humidifiers, like the Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $38) and Holmes Ultrasonic Humidifier HM495-UC (starting at $50) use ultrasonic sound waves to create a fine, cool, fog-like mist; this type of humidifier is nearly silent. Wick/evaporative humidifiers, like the Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare (starting at $43), Vornado HU1-0021-28 Whole-Room Evaporative Humidifier (starting at $60), and Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier (starting at $60), use a wick or filter to draw water from the tank and a fan to evaporate the water, which is absorbed into the air.
Cool mist humidifiers have their pros and cons. On the plus side, these humidifiers are cheaper to run than warm mist humidifiers and the impeller and ultrasonic designs are extremely quiet; the fan on wick/evaporative humidifiers irritates some consumers but is considered soothing white noise by others. On the downside, the tank needs regular cleaning and refills because stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria that may wind up as mist in the air. In addition, impeller and ultrasonic humidifiers release minerals from the water into the air, so if your water is "hard" (i.e., it contains lots of minerals), consider using distilled water instead.
Portable Humidifiers vs. Home Humidifiers.In the humidifier world, size is indicated by the square footage the model can blanket with mist. Experts at Prevention.com note that small, portable humidifiers typically cover just one room (size varies by model) compared to high-priced central home humidifiers that are built into a home heating system and cover the entire house. Another indicator of size is the capacity of the water tank, or reservoir.
The best home humidifiers we found are the Vicks Warm Mist V745A, whose one-gallon tank handles areas of 1,000 to 1,200 square feet, and the cool mist impeller Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare, which humidifies up to 1,050 square feet with a 1.5-gallon tank. The ultrasonic cool-mist Crane EE-5301 has a 0.9-gallon tank meant for up to 250 square feet, while the Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier simply claims to work in medium-sized rooms. How long these cheap humidifiers can run before needing a refill varies from the advertised maximum of 11 hours with the Crane EE-5301 up to 36 hours with the Holmes HM630-U. Note, however, that the duration between fill-ups depends on the temperature in the room, the desired level of humidity, the square footage, and the size of the tank; consumers often report needing to add water before the maximum run times have been reached.
Humidifier Warranties.It's always a good idea to purchase a product that comes with a warranty, and the cheapest humidifiers are no different. The Vornado HU1-0021-28 offers a whopping five-year warranty, and the Vicks Warm Mist V745A, Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare, and Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist all feature three-year limited warranties. The Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist has a one-year warranty, as does the Holmes Ultrasonic Humidifier.
The humidifier reviews we read indicate that consumers judge these small household appliances on several criteria. Maintenance is critical, and here, humidifier reviews suggest that consumers value models that are easy to refill and clean. Noise is also a big issue, and most humidifiers have a bad reputation for being loud. Moisture output is obviously important, and users posting humidifier reviews insist on nothing less than adequate amounts of moisture released into the air. The models we added to our list earn favorable reviews from consumers, but as usual, there are a few naysayers in every bunch.
Humidifier Maintenance.Lackluster reviews will dog a humidifier that proves difficult to clean and refill. One good way to prevent any maintenance-related surprises is to read the cleaning instructions before you buy (often available on the manufacturer's website).
For the most part, our top picks get a thumbs-up from users for ease of cleaning. Humidifier reviews posted at Home Depot say the Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist is a breeze to clean; one user reports that a weekly wash with a water/white vinegar mixture keeps the unit free of mold and mildew. Most reviewers commenting on Toys R Us agree, with one suggesting Q-tips to clean the corners of the base although another grouses about difficulty getting the unit to dry completely before summer storage and finding a ring of mold the next season. The Vicks Warm Mist V745A is easy to take apart for weekly cleaning -- a chore that takes less than five minutes, say humidifier reviews posted on the Target website -- and one user cautions that failure to do this may cause the unit to stop working. Consumers seem unperturbed by the cleaning needs of the Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare, as we found only a few comments about this topic in humidifier reviews; consumers do note, however, that the antimicrobial filter should be replaced at least once a month. (By the way, the absence of filters that need replacing on the Crane EE-5301 and Vicks V745A is a convenience that consumers really value, according to the reviews we read.)
Refilling the water reservoir is more or less a burden that depends as much on frequency and tank design as on the attitude of the individual consumer posting a humidifiers review. Some consumers seem irked that the tank runs dry before the maximum number of hours advertised while others simply report the tank needs to be refilled daily or after a night of use in a child's bedroom. But remember, the frequency with which a humidifier needs a refill is affected by several factors, including the size of the tank, the size of the room, the air temperature, and the desired level of humidity, so don't be disappointed if the tank empties faster than you expect.
As for the actual task of refilling the tank, consumers have firm opinions about the models on our list. The tank of the Crane EE-5301 fits into at least some bathroom sinks, according to humidifier reviews, although a few users report minor leaking around the top when removing the tank from its base. Users commenting on Viewpoints about the Vicks V745A appreciate the easy on and off of the tank. By contrast, some write on Amazon that refilling the Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare can be cumbersome given the awkward shape of the tank. Then there's the Holmes HM630-U, a model whose tank design many users are quick to critique. Humidifier reviews on Amazon, complain about the curved top on the reservoir, which means you can't set it down while filling, and about the absence of side handles to hold while filling. The end result, according to reviewers, is tanks that slip out of your hands and crack, rendering them useless.
Best Humidifiers, Quiet Humidifiers
Quiet Humidifiers.Humidifiers generally go where people congregate or sleep, so noise level is an issue for at least some consumers. We read humidifier reviews indicating that some of the best humidifiers pass the sleeping baby test, others generate welcome white noise, and still others are irritatingly loud. In the first category we'd place the Crane EE-5301, an ultrasonic model that's so quiet even one dissatisfied user commenting on Toys R Us says the absence of noise is the only good feature; other reviewers say their children sleep peacefully when the humidifier is running and a few mention the gentle dripping and gargling of water. Users of the Vicks Warm Mist V745A report this model is reasonably quiet, with some asserting the white noise is calming; a couple of others, meanwhile, claim to be bothered by the sound. Although many consumers say the the Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare lives up to its name, we noticed a few negative comments on Amazon, including one that says it sounds like a box fan when set on high. The Holmes HM630-U fares poorly in this arena. Humidifiers reviews on Amazon, for example, complain loudly about the noise, describing the sound variously as high-pitched squeaking, fingernails-on-blackboard grating; many also express annoyance with misting cycles that continuously click on and off.
Moisture Output.Apart from a few dissident voices, consumers seem satisfied with the ability of these cheap humidifiers to add moisture to the air. In reviews on Home Depot, the Crane EE-5301 is lauded as one of the best humidifiers for sending plumes of cool mist into the air that work wonders on sinuses and congestion and enable plants to thrive. The Vicks V745A scores with consumers posting on Viewpoints who say this model sends out comforting mist in a matter of minutes -- enough to warm cool air, clear up dry skin, and stop nose bleeds; one user cautions against closing the door in the room where the humidifier is running to avoid condensation settling on the walls. Dry, itchy eyes are soothed with mist from the Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare, according to humidifier reviews, and even mid-sized rooms get nicely humid, although we did note some grumbling about inaccurate humidistats.
Humidifier Durability.Longevity and reliability are must-have attributes in the best humidifiers, even in low-cost models, but the paucity of user comments about this topic lead us to conclude that the cheap humidifiers on our list are fairly durable. Of course, we found scattered reports about units that ceased functioning after a few days or a season in storage, but for the most part, complaints about durability are rare. One exception among the models we researched is the Holmes HM630-U, which is panned by users on a variety of websites for tanks that crack (after dropping while trying to refill) or leak, auto settings that don't know when to stop cycling, and fans that seize up.
Additional Products We Considered
Vornado HU1-0021-28 Review
Quiet and highly effective, with the ability to humidify her whole loft apartment is how one user describes the Vornado HU1-0021-28 Whole-Room Evaporative Humidifier at Target.com. Amazon reviewers also like this low-cost humidifier saying that it is reliable, convenient to use and very effective at improving dry air.
The Vornado HU1-0021-28 Whole-Room Evaporative Humidifier is an evaporative, cool mist humidifier that has an adjustable humidistat and three fan speed settings for user convenience. The water tank holds 1.5 gallons of water and it works to humidify a space up to 1,000 square feet. This cheap humidifier has the longest warranty we have seen in the Cheapism niche at five years.
We really like the adjustable humidistat and three speed settings. This makes it super easy to use and users agree. Reviewers report the budget humidifier is convenient and effective. Additionally, we like the long warranty. Overall, this low-cost humidifier is a good choice to try.
Holmes HM495-UC Ultrasonic Medium Room Humidifier Review
Reviewers at Sears.com really like the Holmes Ultrasonic Humidifier saying it holds plenty of water, is easy to clean and is very quiet to the point that it can be used in bedrooms when sleeping. Target.com users agree saying it is super efficient, quiet and performs well. In fact several users say it's the best budget humidifier they have found.
The Holmes Ultrasonic Humidifier, model No. HM495-UC, holds 2.8 gallons of water -- the largest water tank we've found in the Cheapism niche -- and it works in medium rooms. Despite the large water tank, this humidifier has a unique design in that the space saving tower makes it small enough to place it on tables and desks if users don't want to use it on the floor. Additionally, it has variable mist settings and a one-year limited warranty.
We like the size and shape of this cheap humidifier. It has a large water tank and a sleek design that requires less refilling and can be placed anywhere. Users also seem to like this low-cost humidifier, saying it performs well and quietly. Overall, this budget humidifier may be a good option.