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    Find the Right-Sized Humidifier for Any Room

    Plus, top performers from Consumer Reports' tests

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    humidifier Photo: iStock

    When you’re shopping for a humidifier, matching the unit to the size of the room in question is key. So pay attention to the square footage range mentioned on the box or product web page. That’s the area the unit can cover, and it’s how you know whether the humidifier is right.

    A humidifier, you see, is one product for which bigger isn’t better. To be sure, a humidifier that can’t release enough moisture into a given space might not provide relief from cold-weather symptoms like dry and itchy skin. But a humidifier that’s meant for a larger room than what you have can create a moist environment that breeds dust mites and mold, and triggers allergic reactions.

    In short, if your purchase isn’t matched to the area that needs humidification, you could be dissatisfied—and potentially put your health at risk.

    More on Humidifiers

    “Since high humidity leads to its own set of problems, avoid buying the largest humidifier and instead pick the one designed for the size of your space,” says Misha Kollontai, the engineer who leads Consumer Reports’ humidifier testing.

    Ideally, the humidity level in your home should be between 30 percent and 50 percent, according to Energy Star. In colder areas during the heating season, the sweet spot for room humidity ranges from 30 percent to 40 percent to prevent window condensation.

    How to Choose

    To find the right humidifier, measure your room’s square footage. Then zero in on our humidifier ratings. They’re organized by the room size they’re intended for, from personal humidifiers for areas up to 25 square feet, all the way up to consoles meant for spaces of 1,000 square feet or more.

    Manufacturers typically claim that their humidifiers are intended for a specific room size, which is why we measure a humidifier’s moisture output and calculate how well it humidifies the specified area.

    Most of the units in our humidifier ratings are cool-mist units, the most widely sold kind. A few are warm-mist, also known as steam vaporizers. A handful are dual-mist, capable of producing both warm and cool mist. In our ratings you’ll see humidifiers from dozens of brands, including Air Innovations, Boneco, Crane, Dyson, Honeywell, Lasko, Vicks, and Vornado.

    Here’s a look at five high-scoring humidifiers from our tests, from a lightweight portable to a console. All are cool-mist models.

    For more information on types of humidifiers and tips on choosing one, check out our free humidifier buying guide. CR members can also view our humidifier ratings to see how they compare in our tests.

    Travel/Personal (up to 25 sq. ft.)

    Small Room (26 to 299 sq. ft.)

    Medium Room (300 to 499 sq. ft.)

    Large Room (500 to 999 sq. ft.)

    Console (1,000 sq. ft. or more)

    Tobie Stanger

    I cover the money side of home-related purchases and improvements: avoiding scams, making sense of warranties and insurance, finding the best financing, and getting the most value for your dollar. For CR, I've also written about digital payments, credit and debit, taxes, supermarkets, financial planners, airlines, retirement and estate planning, shopping for electronics and hearing aids—even how to throw a knockout wedding on a shoestring. I am never bored. Find me on Twitter: @TobieStanger