Whole House Humidifiers – A Guide

Whole House Humidifier Pros and Cons

When you own a home, you are often confronted with many choices about different renovations, installations, or other changes and fixes that you might want to make.

While sometimes issues require a fix or replacement, in other cases, personal needs or preferences can drive some of the changes you would like to make to your home, big or small. A frequent question we get at Total Home Supply is whether or not it’s “worth it” to make various changes, such as installing a whole house humidifier.

If you live in a dry climate, or frequently find that the air in your home is uncomfortable due to dryness, a whole house humidifier can help make the air in your home much more breathable. A whole house humidifier is installed directly into your home’s ductwork, either on the return or supply end. Then, an internal humidifier pad, steaming system, or rotating drum continuously distributes water into the air.

From general comfort to allergy issues, a whole house humidifier can make a world of difference. Before dumping the time, money, and energy to complete and maintain a project, it’s important to take into account the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

Whole House Humidifier Pros and Cons

When it comes to installing a whole house humidifier, there are some positive and negative aspects that can help you decide if it’s right for you.

Pros of whole house humidifiers

There are many advantages to owning a whole house humidifier. Below are just a few ways that they can be beneficial.

  • Cost – Although on the surface it seems like portable humidifiers are the more cost-effective option, (usually around $50), in the long run, they tend to break down and need to be replaced frequently. On the flip side, whole house humidifiers usually run in the neighborhood of $600 to $700, but last about a decade. In the long run, a longer lasting, more reliable option is often easier on your budget.
  • Health – When the air inside a home is too dry, it can cause skin and throat irritation, allergy and sinus flare-ups, and increased vulnerability to viruses. By adding moisture to the air, you can alleviate these issues.
  • Whole Home Comfort – Eliminate the need to keep moving your portable humidifier from room to room. Because whole house humidifiers are hooked up to your home’s HVAC system, they make all the rooms in your home comfortable simultaneously.
  • Energy – The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that for every degree lower you set your thermostat, you can save about 4% on your heating bills. Whole house humidifiers help make this happen by making the home feel more comfortable, which leads to lower temperature settings.
  • Convenience – While portable units require frequent water changes and movement, whole house humidifiers cut down on the hassle by operating automatically, as they are connected to the HVAC system.
  • Control – By being able to set the humidity levels in your home, you can gain a level of control over your home’s air quality that allows you to have the exact air quality you desire.

Cons of whole house humidifiers

Although there are many reasons to get a whole house humidifier, there are some disadvantages to consider.

  • Cost – Yes, when it comes to whole house humidifier units, the cost can be both a pro and a con. Although long-term these units may be the more budget conscious choice, the upfront purchase and installation costs may be a deterrent for some.
  • Maintenance – As with any major home system, whole house humidifiers may require yearly inspection and maintenance, which is an important consideration to factor into your overall budget.
  • Can Cause Issues – When you choose a humidifier system, it is important to make sure that you get a quality one and that it is installed properly. If you use a cheap unit or it is not correctly put into place, it could cause mold to grow throughout your home in the air ducts.

Whole House Humidifier Types

When selecting a whole house humidifier, you will find that there are two main types to choose from. Below we’ll compare steam vs. evaporative whole house humidifiers to help you determine which is best for you.


Using electric probes, steam humidifiers boil water and then inject the steam into the air stream. This type of whole house humidifier is great for larger homes or those that have lots of real wood in the home.

However, steam units generally cost most to install and run and also require annual maintenance.

Aprilaire 800 Whole House Steam Humidifier with Digital Control
Aprilaire 800 Whole House Steam Humidifier with Digital Control

For applications when evaporative units are less practical, such as attics, crawl spaces, closets, areas with milder winter climates, and non-forced...


Buy Now


Also known as an evaporative pad humidifier, these work by blowing warm air over an evaporative pad that has water trickling down it. From there, the water evaporates and the moisture is absorbed into the air. An evaporative pad humidifier is the most commonly used whole house humidifier.

These units are generally easy to install and maintain and are less costly than the alternative.

Do You Need a Whole House Humidifier?

Aprilaire Whole House Humidifier

Some homeowners get by with smaller or portable systems to take care of their air quality needs. But in some cases, opting for the whole house option may be the smarter choice in the long run. Whether or not you need a whole house system largely depends on why you need it in the first place.

For example, if you live in a particularly dry climate or if someone in your home has severe allergies or asthma, the investment in a home system may be preferable.

If you aren’t sure, it can be a great idea to have a consultation with a professional who can advise you based on your particular situation. Their advice can help inform you about any potential concerns or benefits.

Is it worth it?

Aprilaire Whole House Steam Humidifier

In the end, the choice is yours. A whole house humidifier can be a great addition to your home. Not only can they provide added comfort to your home and prevent damage and health issues, but they can even lower your energy bills.

On the flip side, if you have the opposite problem –– your home’s air is too humid –– a whole house dehumidifier might be the better move.

If you’re ready, start making your living space all the more breathable by browsing through our whole house humidifier selection. Here are a couple of our popular options:

Aprilaire 500M Whole House Humidifier with Manual Control
Aprilaire 500M Whole House Humidifier with Manual Control

Dry air in the home not only makes you uncomfortable with itchy skin, nose bleeds, and static electricity, but low humidity in the home can make you...


Buy Now
Aprilaire 800 Whole House Steam Humidifier with Digital Control
Aprilaire 800 Whole House Steam Humidifier with Digital Control

For applications when evaporative units are less practical, such as attics, crawl spaces, closets, areas with milder winter climates, and non-forced...


Buy Now



Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

One thought on “Whole House Humidifiers – A Guide

  • Please let me know pros and cons of Steam Humidifier versus Evaporative? Can a whole house humidifier run year around? I live in Denver area and it is bone dry all the time. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.