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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.
Humidifier Maintenance.Lackluster reviews will dog a cheap humidifier if it 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 Target -- 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 cheap 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.
Humidifier Moisture Output.Apart from a few dissident voices,consumers seem satisfied with the ability of these cheapest humidifiers to add moisture to the air. In humidifier reviews on Home Depot, the Crane EE-5301 is given credit 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, even in low-cost humidifiers, 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.
Don't Bother Cheap Humidifiers
Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier
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. Read more »
Holmes HM495-UC Ultrasonic Medium Room Humidifier Review
Holmes HM630-U Cool Mist Tower Humidifier Review
Honeywell HCM-630 QuietCare Review
Vicks Warm Mist V745A Review
Crane EE-5301 Cool Mist Humidifier Review
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