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What size portable humidifier do you need?

Portable humidifiers come in different sizes. Find out what option the most sense for your home.

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Humidifiers have different sizes and capacities to suit different rooms. 

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As we approach the winter months, you may notice the air in your home becoming more dry, leading to problems like dry sinuses, dry and cracked skin and lips, nosebleeds and more. One of the simplest solutions to this problem is to place a portable humidifier in your room to increase the moisture either all day long or just while you sleep.

As you start shopping for a portable humidifier, you may find yourself wondering which size you'll need. Finding the right size humidifier for you depends largely on the size of your room. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the right humidifier for your home.

Read more: Humidifier buying guide: Everything you need to know about portable humidifiers

What is a portable humidifier?

A portable humidifier is a small household device that increases the moisture level in your home. Humidifiers come with plenty of benefits, including easing dry skin, cracked lips and sinus problems that many people experience in the winter.

A portable humidifier is generally different from a whole-house humidifier. A whole-house humidifier is designed to increase moisture in your entire home, as the name implies. A portable humidifier, on the other hand, provides moisture in the room where it's located and can easily be moved from room to room.

How to find the right size portable humidifier

As we mentioned, portable humidifiers are designed to increase moisture in a single room of your home rather than your entire home. As a result, the size humidifier you need depends largely on the size of the room where you'll be using it.

In general, you can choose your humidifier based on three different room sizes:

  • Small room: A small room is one with a square footage of fewer than 400 feet. For this type of room, you'll typically need a humidifier with fewer than 1.5 gallons.
  • Medium room: A medium room is one with square footage between 400 and 1,000 feet. For this type of room, you'll typically need a humidifier with 1-3 gallons.
  • Large room: A large room is one with a square footage of more than 1,000 feet. For this type of room, you'll typically need a humidifier with more than three gallons.

As you're shopping for a portable humidifier, you'll find that most products make it easy to decide if it's right for you. The listing usually includes both the number of gallons it holds and the size of the room it's appropriate for.

Other things to consider

The size of your room isn't the only consideration when choosing the right portable humidifier for your home. Here are a few other factors that may play a role in your decision:

  • Where you'll be using it: Shopping for a portable humidifier for just one room is easy. But if you'll be moving the humidifier throughout your home, be sure to choose one that's appropriate for the largest room in your home.
  • What type of humidifier you want: Portable humidifiers come in a few different varieties, including cool mist, warm mist, and ultrasonic humidifiers. Certain types of humidifiers may be better suited to certain sized spaces.
  • How often you'll be using it: The size of your room is an important consideration for choosing the right size humidifier, but so is how often you'll be using it. If you plan to run your portable humidifier all day, you may want one with a larger capacity.

Portable humidifier cost

You probably won't be surprised to learn that in general, the cost of your portable humidifier will increase with its size. You can expect to pay more for a portable humidifier to provide moisture to a home's large living area than you would for a humidifier for a small bedroom. Below is a chart with some general cost estimates for humidifiers for small, medium and large rooms.

Portable humidifiers by room size


Square footage Gallons Cost
Small room < 400 square feet < 1.5 gallons < $50
Medium room 400-1,000 square feet 1-3 gallons $50-$100
Large room 1,000+ square feet 3 gallons+ $120+

The bottom line

A portable humidifier can make your home more comfortable during the dry winter months. But to get the most from your humidifier, it's important that you choose the right size. Shopping for a humidifier is fairly easy, since most online listings share what size room the product is appropriate for, but there are a few other factors to consider as well.

For more information about home humidifiers, visit these guides: