Average Cost for a Whole House Humidifier
The average cost to have an HVAC company install a whole house humidifier into your existing system is $525. This cost includes a basic evaporative humidifier, the installation of a small water line to provide the humidity, as well as all installation supplies and clean up once they are done.
Average Do It Yourself cost
Average Contractor Installed Cost
Typical Cost Range
$400 – $650
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Overview of House Humidifiers
A whole house humidifier installed in your forced air system ductwork is a great way to beat dry air during the heating season. You’ll be more comfortable, and the humidity is essential for the health of wood flooring and furniture. Opposite of a dehumidifier, these ducted humidifiers add moisture, versus removing it from the air in your home.
There are three types of whole house ducted humidifiers. The first two are evaporative. The third humidifies with steam:
- Bypass or pass-through humidifiers are installed on the outside of the ductwork. Air is directed into the unit using a damper. Water runs down a metal panel or is absorbed by a pad on a drum inside the humidifier. As furnace air blows over the panel or pad, moisture is evaporated into the air circulating in the ducts. Panel-type models use more water but require less maintenance than drum-type humidifiers.
- Fan-powered humidifiers: These evaporative humidifiers are manufactured with a fan to improve evaporation and the flow of moist air into the ductwork.
- Steam humidifiers use 240 volts and a heating element to create steam that is then carried along in the air circulating in the ducts. Steam whole house humidifiers produce the most humidity, but use a lot of water and heating energy to do it. They also cost more. If your floors are wood and you have a lot of fine wood furniture, a steam unit might be worth the extra cost. Otherwise, a steam humidifier might produce more moisture than your home needs.
All three types use water from a line tapped into a cold water supply. Some bypass and steam humidifiers require a floor drain for excess water.
Sizing your humidifier can be difficult. Consider three homes, each 2,000 square feet.
- Home w/ Loose Seal. 40+ years old with drafty windows and doors. No house wrap. Choose a humidifier rated for 3,000 square feet.
- Home w/ Tight Seal. Less than 20 years old with tight envelope and doors/windows in excellent condition: Choose a humidifier rated for 1,500 to 2,000 sq. ft.
- Home w/ Average Seal: The home is 20-40 years old and the doors and windows are in fair condition. Choose a humidifier rated 2,000 sq. ft.
Product Cost Factors
Humidifier Price Factors
There are just a few key factors in the cost of a whole house humidifier.
- Humidifier Type – Bypass humidifiers are the most affordable, followed by fan-powered evaporative humidifiers. Steam humidifiers cost about three times as much. When a dedicated circuit and wiring must be added, cost can be five times higher.
- Brand and Quality – Aprilaire, Emerson, Skuttle, White Rodgers and Honeywell are among the top brands and are backed by warranties of 5 or 10 years. They cost more than cheap knock-off brands with a warranty of 1-3 years. Most major HVAC brands – Carrier, Trane, Goodman, etc., also manufacture whole house humidifiers, and warranties are mostly 10 year. Most of these units are sold only through HVAC contractors with installation included, so cost can be higher.
- Capacity – Humidifiers are rated for square footage, usually from about 2,500 to 4,500 square feet. Steam humidifiers are often rated for 6,000 sq. ft. or more.
Retail Cost Range (Equipment Only)
Here are the cost ranges for the three types of whole house humidifiers.
- $120 – $215 | Bypass humidifiers.
- $175 – $325 | Fan-powered humidifiers.
- $480 – $1,150 | Steam humidifiers
Permits, Inspection, and Installation Costs
- $0 – $125 | A permit is not required unless a circuit and wiring is being installed (steam humidifiers only)
Installation Labor Cost
Who you hire to install your humidifier affects the labor price:
- $35 – $50 per hour | Handyman labor rate
- $60 – $115 per hour | HVAC technician labor rate
Installation Labor Factors
There are four labor cost factors:
- Humidifier Type – Installation costs are highest with steam humidifiers because of the additional wiring and plumbing needed.
- Who Installs It – For pro installation, a handyman service costs less than hiring an HVAC/plumbing contractor.
- Furnace or Ductwork Access – How easy ($) or difficult ($$) the installation location is to access affects cost.
- Time of Year – Hiring an HVAC contractor in busy mid-winter or mid-summer usually costs more than during off seasons. Spring through fall is the busiest season for handyman services, so costs might be higher.
- 2-3 Hours | Installation time for the average bypass or fan-powered humidifier.
- 4-6 Hours | Installation time for most steam humidifiers.
DIY or Hire a Pro
Some homeowners successfully install their evaporative humidifier, the type accounting for 90% of whole house humidifiers. The keys when cutting into ductwork are taking precise measurements for a tight fit and being careful, since cut sheet metal is extremely sharp.
Steam humidifier installation is quite difficult because of the 240V circuit, wiring and plumbing aspects. While some homeowners with those skills install a steam humidifier, most steam units are professionally installed.
Before you tackle steam humidifier installation, an install video like this one will show you the scope of the project.