Vornado Ultra3 Review
Pros: Powerful, good for large spaces, no moisture accumulation on surfaces
Cons: Noisy, difficult to clean
Our Analysis and Test Results
With a simple but effective combination of ultrasonic humidification plus powerful fan circulation, the Vornado Ultra3 delivers extremely effective humidification for areas up to 600 square feet. The Kansas-based Vornado company is known best for its air circulation technology (i.e. fans), but it also offers heaters and air purifiers as well. It recently launched a new line of products designed specifically for baby's nursery that is worth perusing on their website.
Ease of Cleaning
With a 4 of 10 in ease of cleaning, the Vornado scores on par with the Optimus U-31002, the Crane Drop, and Crane Adorable models. Because they all have more than a few areas that aren't easily accessible by hand or brush, they score lower. The Ultra3 is designed so that the additional fan used to push the ultrasonic mist into the air is permanently integrated into the base. The location of this fan makes it difficult to reach into the base for cleaning, and also makes it more difficult to rinse out the base without the concern of water sneaking into the fan parts. We also never found a good way to clean the tunnel that carries mist up to the output jets. The water tank has a wide opening so most will be able to put their hand inside of it for cleaning. However, the tank's angled top makes it extremely unbalanced during refills.
At a 9 of 10 for effectiveness, the Vornado is the only unit in our testing bunch that uses a combination of mist generated through ultrasonic vibration, plus an additional fan to increase mist dispersion. This combination is highly effective and is able to bring room humidity levels up quickly as well as maintain them within a desired range through the use of an internal hygrometer which is a really nice bonus feature.
Because the fan that pushes mist upwards towards the ceiling, the mist has added height which gives it more time to adequately disperse into the air without accumulating on surrounding surfaces. In comparison, other units in our review tended to generate unwanted surface moisture beneath them.
There is no denying it; the Vornado is loud. As such, it scores a 1 of 10 in the noise metric. In fact, the company's name is eerily similar to "tornado." At its lowest setting, a tolerable fan noise is generated, but medium and high settings feel fatiguing to the ears and not pleasant for sleep. So, for those who love intense white noise, this humidifier will certainly fit the bill. And, if you are looking for fan noise that will cover up unexpected sounds (for example, you are unloading dishes in the kitchen and don't want to disturb the baby), the Vornado meets both humidification and white noise needs.
Ease of Use
The Ultra3's combination of extra features accessed by simple controls make it a stand-out performer in this area at 8 of 10, second only to the Editors' Choice winner, the Sunpentown SU-4010. The Vornado has an on-off button, a button for fan speed, and a button to select either a desired humidity level or continuous operation. And, as mentioned previously, it can self-regulate humidity levels using an internal hygrometer.
The simple controls are accompanied by small blue LED lights at the top of the unit. This set-up may appeal more than those humidifiers with indicator lights on the front of the unit such as the Safety 1st 360 and the Crane Drop Shape simply because this format is likely to be less disruptive for people who desire a dark room at night.
The powerful performance of the Ultra3 makes it ideal for larger spaces, and the included replaceable mineral cartridge makes it an option for people who will be using tap water. Like all of our other tested ultrasonic humidifiers, Vornado recommends the use of distilled water if white dust continues to be a problem.
The Vornado Ultra3 is the second most expensive unit that we tested at a list price of $130, $40 less than the Boneco U-7147 Digital. It provides a lot of humidification power, which we feel is valuable in some situations, but it may not be the best choice for a small nursery. If you are using tap water, you will also need to factor in the cost of replacing the mineral cartridge every few months.
The Vornado may be right for you if you are not concerned with extra noise or increased difficulties with cleaning. Its unique combination of ultrasonic technology plus a powerful fan makes it highly effective.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team