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Hands-on Gear Review

Sunpentown SU-4010 Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $110.00 List | $69.00 at Amazon - 37% off
Pros:  Quiet, easy to use, efficient with strong output, easy to fill tank, compact
Cons:  High setting produces thick mist which can accumulate on surfaces
Bottom line:  Excellent choice with long run time and nice features
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Sunpentown

The Skinny

The Sunpentown SU-4010 was a strong performer in all of our rating areas with an ability to effectively and quietly humidify both large and small rooms via a nice combination of features and overall design. Its included ionic exchange filter cartridge designed to reduce mineral output helped us rest easy knowing that we were not putting anything extra into the air besides moisture. Several ultrasonic humidifiers in our testing did not function with a filter such as our Top Pick the Safety 1st 360 as well as the Duux while others offered a filter only as an accessory purchase including the Crane Drop and Crane Adorable. Read on to learn why we choose this humidifier as our Editors' Choice winner.


RELATED REVIEW: The Hunt for the Best Humidifier


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Ellen Baker & BabyGearLab Team

Last Updated:
Sunday
June 14, 2015

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After testing nine different humidifiers, we developed some definite preferences for specific features and design based on daily use and cleaning requirements. All of our contenders were able to raise the moisture level in a small room, but, for various reasons, not all were pleasant to live with on a day-in-day-out basis. The Sunpentown SU-4010 turned out to be the most agreeable humidifier of the bunch; we would choose to use this compact workhorse on a daily basis, both temporarily and for extended periods of time.

Performance Comparison


The Sunpentown SU-4010 in action.
The Sunpentown SU-4010 in action.

Ease of Cleaning


When compared to some of our other tested humidifiers that either required more involved maintenance such as the Boneco U7147 Digital or had lots of areas that were hard to reach during cleaning like the Optimus U-31002, the Sunpentown SU-4010 came out above-average for ease of cleaning with a 6 of 10. The water tank opening was large enough to accommodate a hand to wipe down the inside on almost all surfaces except a few far-reaching spots at the end of the tank. We were happy to find that the this humidifier comes with a small brush to clean the ultrasonic vibrating plate as well as some of the other small spaces in the base, and that the brush fits neatly into the base for storage.
The opening on the Sunpentown SU-4010 water tank makes it easy to clean  but the area on the right is difficult to access with either hand or brush.
Included brush fits neatly into the Sunpentown reservoir for easy access during regular cleaning.
 


One extra cleaning step to be aware of with this humidifier is the inlet grille filter on the underside of the base which needs to be removed and cleaned with a vacuum on occasion. We weren't very excited about this step, although we did like the fact that the filter prevents dust from entering into the unit and attaching to its internal parts. Sunpentown doesn't make a recommendation on how often to clean the inlet grille filter but during our in-home testing, we found that this cleaning step was not necessary to do every week; just a quick check of the filter to look for dirt accumulation was all that was necessary.
The inlet grille filter can be accessed at the base of the Sunpentown.
The inlet grille filter can be accessed at the base of the Sunpentown.

Effectiveness


Scoring a 7 of 10, this humidifier was the third best performer in our testing group. Though it was outperformed by the Boneco U7147 and Vornado Ultra3, it more than met our needs for humidification of a smaller room. A huge perk is the continuously adjustable mist output knob because it allows the output to be adjusted from just a pinch of mist to a full-blown fog machine. We rarely needed to use this unit at its full mist output setting. By setting the dial at mid-output, we were able to maintain ideal humidity levels overnight without saturating surfaces.

Noise


This unit was one of the top scoring in noise output with a 9 of 10 and is extremely quiet alongside the Optimus and Safety 1st 360. Had it not been for the visible mist pouring out of the jets, we would have wondered on multiple occasions if this unit was even on. This made our ears so happy and our sleep so much more relaxing.

Ease of Use


The Sunpentown SU-4010 water tank's rectangular shape makes for hands-free filling in the kitchen sink.
The Sunpentown SU-4010 water tank's rectangular shape makes for hands-free filling in the kitchen sink.
This humidifier earned the highest rating for Ease of Use with a 9 of 10 due to its helpful features and well-executed design. Its large tank, just shy of 4 Liters, runs a full two nights at medium before needing a refill. The tank's rectangular shape makes it very stable during refills and can filled hands-free. And, unlike the Crane humidifier models which provide a handle on the water tank yet clearly state that the handle should not be used when the tank is full, Sunpentown's sturdy built-in handle makes it much easier to carry whether empty or full.



Included with purchase is an ion exchange filter cartridge which basically means that the SU-4010 can be run with regular tap water. For those living in a hard water area, this gives peace of mind that minerals will be mostly filtered out the water before being generated into mist output and that white dust will be minimized. If you do not have filtered water or a reverse osmosis device in your home, it also saves the trouble and extra cost of purchasing gallon after gallon of distilled water from the store. The manufacturer recommends changing the $30 filter every 6 months if the humidifier is used a mid-output level for 6 hours/day on average.

The continuously variable mist output control and adjustable dual mist jets lets a user choose mist output and direction. As mentioned, it excels at effectiveness and we rarely needed to operate this humidifier full throttle, and doing so tends to push the humidity beyond the suggested comfort level of 40-50% humidity. For us, this resulted in a wet spot on the carpeting below. Mid-range output works best for overnight use. And, because the Sunpentown is so quiet, we found ourselves leaving it at its lowest setting during the day for a little extra moisture kick.

Although not a small humidifier, the Sunpentown does fit a large tank and plenty of power into a compact rectangular base with an angled shape that fits easily on the side of a night stand or countertop. Its rectangular structure used space more efficiently than circular units in our review such as the Safety 1st 360, Crane Drop, and Duux.

The Sunpentown's auto shut-off feature is very nice. We had first-hand experience with it when we clumsily tripped over the cord and accidentally tipped the unit over. When it tipped, the Sunpentown immediately stopped working and the red "add water" light illuminated. Although this feature didn't soothe our pride from tripping, it gave us peace of mind that it would not continue to operate (and possibly overheat) without water.
When the Sunpentown SU-4010 runs out of water  the red light will illuminate and the unit will stop running.
When the Sunpentown SU-4010 runs out of water, the red light will illuminate and the unit will stop running.

Best Applications


The Sunpentown is a strong performer in all rating areas and we feel it is versatile enough to recommend as the overall best option for the majority of users. With a manufacturer recommended room humidification area of 500 square feet, a continuously adjustable mist output knob, and above average effectiveness, it can provide as little or as much moisture as you need for rooms both large and small.

For users who plan to use tap water, as mentioned, this humidifier comes with a ion exchange filter that helps to reduce white dust. If you plan to use distilled or filtered water, you can operate it without the filter by simply unscrewing it from the water tank cap.
A view of the water tank cap with ion exchange filter attached.
A view of the water tank cap with ion exchange filter attached.

The SU-4010 will produce warm mist if you select the warm mist setting on the operation knob. Although the water in the base does not get any hotter than 104 degrees and the mist feels only slightly warm when coming out, there is a heating element inside. Though an internal part and not easily accessible (even after the tank is removed, exposed surfaces are not hot), we recommend placing the humidifier well out of a baby's or toddler's reach. And, as with any product with an electrical cord, this too should be well out of reach.

Value


With a List of $110 but typically selling for just under $100, the SU-4010 is the third most expensive unit we tested in our review. However, it delivers a lot of bang for the buck with great functionality and design as well as a 1-Year warranty. The included ion exchange filter at a $30 value is a nice perk as well. If you use distilled or highly filtered water, you will not need to use and replace this filter. If going with tap water, purchasing a replacement filter at about $30 every six months during regular use is a must.

Conclusion


Though the Sunpentown may not hold the outward appeal of the Duux or Crane Adorable humidifiers, it delivers in functionality and met all of our needs for humidifying a small to mid-sized room. When it come to humidifiers, in our opinion, function certainly trumps appearance. We highly recommend the Sunpentown having given it our Editors' Choice award.
Ellen Baker & BabyGearLab Team

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Most recent review: June 14, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
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5 star: 100%  (1)
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