I have a little something different for you this week- a long overdue review of the Cigar Oasis Excel. If you are not familiar with the product, it’s an electronic humidification device that releases moisture into the air when the humidity dips below a percentage that you specify. Pretty straightforward, right?
The device Cigar Oasis sent me to evaluate is the Excel unit, which is designed to handle up to 300-count humidors (or 4 cubic feet). It’s larger than some other humidification mechanisms (e.g. beads, humidification packs) at 6″ x 2″ x 3.5″, but has the benefit of being both adjustable and refillable. And it also includes an low humidity alarm, with alerts that can be sent via email and text and a fan that runs when moisture is being released. And to make things more interesting, they also sent me a wifi unit called “Smart Humidor” that plugs into the humidifier allowing you to view the current temperature and humidity in your humidor via the Cigar Oasis smart phone app. Sounds like a winner, right? Let’s see how it did over a year or so in various humidors.
First things first, let’s talk about set up. My unit did require some assembly and configuration at the beginning. And while I do have a technical background, it took me a while to get everything assembled and working properly, especially with the wifi unit involved. I can see the picture-light, technical writing in the included manual being somewhat intimidating to non-technical users. That being said, it’s not much different than the manual included with many consumer electronics gadgets out there, and it is a device that’s likely to appeal toward gadget-loving cigar smokers.
With the device assembled, my first concern was the cords and cables. Even with the wifi unit, it is not a cordless device. At least not without a rechargeable battery pack that is not included with the unit. The Cigar Oasis Excel uses a thin ribbon cable to connect to its power source that is supposed to slip through the lid of any closed humidor. Humidor lids close pretty tightly, will that actually work well? I tried it out with several different Tupperware and air-tight plastic bins as well as a proper humidor and it functioned as advertised. Not only did it fit, it gave no noticed resistance to closing the lids. (I really expected there would be a little.) The only negative here was the somewhat unattractive creases the closed lids made in the ribbon cable. But that’s only visible when you open the humidor.
You know I said earlier that this review was long overdue? The Cigar Oasis Excel is largely to blame for that. In my experience, it was very set-it-and-forget-it. So I forgot about it. Well, not completely. I did run the unit in four different humidors over the past year. In each case, I’ve never had to do less to keep cigars humidified. It barely ran in the humidors that were stable (by that I mean it didn’t have to do much), and in the ones that weren’t stable were so by the time I moved the Excel onto the next humidor. Consistent, unattended, long term humidity control- Check.
For a month or two, I tried the unit out with a stable humidor much larger than the recommended size the for the Cigar Oasis Excel. The unit had no problem handling it, leading me to believe it could actually be used in humidors larger than advertised, provided they’ve been properly maintained.
In another test, I put Cigar Oasis Excel in an old, bone-dry 100-count humidor with some random, dry, throw-away cigars. I set it to 68 and let it run for an hour or so. And run it did, doing the 67 to 69% dance over and over again. Then I opened the lid until the humidity hit 60%, closed it again and timed it. It took 22 to 24 seconds to hit 68% again. Of course that doesn’t mean those old, dry cigars are all properly humidified in that brief span of time, but that is pretty quick turn around for filling all the vacant space in the humidor with moisture. I don’t need to test it with other more passive humidification mechanisms to know that’s considerably faster.
So I’ve talked a lot about the Cigar Oasis Excel, but what about the Smart Humidor wifi unit? When I mentioned before that the setup being a little complicated, I was really thinking mostly about the wifi unit. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s a pain. It involves non-intuitive double button combinations (they aren’t fat finger friendly), connecting a mobile device to the unit wirelessly, buggy MAC ID scanning, frustrating and unnecessary double entry of your wireless password (this always takes me several attempts to get right) and my least favorite thing- having to create another user account to use the app. Though to be fair, the user account is how you set up your text and email alerts, so it does serve a purpose.
If I sound a little annoyed, I am. As I was writing this and reviewing the manual, I noticed my wireless unit was disconnected from the wifi network. It actually has been for a while. I decided to reconnecting it as a “quick” refresher on the process. Reconnecting the device involves going through all the Smart Humidor setup steps again. This time around I was unable to get the unit to both connect to the wifi and display the humidity. Ultimately, I unplugged it (which frustratingly seems to wipe out the wifi settings) to get the humidifier back out configuration screens. I don’t want to talk about it.
On a positive note, the Cigar Oasis app, which is a major part of Smart Humidor, is convenient when you spend a lot of time away from your humidor. In the time since I’ve had the Excel and Smart Humidor, improvements have been made to the app which cigar geeks should enjoy- Including a dashboard showing all connected Smart Humidor devices as handy thumbnails with temperature and humidity, as well as charts and reports displaying the state of your humidor over time. If you like data and charts, you may not be able to resist the Smart Humidor add-on.
- Set it and forget it. I’ve never done less to keep cigars humidified.
- Excel reservoir outlasted any other humidification method I’ve used.
- Wireless checking of the temperature and humidity and low humidity alerts with Smart Humidor.
- Smart Humidor tracks your humidor’s vitals and displays in graphs and reports in smart phone app.
- Can adjust humidity setting remotely with Smart Humidor app.
- The setup process for both units is thoroughly and precisely documented.
- The people at Cigar Oasis have been very helpful and quick to respond to questions about the unit. They have also done a good job of anticipating potential setup questions with a 14 video playlist on their YouTube channel.
- In the time I have had the Excel and Smart Humidor, Cigar Oasis have made updates to their software and are keen to keep improving it.
- The Cigar Excel Oasis and Smart Humidor are pricey compared to other popular methods (MSRP $120 for each at the time of this writing).
- You will need to keep your humidor near a power socket, unless you buy the rechargeable battery pack.
- Setup may be difficult or confusing for the non-technical, especially with Smart Humidor.
- You may have to set up Smart Humidor all over again after a power outage.
- You have to set up a user account with Cigar Oasis to use the Smart Humidor app.
I am absolutely sold on the Cigar Oasis Excel and would recommend it to anyone looking for a worry and maintenance free humidifier for their 100 to 300-count humidor. It’s my favorite humidification device right now, and I’m probably going to buy a few more. I’m not as in love with Smart Humidor. When it’s working, it’s pretty nice, but I find I don’t use it often, as I’m rarely far from my humidors for long enough to need it. I could see it being a very useful addition for cigar geeks that spend a lot of time on the road, or anyone with a large collection of humidors and the money to cover all the units. I think I’d like it more if it were built into the Excel unit and more quickly and easily configurable. That would definitely be worth the additional cost.