Humidity can do more harm than you might imagine. This is especially true in naturally humid climates, and during the summer months. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, you could be subjecting yourself to a lot of unnecessary discomfort and health risks.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the main benefits of dehumidification, what to look for in a dehumidifier, and our top recommendations for any budget.
How a Dehumidifier Can Benefit You
In simplest terms, a dehumidifier pulls in the surrounding air, strips moisture from it, then circulates it back into the room. The moisture collects in a basin that you dump out every so often. Though, in more advanced models, the moisture can be pumped out through a drainage tube.
Of the many reasons to monitor indoor humidity at home, here are the most important:
- Humidity makes you feel hotter. According to the Heat Index Chart published by the NOAA, humidity during warm and hot weather can make you feel between three degrees and 18 degrees hotter (when comparing 50 to 80 percent humidity).
- Humidity encourages bacteria and mold growth. Bacteria thrive at 50 percent humidity and higher, while mold thrives at 70 percent humidity and higher. Both can harm your health and should be minimized.
- Humidity can damage home property. Excess moisture can warp wood, peel paint, fade photographs, and corrode metal. For this reason, even if you don’t get a dehumidifier, consider getting a few moisture sensors for your home.
Do You Need a Dehumidifier?
The only way to know for sure is to grab an analog or digital hygrometer (a thermometer-like tool that measures humidity) and check the humidity level of your home. We recommend the ThermoPro TP50 or the AcuRite 00613.
On average, across a year, the ideal indoor humidity level is between 45 and 55 percent. However, fluctuations are normal with the comings and goings of weather, so a humidity level between 30 and 60 percent is often comfortable enough for most people.
Note that excess humidity is more easily felt in the summer, and anything over 50 percent may contribute to feelings of stickiness, mugginess, and general discomfort. Therefore, if you regularly have indoor humidity levels above 50 percent, we recommend buying a dehumidifier.
Do You Need a Dehumidifier If You Have AC?
Air conditioners do strip some moisture from the air when running. However, the primary difference is that AC units are optimized for cooling and circulating air. Dehumidifiers don’t cool the air and are instead optimized for removing as much moisture as possible.
That said, running an AC unit and dehumidifier together may cool your home faster and use less energy. This is because dry air makes it easier for moisture to evaporate, and evaporation has a cooling effect on the skin.
It’s worth noting that dehumidifiers do give off heat as well. However, the unit may only raise the temperature one or two degrees, which is negligible in larger rooms.
What to Look for in a Dehumidifier
You may feel overwhelmed the first time you shop for a dehumidifier. There are a lot of technical terms and numbers thrown around. In essence, there’s a lot of marketing speak to advertize certain products to you. However, there are only three things you need to know about to make a purchase you won’t regret.
There are three types of dehumidifiers: compressor, desiccant, and thermo-electric. While desiccant and thermo-electric types have their uses, they are often very slow and unfit for most homes. You’ll be happiest with a compressor type. Fortunately, this is the most common type sold.
Commercial dehumidifiers come in three main sizes: 30-pint, 50-pint, and 70-pint. The size describes how much moisture it’s designed to pull from the air per day—it has no relation to physical dimensions or reservoir capacity.
Some guides will tell you that a 30-pint dehumidifier is suitable for smaller rooms, a 50-pint dehumidifier for bigger rooms, and a 70-pint dehumidifier for the largest of rooms. While this isn’t bad advice per se, we disagree with it.
Regardless of the square footage of your home, you should always buy the largest-sized dehumidifier that you can afford. The reasoning behind this is simple:
- Larger dehumidifiers pull moisture faster than smaller dehumidifiers.
- Because larger dehumidifiers are faster, you’ll experience relief within hours rather than days. This enhances comfort.
- As larger dehumidifiers are faster, they don’t need to run as long or often as smaller dehumidifiers do. This saves energy.
- Larger units have a longer lifespan. As they run less often, they are subject to less wear-and-tear over time.
- Because larger dehumidifiers run less often, they contribute less heat to the environment. This keeps you cooler.
All told, the upfront cost of a 70-pint dehumidifier is minimal compared to the savings in long-term cost and the increased level of comfort. But if your budget is tight and can’t afford a 70-pint, a 50-pint or 30-pint is still better than nothing at all.
For peace of mind, always get one that’s at least Energy Star rated. Here are a few energy usage baselines:
- 70-pint dehumidifier draws 700 to 750 watts.
- 50-pint dehumidifier draws 500 to 550 watts.
- 30-pint dehumidifier draws 400 to 450 watts.
Note that dehumidifiers draw varying amounts of energy depending on how much moisture is in the air. Lots of moisture? That means less energy used. Not much moisture? It’ll have to work hard to wring out what’s in the air; thus, more energy used.
Other Features to Consider
These days, a dehumidifier without a built-in hygrometer simply isn’t worth buying. Not only is a hygrometer useful for monitoring the humidity of your home, but most models with a hygrometer also come with an auto-shutoff feature upon reaching a specific humidity level. This can further boost energy efficiency.
The reservoir capacity will determine how often you need to empty the unit. Meanwhile, a drainage adapter lets the water run out on its own, so you don’t have to keep emptying it by hand. In the case of drainage, the water can be pulled out by gravity or pushed out by a pump. Not all models have these kinds of drainage.
And don’t forget about the exhaust direction. A top exhaust lets you place the unit right up against a wall or in a corner, while a rear exhaust lets you aim the heated exhaust air away in a specific direction. Neither is better. It only depends on which you prefer.
Lastly, if you’re going to move the unit often, make sure it has wheels.
As we’ve discussed, the right dehumidifier for you will depend on your home and local climate. However, there are some models we do recommend. These units are suitable for most budgets and situations.
The Vremi Dehumidifier, also known as the Moisture Maniac, comes with some of the most crucial safety features. An auto-shutoff mechanism prevents flooding, while auto-defrost stops the coils from freezing. Importantly, there is also a memory feature that allows the machine to pick up where it left off in the event of a power cut.
The unit is available in three sizes; 22-pint, 35-pint, and 50-pint. Although that doesn’t quite fit the standard configurations we listed above, there’s a reason for that; size. This Vremi model is compact but is still able to achieve a good level of performance. It neatly balances size with features, and the only compromise is the amount of moisture removed per day.
Frigidaire is one of the most notable brands in this space. So, it’s no surprise that the Frigidaire FAD504DWD Dehumidifier is one of the most popular models available today. This 50-pint machine is capable of continuous operation, so long as it is attached to a suitable drain. The FAD504DWD is Energy Star-rated for energy efficiency, too.
The company’s SpaceWise design is found here, providing handles to help you transport the machine. Importantly, the unit is also on wheels for easy movement. There are built-in electronic controls to simplify setup and a six-foot power cord. There’s even an antibacterial filter to remove pollutants from the air as well.
Like the Vremi model found above, the hOmeLabs Dehumidifier is available in 22-pint, 35-pint, and 50-pint editions. The 50-pint unit comes with a 1.8-gallon water tank, making it an excellent choice for particularly warm or humid rooms. Unlike other home electronics of this nature, the hOmeLabs Dehumidifier is designed to look good in your home.
It doesn’t forgo useful features like handles and wheels to achieve this, though. Additionally, the fan is designed to be quiet, so it won’t disturb you while it’s on either. The electronic controls allow you to set the unit to run continuously until the tank is full, at which point it’ll automatically shut off. You can even attach it to a drain for all-day use.
The Best Dehumidifiers for Your Home
Although prices for household dehumidifiers have decreased over the years, some of these units may seem more expensive than you’d have thought. But if you live in a humid climate, have a basement, or have poor ventilation, then this is a home device that’s absolutely worth the cost.
However, even with a dehumidifier, you may find your home getting uncomfortably warm, especially during the summer months. If that’s the case, consider these ways to beat the summer heat without AC