How to Choose a Dehumidifier
Shopping for a dehumidifier can be confusing as many different devices flood the market, making choosing just one almost impossible. What should you be looking for? It isn’t always straightforward with dehumidifiers because many models can look similar, and there are many misconceptions about what dehumidifiers can and are supposed to do. That’s where we come in.
Sizing is the most important thing to remember when choosing a dehumidifier. Finding the correct dehumidifier size and type to treat your humidity or possible moisture problem while not costing you a fortune to run is very important. The difference in the price will vary based on their extra features, efficiency, their size, and capacity. Here is our top ten list of questions you should consider to help you choose the best dehumidifier for your situation.
- Dehumidifier Sizing: What are the area's dimensions to be dehumidified?
- How does location, where you live, affect dehumidifiers? Like Florida?
- How does air temperature affect a dehumidifier’s operation?
- How do you determine the current humidity in the room?
- What is the desired humidity you wish to attain?
- What room in your house are you looking to dehumidify?
- What can kind of things happen in that room?
- How do you plan to empty the water bucket?
- How noisy is it?
- Is it Energy Star Rated?
Dehumidifier Sizing: What are the area's dimensions to be dehumidified?
The first thing you need to know is the size of the area you will be dehumidifying. Remember to include the space height because you will dry the air in the entire space, not just along the floor. The cubic feet of space is simply the length of the room times the width times the height (L x W x H.) You must remember that manufacturers measure their square foot coverage to how large an area a dehumidifier will dry out based on an average ceiling height of around 8 feet.
For example, say you have a 1,000-square-foot area, but it has a 12-foot ceiling. If you were to purchase a dehumidifier with a 1,000 square feet rating, that means you’re only getting 8,000 feet of coverage. You could be pretty disappointed because you needed coverage of 12,000 square feet, which is at least 33% more capacity.
It’s also essential when figuring out the size of the area to include the entire open area with any adjoining rooms it opens to or floors of the house. The reason is that the moisture in the air will always try to equalize itself by moving from areas of high humidity to areas of low humidity.
Therefore, if you plan on dehumidifying a 500-square-foot area in your basement, and the door opens to another area that is 500 square feet, you should plan on a 1,000-square-foot unit unless you regularly close the door, shutting off the airflow.
Finally, look up when you are sizing your area because if you run it in your basement and it opens to the first and second floors, you will be dehumidifying the entire house. Furthermore, keep your windows shut when running your dehumidifier.
How does location, where you live, affect dehumidifiers?
Should you live in places like Florida, Texas, or the rest of the United States Gulf region, consider dehumidifying your home most of the year, especially in the fall, spring, and summer. The local climate of the country you live in can determine how much moisture will be in the outside air and the level of dehumidification you might need inside.
If you live on the West Coast, you will likely need to dehumidify in winter because summers are generally dry. Then, there are those living in the country's semi-arid and arid parts who may not need a dehumidifier except during unseasonal rain and humidity episodes. Therefore, planning out how often you intend to use it will determine how much you would want to spend and the quality/features you are looking for.
Obviously, if you’re only turning it on a few times a year for a few days, it might not fit your budget. On the other hand, if you live in Florida or Texas, where you may run a large capacity dehumidifier for 8 to 10 months during the year, you might be looking for something well-built and designed to last.
How does air temperature affect a dehumidifier’s operation?
The overall room or space humidity you are trying to dehumidify will be significantly affected by temperature. When using a dehumidifier, a higher air temperature means a dehumidifier should be able to lower the humidity to the desired level. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true; the lower the temperature, the less control over humidity you’ll have.
The temperature you’ll be running your dehumidifier is essential for determining whether you need a low-temperature dehumidifier. Most dehumidifiers work fine when the air temperature is 68 degrees or higher. Issues begin at 65 degrees or below, making removing moisture difficult, and a low-temperature dehumidifier is necessary.
How do you determine the current humidity in the room?
Hygrometers are a great way to measure the humidity of a room. They are easy to find and read, and we ever carry them on our site. These devices act like temperature thermometers, except they measure humidity. Hygrometers are great for understanding the severity of your humidity problem. In fact, if your hygrometer detects 60% or higher humidity, unhealthy mold growth is definitely a problem. Most dehumidifiers have another internal meter called a humidistat, which internally measures the humidity and helps the machine maintain desired humidity levels.
What is the desired humidity you would like to get down to?
In most cases, if you need a dehumidifier, you can expect your humidity will be greater than 55%. You can also expect a higher chance of mold, mildew, increased dust mite population, and possible damage to materials in your home. We recommend lowering the humidity to 50% to eliminate these potential hazards; however, individual comfort levels vary from person to person; some prefer 40%, some 50%, and others somewhere between.
The decision to be made is the cost versus comfort factor. The lower you set your humidistat on your dehumidifier, the longer it will need to operate to maintain it. The only exception to this rule would be if one is protecting a musical instrument, like a piano, where it is recommended to maintain 45% humidity.
What room in your house are you looking to dehumidify?
This is an essential consideration due to the difference in the humidity and temperature of the air in your house. If you plan to run a dehumidifier in your bedroom, you would prefer a quiet operating dehumidifier. Purchasing a crawl space dehumidifier must fit in the area and be powerful enough to remove moisture, especially if the floor is not sealed.
If you want to run the dehumidifier in the basement, the tendency will be to lower humidity and air temperature. Therefore, an important consideration is whether it can operate when the temperature goes below 65 degrees. This is what they call in the industry a low-temperature basement dehumidifier.
What is the area mainly used for?
If storing tools, you must keep the humidity at 50% or below. Some other materials, such as musical instruments, require further dehumidification to 45%. If you just want to prevent mold, mildew, and odors in a basement, 50% to 55% should be adequate. If the area is used for entertainment, you will want to ensure it is dehumidified to maintain a comfortable environment for your company; we recommend a humidity level between 45% to 50%.
If you plan on using it in your bedroom or office, it must be quiet and maintain a comfortable level. Other contributing factors are human activity or the presence of open water. For example, in an exercise room, one must account for the humidity that will be added to the air by the people sweating and breathing. Also, when treating an indoor pool or spa that is not covered, it’s important to note that the room's humidity will increase due to the water evaporating into the air.
How do you plan to empty the dehumidifier water?
Method 1: Manually Emptying the Bucket
Every dehumidifier comes with a bucket where it deposits the water from the air. Most dehumidifiers have an auto shut-off so the water will not overflow, making a puddle around your dehumidifier. If you are only dehumidifying a small room in your home with a closed door, you can expect to remove around 10 to 15 pints of moisture daily. Plan to empty the bucket daily or every other day.
If you plan on emptying the container, it is important to find out:
- How large is the bucket?
- Where is it located?
- Is it easy to remove and put back?
- Is it easy to grip and carry?
Realistically, as the size of your dehumidification job increases, the idea of emptying the bucket becomes more and more of a hassle. The consideration becomes two-fold: how often will I need to empty the container, and how heavy will it be when it is full? It is also important to remember that if the bucket is not emptied once it is full, all dehumidification stops until it is emptied. Therefore, someone needs to be around the dehumidifier so that they can monitor it. Some models will beep to let you know it is full and/or have a visible light indicating so.
Method 2: Continuous Drainage
The second method is continuous drainage by attaching a hose, which allows water to be pulled from the air and drained out through a hose. Most dehumidifiers have a hose hook-up, though it depends significantly on its shape and size. This method works great with a floor drain since the water flows out of the bucket through gravity. You can also use a sink; however, this option would require you to elevate the dehumidifier since most sinks are located a few feet above the floor.
A higher location where the hose connects will provide better gravity for the water flow to come out. Most models come with this option, and some are simpler to use than others. Some will provide the hose some will not. Some will accommodate your typical garden hose, and some will require a specific size plastic hose, which slides over the opening and does not screw on. Be sure to check out what is required to connect the hose and whether it comes with it. If it doesn’t come with a specific hose, it’s crucial to know if the device needs a specific size or if you can just screw your garden hose on the opening.
Method 3: Pumping Out Water
The third and final method is to pump the water out. This is recommended if you need to dispose of the water a significant distance from the unit or in a higher location like the next floor, up and out a window, or up into a sink. Some dehumidifiers come with a built-in pump, simplifying the entire process. Also provided is the drainage hose, so all you do is connect the hose and turn on your dehumidifier. If your dehumidifier doesn’t come with a pump, you must place the continuous drainage hose into an external condensate pump reservoir, which will sit next to it on the floor. Most pumps include a discharge hose that forces water to flow toward your water disposal area.
The only issue you may need to resolve is if where you connect the continuous drainage hose on your dehumidifier is at ground level. Since some of your external condensate pumps are made where the opening to the reservoir can be 3 to 6 inches off the floor, you may need to elevate the dehumidifier a few inches off the floor to provide enough gravity for the water to flow into the reservoir of the pump.
How noisy is the dehumidifier?
This is an essential factor, especially if you plan to operate it where people might be around, like a bedroom, office, living room, etc. All dehumidifiers have a fan that will make some noise, but the sound of the compressor is what will make it tolerable or not. Some compressors vibrate and create an uneven buzzing noise which some people cannot tolerate.
Is it Energy Star Rated?
Most people recognize that dehumidifier efficiency is another factor to consider when purchasing a dehumidifier. It is important as they use more electricity than just a fan due to the compressor. Remember that even the best dehumidifiers might not receive an Energy Star rating. Sadly, the Energy Star rating label does not necessarily mean the dehumidifier is electrically efficient or even your best option.
Many manufacturers will not spend the money to go through the government approval process to be Energy Star certified. This is more common with the industrial and commercial models. So, even though a dehumidifier has an apparent high wattage rating, if it efficiently removes pints of water per kilowatt of electricity used, that really determines how efficient it is. Therefore, you will want to know this value when shopping for one. Remember, less wattage used per hour does not mean less electricity used in the long run. If you need to run it more, it will cost more.