Dehumidifiers - Basement Home & Crawl Spaces
Dehumidifiers are an essential ingredient for reducing moisture levels in your home, which in turn inhibits mold growth and dust mite proliferation. We test dehumidifiers under harsh conditions for months before we present the best of the best to you. We recommend the Aprilaire dehumidifier and the Santa Fe dehumidifiers for large damp basement areas. The Frigidaire low temp dehumidifier is an excellent value dehumidifier for removing moisture at a very fast rate. The Danby dehumidifiers are our quietest basement dehumidifiers and are energy star rated. For light commercial and industrial use, Ebac dehumidifiers offer a high performance line of low-temp heavy duty dehumidifiers.
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We test our dehumidifiers in real world conditions. That, plus the design and specifications are the basis for our dehumidifier ratings and reviews. If you are interested in commercial or industrial dehumidifiers, additional and different criteria will apply. You might consider these commercial dehumidifiers for your home if you have a very large basement and it is unusually moist.
1. Size Matters. An improperly sized dehumidifier can be helpless in preventing mold unless the humidity in the room is brought below the proper level.
Many dealers only know that a dehumidifier can remove moisture from the air, but have no idea how to recommend a proper size. If you buy too much capacity, you will be paying for more than you need; but if you buy too little, the dehumidifier will probably run all the time and possibly not reach a desired humidity level.
We carry a wide variety of sizes ranging from mid-sized dehumidifiers like the Danby 50 pint low temp dehumidifier to whole basement dehumidifiers that can remove hundreds of pints like the Aprilaire 1710A whole basement dehumidifier. Some units are for single rooms, others for a whole house like the Santa Fe RX whole house dehumidifier which can either be installed as part of your existing heating/air conditioning system or for doing your own ducting between multiple rooms.
The magic humidity level to achieve is 50% or less because mold cannot grow at humidity levels below 50%. Since going down to 40% can be a waste of electricity and electricity can be expensive, try for a humidity range of 45% to 50%.
30-pint, 40-pint, 50-pint designations refer to the number of pints of water that the dehumidifier can remove in a 24 hour period under set conditions; not to the size of the water bucket that is usually only 16 or so pints. However, since set conditions are at 80 degrees and 60% relative humidity and very few homes will have those conditions, please note as this is important, because dehumidifiers will actually do less than those numbers at your location.
Additionally, when manufacturers state that a certain size of their dehumidifier can cover 1000 square feet, they are usually assuming ideal conditions and are not taking into account that there are tremendous differences in humidity between areas such as southern Florida and a mountaintop in Colorado. Your outside humidity has a tremendous effect on your inside humidity.
Our conclusion is to avoid disappointment buy a dehumidifier that is larger than what you think you need.
2. Operating Temperature. Some dehumidifiers will only operate at temperatures about 65 degrees or above or they will form ice on the coils (ice up) and shut off the machine. Only those designed to operate below 65 degrees, called “low temperature” dehumidifiers, are recommended for most basements since the temperature is often below 65 degrees. Both our Comfort-Aire and Danby dehumidifiers offer low temp solutions. These models have built in “frost guards” or “freeze guards” designed to turn off the compressor as soon as freezing is detected and leave the fan running to blow warm air over the coils. Some of the industrial dehumidifiers use a process called “hot gas defrost” to actually heat the coils and allow them to operate down to 33 degrees. The Ebac CD30 is ideal for moisture control in cold areas with space constraints.
Even if you have a low temperature dehumidifier, while it may not ice up, it may not be able to bring the humidity to the level you want because of the strong correlation between temperature and the ability of a dehumidifier to remove water. The lower the room temperature, the harder it is to remove the water. At 80 degrees it is possible to reduce the humidity to about 40%, but at 70 degrees the humidity can only be reduced to about 45%, and at 60 degrees or lower often only to about 60% unless you have properly chosen your dehumidifier.
3. Noise Level. Many people tell us that noise is a factor when choosing a dehumidifier. Low temperature dehumidifiers tend to be noisier than regular temperature units. All dehumidifiers make some noise, but the newest models have the noise recede into the background with a low hum noise level. Our quietest low temp dehumidifiers are Danby dehumidifiers.
4. Reliability of any appliance is very important, and more so than usual with dehumidifiers. We have found that many dehumidifiers tend to break down after about 18 months or even sooner. Long gone are the days when dehumidifiers could be expected to last 10 – 20 years without a problem. Our experience tells us which dehumidifiers have the lowest return rates and highest reliability rates.
Dehumidifier Features to Look For in a Home Unit
1. Digital Humidistat that allow you to set a desired humidity level have an advantage over dehumidifiers with just an adjustable dial, since you have no idea what humidity you will achieve at a position on the dial. This is important if you wish to maintain a level of humidity sufficiently low to avoid dust mites or molds that thrive in higher-level humidity environments.
2. Built in hygrometers to measure the actual humidity in the room will save you from having to buy a separate hygrometer to be certain that you are maintaining a humidity level of 50% or slightly lower.
3. An automatic shut-off when the bucket completely fills is a must so that the water will not overflow.
4. A bucket to which you can attach a hose for continuous gravity drainage makes the job so much easier for managing the usage of your dehumidifier. Since most buckets hold between 16 to 20 pints, one of the major inconveniences is emptying the bucket, especially in a very humid environment where this could be a task that needs to be done every few hours. A bucket that is both sturdy and has a built in handle will prevent the irritation caused by a flimsy plastic one without a handle that inevitably causes spilling water on the way to dumping it.
5. Dehumidifiers with built in pumps are not common, so we sell a convenient Condensate Pump that is capable of pumping the water 15 feet vertically and over 100 feet horizontally. This way you can have the water pumped to a drain, sink, washing machine out-flow pipe, out a window, through a wall, or even to a different floor. You can actually tie it into your plumbing if you wish. Best of all, it works easily with most of the dehumidifiers we carry.
6. Automatic defrost with an anti-frost sensor shuts off the dehumidifier when frost begins to build up and avoids possible damage to the dehumidifier.
7. Automatic restart after a power failure is a plus, especially in a 2nd home where you are not always present, but is not as important in your primary residence where you will notice power outages.
8. Castors are a plus so that the dehumidifier can be easily moved from one location to another.
9. Energy Star rated dehumidifiers are efficiently designed to keep your utility bills down. Many dehumidifiers can draw a lot of juice and cost more than your average refrigerator to run if they need to operate for a long time. As you might suspect, the more expensive dehumidifiers like the Santa Fe can actually save you money in the long run because they are far more miserly in their energy consumption.
Dehumidifier Usage Tips
1. Buy a dehumidifier that is properly sized for your specific needs, conditions, and location. If possible don’t buy a dehumidifier just based on a seemingly low price because in the long run it will very probably cost you more to run and will not last very long.
2. Position your dehumidifier so that it can get maximum airflow both into and out of it. If you need to place it close to a wall, consider turning it sideways to improve the airflow.
3. Clean the Filter. Remove and clean the air filter frequently. Most dehumidifier filters do little for the air that you breathe, but will stop dirt particles and dust from forming on the condenser coils and reducing the efficiency of the dehumidifier. If the filter becomes clogged, it will stop the airflow to the dehumidifier and cause the motor to fail prematurely. This is most often the cause of the short life span of many dehumidifiers.
4. Warranty. Be sure to buy a dehumidifier with a good warranty for repairs and a company that will stand behind the warranty. We have found that manufacturers actually differ enormously when it comes to standing behind their dehumidifiers. While 1-year warranty on most parts and 5 years on the sealed system is standard, who in their right mind wants to heave a heavy dehumidifier into their car and take it to the local repair center if it breaks down after a short time or requires frequent repairs?