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If you’re fortunate to live in an area with a naturally balanced air humidity and you don’t have high-moisture problems at home, you’ve likely never used a dehumidifier. If not, however, you understand the need of having the best dehumidifiers possible at your disposal. High air humidity can be an invisible but major problem to deal with – it causes mold and mildew, it attracts various pests, it raises the perceived temperature of the air, and it can trigger allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
So, which are the best dehumidifiers for you and how do you find them?
The different types of dehumidifiers
Dehumidifiers come in several different types and forms because there are several different ways for moisture to be extracted from the air. Some are more energy-efficient than others, some are easier to use, and others are more powerful but also noisier. Which one you choose will depend on your own personal needs and preferences.
Heat pump or refrigerant dehumidifiers
A simple type of dehumidifier, these models work by utilizing a fan, a heat pump, and a heat exchange coil. The heat exchange coil a metal plate or coil that’s kept at a very low temperature with the help of a refrigerant. As the fan drives the moist air through the refrigerated coil, it forces the air’s moisture to condense on the coil. After that, the drier air is just redistributed back in your home.
This second type works similarly to refrigerant dehumidifiers with one key difference – instead of using a refrigerated plate to absorb the moisture, they use a chemical desiccant. A popular type of desiccant is silica gel. As a highly absorbent material, the silica gel simply absorbs the moisture from the air that passes through it. The benefit here is that these dehumidifiers have lower energy consumption but that comes at the cost of having to replace the desiccant material from time to time.
Whole-home ventilator dehumidifiers
Unlike the previous two systems, whole-home dehumidifiers don’t actually dehumidify your home’s air – they just expel it and replace it with the drier outside air. Because of that, they are usually much more effective and energy-efficient than the two plug-in types of dehumidifiers above. A good, integrated whole-home ventilator dehumidifier will do its job effectively, efficiently, and quietly. They will also usually have certain air filters to filter the incoming outdoors air.
The drawbacks are also clear, however – if you live in an area with an already high humidity, this method may not be effective enough for anything other than a bathroom or a basement. Additionally, installing a whole-home dehumidifying system is much more troublesome and expensive than just buying and plugging in a single dehumidifying unit.
Not so much a dehumidifier as just a wall- or window-mounted ventilator that’s used for dehumidifying, these ventilators are typically used in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and sometimes bathrooms. Nevertheless, you can count those as a type of dehumidifier and they can be a cheaper and more energy-efficient way to lower the humidity in some spaces.
What should I look for when buying a dehumidifier?
Dehumidifiers differ not only in their basic functioning principles but in the various features they can have. Let’s go over some of the main ones here.
This is the effective capacity of air moisture a dehumidifier is capable of extracting per 24 hours. It’s affected by the size of the area and the initial humidity levels as well. In general, models with 70 or less pint capacity are viewed as residential models and ones with more than 70 pints – as commercial or industrial.
A standard part of most residential single-body dehumidifiers, the collection tank is where the extracted moisture/water is stored. The bigger the tank/bucket is, the less often you’ll have to empty it. Alternatively, some dehumidifiers have a water pipe going out of them which can be connected to a drainage. This way you’ll never have to empty the tank yourself but that also limits the portability of the dehumidifier.
Since high air humidity usually comes with lots of air pollutants, it’s smart to look for a dehumidifier with good air filters on it.
Most models today have electronic controls but there are still some with just manual controls. Whichever you pick, make sure it has all the programs and control features you want for your home.
Extra features that might be useful
With the main features out of the way, here are some extras you might also want to pay attention to:
- Caster wheels. Both refrigerant and desiccant dehumidifiers are meant to be portable single-body models which you can move from room to room. Having a nice, sturdy, and mobile set of caster wheels on them is a huge bonus in that regard.
- Auto-restart. There are many programs and functions a high-eld dehumidifier can come with but auto-restart is one of the more useful ones. It allows the machine to restart itself automatically if its operation was interrupted by a power outage.
- Low-temperature operation. Some dehumidifiers are specifically designed to work in lower temperature places such as basements and crawlspaces in the winter. If you want a dehumidifier for such a location, make sure it can work there.
- Humidistat or Hydrostat. This can also be viewed as a vital feature by many people. Similar to thermostats for temperature, humidistats measure the air humidity around them and feed that back to the dehumidifier. This allows the machine to be set to maintain na certain air humidity level and adjust its own operation accordingly.
As you can see, there’s quite a lot of diversity in the different types of dehumidifiers. This does make choosing between them easier, however, as the differences between them are rather clear and significant. As long as the model you choose fits your needs and is made by a reputable high-quality brand, your dehumidifier should serve you faithfully and effectively for a long time.