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High humidity levels in your home, office, or garage can invite the most unwanted of house guests: mold and mildew. Hard to get rid of and unpleasant to be around, it’s best to keep these invaders from showing up in the first place. To this end, a dehumidifier is an essential appliance in any space with elevated humidity levels.
Dehumidifiers generally use either a compressor or desiccant rotor to condense moisture from air drawn into the machine. Compressor dehumidifiers are the most common but may not operate in temperatures under 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’ll have to monitor the coil to ensure it doesn’t frost over. Both types of dehumidifiers are classified by how much moisture they can pull from the air each day. Small, portable dehumidifiers remove around 13 or 14 ounces of water per day, while larger units might remove 50 or 70 pints per day. Whole house dehumidifiers can extract up to 95 pints per day.
To choose an effective dehumidifier, you have to consider the size of your space and the humidity level. Here, the best dehumidifiers for every space.
For effective moisture management, be sure to check out this popular and easy-to-use dehumidifier from Frigidaire. With 30 pints per day and 70 pints per day moisture removal capacities available, you can find a model that suits the needs of your space. The smaller 30-pint version has a 6-pint water collection tank, while the larger 70-pint version will hold up to 13.1 pints of water. Both units are Energy Star certified and have the capacity to continuously operate if the right drainage is available—saving you the work of manually emptying the tank. If you have to empty the tank each time, however, an auto-shut off system prevents an overflow.
One of the most popular features of this dehumidifier is its simple electronic controls. With the quick press of the button, you can adjust target humidity levels, activate a 24-hour timer function, or adjust the fan speed. The display also informs you when the bucket is full or when it’s time to clean the removable, washable filter. A digital humidity reading makes it easy to keep tabs on room conditions. Reviewers also find this Frigidaire Dehumidifier to run quietly and smoothly in the background. Both units are compact with a retractable handle and smooth-rolling caster wheels that make it easy to position this dehumidifier in any room its needed—including the living room, bedroom, bathroom, or basement.
"We tested it in the 800-square-foot basement of our 110-year-old house which is notoriously damp...within four days of using [it], our basement was at 60 percent humidity."—Shannon Wells, Product Tester
The damage from too-high humidity levels in your home can be costly, not to mention uncomfortable. Fortunately, even a basic and inexpensive dehumidifier can go a long way in reducing the chance of mold and mildew. This energy-efficient option from Pro Breeze removes up to 18 ounces of water per day and it has a 52-ounce tank that'll only need to be emptied every few days. Thanks to an LED indicator, you won't have to guess when it needs to be emptied, either.
The small but efficient Pro Breeze dehumidifier uses thermo-electric technology to condense moisture from the air, and according to reviewers, it operates quietly. Described as "tiny but mighty," according to one user, this dehumidifier is great for in spaces up to 250 square feet—including home offices, garages, and even RVs and boats. If you need coverage in multiple rooms, you may just need a few.
This type of dehumidifier uses a desiccant rotor to remove moisture from the air by means of chemical attraction, rather than condensation. As a result, such models can operate in a wide range of temperatures with less worry about freezing up. Ivation's 13-pint model is designed to function in temperatures anywhere from 33 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And, according to reviewers in both cold and humid climates, the dehumidifier operates as expected no matter the temperature. Since it doesn't have a compressor, users also report that it's very quiet during operation.
Like others on our list, Ivation's dehumidifier can be set up to continuously drain via an included hose and connection, or you can manually empty the 0.5-gallon reservoir as it fills. A washable filter makes it easy to keep the unit clean and running well and it's also equipped with an LCD interface where you can set a timer, adjust the fan, and view things like relative humidity, room temperature, and reservoir alerts.
With the capacity to remove up to 13 pints of moisture from the day, this dehumidifier is efficient enough to manage the humidity in rooms up to 270 square feet. For larger spaces, the company also offers a 19-pint model.
With supersized coverage for spaces up to 4,500 square feet, this large dehumidifier from hOmeLabs is well-equipped to monitor and manage humidity levels in areas with temperature fluctuations—AKA basements. Thanks to a turbo fan setting, you can increase circulation up to 188 CFM (cubic feet per minute) which gives the unit a leg up in particularly damp areas.
This hOmeLabs unit is rated to remove 50 pints of moisture per day from the air, and reviewers note how they like its multiple modes of operation. The continuous mode is a good bet for really damp areas where around-the-clock moisture management is necessary, while a comfort mode allows the unit to adjust target humidity based on the ambient temperature of the space. There's also a manual mode which lets you select the target humidity level and causes the unit to cycle on and off until meeting such conditions.
For a basement dehumidifier, you'll likely want to elect for continuous drainage operation. With a suitable drain nearby and the addition of a threaded hose, you can set this dehumidifier up to drain itself—preventing you from needing to empty the somewhat-limited 1.8-gallon water tank.
"We put the hOmeLabs 70-Pint Dehumidifier to the test in the dampest and mustiest place we could find—our 110-year-old partially-finished basement...It drew a surprising amount of water from the air and kept our humidity levels at a comfortable 45 percent."—Shannon Wells, Product Tester
A dehumidifier that's set to continuously drain is a simple, hassle-free way to manage humidity levels. If gravity isn't on your side and you don’t have a drain at a lower elevation than your dehumidifier, though, setting up the unit can be tough. This is often true if your only drainage option is a sink or laundry tub, or if a nearby drain is level with the dehumidifier. As such, a dehumidifier with built-in pump, like this 45-pint version from GE, is an easy solution.
The unit's internal water pump can pump water up to 16 vertical feet and an included drain hose makes the set-up process easy. In addition, an LCD control panel makes it simple to set the target humidity level, put the unit into continuous operation mode, or turn the pump on and off. Reviewers frequently comment on how quietly this dehumidifier operates, and the option for three different fan speeds makes it easy to adjust the noise level of the unit.
While many dehumidifiers are intended for use in a single space, like a living room, bedroom, or bathroom, there are also whole home dehumidifiers. These larger units connect to your home’s HVAC system and provide moisture management for the entire living space. The Aprilaire 1895 model removes up to 95 pints of water per day and is suitable for houses up to 5,200 square feet in size.
This whole house dehumidifier is compatible with HVAC systems in the basement, attic, crawlspace, or closet. It’s easily ducted into your existing heating and cooling system and can be positioned over a drain or connected to a hose to drain away moisture. The advantage to a model like this is the ability to set a target humidity level for the entire house. In addition, you don’t need to monitor or manage multiple water tanks. Reviewers find this model to be efficient, though a bit noisy. But when installed alongside your HVAC system and tucked away in a basement or crawlspace, it’s unlikely to cause a problem.
If you want to maintain the proper humidity level in your bathroom, you can purchase a dehumidifier that removes excess moisture from the air and also purifies the air. For this, we recommend the Tenergy Sorbi Dehumidifier, which includes a HEPA filter that removes 99.97 percent of airborne micro-particles.
This dehumidifier can remove 1.6 pints of water from the air each day, and it operates at a super quiet range of 35 to 42 decibels. It’s perfect for spaces up to 200 square feet and the product includes an LED indicator that tells you when it’s time to empty the 1-liter water tank. Reviewers say this is the perfect dehumidifier for RVs, laundry rooms, bathrooms, or bedrooms—essentially any small space where you want to reduce humidity, prevent mold, and clean the air all at once.
"What we love most about this unit is its dual dehumidifying and air purifying capabilities. Since the air quality in any damp space is compromised, this added functionality is a win for those attempting to regulate spaces like bathrooms and basements."—Meredith Hurd, Product Tester
Most dehumidifiers are fairly large and expensive, but if your needs are more modest, you might like the Eva-Dry Electric Petite Dehumidifier. This unit can remove up to 8 ounces of moisture from the air each day, and it gets rave reviews from users who love its performance and price point.
Because of its size (it measures 6.38 x 11 x 5.25 inches), the Eva-Dry is ideal for laundry rooms, bathrooms, closets, offices, RVs, and boats. It can sit on a counter or shelf to save space, and the noise from the unit's small fan is negligible. At its low price, the Eva-Dry doesn’t boast a lot of extra features, but it has a simple on-off button, a full-tank indicator, and an automatic shutoff.
Though this unit's reservoir only holds only 16 ounces of water at a time, users like how compact it is and don’t mind emptying the tank frequently.
"While the unit may be small in size, it’s perfectly portable and can be placed discreetly. Another major size-related plus is that it doesn’t require coils or refrigerants like larger units, so it makes very little noise."—Meredith Hurd, Product Tester
Frigidaire's 30-Pint Dehumidifier (view on Amazon) is our go-to choice. The Energy Star-certified unit is reliable, powerful, quiet, and can be set up to continuously drain. If you need a model with similar features but more coverage, Frigidaire also has a 70-pint option (view on Amazon) that's just as highly regarded.
Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Dehumidifier
by Erica Puisis
Whether you live in a warm, humid climate or just have a steamy bathroom, a dehumidifier can balance the moisture levels in the air of your home—making it more comfortable for you and less likely to become a breeding ground for mold, dust mites, and bacteria.
Dehumidifiers do their work by condensing moisture from the air and collecting it in a water tank to lower the humidity of a room. Many dehumidifiers are refrigerant-based models that operate by drawing in air and then passing it over cold coils. This condenses the moisture from the air, and it drips down into the machine’s water tank. The dry air is then passed across a heating element before being released from the machine. Alternatively, some dehumidifiers use a chemical desiccant (similar to silica) to condense moisture and operate slightly differently—but still result in lower humidity and drier air.
When shopping for a dehumidifier, consider how many square feet of space you want to regulate and how many pints per day the unit is rated to remove. The majority of dehumidifiers on the market are portable units. These compact dehumidifiers operate either using a refrigeration system or a chemical absorbency product. There are also whole house dehumidifiers, but these are much more costly and require professional installation. A basic portable model can be purchased for $100 to $300, but mini versions for small spaces can be found for less than $75. Whole home dehumidifiers can be $1,000 or more.
What to Look for in a Dehumidifier
- Pints Per Day: The amount of liquid that a dehumidifier can remove from the air within a 24-hour period is typically measured in pints per day – though occasionally you’ll also see it labeled as gallons per day. Typically, the number of pints per day will be closely related to how big of a space the unit can dehumidify.
Small capacity dehumidifiers are those that remove about 20 pints per day or less. These mini dehumidifiers are best-suited for use in spaces of several hundred square feet or less—like a bedroom or bathroom.
Mid-size dehumidifiers will usually be able to remove 30 to 50 pints per day of moisture from the air, making them much more versatile for use in your home. With an increased capacity to collect moisture, mid-size models can handle up to 2,000 square feet of space.
The most robust portable dehumidifiers can suck 70 pints or more of moisture per day from the air. These models are best suited for extra large spaces of 4,000 square feet or more.
With the exception of mini dehumidifiers, there is often not much of a size difference between models capable of removing more pints per day versus units with more limited moisture-removing capacities.
- Water Tank: The capacity of the water tank in your dehumidifier will dictate how often you need to empty the unit. If the tank becomes full, a float sensor inside the tank will cause the unit to shut off.
It’s important to know that dehumidifiers with increased ability to remove more pints per day of moisture from the air don’t have tank sizes to match since that would make the size of the unit huge! Instead, most standard-size dehumidifiers have tanks that only hold about 1 gallon of water (some hold a little more and some hold less). As a result, if you want the unit to keep working at maximum efficiency, you’ll either need to empty the tank multiple times per day or set the unit up to continuously drain.
- Drainage: If you don’t want to frequently empty the water tank of your dehumidifier, you can look for a model that includes a built-in drain. The most simple drainage system is powered by gravity, but some units are equipped with a more powerful drainage pump.
If you plan to use your dehumidifier in a basement with a nearby floor drain, a gravity drain may be sufficient. Just note that you’ll usually need to buy your own drainage hose to use with the dehumidifier. Make sure that the unit isn’t located too far from the drain and that there is at least a gentle slope to ensure that gravity can do its job to move the waste water from the tank to the drain.
If you want to power the water from the tank to just about anywhere, then a dehumidifier with a drainage pump is a better option. Theses dehumidifiers are equipped with a pump and included hose that can direct water up and out of the tank to a utility sink or any other drainage location within the reach of the hose.
A third option to consider is buying an aftermarket dehumidifier pump that can connect to your unit and give you additional options for draining the collected moisture.
- Wheels: If you want to easily move the dehumidifier to another room or to drain the water tank, wheels will make the task easier. Some models are equipped with wheels that allow you to maneuver the dehumidifier to a drain, tub, or outdoor location to empty the water tank.
This may be an important consideration if you plan to use the dehumidifier in multiple areas of your home or if you need to manually empty the water tank and don’t want to lug around a full (and heavy) bin of water.
- Electronic Controls: Some dehumidifiers are equipped with a digital display and keypad that makes operating the machine easier. Instead of turning knobs or simply powering the unit on, the electronic controls will let you set specific programs or tell the unit to stop running once a target level of humidity is reached (this is called an auto-humidistat).
The advantage to a model equipped with electronic controls can be a savings in term of energy and money, along with easy operation.
What is the Best Type of Dehumidifier for Me?
- Refrigerant-Based: Dehumidifiers that rely on refrigerant-cooled coils to condense moisture from the air are referred to as refrigerant dehumidifiers. They also are sometimes called compressor dehumidifiers, or even heat pump dehumidifiers—which may at first sound like a contradiction until you realize that a second set of heated coils warms the air before pumping it back out into the room.
The majority of dehumidifiers on the market are refrigerant-based models that rely on a compressor for operation. They offer easy, indefinite operation for the life of the coils. A fan pulls air into the unit and passes it across the cold, refrigerated coils—which causes water to condense and drip down into the tank below. Then, the cooled air moves across the hot coils to return to a more comfortable temperature before being passed out into the room. Despite the fact that these dehumidifiers have a warming coil and do emit some heat during operation, they’re definitely not to be considered a heater.
The biggest drawback to refrigerant dehumidifiers is the potential for frost build-up. Continuous operation may cause the condenser coils to become icy and frozen. Look for a model with automatic frost detection that will turn itself off to allow time for the coil to defrost.
Refrigerant dehumidifiers start at under $100 for compact units, but quickly climb into the $200-$300 range for more robust units that can dehumidify an entire house.
- Desiccant: Also called a chemical absorbent dehumidifier, these models use a special compound to remove excess moisture in the air. Typically, the desiccant is on a rotor in the center of the dehumidifier where it adsorbs moisture from incoming air.
Adsorbing moisture is different than absorbing it—in this process, molecules adhere to the desiccant before being attracted again by warm, humid air inside the dehumidifier. The warm, humid air passes through a condenser that then causes the water droplets to condense and the dry air to be released from the unit.
There are two advantages to desiccant dehumidifiers. First, these units can operate at a much wider range of temperatures than refrigerant-based dehumidifiers. Desiccant dehumidifiers can remove moisture from warm, humid air as well as colder, nearly dry air. Refrigerant-based dehumidifiers only work when the dew point of the air is above a certain level—meaning they’ll often stop working unless conditions are steamy enough to warrant operation.
The second advantage to a desiccant dehumidifier is the fact that there’s no frost build-up to worry about. Without a compressor and cooling coil, the unit will never ice up and cease operation.
Desiccant humidifiers are highly efficient but do cost more than their refrigerant-based counterparts. You will pay more for a unit that removes less pints per day when compared to a refrigerant dehumidifier with the same pints-per-day rating. Most desiccant dehumidifiers start around $175 for a unit that can remove about 13-15 pints of moisture per day.
- Whole Home: Large-scale dehumidifiers that are capable of removing excess moisture from the air in your entire home are also available. These dehumidifiers work in conjunction with your HVAC system and often need to be professionally installed.
The advantage to a whole home dehumidifier is the fact that the unit is out of sight and usually can’t be heard either, since it’s typically installed in an attic or basement. It also may have a higher capacity, advanced filtration, or other advantages over portable dehumidifiers.
However, the big downside to these units are the increased price tag and cost of installation. Typically, a whole home dehumidifier costs around $1,000 or more, in addition to the installation fee.
- Frigidaire: A popular manufacturer of home appliances large and small, Frigidaire makes dehumidifiers in a range of sizes to keep your home’s humidity in check. Their models are exclusively refrigerant-based dehumidifiers, often with digital controls.
- Keystone: A major player in the battle against humidity, Keystone has a wide range of dehumidifiers to choose from. They offer both refrigerant and desiccant models, along with larger capacity units that include a built-in pump. If you’re looking for an abundance of options in a dehumidifier, check out Keystone.
- Ivation: Ivation makes both high-capacity dehumidifiers as well as smaller, mini-machines capable of removing moisture from small spaces—like bathrooms or bedrooms. These dehumidifiers are budget-friendly and include a variety of features including a built-in humidistat on some models.
- Kenmore: Kenmore has a more limited number of refrigerant dehumidifiers on the market but incorporates energy efficiency and the convenience of digital controls into each of its models. These mid-priced dehumidifiers have readily available parts and replacement filters.
Cleaning and Warranties
Keep your dehumidifier in good working order with a regular schedule of cleaning and maintenance. Of course you’ll need to regularly empty the water tank, unless you have a continuous drain system in place. But to really make sure that your dehumidifier is capable of peak performance, you’ll want to also regularly clean and replace the air filters.
Most dehumidifier models have a simple filter to block large particles of dust and debris from entering the unit. These filters are often washable and a quick rinse with cool water is usually enough to clear the filter of accumulated particles, but you may need to use soap and rinse thoroughly if the filter is extra dirty. However, it’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for filter replacement to make sure that this first line of defense against dust, pollens, and allergens is able to do its job.
Another important step in cleaning your dehumidifier is to regularly wash and sanitize the water tank. The damp, warm environment where moisture collects can become a safe haven for bacteria or mildew to develop. Keep things fresh and clean by regularly emptying the water tank as mentioned above and never letting the stagnant water sit for an extended period.
Additionally, it’s recommended to give your water tank a soapy scrub every few weeks to make sure that the tank stays sanitary. When you’re cleaning the tank, check to see if your model has a basket filter (a smaller filter inside the water tank). If so, make sure you rinse that smaller filter too.
The type and length of warranty coverage available on a dehumidifier often varies. Like many small home appliances, basic dehumidifiers are usually covered by a one-year warranty against defects in materials or workmanship. This warranty typically covers a replacement unit if your dehumidifier fails within the first year. For some manufacturers, this is where warranty coverage ends. Others, though, offer a longer limited warranty window in which parts like the compressor and coils of a refrigerant dehumidifier are covered. Read the details of any warranty policy on a dehumidifier you plan to purchase to understand what may be covered and what isn’t.