One of the questions people always seem to ask me—after they find out that I write dehumidifier reviews—is if using a dehumidifier saves money over not using one. This question is so prevalent and has been asked of me so many times, I have decided to go ahead and write the answer to it. This article is in fact my attempt to answer this age old question. Hopefully, it will adequately address the problem for not only the people who’ve asked me this question over the years but for anyone reading this article.
Before I can answer this question, I first have to explain how dehumidifiers work. Dehumidifiers work by moving air over refrigerating coils. The moisture that exists in the air in steam form is then cooled down and converted into a liquid that is collected in a bin for disposal. This results in the “drying” of the air.
Now, many people believe that dry air heats up faster than moist air. In fact, I know many people who would swear their life on this old wives tale. However, as much as I am afraid to disappoint them, your best dehumidifier isn’t going to do anything to cut your heating bill.
That’s because moist air conducts heat better than dry air. Dry air is in fact a very poor method for transferring heat. So why does this myth still persist? Well, it probably has a lot to do with an article that was misunderstood several decades ago.
I don’t remember who wrote the article, but in essence it said that if you wanted to save on heating costs, then you should use a humidifier. That’s right, a humidifier was recommended in the article. A device that is used to add moisture to the air. And that my friends, is why the myth of using a dehumidifier to lower heating costs still persists.
However, a dehumidifier will do one thing for your energy bills. It will save you money on your cooling costs. That’s right. If you use a dehumidifier in conjunction with your air conditioner, then you will not only have to run it less often but you may not have to run it at all when the temperature isn’t too high but the humidity is. This can result in some real savings over the course of the summer.
While I understand your disappoint that your dehumidifier won’t save you on heating costs, I hope that is equally matched by the fact that it can save you on your cooling bills. And not only will it do that, but it will also provide a whole range of other benefits. Including increasing your comfort level and by decreasing moisture that can irritate respiratory problems and allergies.
While it is desirable to have some level of moisture in your home’s air, too much of it can have disastrous effects. Too much humidity can not only degrade your personal comfort level, but it can also negatively affect certain health conditions such as COPD, asthma and allergies. It can also have a negative impact the health of your home as well. High humidity can damage sensitive electronics such as computers and televisions, and it can cause moisture sensitive materials such as wallpaper and wood to warp or peel. That is why it is so important to reduce your home’s humidity with a dehumidifier.
However, buying a dehumidifier isn’t as simple as pouring over dehumidifier reviews and choosing a unit that you like. In order to buy a dehumidifier that fits your needs, then you are going to need figure out what features you need. That is going to take a little bit of time, but is more than worth your effort.
Today, I am going to tell you some of the things you need to know before you purchase the best dehumidifier for your home. I am going to tell you about some of the more common dehumidifier features, so you can choose one that fits your particular circumstances.
Before I do that however, I recommend that you take the time to look at our 2 part guide on buying a dehumidifier. Those guides will allow you to determine the size of the unit you need according to your personal situation. Our guide today merely goes over some of the other features beyond capacity and power rating. Features such as auto defrost, low-temp settings and auto restart features.
Additional Dehumidifier Features
Not every dehumidifier has every one of the following features as they are not mandatory for the dehumidifier to do what it is designed to do—which is to dehumidify your home. However, you may find some of the features are useful enough to factor into your buying decision when you are searching for the ideal unit for your home.
Direct Drain: Some of the units use an internal pump that can direct the moisture removed from the air into a floor drain. Other units direct it into a basin that must be emptied on a regular basis. If your home is particularly humid, then you are certainly going to want to buy one with a direct drain feature.
Auto Defrost: If your unit is operating in temperatures below 60 degrees, then you might want to consider buying a unit with a auto defrost feature to keep it from freezing.
Low Temperature Setting: A low temperature setting is also important if you are going to run your unit in temperatures below 40 degrees. This setting allows the unit to perform its job even at these low temperatures.
Auto Restart: Units with an auto restart will automatically start back up after a power failure. This is an important feature to consider if you need a unit that will run without much user intervention.
Auto Humidstat: This features prevents the unit from operating needlessly. Once the desired humidity level of the room has been reached this unit will shut down to save power.
Many of the complaints that people have about the quality of air in their room can be directly attributed to humidity. High humidity levels can cause havoc with electronics, aggravate allergies and may even cause damage to wood trim and furniture. Not to mention the fact that it can cause a room to feel “sticky”, even when the temperature of that room isn’t that high.
So it’s no wonder people people are beginning to buy dehumidifiers in record numbers. A dehumidifier can neutralize a lot of the problems that can be caused by humidity. That is why I am going to talk about some of the problems that humidity causes inside your home and show you that you need to buy the best dehumidifier possible to rectify these problems. If you’ve been thinking about getting a dehumidifier and your home tends to be a bit humid, but haven’t gotten around to buying one yet, then the following reasons should be enough to have you searching through dehumidifier reviews to procure a good dehumidifier right away.
Humidity Lowers Air Quality
Humidity is caused by moisture in the air. Most of us know that. However, did you know that this moisture is the perfect conduit for dust and dirt. Yes, water in your air traps more dirt and debris than dry air. It then carries this trapped dirt to your sinuses and lungs where it can cause a severe allergic reaction. This effect is negated by the dehumidifier and improves the general air quality of your home.
Humidity Causes A Proliferation of Mold, Dust Mites And Fungi Spores
Excess moisture in your air is not only the perfect haven for dirt and dust, it is also the perfect environment for mold, fungi and dust mites to thrive. Studies have shown that mold growth rates sky rocket once the relative humidity of the air reaches 50 percent. Therefore, it is important to run a dehumidifier to negate this effect.
Humidity Destroys Furnishings And The Integrity Of Your Home
Humid air creates the perfect environment for mold and can contribute to a rotting of your home. It can also cause wood to warp and paper products to peel. Which isn’t a good thing for the delicate items in your home such as wood trim, your furniture or your wallpaper. Therefore, it’s important to reduce the humidity in the room by using a good dehumidifier.
Humidity Makes Your Home Less Comfortable
Air that is saturated with moisture feels hotter than dry air. It can also give your home that sticky feeling, even when temperatures are relatively mild. And this is probably the greatest reason that many people buy dehumidifiers. If you want to be comfortable in your home, then high humidity just won’t do.
As you can clearly see, humidity is a bandit that is stealing your quality of life and the integrity of your home. And that is why it is so important to immediately deal with it by purchasing a good dehumidifier.
The whole purpose of your dehumidifier is to remove the moisture that is trapped in the air in the form of steam, so that humidity levels in your home or business is properly regulated. As you probably have noticed from reading dehumidifier reviews, most of the time these units are portable and are designed to regulate the humidity in a single area. Usually a room or a couple of rooms. The unit maintains proper humidity levels in your home or business to reduce the growth of allergens or mold which can thrive in a high moisture environment. It also reduces possible water damage to your room’s paint, furniture or wood.
However, your dehumidifier can only perform this job if it is properly used. Which brings me right around to the point of this article. Today, I am going to show you how to properly care for your humidifier so that it can properly do the job it was designed to do. Follow along with me and I’ll show you how to make your dehumidifier the best dehumidifier it can be.
Step One: Read And Save The Manual
The first thing you should do when you unbox your dehumidifier is to read the owner’s manual from front to back. Inside this little manual is everything you need to know about your particular unit. It will show you how to run it, how to maintain it and what to troubleshoot if it begins to have problems. After you have read this manual thoroughly, you should then file it away in a safe place for future reference.
Step Two: Make Sure The Humidistat Is Set For The Proper Humidity Level
It’s very important that you have your dehumidifier’s humidistat set to its proper humidity level. If you set it too low, then the unit may run longer than it needs to. Which will result in wasting electricity and driving up your energy bill. Too low of a setting may also cause undesirable air properties such as a buildup of static electricity. So be sure you set it at the proper level, which is usually around 35-40 percent humidity.
Step Three: Clean Or Replace The Filter Regularly
You need to clean or replace your dehumidifier’s filter at least once or year or as recommended by your owner’s manual. You should also check the filter for damage about every six months. If during this inspection you notice any form of damage to the filter, then you need to replace it immediately.
And that is all there is to maintaining your dehumidifier. If you follow these steps, then your dehumidifier will not only work better but it will last longer and use less energy.
As you have been looking over the many different models of dehumidifiers on the market and pouring over dehumidifier reviews, a question may have bubbled up in your mind. “How does a dehumidifier actually work?” If it did, then you are going to love my little article today. That’s because I am going to tell you everything you wanted to know about dehumidifiers but were afraid to ask. That’s right. Today, we are going to cover the basics of how your dehumidifier does what it does.
Before we can discuss the basic operating principles of a dehumidifier however, we need to first see what its main components are. So without further ado, let’s examine what’s underneath that ambiguous plastic case of your dehumidifier:
Basic Dehumidifier Parts
Fan Compressor: This part of the dehumidifier compresses and expands a gas that is very similar to Freon.
Compressor Cooling Coils: This is where the air cools.
Reheater: This collects the heat that is expelled during the cooling process so it can be used to reheat the expelled air.
Reservoir: This collects the condensation from the cooling coils.
How Do These Parts Work Together
Now that we know the actual components of the best dehumidifier, it is time to see how these parts work in concert to wring the moisture out of your air. The process is much simpler than you probably imagined. Here are the actual steps:
- A fan moves the air from the surrounding room and pulls it deep inside the dehumidifier.
- The air then passes over the compressor cooling coils.
- The coils lower the temperature of the air so that the moisture in it is turned from steam into water (a process known as condensation).
- The water remains on the coils and gets heavier as more water is added. This in turn causes it to drip into the reservoir of the dehumidifier.
- The heat captured by this conversion is released from the reheater back into the air.
- The drier air is then expelled from the system.
That are the basic parts of your typical dehumidifier. That explains the whole process as it happens. However, it might not explain everything your dehumidifier does under that plastic case. Most humidifiers have additional features that may make their operation a little more complex.
For instance, most dehumidifiers have a device in them called a humidistat. This is the part of the machine that senses how much humidity is in the air to determine if it should shut off or keep running. A humidistat is composed of two parts. A sensing element and a relay amplifier. These two parts are pretty complex, but here is the basics of how they work. Changes in the amount of moisture in the air passing over the sensing element will cause electrical resistance to form between two metal strips in the sensor. When the resistance is just the right amount, then the relay amplifier will then activate and either turn the unit on or turn it off. And that is truly everything you need to know about your dehumidifier.
In the first part of our dehumidifier buying guide, we started you out some of the basic things you need to figure out before you start checking out dehumidifier reviews and spend good money on a unit. We showed you how to figure out humidity level, air changes per hour (ACH) and how to calculate your room’s square footage. Now we are going to turn those figures into a formula that will tell you exactly what size unit you need to buy.
Calculate Your Room’s Cubic Feet
Measure the height of your room, from floor to ceiling. Now take the square footage of your room and multiple it by the height of the room to get your room’s cubic footage. For example, if your square footage is 80 feet and the height of your room is 8 feet, then your cubic footage is 640 cubic feet.
Determine Your CFM
Your CFM is the amount of airflow in cubic feet that you need in order to properly dehumidify your room. To determine this value, multiply the cubic footage of your room by the ACH and then divide by 60. For example, if your room is 640 cubic feet and your ACH is a 5, then multiply 640 by 5 and then divide by 60 (640×5=3200/60=53.3 cubic feet per minute) to get your CFM.
Determine How Much Moisture You Need To Extract From Your Room
How many pints of water you need to extract from your room depends on your ACH and your square footage. Use the guide below to determine how many pints of water you need your dehumidifier to extract from your room each day:
- ACH 6: 16 pints per 500 square footage. For each additional 500 square feet add an additional 7 pints
- ACH 5: 14 pints per 500 square footage. For each additional 500 square feet add an additional 6 pints
- ACH 4: 12 pints per 500 square footage. For each additional 500 square feet add an additional 5 pints
- ACH 3: 10 pints per 500 square footage. For each additional 500 square feet add an additional 4 pints
For example, if you have a room that is 500 square feet and you have an ACH of 6, then you need a machine that extracts 16 pints of water per day. However, if the room is 1000 square feet with an ACH of 6, then you need it to extract 23 pints per day.
Buy A Dehumidifier According To Your Specs
Now you need to find a dehumidifier that supports both your CFM requirements as well as your pints per day requirements. Make sure you read the specs of the dehumidifier you are thinking of buying to make sure that it fits your needs. However, there are a few other things you might need to consider before buying your unit. One, if your CFM requirements are much higher than any dehumidifier on the market, then you will probably have to buy multiple units to properly dehumidify your room. Two, if you CFM falls between the ranges of two different models, then you might want to buy a unit with a higher CFM and just run it less often.
This concludes our two-part article on buying a dehumidifier. I know that it might seem like there are a lot of steps and that it might take a bit of time to determine ACH, CFM and pints per day, but trust me it is worth the effort. You don’t want to buy a unit that isn’t capable of dehumidifying your room properly, but you also don’t want to buy a bigger unit (or more units than you need). By taking the time to follow these steps, you can make sure you buy the best dehumidifier for your particular needs.
It is a scenario that has happened to just about everyone at some point in time. You spend hours upon hours comparing different dehumidifiers and closely examining dehumidifier reviews until you find one that you like. You order it and it works great for the first year or so. Then without notice, your unit isn’t working the way it’s supposed to work. What will you do now? It’s almost enough to make you want to throw the unit against the nearest wall.
However, before you smash your dehumidifier in a moment of blind fury, you take a few moments to see if the unit is actually defective or if there is a simpler—and cheaper—explanation for why your dehumidifier is doing what it’s doing. While there are definitely some problems that require the assistance of a professional, or at the very least require you to return the unit for a refund, I have found that many problems can be fixed quickly and easily. All you have to know is what you’re looking for to fix the problem.
Today, I am going to go over a few of the most common problems that can easily be fixed by just about anyone. I am going to show you how to spot these problems and troubleshoot them, so that your best dehumidifier doesn’t become the next occupant of the city dump.
Dehumidifier Shuts Off Without Lowering Humidity
Believe it or not, this is one of the most frequent dehumidifier problems. And it is also the easiest one to fix. Usually when this happens you simply need to adjust the humidistat to a lower setting. That usually fixes the problem.
Dehumidifier Runs But Doesn’t Fill The Tank
If you dehumidifier is constantly running but no water is being put into the reservoir, then you might want to try cleaning the unit, filters and all. If that doesn’t solve the problem, however, then you might need to take it to a professional because it might have a problem with the refrigeration system.
Dehumidifier Stops Running
If the light on your unit is on but the unit isn’t running, then you might need to empty the reservoir tank. Some units automatically shut off when this tank gets filled. If the tank isn’t full, then check the position of it to make sure that the shut off switch hasn’t been accidentally set off by the position of the unit and/or its tank.
Coils Are Frosting Over
If frost is beginning to form on your condenser coils, then you might want to make sure the room temperature of your room is high enough to allow proper operation of your unit. If this happens, then either increase the temperature of the room or unplug the dehumidifier and allow it to defrost.
That concludes our little article on troubleshooting your dehumidifier. Hopefully this article has helped you solve some of the more common problems. However, if the solution to your problem can’t be found in the above solutions, then you might have to take your unit to a repair shop to have it fixed.
Some people believe that the best dehumidifier for them is a whole-house unit. While that might be the case in some circumstances, it isn’t true all of the time. Not only are whole-house units expensive and time consuming to install, but they also require that your home has the right duct work for it to be installed in the first place. In my experience, I have found that the most cost-effective and easiest solution for most households is a portable dehumidifier.
Before you shop for a portable dehumidifier however, it’s important to know what you need to look for in one of these units. Which is the purpose of this guide today. In this guide, we are going to show you the benefits that portable units provide over whole-house units, things to consider while installing one of these units, as well as the best portable dehumidifier features. After we have covered those things, you will have the knowledge you need to look over dehumidifier reviews and make an informed buying decision.
Portable Versus Whole Home Dehumidifiers
What makes a portable unit the preferred option for most people in most situations is its cost. Portable units are a fraction of the cost of whole-house units. However, that isn’t the only reason portable units can be superior to whole-house units in most situations. Another factor that needs to be considered is ease of installation. Portable units are simply easier to install.
Installation Options For Portable Units
One thing that really needs to be considered about a portable unit is where it needs to be installed. While these units can easily be moved from room to room, you want to make sure that you when you do place them in a particular location you are installing them correctly.
Most portable units have reservoirs that capture water pulled from the air, and on these units you have to make sure you set them in a location convenient enough for you to accomplish this task. If the unit is hard to reach, then you probably won’t be emptying it as often as you should.
However, there are some units that have a continuous drainage system. With these units you have to make sure that there is an available drain for them to discharge water into. If you try to use these units without a proper drain, then you can cause flooding that may damage your floor or the unit itself.
Best Portable Dehumidifier Features
You should ensure that the portable unit you are thinking about buying has a few minimum features. Features that not only make it easier to operate but also ensure that it will run properly. Some of the features you need to consider for a portable unit include:
- Energy Star Rating
- Range Of Humidity Settings
- A Humidistat
- A Drain Connection Kit (if it’s a continuous drain system)
Finding a unit with all of the above features will ensure that you not only end up with a portable dehumidified that is convenient to use but one that is of the highest quality.
Before you can go out and buy the best dehumidifier possible, you first need to know all of the different types of dehumidifiers that are out there. In the past, there were only one or two options available when you wanted to go buy one of these units. That just isn’t the case anymore. There are quite a few different types of dehumidifier models, and each of these different types have their own features which make them unique. Let’s take a few moments today and see some of the different dehumidifier models that are available today.
There are three basic types of dehumidifiers on the market today. These include heat pump dehumidifiers, chemical absorbent ones and ventilating dehumidifiers. Some people also use homemade dehumidifiers, but those aren’t going to get touched upon today because they don’t work as well as commercial models. Let’s take a closer look at these three dehumidifier models you are likely to encounter while reading dehumidifier reviews.
Heat Pump Dehumidifiers
These type of dehumidifiers—also known as refrigerant dehumidifiers—work by using a fan, a heat exchange and a heat pump to remove moisture from your air. This is the basics of how they work. Air is pulled into a unit by the fan and then passed over the heat exchange, or condensation coils. As the air passes over these cold coils, the moisture in the air is transferred from a gas into a liquid. This liquid is then expelled into a reservoir or through a drainage system. Meanwhile, the now drier air is warmed back to temperature by the heat pump and it is fed back into the room. These are perfect for most home applications.
Chemical Absorbent Dehumidifiers
This type of dehumidifier is very different from a heat pump one. It works by using some type of desiccant absorbent—usually silica gel—to absorb the moisture in the air. Here is how it works. Air is passed over this material and it absorbs the moisture. This moisture is then expelled via an outside vent. These type of dehumidifiers are often used in extremely hot areas and for industrial applications.
These are the simplest dehumidifiers of them all. All this device does is to pump the moist air from the room via an outside vent. They are usually fairly inexpensive but don’t work as well as chemical or heat pump dehumidifiers.
Those are the three basic types of dehumidifiers. However, from these three types there are hundreds of hundreds of dehumidifiers that all have different features. For a list of some of these features, I urge you to read some of my other articles that were written to clarify the subject a bit further.
If you have areas of your home that have really moist air, then you may have thought about purchasing a dehumidifier. You thought it would be pretty easy just to go online and buy one. Yet when you started searching through dehumidifier reviews your mind was boggled by all of the different sizes, styles and features. Well, that is why I am here today. I am going to help you cut through all of the noise and find the perfect dehumidifier for your home. Just by following these few easy steps, you will not only save time and money but you will also save yourself quite a lot of frustration.
Gauge Humidity Level
You know that your home is humid, but you don’t know exactly how humid it is. That is why you probably need to purchase a hygrometer before you run out and buy your dehumidifier. A hygrometer allows you to take accurate humidity readings of your home so you know exactly what type of humidifier to buy. It is a device that can easily be found at any home improvement store or online. While you don’t necessary have to buy one if you don’t want to, it does make it easier for you to purchase the best dehumidifier possible for your home.
If you don’t want to purchase a hygrometer, then you can do a simple assessment of your home to determine humidity level. While it won’t be as accurate of an assessment as using a hygrometer, it will give you a baseline. Here are some ways to access your room’s humidity level:
- 90-100 percent humidity: Standing puddles of water in the room and/or the room is extremely wet.
- 80-90 percent humidity: Room smells and feels wet; it also has visible water or mildew stains.
- 70-80 percent humidity: No water stains but the room has a clear mold or mildew smell to it.
- 60-70 percent humidity: If the room smells slightly damp.
Determine Air Changes Per Hour
Now that you know your room’s humidity level, you can now gauge the ACH (air changes per hour) rate you need to properly dehumidify the room. You can judge your ideal ACH by checking your humidity on the following table:
- 90-100 percent humidity: ACH 6
- 80-90 percent humidity: ACH 5
- 70-80 percent humidity: ACH 4
- 60-70 percent humidity ACH 3
Calculate Your Room’s Square Footage
Now you need to figure out the square footage of your room. Using a tape measure, measure the width and length of your room and multiple the two to get your square footage. For example, if you have a 10 by 8 feet, then your square footage would be 80 feet.
Now that you’ve determined your humidity level, your ACH and have calculated your square footage, it is now time to determine your CFM, and how many pints of moisture you need extracted from your room daily. Please read Part Two of our dehumidifier buying guide to continue.