The Basics Of Dehumidifier Systems

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:

  1. A fan moves the air from the surrounding room and pulls it deep inside the dehumidifier.
  2. The air then passes over the compressor cooling coils.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. The heat captured by this conversion is released from the reheater back into the air.
  6. 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.

Buying A Portable Dehumidifier

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:

  • Auto-Shutoff
  • 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.

Essential Dehumidifier Features

While one person’s definition of the best dehumidifier will differ from another person’s definition, I think it is probably safe to say that there are probably some features that should be common to all high quality dehumidifiers. Essential features that will ensure that the dehumidifier not only performs the job it is designed to do, but will do it without needing a whole lot of user input. Today, we are going to talk about some of these essential features of dehumidifiers and why they are important for you to consider before purchasing one.

The Water Reservoir

This feature can be found on most dehumidifiers. I am saying most because some use units don’t use a reservoir but either have a continuous drainage feature or uses some form of water absorbing material, such as silica gel, to collect water. We will talk about some of those a little bit later.

Dehumidifiers have reservoirs to collect the water that drip from the condensing coils when the moisture is extracted from the air. Therefore, you really can consider it as being an essential part of the whole dehumidifier. When buying a dehumidifier, it is important to get a dehumidifier with a decent size reservoir because you don’t want to have to empty it out more often than you really have to.

Continuous Drainage And Condensate Pumps

You will find continuous drainage on systems that don’t use a reservoir system, and its basic operation is fairly simple. What a continuous drainage system does is send the water down a hose so that it can exit the system via a floor or sink drain. As water is collected form the air, it is sent to the exit hose where gravity does its thing and carries it away from the unit.

Some dehumidifiers with a continuous drainage system also have a condensate pump that isn’t gravity based. Which means that it can pump the water upwards away from the system. This allows the drainage hose to be put into a sink drain or through a basement window.

Automatic Defrost

If you look through dehumidifier reviews, then you’ll notice that a lot of dehumidifiers have an automatic defrost feature. All this feature does is to defrost the condensing coils if they freeze up because of lower than standard room temperatures. This allows the unit to be used in cooler environments—such as basements—that often fall below 42 degrees.

Humidistat

A humidistat is an essential feature in my opinion because it allows you to fine tune the humidity levels in your room. Units that don’t have one usually have to either run all of the time, or the user has to manually turn them on and off to keep humidity levels in their preferred range. Units that have a humidistat will automatically shut off when they have reached the minimum humidity level and turn back on when the humidity level gets too high. All without user input.

The above features are the ones that I consider essential on any dehumidifier. They not only allow the unit to operate more efficiently and effectively, but they also reduce the amount of time that you have to dedicate to setup and operation of the unit.

Types Of Dehumidifiers

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.

Ventilating Dehumidifiers

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.

Using Your Dehumidifier In An Energy Efficient Manner

Saving energy probably wasn’t the first thing you were thinking of while you were looking through dehumidifier reviews for the perfect model for your house. However, it should have been. The average dehumidifier will run at least 4-6 hours a day and depending on the amount of moisture or humidity in your home, may run even longer than that. Add up all of those hours over the course of a year and you can see why energy conservation should have been at the top of your list.

If it wasn’t however, then I wouldn’t worry too much about it. That’s because today I am going to show you how to take care and use your dehumidifier so you can help it save energy. Follow the steps in this article and you will save energy with your new dehumidifier.

Maximize Your Energy Savings

The first thing you can do to ensure your best dehumidifier is the best as saving energy is by using it in the correct manner. Only keep the unit on the high setting until it has dropped the humidity to an acceptable level. Once it has done that, then turn it down to the lowest setting possible to maintain the level of humidity in the room or house.

Another thing to think about is the temperature in your home. If the temperature falls below 66 degrees, then the evaporator coils on the dehumidifier may freeze up. This will result in the dehumidifier drawing more power without providing much of a benefit. If this happens, then allow the unit to defrost before you run it again. Your electric bill will thank you for it.

Keeping your unit clean will also keep it running more efficiently. If the coils on the dehumidifier clog with dirt, dust or fungus, then it can drastically reduce its energy efficiency. Therefore, you need to clean it on a regular basis. While most manufacturer’s recommend cleaning it annually, I have found that most units need to be cleaned on a more regular basis than that. Periodically check your unit and if it needs to be cleaned, then take care of it right away.

You need to also realize that your dehumidifier has air vents in it that need to have unrestricted access to air. If these air vents—which may be located on the top, front, back or sides—get blocked, then your unit will become less energy efficient. That is why you should keep at least a foot of space between your dehumidifier and the walls or other possible obstructions.

The last thing you need to do to ensure that your dehumidifier is running as efficiently as possible is to keep doors and windows closed while it is running. This will prevent your unit from having to dehumidify the outside air along with the air in your home.

If you follow all of these steps, then you will ensure that your dehumidifier is running at peak efficiency and won’t needlessly run up your electric bill.

Do Dehumidifier’s Save On Heating?

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.

Maintaining Your 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.

Tips On When To Use A Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is a great device for anyone looking to exert some control over their home or office environment. It is particularly useful in maintaining a healthy environment for those with certain respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies or COPD. It can also keep pollutants in the air at a more manageable level, especially when used in conjunction with an air purifier.

Another added bonus of using a dehumidifier is that is can actually lower your utility bills. Modern units use very little power, but they help furnaces and air conditioners do their jobs more efficiently. Which usually results in the furnace or air conditioner being run less often—which in turn leads to lower bills.

A dehumidifier isn’t a cure-all for every ill, however. It is not meant for every single situation. So before you run out and start pouring over dehumidifier reviews, you might want to know what circumstances  these units are the most effective. That is what we are going to help you out with today.

Excess Moisture

If your house is holding a lot of excess moisture, then you might want to run out and buy the best dehumidifier possible. Excess moisture in the home is extremely problematic and can promote the growth of all kinds of nasty critters such as bacteria, mold and fungus. Most types of mold and fungus can cause significant problems to your respiratory health and may even make you extremely ill. A 70 pint dehumidifier is a good start in reducing the moisture in the home, and as a result, reducing the nasty things that might be growing because of all of this excess moisture.

Humid Climates

Humid climates are the perfect environment to use a dehumidifier. That is what these devices were made to handle. They can help the house maintain a more comfortable level. This is particularly helpful for people with allergies or respiratory problems.

Basements

If your basement leaks or is below grade, then you might want to get a basement dehumidifier. This can resolve minor standing-water issues and will help your furnace work more efficiently.

Respiratory Problems And/Or Allergies

I have emphasized the fact that dehumidifiers help maintain a better environment for individuals with allergies or respiratory problems because that is the biggest benefit of owning one. However, it just isn’t for people who currently have these types of health issues. It is also perfect for those who are prone to developing these particular conditions. In most homes, a 60 or 70 pint dehumidifier is perfect for taking care of the air quality for the entire home. Or if you prefer, you can buy a smaller unit that is just used in your bedroom while you sleep, as many respiratory problems seem to flare up in the evening. Another option is to use a 30 pint dehumidifier, but remember that if you choose that option, then you are going to need to close all of the windows in the house to maximize the efficiency of that size unit.

The Best And Most Popular Dehumidifier Features

If you have high humidity levels or a big moisture control problem in your home, then you are probably going to want to purchase a dehumidifier. Not just anyone will do, however. You want the best dehumidifier for your money. If that is the case, then this article was written just for you. That’s because we are going to talk about the features you need to look for when choosing one of these units.

I have spent a considerable amount of time reviewing and testing dehumidifiers. I have seen really good models with all of the features a person could want and I have seen models that I wouldn’t buy at a garage sale. So many in fact, that I can now tell a great unit from an average unit just by taking a quick look at the features it has. Yes, just by casually checking out the features in dehumidifier reviews I can tell if a unit is worth buying or not. Information that I am now going to share with you today. Below you will find a list of features that can be found on some of the best units on the market today. Find a unit that has the majority of these features, and you will most likely find out it is one of the best.

40-70 Pint Capacity

I have found that the best capacity for most homes is around the 40-70 pint capacity range.  That’s big enough to deal with most humidity problems that can be found in the home. Of course, if the dehumidifier is going to be used in an industrial or commercial capacity, then this pint range would be too low. But for the average home it is perfect.

Auto Shutoff

If your dehumidifier uses a reservoir collection system, then you are going to want to make sure that it has an automatic shutoff system as well. All this feature does is turn off the unit when the reservoir capacity has been reached. This not only protects the unit but also keeps it from making a big mess.

Electronic Controls

While I don’t have any particular aversion to manual control systems on a dehumidifier, I do think that electronic controls are the way to go. Not only do they make the machine easier to use, but they often allow you to to zero in on your preferred humidity range a lot better.

Humidistat

A humidistat is another feature found on the more popular dehumidifiers. This features shuts off the machine when the preferred humidity level is reached and turns it back on when the humidity is beginning to get high again.

Caster Wheels

If you’ve ever had to move one of the bigger dehumidifiers around the house, then you know why this feature made this list. Having caster wheels on the device just makes it that much easier to move it from room to room. Which is a big plus if you have multiple rooms in your house with humidity problems and need to service these rooms in sequence.

Dehumidifier Buying Tips – Additional Features

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.