Dehumidifier Buying Guide

If this is the first article you’re reading on my website, you’ve started in the right place because you should read it before any of my dehumidifier reviews. While dehumidifiers are fairly simple in construction, there are some facts you need to familiarize yourself with. I am happy to bring those things to your attention as you begin to consider which basic and special features will be best for your needs.

In the guide below I aim to tell you everything you need to know so you find the right fit for your home, and don’t end up purchasing a model you’ll regret later. Getting the wrong dehumidifier will cost you money, and it won’t solve your humidity problem.

Here’s what you need to know.

Two Different Types of Dehumidifiers

fan compressor and coilsMost of the dehumidifiers you can find today are refrigerant types, which means that they have a compressor that expands a refrigerant. This cools down the coils of the unit, so when the air gets sucked in by the fan and comes into contact with the cold surface of the coils, the water vapors condensate. The water then drips down from the coils into a water tray.

Desiccant type dehumidifiers, as indicated by the name, contain desiccants which have the ability to absorb large quantities of moisture. Usually silica gel, or crystals are used (if you’ve ever wondered why you get a small packet of silica gel with each pair of shoes, now you have your answer).

The information about these differences is a little technical and takes some time to explain, so before we get too far into this discussion, I have chosen to discuss it on a different page. You can read more about the differences between refrigerant-type and desiccant-type dehumidifiers by clicking here.

Capacity and Coverage Area

The capacity of a dehumidifier is generally measured by the number of pints it’s able to collect from the air over a period of 24 hours. 30-pint dehumidifiers are suitable for most small rooms like kitchens, closets, and bathrooms. 50-pint models (obviously) are a bit large, and are more suited to large rooms. Dehumidifiers capable of collecting 70 pints of water are suitable for homes and medium-sized basements. Finally, there are units capable of collecting 100 pints of fluid or more, which are designed for use in basements and crawl spaces.

It is extremely important that you select a dehumidifier which will properly service your room. Selecting one with too small of a capacity/coverage area will fail to solve your moisture problems. One which is too large will use more electricity than is necessary, take up more space than necessary, and could even pull too much moisture out of the air. In order to get a better idea about the coverage and the capacity of dehumidifiers, read my article What Size Dehumidifier Do You Need?

Drainage Options

the dehumidifier tankRefrigerant dehumidifiers have a water tray which collects fluid that drips down from the coils. In most cases there is little chance the reservoir will spill over if you forget to empty it because dehumidifiers have an auto-shutdown feature (but do check this first), and some even have an indicator light to inform you the container is full.

Some dehumidifiers have what is referred to as a continuous drain option. Put simply, this means that you can hook a hose up to the back of the unit and allow the water to drain directly out of the unit so that you do not need to continually go back and empty its water tank. Instead, you can drain it to a basement drain, a shower, a sink, a larger bucket (so you have to empty it less often), or a sump hole.

A continuous drainage option is very useful, and it may or may not feature a condensate pump. In most cases you don’t need a pump, but gravity alone won’t be enough to drain water to higher places in your home, or say from your basement to your garden. This is where a pump may come in handy.

Some units come with their own hoses. These can be very useful in that they are usually a short enough length that you will not need to coil them up in the corner (as you may have to do if you were to use a garden hose). That being said, a special hose can be difficult to replace. It may, therefore, be worth considering one which will allow you to use a garden hose, especially if you need a longer hose.

Features You Might Find Useful

The number of bells and whistles to be found on a dehumidifier is dependent on the price and size of the unit. Among the features that are not essential but still very useful nonetheless are, an auto-defrost mode, timer, humidistat, LCD panel, electronic controls, auto-restart, and plenty of others. For more information on each one, feel free to check out my article on Useful and Less Useful Dehumidifier Options.

It is very important to remember that many of these special features come with a bit of a price tag. You may very well find that two dehumidifiers can be identical in their power and basic functions, but that their difference in special features sets them greatly apart from one another in terms of price. It is important that you consider the effects of special features on prices and decide just how much you are willing to pay for extra conveniences.

The Closing Argument

Getting to know all the “ins and outs” of dehumidifiers won’t take up a lot of your time if you choose to stick with my informational articles. I’m not saying this is the ultimate buying guide, but this type of information is scattered all over the web, making it hard to find it in one place (as I well know)! And that’s why you’ll find everything you need (hopefully) right here.

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