Breathe Easy: A Quick and Dirty Guide to Home Dehumidifiers

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 06/07/24 •  7 min read

Ever walked into a room and been hit by that heavy, damp air? It’s more than just uncomfortable – it can be a sign that your home’s air quality needs a boost. Enter the humble dehumidifier: your secret weapon against excess moisture, mold, and that musty smell lurking in corners.

But wait, it’s not just about plugging in a machine and forgetting it. Choosing and using a dehumidifier is a fine art, and you’re about to become an expert. Whether you’re battling soggy summers, damp winters, or just want a fresher home, this guide is your one-stop resource. From understanding how these handy devices work to picking the perfect one for your space, we’ve got you covered.

Many families around the country have discovered the benefits that come along with using a dehumidifier, especially those living in regions with high levels of humidity, so if that sounds good to you, let’s demystify the world of dehumidifiers together.

How Do Dehumidifiers Work?

If you want to know the technical side, a dehumidifier is composed of compressor, a heat exchanger, a fan, a water tank, panels, and a controller. The fan draws moist air into the dehumidifier through a heat exchanger, when this happens the moisture in the air condenses into water droplets and is collected in the water tank while the remaining air, now dry, is blown back out out of the machine. This cycle reduces the humidity in the room.

Here’s a quick little video by a dehumidifier maker to show you what that looks like if you’re really interested in the details:

What to Look for When Shopping for A Dehumidifier

Noise Level Considerations

Noise is a big deal, especially if you’re planning to run your dehumidifier in a bedroom or quiet area.

Most modern units are designed to be fairly quiet, but it’s worth checking the noise level before you buy. Generally, the noise level is measured in decibels (dB) – the lower the number, the quieter the unit.

Energy Star Rating

When shopping for a dehumidifier, be sure you buy one that has an Energy Star raging. This means they will perform the same but you will enjoy a nice annual savings. In fact, over five to ten years, the savings is enough to pay the cost of the humidifier. The Energy Star units are designed with top efficiency compressors, fans, and refrigeration coils. Additionally, they will remove the same amount of moisture from the air as the standard models while saving you up to 25%!

Water Tank Capacity

In addition to the Energy Star rating, the capacity is an important consideration as you’ll want a unit that will accommodate the needs for where you live. The way capacity is measured is in pints extracted per 24 hours.

To choose the appropriate capacity for your home, you want to think about space as well as the conditions existing in the space.

As an example, if the room is 1,000 square feet and has a damp feel and musty odor, then you would want a 14 capacity while a room of the same size with extremely wet conditions would need a 23. You can view the entire chart on the package of the humidifier to determine exactly what you need.

Water Removal Method

The water removal options are also important. For instance, elderly or disabled people would have a difficult time reaching down, pulling the tray out, lifting it out, and then carrying it to dump.

You will find bucket types as well as those that have the ability of being drained with a hose. Another real nice feature to consider is an indicator light or alarm that tells you when the bucket or container is full.

Brand Reputation and Warranty

When choosing a dehumidifier, brand reputation for quality and customer service is vital. Look for brands that offer a strong warranty and good customer support. Reading reviews and checking consumer feedback can provide valuable insights into a product’s performance and reliability.

Additional Features

Some models come with extra features like laundry modes (to help dry clothes faster), built-in hygrometers (to measure room humidity accurately), or smart home compatibility. While these features might add to the cost, they can greatly enhance convenience and functionality.

Cost and Brand Options: Finding the Right Fit for Your Budget

When it comes to dehumidifiers, there’s a wide range of options to fit every budget and need. Prices can vary significantly based on factors like capacity, features, and brand reputation.

  1. Budget-Friendly Choices (Under $100): Ideal for small spaces or less severe humidity issues. Brands like Pro Breeze and hOmeLabs offer compact models perfect for closets, bathrooms, or small bedrooms. While they lack some advanced features, they are efficient for modest needs.
  2. Mid-Range Models ($100 – $250): This range includes dehumidifiers suited for larger rooms or areas with higher humidity levels. Brands like Frigidaire and Honeywell dominate this segment, offering a balance of efficiency, features, and capacity. Look for models with features like auto-shutoff, continuous drain options, and digital humidity displays.
  3. High-End Options (Over $250): For whole-house solutions or severe humidity problems, brands like Aprilaire and Santa Fe offer high-capacity, professional-grade dehumidifiers. These units are more powerful and durable, designed for large spaces and heavy-duty use. They often include advanced features like built-in pumps, precise humidity controls, and energy-saving modes.

Where to Place Your Dehumidifier in a Room

The placement of the humidifier is also important to ensure you get the best performance. Typically, a top-mounted design can be placed right up against the wall but if you have another style, then it would need to stand clear of the walls and furniture to allow free air circulation. To maintain peak performance, you also want to ensure that doors and windows are closed off to the room in which you are using the humidifier. Additionally, place the unit away from any vents or other sources that could cause dirt or dust to clog up the coils and grills.

What Temperature is Best for a Dehumidifier to Work Well

For operating temperature, they usually work best in areas where the temperature is maintained at 65 degrees Ferenheight or more. When temperatures drop lower, frost can develop on the condensing coils, which then causes the compressor to turn off and on. The result is that little to no moisture is extracted from the air and you are paying for the electricity used without the benefit of lowering the humidity.

Finally, the RH refers to the amount of water vapor that is found in the air compared to the highest amount of water vapor that the air can hold at a specific temperature. The best performance will be achieved between 30% and 50%.

Maintenance and Cleaning of a Dehumidifier

Keeping your dehumidifier in tip-top shape is a breeze. Regularly empty and clean the water tank to prevent mold and mildew buildup. If your unit has a filter, clean or replace it as recommended by the manufacturer. And don’t forget to give the exterior a wipe-down now and then to keep it dust-free. Simple upkeep like this keeps your dehumidifier running smoothly and efficiently.

Conclusion: Choosing a Dehumidifier for a More Comfortable Home

The right dehumidifier not only tackles dampness and odors but also contributes to a healthier living environment by reducing allergens and mold.

Whether it’s choosing the perfect model for your space, understanding the importance of maintenance, or knowing the best spot to place your unit, you’ve got the information you need. So, go ahead, select the dehumidifier that fits your home and lifestyle, and take the first step towards a fresher, more comfortable living space.

As you bid farewell to moisture woes, embrace the change that comes with balanced humidity – a home that’s not just a place to live, but a space to thrive in.


At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.