High humidity levels can make any room feel uncomfortable. The excess moisture leaves the air feeling sticky and unbearable. To deal with this issue, many homeowners choose to install dehumidifiers. But the question that lingers in many people’s minds is how effective is a dehumidifier in removing moisture from the air in your home?
Dehumidifiers are designed to remove moisture from the air to keep the relative humidity at a comfortable level. However, they are many details that influence the effectiveness of these appliances.
Before buying a dehumidifier to maintain the moisture in your home, you should make sure that it’s the most effective option.
The Basics of How a Dehumidifier Works
Understanding the effectiveness of a dehumidifier requires you to know how these small appliances work. While there are many types of dehumidifiers, the most common option is the portable dehumidifier.
A portable dehumidifier is a compact appliance about the size of a kitchen trash can. The upper half of the unit typically houses the dehumidifier while the lower half contains a water bucket to collect the condensed moisture.
The dehumidification process is similar to the cooling process used by air conditioners. The dehumidifier uses a fan to draw air from the room into the appliance. The air then passes across two coils. One coil is refrigerated while the other is heated.
As the air passes over the refrigerated coil, the air is cooled, which lowers its ability to retain moisture. The condensed moisture then drips past the coils and into the water bucket. The air then continues to the heated coil before passing back into the room as dry, warm air.
The warmer air released by the dehumidifier is like a magnet for moisture as warmer air can hold more moisture. As the air circulates through the room, the dehumidifier continues its cycle of cooling and heating the air, continuing to remove excess moisture.
A dehumidifier can be an effective option for reducing the humidity in a room. However, there are many factors that impact the effectiveness, including:
- Indoor air temperature
- Relative humidity
- Dehumidifier pint capacity
- Product quality and efficiency
Along with these factors, you may consider the size of the room that you need to dry. Manufacturers rarely include a recommended square footage for dehumidifiers. They instead list the pint capacity as the size of the room has little impact on determining the effectiveness of a dehumidifier compared to the indoor temperature and humidity.
Additionally, the air circulation of the room and the outdoor humidity may influence the effectiveness of the dehumidifier. When the air is confined to one area, the dehumidifier can continually recycle the air and remove moisture.
Placing the dehumidifier in a large area with plenty of circulation will limit the ability of the dehumidifier to reduce the humidity levels. This is especially true when the outdoor humidity levels are high. These are the reasons why dehumidifiers are most effective when used in a basement.
Studies show that dehumidifiers are less effective in rooms on the upper floors compared to dehumidifiers placed in the basement. The basement often features less air circulation and is less impacted by the outdoor humidity.
Temperature and Humidity
Relative humidity is the amount of water in the air while the dew point refers to the point that water vapor condenses into liquid form. If the dew point is high, more effort is required to remove moisture from the air.
Higher temperatures tend to result in lower dew points, such as the desert climate in Arizona. Throughout the Midwest, the spring weather may be cool and humid with a low dew point, resulting in uncomfortably sticky conditions.
Typically, humidity levels above 60 are considered uncomfortable and increase the risk of mold growth. Most people feel comfortable when the humidity is between 30 and 50.
If you are using a dehumidifier on a cool, humid day, it will take longer to remove moisture compared to using the appliance on a warmer day.
Pint Capacity and Product Quality
Besides the current temperature, humidity, and dew point of the room, the specifications of the dehumidifier can determine its effectiveness. The main details to consider are the pint capacity and the quality of the dehumidifier.
The pint capacity is the number of pints of liquid that the dehumidifier can remove from the air in a 24-hour period. The typical range is between 20 and 75 pints of liquid each day.
The amount of moisture that you need to remove from your room depends on the humidity levels while the amount of time needed to remove this moisture depends on the temperature. The typical recommendation is to choose the model with the largest pint capacity.
You also need to consider the quality of the appliance. Some models are simply inferior to others. While it is difficult to compare the quality of different dehumidifiers without testing them, you can use product comparison guides and reviews to learn more about your options.
Alternatives to Dehumidifiers
Without proper temperature control, a dehumidifier is less effective. An alternative solution is to use infrared heating.
Infrared heating systems consist of individual heating panels that are hung on your walls. These panels radiate infrared heat, which heats the objects in the room.
As the furniture, walls, and flooring heat up, they radiate heat to cooler objects. These objects retain heat, which keeps them dry and reduces the relative humidity in the room.
These panels provide a more energy efficient way to heat a room, while also providing a way to keep the relative humidity at a comfortable level.
Last Thoughts on Using Dehumidifiers
A dehumidifier may provide an effective solution for removing moisture from the air in your house. Whether you need to keep your basement dry or live in a humid region, you may find these small appliances useful. However, they do have limitations.
Dehumidifiers tend to work best when the room temperature is warm. If it is too cool, the dehumidifier will be less efficient at removing the moisture content from the air.
If you want to keep your home dry, you may need to avoid letting it get too cold inside. You may also need to use more than one dehumidifier.
An alternative option is to add individual infrared heating panels around the house. These panels help keep objects dry and the room warm, reducing the relative humidity and the need for a less efficient dehumidifier.