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Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifier buying guide

Last updated: May 2014

Getting started

A dehumidifier can take that sticky feeling out of a damp basement or crawl space. Humidity levels above 50 percent can breed dust mites, mildew, and mold, which may worsen allergies and asthma. Our latest tests show that the best dehumidifiers aren't necessarily the highest priced.

Dehumidifiers use a fan to pull air over two sets of refrigerant-filled coils, which pull moisture from the air and drip it into a tank. All the models we evaluated in our test chamber performed at least adequately overall. But some came much closer than others to the humidity levels we set on the humidistat. And some used less energy or ran more quietly. We've also found that some models handle simulated power outages better than others.

Consider where it will go

Noise is a concern in living spaces. Our measurements from four feet typically range from about 55 to 67 decibels for the models we test. That's about the difference between the sound of loud conversation and the din of street traffic.

New energy standards

Because of new federal energy standards, almost every dehumidifier in our latests tests scored very good or better for energy efficiency. That means you'll see savings in operating costs compared with older dehumidifiers.

For large or wet spaces

The best large models remove moisture quickly and efficiently in the toughest situations, say, an especially wet basement.

For small or damp spots

A large dehumidifier will help dry a smaller space quickly, but a medium-capacity model will probably do it with less cycling, according to the industry .

Time your purchase

New models appear in late spring and early summer, and most sales and in-store promotions occur from June through August. You might find closeout deals in the fall and early winter.

Fix existing problems

Even the best dehumidifier may not work effectively if too much outside moisture seeps into your home. Begin by checking that gutters aren't clogged and that downspouts are directing rainwater at least 3 feet away from the house. Grade your property so that rainwater flows away from the foundation. Keep the duct for your clothes dryer properly vented to the outside, making sure that it isn't clogged or leaking. Run an exhaust fan or open a window when showering, and squeegee or wipe down shower walls afterward. When cooking, use a range hood or exhaust fan that vents outdoors.

In the basement, check the plumbing for leaks and condensation. For a damp rather than leaky basement, applying a waterproof coating (when walls are dry) may help. Use silicone caulk to seal small gaps in the foundation, and hydraulic cement for cracks. More extensive problems may require a sump pump, excavating and waterproofing exterior foundation walls, and installing drains outside.

Types

Dehumidifiers vary according to how many pints of moisture they can remove in 24 hours. Here are the types of dehumidifiers to consider.

Large-capacity dehumidifiers


These models, rated at up to 75 pints per day. They can also handle a wider range of humidity levels with little or no additional noise. And, you may be able to run it on a lower, quieter setting. For large, wet spaces, buy the largest-capacity model you can afford. The modest extra cost is worth it.

Medium-capacity dehumidifiers


These models are typically rated to remove 45 to 50 pints of moisture per day--adequate for medium-sized or large spaces that are damp or wet. While medium-capacity dehumidifiers can cost as much as large models, you'll typically pay less.

Small-capacity dehumidifiers


These can dehumidify small spaces that are damp rather than wet and are rated to remove roughly 25 to 40 pints of moisture per day. They typically cost the least overall.

Whole-house dehumidifiers


These are available as portable units or add-ons to your existing central-heating and air-conditioning system. Manufacturers say they can handle an area up to 3,000 square feet. These units are expensive, but the large amount of moisture they remove lets you run your air conditioner less.

Features


Most portable dehumidifiers come fairly similarly equipped, but a few special features are worth looking for. Here are the dehumidifier features to consider.

Easy-to-empty bucket or tank

It should have comfortable handles and a cover that permits convenient removal and carrying when it's full. Capacities range from about 10 to 75 pints.

Automatic shutoff

This common feature turns the unit off when its bucket is full.

Auto restart

Found on many models, it turns the dehumidifier back on after a power outage--handy if there's a blackout while you're away.

User-friendly controls


Electronic controls let you select a basic humidity level--normal, dry, very dry--while digital controls let you program a specific humidity with percentage numbers.

Frost sensor

Most dehumidifiers have a sensor that turns off the dehumidifier if frost forms on the coils--common in cooler spaces. That keeps the unit from wasting energy by running without dehumidifying.

Hose connection


If you place the dehumidifier in a basement with a floor drain, a hose connection lets you divert the condensed water directly to the drain so you don't have to empty the bucket. In a basement without a floor drain, a dehumidifier with a pump can send water up through the window or to a slop sink or other high drain.

On/off switch

This is more convenient than fiddling with the humidistat to turn the unit on or off.

Timer

A timer can program the unit to turn on and off while you're out of the house. It also can save money by turning on the dehumidifier at night, during cheaper off-peak electricity hours.

Washable air filter

Look for one that's easy to clean.

Wheels or casters

This helps you to maneuver a heavier model.

Brands

GE arrow  |  Haier arrow  |  Kenmore arrow  |  LG arrow  |  Other Brands arrow  |  Whirlpool arrow

The major brands of dehumidifiers are Kenmore, LG, Whirlpool, GE, and Haier. Almost all offer a variety of features, sizes and price ranges. Use these profiles to compare dehumidifiers by brand.

GE

Models in the GE line range from 30 to 65 pints and are Energy Star qualified. Features include auto shutoff, electronic control and low temperature operations. GE's dehumidifiers are sold at Walmart, independent and regional appliances dealers, electronic stores, and online retailers.

Haier

Haier offers a wide range of models with electronic touch and button controls that are Energy Star qualified. Some features include washable filters, LED display, and auto defrost. They're sold at Target, Walmart, online retailers, and appliance stores.

Kenmore

Kenmore, sold by Sears, features dehumidifiers ranging from 35 to 70 pints in capacity. Features include remote control, built-in pump, and electronic controls. Kenmore also offers models that are Energy Star qualified.

LG

Sold at Home Depot, appliance stores, and online retailers, LG offers a wide range of models ranging from 40 to 65 pints in capacity. LG offers a number of basic features and has Energy Star qualified models.

Other Brands

Frigidaire and Amcor are two brands that have gained market share due to placement in big box stores. Frigidaire is sold at Lowe’s and Sears while Amcor is sold at Home Depot, Best Buy, and Target.

Whirlpool

Brand offers models ranging from 25 to 70 pint capacity. Models also carry a variety of features including auto shutoff, electronic controls, continuous run mode, and include Energy Star models. Price ranges from $160 to $260. Products are sold through independent and regional appliance dealers, and online retailers.

   

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