How To Choose A Dehumidifier

The feeling of dampness in the air, excess moisture on the walls, and wet floors are some indicators that humidity levels at home are high. This triggers some warnings like rotting odor and growth of molds, which compromise the comfort at home and the health of the family. Certainly, nobody would want that to happen by a simple failure to manage moisture build up. Fortunately, air dehumidifiers are easily accessible and are available in different variants and brands. The crucial thing is to know which type or brand to use at your home (or maybe workspace) that will remove and balance the moisture levels and restore a healthy home environment.

You are in the right place to find out just that! This Ultimate Dehumidifier Buying Guide will help you choose the most suitable dehumidifier to use at your home. Let’s start with the function of a dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier is a simple household appliance, which reduces the level of humidity by extracting the excess moisture in the air. It brings about just the right balance of humidity to make your home comfortable and healthy.

So, if you have humidity issues at home and are thinking about purchasing a dehumidifier, ask yourself these basic questions and together let’s discover the best dehumidifier for your needs.

  1. What type of dehumidifier suits my needs?
  2. Which areas of the house do I need to humidify?
  3. What is the moisture condition? Is it damp or very wet?
  4. What are the things I should look for in a dehumidifier?
  5. How much money do I have to spend? And how do I get the value for my money?

If you are finished and were able to answer the questions, you are a step closer to matching a dehumidifier to your requirements. But if not, don’t worry! We’ll begin to tackle these important questions and cover the key considerations you need to know in buying a dehumidifier.


There are two types of dehumidifier available in the market today, basically differing in the technology used to collect air moisture. Both can be useful but work differently and may be more suitable depending on certain conditions. It’s helpful to know how they work so that you can match the right time with your room’s or home’s humidity conditions and your personal preferences.

Refrigerant Dehumidifier (also known as compressor-type humidifiers)

As the name implies, a dehumidifier system is much like a refrigerator that mainly uses a compressor to run its process. It draws air from the environment and channels it through cold refrigerated coils where moisture extraction happens; before releasing dry air into the room. Excess moist goes into a container, which can be emptied manually or through a hose. It basically uses a thermal condensation method that sips or dries out water (or excess amounts of it), remember your Science classes?

Suitability-wise, refrigerants perform best in high temperatures, where humidity is also high. It can extract a large amount of moisture in these conditions.

Desiccant Dehumidifier

This uses the absorption/adsorption method to remove water from the air. It works by pulling in the air and passing it through a sponge-like, absorbent material. The absorbed water or desiccant is then heated that results in water being flushed out as vapor (water evaporates due to heating).

Desiccants are your all-season dehumidifier as they perform well in both high and low temperatures, consistently extracting good amounts of humidity.

There’s actually a third type that concerns mainly a very large space and high humidity levels, which are vented using the home’s HVAC system, known as Whole House Ventilation Dehumidifiers. But we’ll tackle that later in this guide.

Let us move on to comparing Refrigerant Dehumidifiers with Desiccant Dehumidifiers by their functional attributes:

Refrigerant Dehumidifier

Desiccant Dehumidifier

Extraction Rate

High extraction rate at high temperature.

On high temperatures, it can remove larger volume of moisture per day than desiccant.

Good extraction rate at all temperatures.

Consistently removes good amount of moisture per day at any given temperatures.

Operating Temperature & Humidity Levels

Works better in high temperatures, like during summer.

Seldom used below 45% relative humidity.

Stable in low and high temperatures, fit for all seasons.

Utilized on relative humidity level of 45% to 1%.

Running Costs

More economical than desiccants at high temperatures and high moisture levels.

Less power consumption considering the amount of moisture in can extract per day.

More economical than refrigeration systems at lower temperatures and lower moisture levels.

Higher wattage because of the heater component.


Refrigerant technology uses compressors which generally make these dehumidifiers slightly louder than desiccant.

Minimal noise.

Size-to-weight ratio/portability

Usually are heavier as they contain weightier components and are often bulkier in size (over 10kg).

More portable due to its light weight and are easier to move around (5-9kg).

More portable due to its light weight and are easier to move around (5-9kg).


Requires higher maintenance and cleaning.

Lower maintenance because it doesn’t use refrigerants.

*Note: Performance and efficiency may vary by quality, brand, and usage.

This is just a quick guide between these two types of dehumidifiers.


The condition of the area you wanted to dehumidify is a crucial factor in your buying decision. Conditions such as the size of the room, humidity levels, and temperature should be considered. The performance of a dehumidifier will be largely affected by these conditions, which will also impact on the units’ efficiency. It may say on paper that it can dehumidify six liters per day but in certain conditions it may not be able to cope.

The guiding rule in sizing-up a dehumidifier is the larger or the damper the area, the bigger the extraction capacity should be, within a 24-hour operation. This can be determined best by measuring the area in square meters and getting the humidity level with a tool.


Small Capacity Dehumidifier

small capacity dehumidifier

Extracts 500 ml of moisture per day and is ideal for single room use with an approximate 30-50 sq. m. area. With said capacity, it can work well in a damp room only, not wet. This is the most portable type and typically the least inexpensive.

Check out our best small dehumidifier reviews.

Medium Capacity Dehumidifier

Extracts 10 liters in a medium to large sized area like the whole bedroom and bathroom, about 70-100 sq. m., within a 24-hour period. This dehumidifier is big, but most brands come with wheels for easy moving. It costs somewhere near the larger models.

Large Capacity Dehumidifier

Large Capacity Dehumidifier

A 25-liter capacity unit is good for large, wet spaces, like basements and large rooms of approximately 150 sq. m. Extra cost for the larger units are worth it given the amount of moisture they can absorb.

Check out our reviews of the best dehumidifier for basements.

Whole House Ventilation Dehumidifier

whole home dehumidifier

This type can handle the largest capacity of humidity in an area of up to 300 sq. m. . This type can often be connected to a house’s HVAC system. This type of unit is the most expensive as it would sometimes entail additional installation costs. But can save you money over the long term because they are more energy efficient than smaller units.

Check out our Whole House Dehumidifier Reviews.

What Size Dehumidifier Do I Need?

Below is a reference you could use in further determining the capacity of the dehumidifier you need versus the current conditions you have at home. This will help you in selecting the correct size of dehumidifier.

Room Condition

45 Square Meters

90 Square Meters

135 Square Meters

180 Square Meters

225 Square Meters

Mild Damp

5.5 L

8 L

10 L

12.5 L

14.5 L

Moderate Damp

6.5 L

9.5 L

12.5 L

15.5 L

18 L

Severe Damp

7.5 L

11.5 L

14.5 L

18 L

21.5 L


8.5 L

13 L

17 L

21 L

25 L

*Note: Approximate values are on a 24-hour operation.

Performance and efficiency may vary by quality, brand, and usage.


  1. Humidistat and Other User-Friendly Controls – These automated controls will help you set and program your desired room humidity. A 25% to 55% humidity is a healthy range. Look also for built-in hygrometers to measure and display the relative humidity level.
  2. Auto On/Off – On power outages, or when humidity levels reach a specified set point a dehumidifier that automatically restarts is a convenient function to have. If the, tub or tank is already full, it automatically switches off to protect your unit. In addition, look out for units with indicator lights to tell you that you need to empty the bucket.
  3. Water Capacity – The dehumidifier’s bucket size does matter as it determines how much water it can hold and hence the operating time between refills. The larger it is means less often emptying. However, please note that the bigger the tank, the bulkier the unit and generally the more it will cost.
  4. Hose Connection – With a hose you can somewhat disregard the water capacity concern as you can directly drain it. This means that you don’t need frequent emptying. The hose can be placed directly to a drain or sink. Choose a dehumidifier with a pump if you don't have a floor drain and need to drain the water to a high level window or sink. 
  5. Timer – This lets you set the unit to turn on/off at preferred times of the day, such as when going out or sleeping. This feature can also help you to save on electric bills.
  6. Frost Sensor – Frost may form when running the dehumidifier in very cold temperatures. Make sure that your dehumidifier turns off when it senses frost. This feature will also save you energy consumption because it shuts off when not dehumidifying. A dehumidifier that can work at low temperatures is advisable in cold conditions. Also, look for an automatic defrost feature on dehumidifiers to remove the risk of expensive damaged to the unit caused by iced up coils.
  1. Washable Air Filters – Favorable if a unit has a washable air filter to protect it from dirt and dust. Check that it is easy to remove and replace. Regular cleaning of the filter is necessary for any unit.
  2. Quiet Operation – Who would want a noisy dehumidifier? The idea is, the bigger the unit, the noisier it is. And again, refrigerants produce more noise compared to desiccants. Units range between approximately 58dB and 68dB, which is comparable with a box fan on low setting or high setting respectively. Noise will be more or less of a factor depending on where you are placing the dehumidifier in your home. If you intend on placing the unit in your living area you will want a quiet dehumidifier with a fan that stops when the compressor shuts off. 
  3. Energy Efficiency – Look for the Energy star label as this is a mark of an energy-efficient unit. This will also have the added benefit of saving you from high utility bills. Check out our reviews of the most energy efficient dehumidifiers.


With the above considerations, the last question could possibly be: “Do you have the budget to buy your desired dehumidifier?

Budget not just on the amount of the unit but also its maintenance and usage costs. Determine which dehumidifier fits your budget, notwithstanding the quality and efficiency.

I believe your major determinant of cost is how well it can serve its purpose and how sturdy and reliable it can be after many years of use. Check the feedback from consumers (or check out our dehumidifier reviews). As we always tell you, good quality doesn’t always mean high price, you just need to be informed to be wiser in buying.

For your reference, the price range for mini and small-capacity dehumidifiers is between $40-$100, medium-capacity are priced at $150-%250, and large-capacity at $200-$400. More expensive dehumidifiers are extra-large-capacity for basements valued at $800-$1,200 and whole house dehumidifier between $1,500-$2,000.

Well known popular brands of dehumidifier include: GE, Frigidaire, LG, Kenmore, and Haier.


You’ve finally reached this part! This means that you are now more informed about dehumidifiers and are probably ready to make your purchase. Among the many considerations we have listed, be wise to use and follow which one would be helpful to you. We have tried our best to put everything you need to know in this Dehumidifier Buying Guide, but in the end, it is still you who will decide.

You may have already made up your mind after reading this or more likely perhaps you want to read and compare brands and different models before committing to buy. With this in mind a good place to start would be to check out our reviews of the Top Rated Dehumidifiers. These will provide you further guidance on how to choose a dehumidifier that has the features you are looking for.

Consider this as our final advice: The best choice would always be the one that meets your specific needs. So, if you think a dehumidifier meets those, then go for it!

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