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Before You Buy a Portable Dehumidifier

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Some climates are more prone to high humidity and that can mean excess moisture in your home. While a certain amount of humidity is good, too much can damage your home and become a haven for harmful bacteria. A dehumidifier can help to reduce or remove excess moisture and make your living area more comfortable. When installing a whole-home dehumidifier is not an option, a portable unit is an affordable choice to manage humidity levels. Before you shop for a unit, learn what to look for in a suitable dehumidifier and what features really matter.
Dehumidifier - Definition, Use

Portable vs Whole Home Dehumidifiers

While a whole-home dehumidifier provides better monitoring and removal of excess home moisture, even in areas that are often overlooked, it is the most expensive option. It also requires installation that may/may not be possible given your particular home and you may need someone to install it. In many cases, a portable dehumidifier is the most economical and viable option. Though heavy and bulky, a portable unit can be relocated to the room that needs it most.

Portable Dehumidifier Installation Options

Although you can operate a portable dehumidifier and empty the water tank as needed to keep the unit running continuously, connecting it directly to your sewer drain is the most convenient option. Not all, but most dehumidifiers come with a drain hose connection kit for this purpose. Some dehumidifiers will even pump up to exhaust the moisture out of a basement window, which can be very handy when a sewer drain is not available.

Coverage & Output Capacity

Though manufacturers will often give a coverage area for their dehumidifiers, it's the output capacity that is more important than coverage, when measuring a dehumidifier's performance. The output capacity, measured in pints per 24-hour period, is listed with the model number. This average output is based on continuous operation on the highest setting. If your humidity levels are extreme, choose one with a high output to restore proper moisture levels as quickly as possible. Example: If you have considerable dampness in a small basement, a 20-pint dehumidifier may be inadequate though the area is not large.

Why Water Tank Size Matters

All dehumidifiers have water tanks or buckets to collect the moisture and unless you connect your unit to a drain, you'll need to empty this tank to keep it running. There's no need to worry about spills, most dehumidifiers have auto-shut features to prevent overflows. The size of the water tank is also shown in pints and a large dehumidifier does not necessarily have a large water bucket. So if you intend on emptying the water tank, choose a dehumidifier with a large capacity to reduce down time.

Best Dehumidifier Features

An auto-shut off is essential to avoid water tank spills and while most have this, it's a good idea to confirm it. An energy efficient unit will be EnergyStar rated and may also have an econo setting. An on-board humidistat, hygrometer or humidity setting is a great feature to have. A drain connection kit provides alternative installation and more than one setting allows you to turn the unit up/down as needed. Look for a high output to manage serious moisture problems and a large water tank for easier maintenance. A quiet feature is a plus, but don't expect a dehumidifier to work without some operating noise.

Should You Consider a Multi-Function Unit?

If you are also considering buying a portable air conditioner, a multi-function appliance rather than a single dehumidifier, may be a good choice. Though they cost a little more, most portable multi-function units offer cooling plus dehumidifying functions, and a dual appliance means less storage. When both types of appliances are needed, you'll also save in energy by operating only one unit.

How to Measure & Control Humidity Levels

In order to maintain proper moisture levels in your home, you need to be able to measure/monitor humidity and you can do that with a hygrometer. It's a small wireless gauge that displays the current humidity in the room. When moisture levels are too low, a humidifier is needed to make the room more comfortable. A reading higher than 45% is considered excessive and moisture should be removed before dampness damages items in your home or allows harmful mildew to grow. Some dehumidifiers have built-in humidistat, but in the absence of such a feature, a hygrometer can help you monitor moisture levels.

Related Air Quality Articles

It's not unusual to need a dehumidifier during a hot, humid summer and then require a humidifier during the winter to maintain moisture levels in your home. You may also need an air conditioner to keep the air comfortable. Learn about these and other air quality and cooling appliances to keep your home comfortable year round.

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