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Dehumidifiers buying guide: How to choose the best dehumidifier

The right dehumidifier can prevent mould, dust mites and damage to your health and home.

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Quick facts about dehumidifiers

  • If you live in a humid environment or your home has poor ventilation, buying a dehumidifier can save you time and money by preventing damage before it occurs.
  • Dehumidifiers typically cost between $140 and $1,000.
  • Cheaper models are effective in small rooms while high-end models can cover large rooms or entire homes.
  • The type of dehumidifier that will work best in your home depends on the size of the space and your environment.

What is a dehumidifier?

A dehumidifier is a type of appliance that removes moisture from the air in a room. By removing moisture from the air, the dehumidifier decreases humidity and makes a room feel more comfortable.

How do dehumidifiers work?

Most dehumidifiers work in the same basic way. The dehumidifier uses a fan to suck in air. As this air moves through the dehumidifier it passes cooling coils, which remove moisture from the air. This air is then reheated and redistributed back into the room. The moisture is collected in a tank or reservoir that you can remove to empty. Most dehumidifiers will shut off when the water tank is full to prevent overflow.

How do I know if I need a dehumidifier?

If your home has any of the following warning signs, you should consider getting a dehumidifier:

  • Water damage or stains on walls or ceilings
  • A musty or mildew smell
  • Mould or small black spots growing in high-humidity rooms
  • Rotting timber
  • Rooms with high humidity and little to no ventilation
  • Regular condensation on windows and doors

Benefits of using a dehumidifier

An effective dehumidifier can do the following:

  • Prevent mould. Mould thrives in moist, damp environments. If any members of your household experiences allergies or asthma attacks, mould could be exacerbating the problem. Using a dehumidifier can prevent mould from growing in humid areas of your home and get rid of the musty or mildew odours that often accompany mould.
  • Decrease dust. Another frequent cause of allergies and asthma symptoms is dust. By lowering the humidity of your home, dehumidifiers can help eliminate dust mites and stop them from growing. As an added bonus, you won’t have to clean your house as often once your dehumidifier has reduced the amount of dust.
  • Prolong the life of your home and belongings. Excessive moisture doesn’t just affect your health, it can damage the structural integrity of your home. Moisture can warp and crack timber and rust metal. If you live in a humid environment, getting a dehumidifier is one of the easiest ways to preserve the life of your home, furniture and electronics. In the long run, a dehumidifier is a lot cheaper than replacing a support beam or computer.

How to compare when choosing a dehumidifier

A dehumidifier typically costs between $140 and $1,000. Choose a dehumidifier based on the size of your room or home and the humidity and temperature of your environment.

Size

If you want to remove moisture from individual small rooms there are many affordable models available. At the higher end of the market are dehumidifiers with a larger capacity to work in large rooms, open spaces and even entire apartments and houses.

Environmental conditions

There are two main types of dehumidifiers, desiccant models and refrigeration models. If you live in a cold, damp climate, a desiccant dehumidifier will be more effective because it won't cool down the room. If you live in a hot, humid climate a refrigeration dehumidifier is a more effective option.

Water removal rate

The effectiveness of a dehumidifier is measured by how much water a dehumidifier can remove from the air in a 24-hour period. A typical dehumidifier removes from 7 litres to 25 litres of water per day.

Tank size

Small dehumidifiers can usually hold around two to four litres of water and might need to be emptied daily or even multiple times per day. Large models hold more water so you don't need to empty them as often, but they cost more and can be difficult to move or carry.

Additional features to look for

When comparing dehumidifiers, look for the following additional features:

  • Humidistat. A humidistat allows you to choose your desired humidity in a room. The dehumidifier then works to meet this target and shuts off before over drying your room.
  • Drain. If you will always be using your dehumidifier in the same room, you can get a model with a tank that drains down a hose and directly into a drain so that you don’t have to empty the tank manually. Keep in mind, you should still clean the tank regularly.
  • Wheels and handles. Large dehumidifiers can weigh 20kg or more when empty and significantly heavier when full of water. Wheels and handles will make your life easier every time you have to move your dehumidifier or empty the tank.
  • Dust and UV filter. Many dehumidifiers come with dust filters and some include UV light filters that help kill bacteria.

Dehumidifiers vs air conditioners

Air conditioners work similarly to dehumidifiers by removing moisture from the air. The difference is that in addition to performing this essential function, air conditioners also make the room colder or hotter.A dehumidifier can’t cool your room down on a hot day like an air conditioner can, but it will be more cost-effective to run. If your house is cold and damp, a dehumidifier will get the job done. If your home is hot and humid, you might want to use the dehumidifier with a ceiling fan or use an air conditioner to cool your room while getting rid of moisture.

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