What the best dehumidifiers have

  • Large capacity. Consider the size of the area needing a dehumidifier. Room size directly correlates to capacity; a large room will need a large-capacity dehumidifier.
  • Ample collection container. If you're looking at a dehumidifier with a water collection container, consider its size. A smaller container will need to be emptied more frequently.
  • Humidity range. Dehumidifiers can be set to the preferred humidity, ranging between 30 and 85 percent. Most users say they prefer a relative humidity level between 50 and 60 percent to avoid mold and mildew buildup.
  • Fan speeds. Dehumidifiers that utilize fans sometimes have two speed options. The slower speed is typically less noisy than the high speed.
  • Automatic shutoff. Automatic shutoff deactivates the dehumidifier when the collection canister becomes full, a useful feature if you won't be available frequently to empty the unit.
  • Automatic defrost. When used in cooler spaces, the coils in dehumidifiers can frost up, rendering the machine useless. Auto defrost helps to thaw the coils without human intervention.
  • Full-container indicator. It can be difficult to determine if the container is full, but some units offer indicator lights to notify you when it's time to empty the unit.
  • Automatic restart. Dehumidifiers are often used in homes to help prevent mold and mildew buildup while vacant for extended periods of time. In the event of a power outage, auto-restart will reactivate the machine after a power interruption when you'd otherwise have to physically visit the property to turn it on.
  • Low minimum temperatures. Depending on where you intend to use the dehumidifier, you'll want to choose a model that operates effectively at the lowest temperatures it will be exposed to. Basements and crawl spaces, for instance, tend to have lower temperatures than main living quarters.
  • Energy Star rating. Dehumidifiers with an Energy Star rating operate more efficiently than non-rated models. If you're dealing with an area with high humidity and will be running the appliance often, Energy Star-rated models will save you money on electricity.
  • Solid warranty. Be mindful of warranty options when purchasing a dehumidifier. In general, dehumidifiers last a few years, although malfunctions are possible.

Know before you go

How large is your space? Before you buy a dehumidifier, you'll need to know the size of the space you intend to use it in. This is particularly important for crawl spaces, where some units may not fit. Dehumidifiers vary significantly in the square footage they can effectively remove adequate moisture from, so choose a model with sufficient coverage, or consider buying two units.

Will you want to move the dehumidifier? Sometimes, consumers purchase a dehumidifier that they plan to rotate through different areas of the home. If this is the case, heavy models aren't the most practical option. Consider where you'll be using it, whether you'll need to relocate it up or down flights of stairs and whether the dehumidifier you're considering is designed to be permanently or semi-permanently configured in one place.

Value expectations: the dollars and cents of it

Dehumidifiers vary drastically in price from a few hundred dollars for a standard appliance to well over $1,000 for professional-grade machines. The amount you'll want to spend depends on the seriousness of your moisture problem. If you have a larger space with a significant mold or mildew problem, for instance, the investment in a high-priced machine can be worth it. Most dehumidifiers last for just a few years, and warranties don't always cover repairs. Consider the fact that you'll likely be replacing the machine within several years before you buy.

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