Homes in certain humid regions need a dehumidifier in addition to their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. It allows you to control the humidity levels throughout the entire house whenever needed. Humidity control must be a priority as it makes your home a haven for mold and mildew, which can trigger allergic reactions and damage furniture or your house structure.
The main purpose of adding a whole-house dehumidifier to your HVAC is to maintain the indoor humidity levels within the ideal range. During humid summer days, your air conditioner may not work as effectively. While it works to remove the heat from the room, it also helps reduce humidity in the process. However, putting this job on your AC instead of a specialized dehumidifier leads to faster wear and tear and higher energy consumption. Meanwhile, during cold rainy days, a dehumidifier helps your heater remove moisture from the air and maintain proper temperature.
So for easy humidity control no matter the climate, connect a whole-house dehumidifier to your duct system. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve picked five of the best dehumidifiers you can choose from. Take a look below and see which one is the perfect fit for your home.
Top 5 Whole House Dehumidifiers for HVAC
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Best Whole-House Dehumidifiers for HVAC
Best Overall: Aprilaire E100
The Aprilaire E100 features an easy-to-use electronic control panel you can mount on the front or top of the unit for your convenience. It includes an adjustable humidistat with a digital display that shows the current humidity and working status. You can set the humidity level between 40% and 80% RH and the unit will maintain it. The humidity sensor will sample the air every hour and if it senses humidity 3% higher than your setting, the unit will work again until the relative humidity is 3% below your target. Like most compressor dehumidifiers, the E100 operates in temperatures between 41°F and 104°F. It features an automatic defrost mode to prevent ice buildup in colder temperatures.
Similar to most other whole-house dehumidifiers, the E100 offers a continuous draining option via the drain hose. Attach the included drainage adapter and hose to the outlet on the side of the unit and place the dehumidifier above a low-level drain to enable gravity drainage. The unit also comes with a washable filter that you need to clean at least once a year. Don’t worry if you forget, the Clean Filter alert will remind you every six months. The E100 model also includes four leveling feet, while E100C has four caster wheels.
Aprilaire dehumidifiers are made in the USA and built to last with corrosion-resistant aluminum coils and a reliable five-year warranty. One disadvantage is they do not have a built-in pump. However, if you need this functionality, Aprilaire dehumidifiers work with this external condensate pump. It can pump out the collected water up to 15 feet above the unit so you can direct it into a sink or out of a window.
Higher noise levels can be expected in ducted whole-house dehumidifiers. It usually isn’t a big deal unless your HVAC system is installed near a living or sleeping area. Many customers report that Aprilaire dehumidifiers produce loud vibrations when operating, so you should really think about your unit’s placement. Lastly, we recommend hiring a licensed HVAC contractor for installation even if you think you can do it yourself. Otherwise, Aprilaire will void the warranty.
• Energy Star Most Efficient
• Powerful moisture removal
• Excellent quality built to last
• Continuous draining option
• Made in the USA
• With five-year warranty
• Requires professional installation
• No built-in pump
Runner-Up: AlorAir Sentinel HDi90
Another American manufacturer of high-efficiency dehumidifiers for whole-home and water restoration services is AlorAir. They have portable units as well as ductable versions suitable for many different needs. The mid-sized AlorAir Sentinel HDi90 is best for basement or crawl space use but can also be ducted to your HVAC system for whole-house humidity control. This unit removes 90 pints of moisture per day under AHAM conditions, and up to 198 pints per day at saturation (90°F and 90% RH), from a 2,600 square feet area.
Energy efficiency is important to us in choosing a dehumidifier. The HDi90 guarantees efficient performance with an Energy Star certification and an IEF of 1.95L/kWh. It’s equipped with the Hot Gas Valve (HGV) system that allows the unit to run at temperatures as low as 33°F, ensuring efficient operation without having to stop periodically to defrost. AlorAir uses epoxy-coated coils and a rare earth alloy tube evaporator to protect the unit from corrosion and freon leakage and extend its life.
This unit can be attached to supply and return ducts. It also features a heavy-duty condensate pump that pushes the water out up to 15 feet vertically. The regular HDi90 offers an option to include a pump or not. All products are guaranteed a 5-year warranty. You can also opt to use AlorAir’s remote control for easy monitoring and adjusting the operation.
It uses a MERV-8 filter that can be easily accessed and cleaned. With a maximum airflow of 210 CFM, the unit is considerably loud at 58 decibels. Note that the fan is always running when the unit is on to circulate the air. Overall, the most common complaint is the difficulty of the installation of this ducted unit. It’s best to hire a professional for this task.
• Energy Star Certified
• Custom humidity control
• Works in low temperatures
• With internal condensate pump
• High capacity for its size
• High noise levels
• Requires professional installation
Best Budget: Waykar CFD2.5D
Waykar offers a variety of affordable dehumidifiers for the home. Besides its range of portable units, it also has an option for flexible ducting to your HVAC. This Waykar dehumidifier removes a maximum of 155 pints of moisture per day (or around 79 pints under AHAM conditions) in spaces as large as 6,500 square feet.
While most other brands feature top- or side-mounted control panels, this unit includes a removable controller with a 10-meter wire and a humidity sensor with a 5-meter wire to measure room humidity. This makes the Waykar perfect for remote locations and large spaces. With the humidistat, you can set the humidity level between 10% and 98% RH. You can also set a timer to turn on or off the unit after one to 24 hours. The digital display shows the current humidity, ambient temperature, or the remaining time if a timer has been set.
Like most high-capacity dehumidifiers, Waykar comes with a drain hose for gravity drainage and a washable filter to clean the air. Additionally, this unit features the standard auto defrost and auto restart functions. It offers flexible ducting options and is relatively easy to install for handy homeowners. Although, one feature we would have liked more is a built-in pump. As with any cheap dehumidifier, Waykar is made and manufactured in China. It’s not certified by Energy Star so you can’t expect the best energy efficiency. It’s backed by a one-year warranty that you can extend up to two years.
• High moisture removal rate
• Easy-to-use remote control
• No built-in pump
• Low efficiency
Best for Small Space: Santa Fe Compact70 Dehumidifier
Most HVAC systems have ductwork running under the ground floor or what is called the crawl space of the house. To add a dehumidifier to your crawl space, you need a unit specifically designed for this purpose. One of the best compact dehumidifiers fit for a crawl space is the Santa Fe Compact70. It removes 70 pints of moisture per day at 80°F and 60% RH. This high-efficiency dehumidifier is Energy Star certified with a 1.8L/kWh IEF.
This Santa Fe 70-pint dehumidifier has an airflow rate of 150 CFM and a coverage area of 2,200 square feet. It is built with heavy-duty steel and operates in temperatures between 49°F and 90°F. Although it doesn’t have a digital display, you can set the humidity level from 20% and 80% using the adjustable knob. It also features auto-restart and auto-defrost functions. Santa Fe is made in the USA under the Wisconsin-based family of brands ThermaStor.
You have the option to run the fan continuously or only when the unit is operating. To help clean the air and protect the internal components, the unit includes a pre-filter and a MERV-13 filter. While not as effective, a MERV-11 filter may also be used as a replacement.
Santa Fe also comes with a drain hose for gravity drainage. You may also opt o use Santa Fe’s separately sold external condensate pump with a 20-ft drain hose that can pump up to 15 feet above the unit. The company provides a ducting kit and accessories as well. You can find more customer reviews for the Compact70 on Sylvane.
• Energy Star rated
• Dual filtration system
• Top-rated crawl space dehumidifier
• Excellent quality
• No built-in pump
• Small space
Best for Low Temperatures: Ecor Pro EPD150 Desiccant Dehumidifier
Finally, we have this desiccant option for those in low-temperature areas. Compared to the rest of our picks, the Ecor Pro EPD150 operates in a much wider range of temperatures, from as low as -4°F, to as high as 104°F. This light and compact dehumidifier can remove 53 pints of moisture per day under AHAM conditions and up to 74 pints per day at saturation or equivalent to 150 pints for a compressor unit. It has an airflow rate of 224 CFM for the process airstream and covers an area of 2,000 square feet.
Desiccant dehumidifiers work differently from compressor units. They do not produce any condensate and are therefore safe from frost buildup in cold conditions. The Ecor Pro EPD150 uses a three-hole system, which means there is only one fan inside. There is one inlet for the process air and two air outlets. After the air is dried on the desiccant rotor, a part of it is turned around and heated, becoming the reactivation air to remove the moisture from the desiccant, which is then vented outside. This system provides better efficiency since the second air stream has already been dried and heated.
The unit self-regulates to maximize energy efficiency at any temperature and humidity level. It also features an auto-restart function in case of a power outage. It has a built-in analog amp meter to measure energy consumption and an hour meter that counts the number of hours in operation. You can use the Ecor Pro humidistat for remote operation and control. The unit itself does not come with a humidistat and can only be turned on or off.
Installation into your HVAC system is relatively easy with the unit’s light and compact design. The stainless steel interior and exterior are made to withstand harsh conditions and last for a long time. Although, keep in mind that desiccant dehumidifiers are typically around twice the price of the equivalent refrigerant model. However, if you get extremely cold winters in your location, this is a great investment for constant humidity control in the whole house.
• Light, small and compact
• Operates in low temperatures down to -4°F
• High performance and efficiency
• Excellent quality and durability
• Easy installation
• No humidistat
• Higher cost
What Are Ducted Dehumidifiers And How Do They Work?
Ducting a dehumidifier to your HVAC gives you more precise control over the humidity levels throughout your home. Instead of using portable dehumidifiers in each room, investing in a good whole-house dehumidifier saves you money in the long run. Furthermore, it helps your heating and air conditioning units maintain the ideal environment for your health and comfort.
Ducted dehumidifiers, just like their portable counterparts, can be classified into two types based on the dehumidification method used: refrigerant and desiccant.
A refrigerant dehumidifier primarily uses condensation to extract water from the air. It works similar to a standard portable dehumidifier except it draws the moist air through ducts from multiple rooms. The warm air passes through a filter and then over the cold coils where the moisture condenses into water. Once dehumidified, the air is then reheated and sent back into the HVAC system.
This type typically works well in warm and humid climates, but compared to portable units, ducted dehumidifiers have the capacity to work in colder conditions. Since they produce condensate a lot, there are higher risks of frost buildup. You must also consider your drainage setup when installing a refrigerant dehumidifier.
On the other hand, desiccant dehumidifiers use adsorption through a desiccant rotor filled with hygroscopic chemicals, usually silica gel. With desiccant dehumidifiers, you have two separate air streams: the process air and reactivation air. The process air is the moist air drawn into the dehumidifier through a fan. It is sent through the process zone of the rotor, then the water transfers from the air to the desiccant.
The heater warms the reactivation air before it passes through the wheel. The moisture is again transferred from the desiccant to the warm and dry air, effectively “reactivating” the desiccant. Instead of producing water, the warm, humid air from the reactivation zone is vented outside through ductwork. Since there is no condensation, desiccant units continue to dehumidify the air at even lower temperatures and humidity levels.
You can read more about the different types of dehumidifiers and how they work here.
Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Whole-House Dehumidifiers
A ducted dehumidifier is an investment for the whole house so you must carefully consider your options before making a purchase you might regret in the future. You should think about the capacity, coverage, efficiency, and ease of use that the unit provides.
The most important factor when buying any dehumidifier is the capacity or amount of moisture the unit can remove per day. HVAC dehumidifiers for the whole house have a capacity of at least 70 pints per day. We measure the capacity in two ways.
The AHAM capacity is the amount collected at the average condition of 80°F and 60% RH, as recommended by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. This is important to note since it is closer to the actual performance of the dehumidifier.
The maximum capacity is the largest amount that the unit can extract per day at saturation (90°F and 90% RH). There should be a small ratio of the maximum to AHAM capacity. We also included both capacities whenever available to show you the full capabilities of each unit.
Each capacity is recommended for a range of areas depending on the brand. To know which dehumidifier size is best for your home, get the total area of the space and measure the humidity levels. A larger space and more severe dampness both require a higher capacity dehumidifier. However, it isn’t always best to get the highest capacity you can find.
It is essential to get a dehumidifier that can effectively cover the space you have. In fact, the main purpose of ducting a dehumidifier to your HVAC is so it can dehumidify the whole house instead of just single rooms at a time. These dehumidifiers have a coverage area ranging from 2,000 up to 8,000 square feet. A higher dehumidification capacity usually comes with a bigger coverage, but the difference varies per brand and model.
The airflow, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), is the total air volume that the unit can process per minute. It directly relates to the fan speed of the dehumidifier. Although you can usually see a higher capacity dehumidifier with a more powerful airflow compared to smaller models from the same brand, the airflow does not necessarily affect the dehumidifier capacity and coverage area. It does, however, bring more noise with a higher CFM.
One potential disadvantage of ducted dehumidifiers over portable units is its efficiency. Since it works for multiple areas in the house, it will also continuously dehumidify certain areas that you don’t need at the time, which can be extremely wasteful of energy. That is why it’s also important to know about the energy efficiency of the unit you’re buying. Look for the energy factor (in L/kWh) or the volume of moisture that the unit removes per kilowatt-hour of energy. The new IEF metric also considers the unit’s energy use while on standby mode. A higher IEF means a more efficient dehumidifier. Most products from Aprilaire and AlorAir are Energy Star certified for efficiency. You can learn more about it from Energy Star.
A humidistat keeps track of the humidity level in the area and adjusts it according to your settings. This is especially important in ducted dehumidifiers that maintain the humidity for the entire space. You can set your desired humidity level and the humidistat will tell your dehumidifier to stop once this level is reached, reducing your energy consumption. Then when humidity rises up to a certain level, the dehumidifier will resume operation. Most dehumidifiers can be controlled from the unit’s panel or through a remote humidistat.
Signs You Need a Ducted Whole-House Dehumidifier
High humidity creates an environment susceptible to mold growth and dust mites, which can cause allergy symptoms and other health issues. If left unattended for long, it can also result in structural damage to your house. The most effective way to reduce humidity and prevent any of these problems in your home is by investing in a whole-house dehumidifier.
Remember that the ideal indoor humidity is between 30% and 50%. It helps to have a hygrometer or a similar device to track the humidity levels. If it often reads 60% RH or higher, this may be a sign that you need a dehumidifier for your home. If you live in a temperate region with high humidity, then you should definitely add a dehumidifier to your HVAC system.
You should also watch out for some common signs of a humid home such as water droplets on the windows. Condensation occurs when the warm and moist air touches a colder surface, usually in the bathroom, basement, or kitchen. In worse cases, you may find water stains or damp spots on the walls and ceiling.
Musty odors are another sure indicator of high moisture content. Mold likes to grow in damp, dark, and cold areas. They spread spores through the air and may trigger allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, and difficulty in breathing.
Little spots in black or greenish color, especially in the bathroom walls or around the toilet and bathtub, are a common type of mold. Wood and other organic materials are most vulnerable to mold growth if moisture levels aren’t controlled. If you can’t find the source of the moldy smell, it could be growing behind furniture, under permanent carpeting, or between walls and insulation.
Lastly, high humidity can cause rotting wood and termite infestation. It can also lead to rusting and corrosion of metal surfaces and equipment.Look for these signs to find a solution immediately. If left for long, it can cause permanent damage to the structure of your house.
How do you add a dehumidifier to your HVAC system?
a whole-house dehumidifier can be ducted to your HVAC system by adding a dedicated return duct that carries the air from the vents into the unit. You may also connect the unit to an existing return duct. To send the processed dry air back to the main air stream, you need to connect the unit to your HVAC supply plenum.
How much does it cost to install a ducted dehumidifier?
Whole-house dehumidifiers can cost around $1,000 and go up to $2,000 or more, depending on the brand. Low-cost brands like Waykar can go even below $900, while desiccant units go up to $3,000. Professional installation will add at least $500 to $1,000 to your expenses, plus other tools and equipment you will need.
High indoor humidity can cause discomfort at best, and even lead to health problems at the worst. Adding a whole-house dehumidifier to your HVAC system gives you more control over the humidity levels throughout your home. Instead of turning up your air conditioning unit to try to reduce humidity, you can use a dehumidifier to get to the main problem of excess moisture. It helps keep humidity levels within the ideal range, maintaining your health and comfort and saving more energy. Although it costs more on the initial purchase, investing in a ducted dehumidifier for the whole house saves you money in the long run, compared to using portable units in each room. Consider the important factors we discussed above or simply take your pick from the best dehumidifiers we reviewed.