Mold loves cold, dark, and moist places, and your boat provides plenty of crevices for mold to grow on. Along with mold, other common indoor allergens thrive in a very moist environment. Reducing the humidity in your boat’s cabin can help prevent allergies, asthma attacks, and other respiratory issues, ensure your health and comfort in your travels, and protect your boat when it’s stored away for the winter.
Excess moisture and mold can also damage the furniture, furnishing, and the very structure of your boat, which may compromise its safety over time. Getting the right dehumidifier is the best solution to control excess humidity. We’ve come up with this comprehensive guide to explore the features and benefits of a good boat dehumidifier. Stick around to find out which one is best for your specific needs.
Top 6 Best Boat Dehumidifiers
Dimensions: 7 x 6 x 11 inches
Weight: 2.64 lbs.
Power Draw: 23W
If you need a light, compact, and quiet dehumidifier you can easily place on top of a table or counter in your boat cabin, this Pro Breeze unit is for you. It is perfect for any space within 150 to 215 square feet. This tiny but effective dehumidifier extracts up to 9 ounces (250 ml) of excess moisture a day. The water tank has a capacity of 16 ounces (450 ml), which can hold at least two days up to a week’s worth of dehumidification.
Pro Breeze uses the Peltier technology or thermoelectric cooling for efficient, whisper-quiet dehumidification, which makes it a great dehumidifier for small spaces and even sleeping areas. This unit is incredibly easy to set up and use with just a single button for the power switch.
It is also equipped with the auto shut-off feature for when the water tank is almost full, along with a “Full” indicator light to notify you when this happens. Emptying the tank is also made hassle-free by the simple design. Slide the tank out along the front of the dehumidifier, pull the drain plug, then pour the water into the sink or drain.
This small dehumidifier runs on 23 Watts, which means it consumes about 0.55kW after 24 hours of use. Being light and portable, it can stand on top of a side table or shelf, as long as there’s adequate space around the unit for proper air circulation.
On the downside, this Pro Breeze unit is not built for use in harsh conditions. Most thermo-electric dehumidifiers are designed to work under average conditions in very small areas. They work best in warm and humid climates between temperatures 56°F and 86°F, and stop at 41°F. .
Small, lightweight, and portable
Low energy consumption
Whisper quiet operation
Very limited operating temperature range
Dimensions: 10.59 x 6.85 x 17.52 inches
Weight: 13.96 lbs.
Power Draw: 280~470W
This dehumidifier is just as quiet as our top pick above, but they work using two entirely different methods. Unlike other types of dehumidifiers, this desiccant unit from Ivation removes 13 pints of moisture in very low temperatures, from 33°F to as high as 104°F. The desiccant operation ensures quick and efficient moisture removal in any enclosed space within 270 square feet.
This portable dehumidifier has an LCD display with touch buttons for easy control. You can adjust the humidity level from 35% to 85% in 5% increments, and the unit will work to maintain your chosen setting. Or, you can set the dehumidifier to operate continuously. The timer lets you set auto start or stop from one to 12 hours.
The built-in safety features make this a perfect dehumidifier for boats and motorhomes. The auto stop function prevents damage by automatically shutting off the unit during threat of tilt or water overflow. In case of a power outage, auto restart will resume operation in your last selected settings once the power returns.
This Ivation desiccant unit also features Sleep mode with low fan speed and dimmer screen. Additionally, if you have wet laundry, you can change the fan speed and adjust the air vents to speed up drying. The unit also comes with a washable air filter and a 3.8-pint (0.5gal) tank with a transparent water level indicator and handle. Or if you want continuous drainage, just attach the included drain hose to the outlet and direct it to a drain or sink.
One drawback is a desiccant dehumidifier typically costs more and draws more power than compressor dehumidifiers of similar capacity, like the one we have below. However, if you need a versatile and efficient dehumidifier you can easily bring anywhere, you can’t go wrong with the Ivation 13-pint desiccant dehumidifier. If you want something with a bigger capacity and coverage, consider this 19-pint counterpart.
Quiet desiccant operation
Works in a wide range of temperatures
Small and portable
Continuous draining with hose included
Dimensions: 7.1 x 10.9 x 18.3 inches
Weight: 21.8 lbs.
Power Draw: 200~220W
Ivation offers a vast range of dehumidifiers, from small Peltier types, desiccant, and high capacity compressor units. Right in the middle of these is the small but powerful 14.7-pint compressor dehumidifier. It stands like a “large” Peltier dehumidifier, but packs the power and efficiency of the bigger compressor-based models. It’s ideal for rooms up to 320 square feet, in temperatures from 41°F to 95°F (5°C to 35°C).
Although small, this small Ivation dehumidifier doesn’t lack useful features and functionality. It has an easy-to-understand LCD display with four control buttons. Select the humidity level from 40% to 65% in 5% increments, or choose Continuous operation to keep the unit running. When humidity is manually selected, the unit will pause dehumidification for 60 minutes then run the fan for five minutes to monitor the relative humidity. It will resume dehumidification if the room humidity rises by at least 5%.
You can also set a timer for automatic shut off between one and 24 hours, and adjust the LCD backlight to make viewing more comfortable for your eyes. The unit stops automatically during the threat of tilt or water overflow. Moisture collects in the 3.8 pint tank and the indicator light will notify you when you need to empty the tank. Alternatively, attach the included drain hose to enable continuous drainage.
The dehumidifier also comes with a washable air filter you can easily pull out from the top of the unit. There’s an extendable handle on top, as well as four caster wheels for easy movement. In lower temperatures, the unit will go on Auto Defrost mode to prevent frost buildup. Since it uses a compressor, this unit is the heaviest in this list, but is still relatively quiet at around 46 decibels. If you need a compact yet high capacity dehumidifier with low power consumption, then this is your best choice
High moisture removal rate
Low power consumption compared to desiccant
Easy to use controls
Continuous draining with hose included
Moisture Absorption Capacity: 6~8 oz.
Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.5 x 5.5 inches
Weight: 1.8 lbs.
For small boats with less severe humidity, a wireless, mini desiccant dehumidifier may be all you need. It contains silica gel beads to adsorb moisture from the air. The Eva-Dry E-500 doesn’t require batteries or electricity in order to operate, making it the perfect dehumidifier on the go. It is also completely safe, non-toxic and environment-friendly.
Through the indicator window you can see the silica gel beads change color from orange to green once they have absorbed about 4 to 6 ounces of moisture. This usually happens within 30 to 60 days. To recharge, just plug the unit into a power outlet to dry out the moisture. This very easy process can take about 12 hours. The beads can be renewed repeatedly for up to ten years and the unit comes with a five-year warranty.
As the name suggests, the Eva-Dry E-500 can cover an area of 500 cubic feet. Keep in mind that this type of dehumidifier does not reduce humidity levels significantly. Their main purpose is to keep moisture out in tight spaces like a boat’s cabin without the need for electricity.
The Eva-Dry is extremely light and portable, weighing around 2 pounds. It can even fit in closets, safes, and cabinets for storage. The smaller Eva-Dry E-333 Wireless Dehumidifier (also available in twin packs) is one of the best-selling desiccant dehumidifiers in the market. If you want a mess-free dehumidifier that can fit anywhere, then this is your best option.
Light and compact
No batteries required
Renewable and eco-friendly
Recharging process can take a while
Moisture Absorption Capacity: 13 oz
Dimensions: 5 x 3 x 5 inches
Another type of desiccant dehumidifier is packaged in a small container or tub with tiny crystal-like beads that absorb moisture from the air. Unlike the Eva-Dry which can be “recharged” to reactivate the desiccant, this type can only be used once and immediately disposed of. Each pack of this Better Boat Dehumidifier contains 13 ounces of moisture-absorbing crystals.
Aside from absorbing moisture, it’s formulated with activated charcoal to remove unpleasant musty odors and maintain a fresh and clean air in a tight, enclosed space like a small boat cabin, car, or RV, and even in a small bathroom or a storage cabinet and closet at home. When storing your boat for the winter, keep a few of these desiccant dehumidifiers on the corners inside the cabin, in each room and compartment. Even though the air is likely very dry and cold, this ensures that mold and mildew have no chance of settling inside and damaging your boat.
You can leave the dehumidifiers inside with no worries of spilling or leaking, as long as you place them on a flat and steady surface. Check the water level at least every four weeks to make sure they’re working, and dispose of them properly once the container is full of moisture.
If used in a space you’re currently occupying, you may not notice a significant change in humidity right away. You’ll definitely want to use multiple packs at once, or in combination with another type of dehumidifier with higher capacity.
Cheap and portable
No machine to operate
No cords or batteries
Very small capacity
Dimensions: 7.87 x 11.81 x 7.87 inches
Weight: 14.1 lbs.
Power Draw: ~550W
If you want a professional-grade dehumidifier to keep your large boat moisture-free while you sail away, then Ecor Pro is for you. One of its smaller units is the EPD50-PRO which can remove up to 25 pints of moisture in spaces up to 1,000 square feet.
It operates from -4°F to 104°F with maximum airflow of 73 CFM. Unlike other types of dehumidifiers, this desiccant unit does not produce any condensate. Instead, it has to be ducted to and from the outside to release the damp air and take in fresh, cool air.
Using the four-hole system, the two air streams (process and reactivation) with two internal fans are completely separate. The second fan allows for pressure-neutral drying wherein only the processed, dry air comes into the room and all moisture is vented outside. This makes the EPD50-PRO the perfect dehumidifier for cold areas.
Built with 316 marine grade stainless steel, Ecor Pro is highly resistant to salt air and other harsh conditions. That’s why it’s ideal for sea vessels, boats, yachts, and other marine environments. It is also suited to other commercial spaces with extreme temperatures, as well as crawl spaces in residential areas. The small casing can be mounted in any orientation, on the floor, wall, or ceiling. It comes with a dust filter that can easily be shaken clean or replaced.
Given its compact and lightweight design, one person can carry the unit from one room to another with its carrying handle on top. The unit self-regulates to ensure efficiency at any temperature and humidity level. It also features auto restart in the event of a power interruption. Additionally, there is an option to connect the Ecor Pro EPHUM220 humidistat for remote operation and control. One thing to note, however, is the costs in buying and operating this type of dehumidifier. If you have the budget for it, this is surely a great investment for your sailboat.
High moisture removal rate
Works in a wide range of temperatures and conditions
High power consumption
Reasons to Use a Boat Dehumidifier
The primary function of a dehumidifier is to reduce humidity levels indoors, whether you’re tucked inside your bedroom, travelling by road, or sailing across an ocean. There are also some secondary benefits in using a dehumidifier that make them a must-have for boat owners.
- Dehumidifiers prevent the growth of mold and mildew;
- Eliminate dust mites;
- Dry condensation on windows and damp spots on floors and walls;
- Protect wood from rotting and termite infestation;
- Prevent metal from rusting;
- Improve indoor air quality.
If you need help with any of the things above, then a dehumidifier is what you’re looking for.
Types of Boat Dehumidifiers
Most people are familiar with the compressor-based dehumidifier. This type of dehumidifier uses a compressor to power the condenser and evaporator coils that remove moisture and warm the air. A fan draws the moist air and passes it over the cold coils. As the air cools down, it loses its ability to hold moisture. Water droplets form and drip down into the tank or out through the drain hose, while dry and warm air is exhausted. Because the coils need to be colder than the air, this type of dehumidifier will not work in low temperatures. However, it’s the most effective and efficient in warm and humid conditions.
The other type of dehumidifier is called a desiccant. It uses a hygroscopic chemical that absorbs or adsorbs moisture from the air, like silica gel or calcium chloride. It comes in a variety of sizes, from disposable packets or tubs, full-size consumer grade models, to high-capacity commercial units. The main difference from compressor-based dehumidifiers is the desiccant doesn’t use refrigerant coils to remove moisture. Instead, moisture is transferred to the desiccant substance when the air comes into contact.
The disposable type uses a substance which absorbs moisture, that’s why it cannot be reused. Renewable desiccant dehumidifiers like the Eva-Dry uses silica gel where moisture clings to the surface and separates when heated (“recharged”). The same adsorption process happens with full-size desiccant units. The desiccant wheel inside rotates to take in moisture then become reheated repeatedly. Because of this, desiccant dehumidifiers are the perfect choice in cold conditions.
Another method that is used in mini thermo-electric dehumidifiers is called the Peltier effect or thermoelectric cooling. It works similarly to a compressor dehumidifier, except that it uses a voltage of electricity to create a temperature difference on the Peltier module, whereas the other uses a compressor. Humid air is drawn by a small fan through the cold side of the unit where moisture condenses. The cold, dry air then passes through the hot side heat sink. Now warmer and dryer air is released through this side.
Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Dehumidifier for Your Boat
The size of the room is the first thing you must consider when choosing the best boat dehumidifier. You need to look for a unit which can handle the entire area, or else it won’t work.
Different materials have different reactions when exposed to saltwater air. Saltwater corrodes metal a lot faster than freshwater, add to that the highly humid air and you’re looking at a rusty cabin within days out in the ocean. That’s why desiccant units are the best boat dehumidifiers if you plan to be away for long.
Moisture Extraction Rate
Both disposable and renewable dehumidifiers have a very small capacity to remove moisture. If you want quick and effective moisture extraction, then you need a Peltier, or even a full-size unit. Although, take note that these require a consistent power supply to operate.
The typical dehumidifier is not designed with a provision for fastening. It can shake and turn over due to the wind and waves. The collected condensate may spill if the unit is not tightly secured in its place. For this reason, we recommend silica gel-based units like the Eva-Dry, and the mountable Ecor Pro commercial dehumidifier.
How to Keep Your Boat Dry in Winter
Storing and keeping your boat dry during winter can be a challenge without the right dehumidifier. First, clean all surfaces thoroughly with freshwater. Remove everything that could be damaged and store it safely inside your home. This includes all personal items, fabrics and soft furnishings, carpeting, or any damp surface where mold may grow.
Before storing your boat, make sure it’s clear from water and anything that can freeze. Whether you’re storing it indoors or wrapped outdoors, you want to cover it fully to keep out any critters, as well as moisture. However, it’s also important to allow air circulation using a mesh cover.
Since an electric dehumidifier cannot last inside for the entire season, you’ll need to pack your boat with disposable moisture absorbers. Place them in each storage space or cabinet where moisture may build up.