A dehumidifier can be a good investment for homeowners suffering in high humidity levels. It helps reduce moisture and eliminate mold, dust mites, and other airborne allergens that thrive in moist environments. However, not everyone can really benefit from using a dehumidifier. Like any other appliance, it comes with its own disadvantages.
For instance, a dehumidifier tends to produce heat and noise when running. Before even buying a dehumidifier, the cost of purchase and the power consumption may be the main disadvantages for customers. If this is the case, there are also alternative ways to help reduce indoor humidity without an electric dehumidifier.
What Does a Dehumidifier Do?
A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air using different methods. The two prominent types of dehumidifiers are the refrigerant and desiccant.
The refrigerant type uses a compressor to circulate refrigerant through the coils. A fan draws warm, moist air, which then passes over the cold coils. As the air cools, the vapor condenses into water, dripping down into the tank. The dryer air is then released back into the room.
A desiccant dehumidifier uses some kind of chemical that extracts the moisture from the air until the desiccant is fully saturated. It’s more common to find either a disposable or rechargeable desiccant, but full-sized units are also available. Renewable silica gel is simply reheated to dry out the moisture it has absorbed from the air.
Mini dehumidifiers also use a process called Peltier effect or thermoelectric cooling technology. It uses a Peltier element with a cold heat sink on one side and hot on the other.
Advantages of a Dehumidifier
Reduce allergies and respiratory issues
Excess moisture promotes the growth of mold, mildew, and dust mites. Touching mold or inhaling mold spores may cause allergic reactions, allergy-induced asthma attacks, and other respiratory conditions. Exposure to dust mite waste matter can also lead to allergies. Maintaining proper humidity reduces the risks of growing these common allergens.
Improve air conditioning efficiency
When the air is both too hot and humid, your air conditioner may not be enough to keep your indoor environment comfortable all day. An air conditioner simply removes heat and helps reduce the humidity in the process. However, removing the heat from heavily moist air makes the job a lot tougher for your air conditioner. This leads to higher cooling bills and an overworked air conditioner. At the same time, an air conditioner alone cannot remove enough moisture to maintain proper humidity levels.
Increase indoor air quality
High humidity decreases your comfort inside your own home. The higher the humidity, the more difficult it becomes to breathe since there is a high amount of water vapor and lower oxygen molecules. No matter the air temperature, it’s nearly impossible to maintain comfort when humidity is high. This is because the air is already saturated with moisture and our perspiration cannot evaporate. Using a dehumidifier also keeps out excess moisture and odors, improving indoor air quality.
Protect furniture and house structure
Proper humidity reduces the risks of mold and mildew growth. In addition to that, controlling the humidity level within the appropriate range helps prevent rapid destruction caused by condensation, rotting wood, metal rusting, or pest infestation. A dehumidifier helps preserve the structural integrity of your house and protect different materials from your furniture and appliances.
Disadvantages of a Dehumidifier
Expensive to buy
Of course, the first thing that may turn you off from buying a dehumidifier is its cost. Some models may be a lot more expensive than others depending mostly on the brand and the quality of the materials. Currently, a standard refrigerant dehumidifier can go from $100 to $500 depending on the capacity and additional features like a built-in pump and Wi-Fi connectivity. A desiccant is more expensive than the equivalent compressor unit but its advantages can be well worth the cost. Mini dehumidifiers for tiny rooms or storage spaces are typically under $50.
In any case, a dehumidifier is an investment and you must carefully consider each feature to make sure you get the best unit that fits your needs. You don’t have to buy the most expensive unit, what’s most important is the right capacity for your room size.
Like any electrical appliance, a dehumidifier tends to produce extra heat when running. This is normal for an electric dehumidifier since it has to cool down the air to remove the moisture then heat it up again. Desiccant dehumidifiers typically produce warmer air because of the heater inside them. However, because of the changes in relative humidity, using a dehumidifier can sometimes make the room feel cooler and more comfortable.
Dehumidifiers naturally blow warm air and this can be beneficial during the winter, but if you think the heat gets too much for you, there may be a problem with your unit. Check and clean the air filter and make sure there are no blockages to the airflow.
Can be noisy
Similar to an air conditioner and refrigerator or any other appliance that uses a compressor, a dehumidifier can truly be annoyingly loud, especially when you’re trying to sleep at night. The average noise output of compressor dehumidifiers ranges from 55 to 65 decibels. The quietest models can go as low as 48 decibels on the lowest setting while loud dehumidifiers can go way over 65 decibels even on low speed.
If noise is a big deal for you, a desiccant dehumidifier may be ideal. It can go down to 40 decibels on the lowest settings. However, again, note that it’s usually a lot more expensive than a compressor unit.
If you only need a dehumidifier in a small space with moderate humidity levels, then a Peltier or thermoelectric unit may be enough. These dehumidifiers are not only compact and cheap, they are also incredibly quiet and easy to use.
Another common concern of homeowners when using a dehumidifier is the cost of operating it. Like most heating and air conditioning appliances, it can be quite expensive to run every day. Most people can benefit from using a dehumidifier for a minimum of 8 to 12 hours during particularly humid days. Each unit can add around $24 to your electricity bill monthly. Actual costs vary depending on the dehumidifier capacity, room size, and the dehumidifier setting.
Usually, a desiccant dehumidifier consumes more energy than an equivalent refrigerant unit. If you want to reduce your energy bill, look for an Energy Star certified dehumidifier to ensure you’re getting an energy efficient unit. Proper usage and maintenance can also help optimize your dehumidifier’s performance and efficiency.
Owning a dehumidifier gives you the responsibility to perform regular maintenance. One thing you may need to do at least once a day is to empty the dehumidifier tank. The tank collects water and when it fills up, the unit stops running and you have to empty the water by hand. While it’s easy enough to do, it can be inconvenient if you’re not in the room with the dehumidifier. In this case, you may opt for continuous drainage through a drain hose.
Besides emptying the tank, you also need to clean the air filter at least once every month. A lot of dust, dirt, and other air impurities accumulate on the filter which can affect the dehumidifier’s performance. Maintenance and cleaning instructions are provided in the unit’s manual.
Breeding ground of mold and bacteria
In case you forget to clean your dehumidifier for a few days,it can quickly become a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and other potentially harmful microorganisms. This is why you need to empty the tank and clean it as soon as you can. Standing water encourages mold growth inside the dehumidifier. Make sure to clean the tank with soap and disinfect it with bleach or white vinegar at least every week or two.
You must also clean the dehumidifier’s exterior as well as its surrounding so as not to attract any pests. If you spill water when removing the tank, clean it up immediately.
May dry up the air
Dehumidifiers should only be used when the relative humidity is above the ideal range. If humidity reaches 60% or higher this is the time to use your dehumidifier. Otherwise, you may end up with air that is too dry. You should only run your dehumidifier continuously in high-humidity areas. Low humidity is also harmful to your health. It can dry up the skin, eyes, and airways, causing nasal congestion and itchy throat. This is why humidifiers are more commonly used to combat cold, dry air.
Other Ways to Reduce Humidity
Dehumidifiers are appliances with their own advantages and disadvantages. If the benefits are not worth the drawbacks, here are some ways that can help reduce humidity in your home without a dehumidifier.
The simplest way is to improve air circulation by opening your windows or doors. Additionally, you can run a fan to let the cool air circulate more quickly. After cooking or taking a shower, turn on your exhaust fans or open a window to keep the excess moisture and odors out.
When you hang wet laundry inside, it can cause the humidity of the room to rise – try to avoid this. It can add to the humidity and musty odors may stick to your clothes. If you can’t hang them outside, you can also use a tumble dryer or fan to speed up drying.
You can also try some DIY dehumidifiers. You can purchase calcium chloride or silica gel from hardware stores and put a small amount in a bucket or a large bowl then place it where you need it. You can also use moisture absorbers commonly found in the kitchen such as baking soda and rock salt.
Each of these methods can help reduce humidity levels without the use of an electric dehumidifier. Some may take more time and effort, but if you don’t remove the source of humidity, these may not be enough to address your problem.
A dehumidifier is an investment you can benefit from for a long time. It helps remove moisture and its damaging effects including mold and dust mites. It can also help improve your air conditioner’s cooling efficiency and prevent damages to your wooden furniture and house structure. However, before your purchase, you must be aware of the potential disadvantages of using a dehumidifier. This includes the costs of buying and running a dehumidifier, the noise output,and the heat produced. Remember that owning a dehumidifier also requires you to observe regular maintenance such as emptying the water tank and cleaning the air filter. Otherwise, you may end up making your humidity problems even worse.