How Do You Size a Commercial Dehumidifier?

When buying a commercial dehumidifier, size can be the deciding factor. The size is determined by the dehumidifier’s capacity for moisture removal – that is, the maximum amount of moisture it can extract from the air per day. Capacity is usually measured in pints per day or PPD.

We have compared different brands and models to find the best dehumidifiers for different applications. From water restoration jobs to food storage, it is crucial to find the right size dehumidifier for your specific needs. For example, a regular residential dehumidifier cannot effectively and efficiently dehumidify an entire warehouse. Its capacity and coverage area are simply too small.

For residential use, the capacity you need in a dehumidifier mainly depends on the size and condition of the room. But for commercial dehumidifiers, you need to make a few more considerations to find the right size. Some factors that may affect your decision are the air temperature and relative humidity in the site. Different businesses also call for different environmental conditions depending on the nature of the industry.

To figure out what size commercial dehumidifier you need, ask yourself the following questions.

1. What do you need a commercial dehumidifier for?

Before you look at the pint capacity, you must first know which type of commercial dehumidifier you need for your business. 

Applications for commercial dehumidifiers

If you work in water damage restoration or construction sites, portable units are probably your best option. Mobile businesses like catering and cleaning services may also need portable dehumidifiers.

These models usually have wheels or casters and rigid handles for added mobility. They also feature a rugged design and can be stacked on top of each other for easy storage and transport. This type of dehumidifier is also great for areas that only need temporary or seasonal humidity control.

On the other hand, if you need a solution to humidity issues in your workplace year-round, it may be best to install an industrial dehumidifier permanently. Heavy amounts of moisture may damage goods and equipment in storage. 

Large commercial areas like warehouses, factories, museums, and archives become susceptible to mold and mildew growth, rust, and corrosion if humidity is not controlled. You need constant and efficient dehumidification to protect merchandise, documents, and electronic equipment.

You can find a lot of uses for commercial dehumidifiers in a variety of industries. Whether you want them mounted on walls or ceilings or you need a unit you can take on the road, this is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right dehumidifier for your business. If your location experiences extreme weather conditions year round, you may also find it helpful to invest in a good commercial dehumidifier early.

2. What is the size of your space?

Now that it’s clear where you need a dehumidifier, the next thing to consider is the size of the area it has to dehumidify. It’s important to know the square footage of the space to be sure that all corners can be covered.

How to size industrial dehumidifiers

Multiply the length and width of the space to get the area in square feet or meters. Multiply the length, width, and height to get the volume in cubic feet or meters. Most models indicate either one so it’s best for you to know both beforehand. In spaces with irregular shapes, you may seek out an indoor environmental professional for help. 

For water restoration tasks and other mobile services, there may be no fixed size for the area that needs dehumidification. It differs per client or project. You can simply estimate based on your target and purchase multiple units or different models if necessary, then upgrade them as your business grows.

3. How much moisture do you need to remove? 

The volume of water in the air also plays an important role in determining the right size dehumidifier you need for your business. 

Moisture removal requirements in commercial areas

Indoor facilities where water is always present in huge amounts, such as pools, spas, and greenhouses, require high capacity industrial dehumidifiers to prevent moisture problems. Excess moisture along with other chemicals in the air may become a health hazard if not addressed properly.

Crowd-drawing commercial spaces like sports halls, gyms, restaurants, galleries, and shops are also prone to excessive moisture. High humidity can lead to mold and pest infestation and musty odors. This kind of environment is not only unpleasant but also dangerous for employees and customers alike. Over time, the furniture, equipment, and even the building structure may be compromised too.

Food preparation, cooking, and cleaning may also cause high moisture levels. Commercial dehumidifiers often have a high capacity packed in a compact device. A single portable unit can go anywhere from 30 to 190 pints per day. If you need a higher moisture removal rate on a constant basis, you may want to look for a customized dehumidification system.

4. In what temperature do you need the dehumidifier to run?

Generally, dehumidifiers perform better in higher temperatures. Refrigerant models, in particular, are ideal for hot, humid climates above 65°F. Although some home dehumidifiers are specially designed to operate effectively in temperatures as low as 41°F. Depending on the nature of your business, you might have some very specific temperature needs. For example, server rooms and laboratories need to be kept within a set range of temperature to ensure safety.

Applications for commercial desiccant dehumidifiers 

Commercial desiccant dehumidifiers are your best option for dehumidifying in cold conditions that refrigerant models cannot handle, even down to subzero temperatures. They are the best dehumidifiers for places with extreme temperatures and businesses in constant need of humidity control in cold areas, like freezers or ice arenas. Desiccant dehumidifiers use hygroscopic chemicals such as silica gel to treat the moist air. They do not produce water and thus, have lower risks of freezing.

If you’re in the business of food production, temperature requirements need to be met strictly. Food items may be processed, preserved, or packaged at extremely high temperatures. This can produce excess moisture, which can affect the shelf life and safety of the products. 

Similarly, pharmaceuticals also demand strict control over the air temperature and moisture content. Make sure you look for a dehumidifier that can operate effectively and efficiently at the exact temperature you need. 

5. What is the required humidity level?

Dehumidifiers in general remove moisture more effectively in high humidity environments. Most residential dehumidifiers can lower relative humidity down to the ideal range of 30% to 50%. Anything below this can be considered harmful for the average person. If your commercial space is frequently populated by people, you would want to maintain a comfortable level of humidity for everyone.

Ideal humidity in industrial spaces

If you don’t need it to run in a room with people, commercial dehumidifiers can go as low as 0% RH. Extremely low humidity levels may be needed to remove moisture from materials that are very difficult to dry. This includes construction materials, structures, and water restoration sites. Hardwood floors, walls, and water damaged basements or crawl spaces that refrigerant models cannot handle might need a desiccant dehumidifier.

Storage areas also require different humidity levels for different items. Organic products like fruits and vegetables thrive in different levels of humidity. The same is true for other perishable foods and consumables. Spaces for storage and transport need to be kept at the right humidity level at all times to perfectly preserve the products. 

  1. What is your budget?

Commercial dehumidifiers range from portable models to complex machinery installed into a commercial building’s HVAC system. The price depends on the type of dehumidifier, its capacity, and other features you may need. 

As of this writing, some of the smallest portable industrial dehumidifiers cost around $600, like the Colzer dehumidifier pictured below. Mid-sized units can go up to $2,000 or higher. The price for a desiccant commercial dehumidifier may be twice as high.

Refrigerant dehumidifiers typically come with a more affordable retail price, but desiccant operation is often considered more economical. Since desiccant dehumidifiers work in a wider range of temperatures and humidity levels, they use energy more efficiently. Expect a higher capacity unit to consume a greater amount of electricity.

Your power consumption primarily depends on the factors we discussed. For business purposes, it is especially important to consider your budget before purchasing or installing an industrial dehumidifier.

How do you calculate dehumidifier size?

The dehumidifier size, or the amount of water it can extract from the air within 24 hours, is one of the most important features you need to consider. Sizing for commercial dehumidifiers is not as easy as that of a residential dehumidifier. 

Aside from measuring the square footage of the area, you need to take into account the temperature and humidity requirements of the business. Moisture content and its sources must also be considered. Before you buy a commercial dehumidifier, make sure you’re looking for the right size.

What size dehumidifier do you need for a 1,000 sq. ft. space? Based on this guide by Energy Star, you will need at least a 14-pint dehumidifier for a lightly damp area (50-60% relative humidity). For a very damp 1,000 sq ft. space (60-70% RH), add at least three more pints. For an area of 1,500 sq. ft, find at least a 17-pint dehumidifier, adding four more pints. Likewise, add four pints for every additional 500 sq ft area.

Of course, industrial units do not come with these exact water removal capacities. Once you find the square footage of your space and the recommended dehumidifier capacity, round up the value for maximum efficiency. For example, get a 20-pint dehumidifier for a lightly damp 1,000 sq ft space.

Where should you place a dehumidifier?

Ideally, you want to place a dehumidifier in the most humid room where it can target the main source, or in a central location for maximum coverage. In any case, make sure the dehumidifier has enough space for proper air flow. Keep 6-12 inches distance from the air intake and exhaust to walls or furniture.

Remember that a dehumidifier is an electrical appliance and it can be dangerous around water. If you’re using a drain hose or built-in pump, place the unit near a floor drain and as far away as you can from electrical outlets or cords. However, note that you have to plug the dehumidifier directly into a wall socket.

Can you use a commercial dehumidifier in a residential area?

Commercial and industrial dehumidifiers are mostly made of steel or heavy duty plastic, in contrast to the less durable residential units which consist of lightweight plastic. They are mostly designed for commercial purposes, but these high capacity dehumidifiers may also be used in large residential spaces in humid climates.

Commercial grade dehumidifiers are often used in crawl spaces or for whole-house dehumidification. These models are usually heavier and noisier than the standard residential unit and feature a rugged looking exterior that may not blend well with your interior design. In any case, as long as you get the right size and operating temperature, you can use any type of dehumidifier in the house.