As the warmer seasons come around once again, many homeowners are concerned with high levels of relative humidity. On top of the heat, excess water vapor in the air adds to the discomfort you feel. High humidity can also create hospitable environments for mold growth. If left unattended, this can lead to health problems and structural damage.
To make you feel more comfortable, a fan is a common appliance used in most homes to produce air. But are fans actually effective against humidity? The most straightforward solution to indoor humidity is to use a dehumidifier. Although both fans and dehumidifiers are often used to help reduce humidity inside the house, they work in completely different ways.
So, can you use them both at the same time to speed up dehumidification? You’ll find the answers as we discuss the functions of the two below.
What Does a Dehumidifier Do?
Dehumidifiers work to reduce the amount of moisture in the air. They accomplish this task through different methods. Most dehumidifiers use condensation, not unlike an air conditioning unit. This type of dehumidifier is often referred to as a compressor or refrigerant dehumidifier. It works by drawing warm air through a fan and passing it through the condenser coils.
As the air temperature decreases, the water vapor condenses. Water droplets are collected in a tank or drained through a hose and the now drier air is released to the room. Depending on the settings, a refrigerant dehumidifier may continuously remove moisture from the room or only until the ambient humidity has reached a set level. Because of the lower humidity, dehumidifiers can also help cool a room to a certain degree.
Another type of dehumidifier called a desiccant uses some type of chemical that absorbs or adsorbs moisture from the air with which it comes into contact. The desiccant chemicals, typically silica gel or calcium chloride, continuously suck up moisture until they have reached saturation. Once saturated, some desiccants can be renewed and reused. However, they usually have a much lower capacity than refrigerant dehumidifiers.
Do fans reduce humidity?
A fan moves the air surrounding it by rotating blades on a rotor. It circulates the air around the room and creates a breeze that can help you feel cooler. However, it does not directly affect the air temperature or relative humidity. In a hot and humid enclosed space, for example, a fan will only circulate the same humid and hot air.
Unlike a dehumidifier or an air conditioner, a fan on its own is not a particularly effective solution to humidity. But the air currents it produces can help evaporate moisture, combined with other external factors. Here are some ways a fan can aid in reducing humidity indoors.
Fans for Ventilation
The simplest way to use a fan for humidity reduction is by using it to ventilate a room. Ventilation is the introduction of outdoor air into the indoors. In a closed space, there is no other place for the excess moisture to go, so it stays in the room as water vapor. This makes the air feel heavier and the already hot weather feel even hotter.
If the humidity level outside is lower, then introducing some outdoor air to the room can help reduce the humidity inside. The easy way to do this is to open a window. To step it up a bit, you can place a fan near the window or any opening to distribute fresh air into the room.
Fans as Exhaust
Exhaust fans have a slightly different design and purpose. They work by pushing out the humid air from the room then replacing it with fresh air from the outside. They do not control the humidity levels like dehumidifiers or air conditioners, they simply replace the humid interior air with the dryer exterior air. This can provide some relief from the excess humidity in the room.
Exhaust fans may be placed in a window or vent to directly suck in the fresh air and release moist air. There are also units installed on the ceiling with a ducting system that goes from the room to a vent outside.
Can You Run a Fan and a Dehumidifier at the Same Time?
The short answer is yes. There is no problem with using a fan and a dehumidifier at the same time. A fan will not counteract the effort of your dehumidifier to reduce humidity. In fact, a fan perfectly complements a dehumidifier and even amplifies its desirable effects.
The dehumidifier itself uses an internal fan to suck in air, circulate it inside, then release it back into the room. With a fan, it moves the air faster and helps the dehumidifier process more air and collect more moisture. As the dehumidifier extracts water vapor from the air, the fan will circulate dry air and create a cooler breeze.
What to Consider When Running a Fan and a Dehumidifier
When you use a fan and dehumidifier together in a room, you cannot simply place them anywhere, turn them on, and expect the best results. To make sure you’re using them correctly, consider first the following factors.
The fan-and-dehumidifier combo can work well in any room when positioned correctly. To improve air circulation, place them on opposite corners of the room. If the room is small, just put them far apart and facing each other so that the fan can push the humid air towards the dehumidifier.
In general, dehumidifiers work best in warmer temperatures. However, some dehumidifiers are designed to efficiently remove excess moisture in a cold and clammy room. In this case, you can simply use a dehumidifier alone as running a fan will make the room even cooler.
Running a fan and a dehumidifier can help reduce your dehumidifier’s run time and thus save more on energy costs. Alternatively, it might increase your energy consumption since a fan also uses electricity. To make sure that only the former happens, check the amount of energy the dehumidifier consumes on its own and compare it with the total amount of power both appliances consume when working together.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a Fan with a Dehumidifier
Using a fan and a dehumidifier at the same time has its advantages and disadvantages. We list them down below.
A fan circulates the air better. If you need to dry a large space, this can take a lot of time and effort from your dehumidifier. With the help of a fan, the dry air from your dehumidifier is distributed more evenly to every corner of the room. This can also lessen the load on the dehumidifier since the fan provides more airflow.
A fan can make the room feel cooler. Although the dehumidifier actually releases warmer, dryer air, decreased humidity levels can make it feel as though the actual temperature is lower. As the fan circulates the air from the dehumidifier, it makes the room feel cooler and contributes to your overall comfort.
Using a fan and a dehumidifier at the same time can also enhance air quality. Dust particles, pollen, dander, and mold spores can trigger allergies and other respiratory conditions. With increased airflow, airborne allergens have less opportunity to accumulate on surfaces, although they may build up on the dehumidifier grilles and filter or fan blades instead. In this case, always check both appliances and clean them as needed. More airflow also keeps unpleasant odors away.
Running a fan with a dehumidifier may help save energy. As the fan provides more airflow, it might be fine to operate your dehumidifier on the lowest fan speed, or on the normal setting for a shorter period. Although, keep in mind that it depends on a lot of other factors such as the dehumidifier’s fan power, the size of the room, and the moisture content.
There are chances that it increases your energy cost. While running a fan can help reduce your dehumidifier’s runtime, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll pay less for your electricity bills. Again it will depend on the power consumption of each appliance as well as other factors.
You will need to clean both appliances. In the case of fans, you have to clean the blades and the housing or grilles to prevent buildup of dust or debris. Meanwhile, dehumidifiers usually have a filter behind the air inlet. You need to clean this every month or so.
Using two appliances at the same time can also increase the noise levels produced. The sound from the fan motor and especially the dehumidifier compressor can be annoying. If the room is small, you may not even need to use both.
Should I Get A Dehumidifier or A Fan?
If you have serious humidity issues in your room, then you need a dehumidifier. For simple cooling, then a fan is enough. If you want to cool the air and reduce humidity then both would be a great idea. Both can be useful, but the main difference is that fans simply circulate the air inside the room, while dehumidifiers process the air to extract moisture.
In most cases, a dehumidifier alone can do the important job of reducing humidity. While a fan can help make the room feel cooler, it’s not designed to reduce humidity at the rate you need. If the humidity levels in your home often go up to 60% or above, then you can benefit from a good dehumidifier. If you have yet to buy a dehumidifier for your home, we have guides to help you pick the best one for many different purposes.
So, during warm and humid summer days, it’s probably best to use a fan and a dehumidifier together and maximize their efficiency. However, always remember that there are factors that can affect the results you would get.