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Dehumidifier Buying Guide

High humidity can damage electronics, furniture, clothing, wallpaper, and make many areas of your home musty and unbearable. A dehumidifier can go a long way to saving your property and keeping you comfortable.

Do I Need a Dehumidifier?

Even if you have home air conditioning, a dehumidifier may still be a necessity. In rooms such as basements and laundry rooms, where dampness is heavier due to natural conditions or where air conditioning may not reach, a dehumidifier will help, especially in reducing musty odors.

A dehumidifier helps maintain an ideal relative humidity level (RH level) in the home. During summer months, a 50% RH is recommended. In winter months, as low as 30% RH is acceptable, especially if condensation is building up on your windows.

How Dehumidifiers Work

Air is fan-forced over coolant-filled coils to remove moisture. Depending on the model, the condensed moisture then drips from the coils into a bucket / basin, or it may be pumped out of the unit. The drier air is expelled back into the room.

Selecting the Right Dehumidifier

Consider these main factors when selecting your dehumidifier:

  • The area you wish to dehumidify (in square feet)
  • The method you wish to use to remove the water collected by the dehumidifier
  • The energy performance of the unit

How to Use a Dehumidifier

Follow the instructions for setup in your owner's manual. After properly unpacking the unit and removing all the shipping tape, keeping the bucket in place, you should also check the internal bucket to ensure the float switch is not dislodged (refer to instruction manual).

When you turn the dehumidifier on for the first time, set the RH level to the driest (highest) setting possible to stabilize the room's humidity. Most units have RH settings as low as 30% and as high as 90%. After a couple of cycles, set the unit's automatic humidistat to the setting you desire.

Also remember:

  • Maintain an unrestricted airflow. Units with vents on top may sit flush against a wall. Units with vents on the back and sides require 6 inches of circulation space from walls and furniture.
  • Keep the air filter clean by checking it regularly. A dirty filter restricts air flow and affects the unit's performance.
  • Help reduce humidity in your home by cleaning gutters and downspouts and ensuring dryer vents and exhaust fans are working properly.
  • Plug the dehumidifier into an appropriate ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. Never remove the third prong from any plug.
  • Always unplug the unit before cleaning.
  • To avoid possible electric shock, unplug the machine when emptying the container.


Area to Dehumidify

Dehumidifiers vary according to pint removal capacity every 24 hours. The following guide will help you choose the right capacity model for your needs. (Numbers listed are in pints per 24 hours.)


Dampness Level in the Area   


Area in Square

Feet <2000

Area in Square

Feet =2500

Area in Square

Feet =3000

Area in Square

Feet =3500

Area in Square

Feet >3500

Moderately Damp:

Space feels damp with musty odor

25 30 30 35 40

Very Damp:

Space always feels damp with musty odor

30 35 40 45 50


Space feels and smells wet; walls or

floors sweat


34 40 45 50 60

Extremely Wet:

Laundry drying, wet floor, high-load



40 45 50 60 70

Dehumidifier Features

Depending on the unit, your dehumidifier may have:

  • An internal pump - automatically pumps water vertically to a water basin for continuous operation
  • A direct drain - gravity feeds to a floor-level drain, which allows for continuous operation
  • A filter indicator - shows when the air filter needs to be cleaned
  • An auto-humidistat - senses the moisture level in the area around the unit and automatically shuts the unit off to save energy once the desired humidity level is attained
  • A low temperature setting - allows units to operate in temperatures as low as 41°F
  • Auto-defrost - keeps units from freezing in colder environments below 65°F
  • Auto reset - restarts the unit to its previous setting in case of a power loss

Dehumidifier Water Removal

dehumidifier pump

In very damp or wet conditions, the unit will collect a large amount of water, and you'll need to empty the internal bucket regularly. Most units have a direct drain feature, which allows for continuous operation without emptying the unit's bucket, but it requires a floor-level water drain. If you don’t have access to a floor-level drain and want to avoid regularly emptying an internal bucket, buy a unit with an internal pump feature that can pump water vertically up to a sink.

Dehumidifier Energy Performance


Energy performance is rated by the amount of water extracted every hour versus the amount of energy consumed to do so. For maximum efficiency, look for an ENERGY STAR® qualified unit.