What Options Should a Dehumidifier Have?

Deciding what options you want on a dehumidifier will depend on how and where you use it, as well as you lifestyle and taste.

Dehumidifiers come in a wide range of sizes with many options. The prices do not vary wildly, so options are not too expensive by themselves. If you can save $50 on a machine that meets your needs, however, why wouldn’t you do it?

What Options Matter?

Here is a brief list of options that could interest you as you prepare to buy a dehumidifier:

  • Dehumidifiers are classified according to how many pints of water they can draw out of the air in a given 24-hour period. If you are seeking to dehumidify a large area that is very moist, you will want a 70-pint model, for instance. If you just need to keep a closet dry, consider smaller options. Keep in mind that these models have collection tubs that are often 1/3 the size of the number of pints that can be gathered from the air. So, if you are buying a 70-pint model, it will often come with a 24-pint tub, which means that you will need to empty it three times a day or hook up a hose to have the machine drain on its own.
  • Dehumidifiers operate in different temperature ranges. Some will work in near-freezing temperatures, others will not. If you are using your machine in a semi-outdoor setting (a boat? an RV?) you will want to get a machine that can work in low temperatures.
  • Dehumidifiers come with different operating modes, from continuous to normal to auto dry. If you are going to put the machine in an area that is constantly musty year-round, will you need an auto dry setting? Probably not.
  • Do you need a programmable timer? If you are running the machine at all times and have a hose drain, you will never need to time it. If you are carefully monitoring your energy usage and want the machine to only run while you sleep, then a timer could be very handy.
  • Many of the new dehumidifiers have a humidistat built in, which will measure the humidity in the air and allow you to set the machine to work when that humidity reaches a certain point. Do keep in mind that a recent study showed that many of these humidistats have a spotty operational record.
  • What type of full tank alert are you looking for? If your machine is three levels beneath you in the basement, will a warning light do much good? You might need an electronic beep as well to notify you of when the tank is full. Some models also come with the collection tub level readily visible through the front panel so that you can shoot the machine a quick glance and know if it needs to be emptied soon. If you hook up your machine to drain through a hose, these options are irrelevant.
  • Are you going to move the dehumidifier around from room to room? Then you will want one with caster wheels or a handle for easy transport.
  • Given that dehumidifiers use twice as much energy as refrigerators, you will want one that has a high EnergyStar rating.
  • Some dehumidifiers have remote controls so that you don’t need to march down to the laundry room to turn it off.
  • Even if you buy a model with auto shut-off when the collection tub is full (most models have this feature), be aware that more than ½ of the brands recently tested still used energy when in this mode.
  • If you can place the machine near a floor drain, then a model with a hose attachment makes sense. If you are putting the dehumidifier in the bedroom, this option is useless.
  • Some dehumidifiers come in sleek models with handles that allow for super-easy transport. They often are extremely quiet as they work, too, if that is an important factor to you. The sleek design does, of course, limit the size of the collection tub.
  • Finally, you need to decide if you care what your dehumidifier looks like. If it is in a high-traffic area, you might want to avoid the drab box-like machines that are available. Opt for one that is quiet and pleases your taste. If the machine will be in the laundry room, it really doesn’t matter what it looks like as long as it works well.

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