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The Different Types of Dehumidifiers

Last modified: 2022-08-05 | Approximate reading time 6 mins

If you’ve noticed an excessive buildup of moisture in your home, including condensation buildup on the windows or signs of mould, this could point to a significant issue with your home's humidity.

Homeowners may not realize it, but the air quality of your home directly depends on the comfort and health of your loved ones. Overly humid air can lead to a variety of health problems but can be maintained with a dehumidifier.

There are three main types of dehumidifiers: refrigerant, desiccant and whole-house. Each one of the models collects moisture differently, so knowing the specifics of how each one works will help you to determine which one would be best for your home. Read on to find out which dehumidifier style is right for your home!

The Different Dehumidifier Units

refrigerant dehumidifier_The Different Types of Dehumidifiers

source: Flickr, oneminutebuy

Refrigerant Dehumidifier

If you know how your fridge works, then you can apply those principles to this type of dehumidifier. This type of dehumidifier works by using a fan, a heat exchanger and a heat pump to remove moisture from the air. The refrigeration process cools a metal plate inside of the dehumidifier, and this is where moisture collects and condenses.

A fan that sits at the front of the device pulls air inside, forcing it over the cool metal plate. As moisture condenses, the liquid drips into the water tank that is inside the dehumidifier. This results in the humidity in your home being reduced to normal levels, and when this happens, your dehumidifier should switch itself off or into standby until it is needed again.

The performance of a refrigerant humidifier declines dramatically in cooler climates, as there is often a formation of ice on the metal cooling plates. Although a refrigerant dehumidifier can operate at cool temperatures, it will require components that can perform at these temperatures, and sometimes even additional features. If you plan to use this type of device in rooms that are often cold, you may want to consider one of the other dehumidifier options.  

dehumidifier in bathroom_The Different Types of Dehumidifiers

Desiccant Dehumidifier

While the refrigerant dehumidifier is the most well-known, a desiccant dehumidifier also does an excellent job at keeping moisture at bay. This type of dehumidifier uses an alternative method to that of the refrigerant. Rather than employing a cooling metal plate, a desiccant dehumidifier absorbs water from the air using a desiccant. If you’ve ever found a small packet of crystals labelled “silica gel” located in a pair of new shoes or alongside a new computer, you’ll be familiar with the desiccant material.

The material of a desiccant works to absorb water, keeping moisture from accumulating in fabrics and on devices. In a desiccant dehumidifier, the same principles apply. It operates by way of a wheel accompanied by a large desiccant. The wheel turns very slowly, absorbing the moisture from the incoming airflow. When the wheel rotates, part of the wheel passes through a stream of warm air, reactivating the desiccant by driving off moisture.

Water condenses and is collected in the dehumidifiers collection tank, or automatically drains through the back of the unit. One advantage of this type of humidifier is its size and weight, as it is generally smaller and lighter than the refrigerant dehumidifier. Another reason to choose this unit is its ability to operate in colder temperatures.

If your dehumidifier is going to be used in particularly chilly rooms, then this could be the device for you! However, the downside of desiccant dehumidifiers is that they require a lot of energy. 

dehumidifier_The Different Types of Dehumidifiers

3- Whole House Ventilation Dehumidifier

Certain dehumidifiers can be used for the entire home, and work more like a ventilation system to effectively remove mould, condensation and excess moisture from your home. This is the simplest type of dehumidifier in its operation. This model works by pushing air from the unit down into the home by way of a mounted grill.

The arrival of new air forces old, stale air out through your home's natural points of leakage, maintaining dry and fresh air throughout the home.  It is cheaper to run than the two other models listed, and works quietly behind the scenes to keep the air in your home clean. This style of whole-house dehumidifier adds another layer to a home's existing HVAC system. Bear in mind that this style of dehumidifier requires a professional for installation, so get in touch with some, if this is the unit that you’re interested in. 

Things to check before buying a dehumidifier

buying a dehumidifier_The Different Types of Dehumidifiers

1. Extraction capacity

The dewatering capacity is undoubtedly one of the main criteria to check when it comes time to invest in a dehumidifier. You will easily find this information on the characteristics of the product.

The extraction capacity (per day) is expressed in litres, pints, or chopines. Your choice will depend on the surface to be dried and the severity of your moisture problem. Dehumidifiers can be divided into 3 categories:

  1. Small capacity models: less than 18 litres per day;
  2. Models of medium capacity: 18-25 litres per day;
  3. Large capacity models: more than 25 litres per day.

2. Energy consumption

A dehumidifier that works daily will generate a large consumption of electricity. For this reason, it is better to choose a product whose energy consumption is optimized.

To know the energy consumption of a dehumidifier, you will need to find out about the water capacity collected per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed (L/kWh).  Unfortunately, this data is not always written on the product packaging. It can, however, be found on the device itself, if you find the product you are looking for in-store. 

To be sure to buy a product that consumes little energy, opt for a dehumidifier whose packaging bears the Energy Star logo because it is a safe bet!  Since the end of 2016, dehumidifiers have met even stricter standards in terms of energy efficiency. From now on, only appliances with an energy efficiency of at least 2 L/kWh are certified.

3. The evacuation system

The models of dehumidifiers offered on the market offer various possibilities with regard to the system of the evacuation of the water recovered by the device. Some have a drain connected outside the house, while others are equipped with a water recovery system, which must be emptied several times a day.  This second alternative is certainly easier to install, however it can have limits if the room is particularly humid.

4. Indicators and smart devices

It must be said that manufacturers redouble their imagination to meet the criteria of their customers, which gives products more and more practical and efficient. On the market, there are dehumidifiers equipped with an integrated hygrometer and a programmable numerical control that displays the humidity level. Others have an automatic shut-off device and some even have an indicator that warns you when it's time to empty the water tank.  It's up to you to see if you want this kind of gadget.

To summarize, there are three main models of dehumidifiers:

1- Condensing

  1. most popular;
  2. possibility of smaller sizes and smart devices;
  3. some can be used as an auxiliary heater.

2- By adsorption

  1. uses silica gel;
  2. the rejected air will be drier and warmer.

3- By absorption

  1. economical;
  2. works with lithium chloride (salt);
  3. need refills every 2-3 months;
  4. for minimal or moderate moisture problems.

And here are the points to check before finalizing your purchase:

1- The dewatering capacity

  1. choice according to the area and degree of the moisture problem;
  2. small (- 18 liters/day) – Medium (18 to 25 liters/day) – Large (more than 25 liters/day).

2- Energy consumption

  1. calculated in L/kWh (often indicated on the device and not on the packaging);
  2. look for the Energy Star logo.

3- The evacuation system

  1. connected to the outside of the house or a bin on the appliance;
  2. choose according to your willingness to manage the water collected.

4- Technology

  1. according to your needs and preferences;
  2. integrated hygrometer possibilities, programmable digital controls, automatic shutdown, reminders, etc.

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