hOmeLabs Dehumidifier Review

hOmeLabs-dehumidifier

Pros

  • A tremendous value – the least expensive 70 pint dehumidifier we’ve test thus far
  • Comes with a great warranty – 2 years compared to only 1 year for most other dehumidifiers on the market
  • Very portable for its size – one of the lightest 70 pint units we’ve tested

Cons

  • Compressor buzzing noise overshadows its low dB readings in our noise output tests
  • Not the most well built 70 pint dehumidifier we’ve tested. Built using noticeably lower quality components

Included With Your Purchase

  • Dehumidifier
  • Instruction Manual
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Quick Review Summary

The hOmeLabs 9 Gallon (70 Pint) Dehumidifier (model no. HME020031N) is a terrific value in the 70 pint dehumidifier category. It’s staunchest competitor in this class, the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1, is notably more expensive – it normally retails for about $50 more than the HME020031N.

Does the HME020031N’s lower price come at the cost of reduced performance and/or functionality? How does it compare, specifically, in all rated categories, to the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1. We answer both of these questions in detail in the review below.

Please note that while the review below is for the 9 gallon HME020031N, much of it also applies to the 6 gallon (50 pint) HME020006N and 4 gallon (30 pint) HME020030N, especially sections on durability, adjustability, versatility, extra features, ease of use, warranty, and value as all hOmeLabs units feature very similar specifications (outside of moisture removal rate and power draw) and are built using very similar components with a very similar design.

Performance Test Results

Energy Efficiency

The manufacturer specifies the HME020031N as having a power draw of 6.5 amps. At 120V this translates to 780 watts. Why does hOmeLabs specify power draw in amps when all other dehumidifier manufacturers do so in watts?

Well, it may very well be that they’re trying to show you how much of a standard 15 amp circuit is going to be “used up” by the dehumidifier. On any household circuit you don’t want more than 80% of the available amperage being used at any given time. Doing so could cause the associated circuit breaker to trip and/or cause an electrical fire.

For example, let’s say you have a microwave, a fridge, and a toaster oven on the same 15 amp circuit. You then add a dehumidifier to the circuit. Adding up the amperages of each appliance you wouldn’t want the total power draw to exceed 15 * .8 = 12 amps. If you know the amperages of the microwave, fridge, and toaster oven you can add those right now and subtract that total from 12 amps. If the left over available amperage is less than 6.5 amps you cannot safely use the hOmeLabs 9 Gallon unit on the same circuit.

That all being said, most dehumidifier manufacturers specify power draw in watts – not amps. This makes it difficult for the average consumer to compare the power draw of hOmeLabs units to those by other manufacturers. For example, the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 has an advertised wattage of 745 watts. How does this compare to the hOmeLabs HME020031N’s advertised amperage of 6.5 amps?

To tackle this problem you can go one of two ways: you can either convert the FFAD7033R1’s wattage to amperage or the HME020031N’s amperage to wattage (using an online amps to watts calculator works just fine). Since almost every other dehumidifier on the market has power draw specified in watts we’ll do the latter – we’ll convert the HME020031N’s 6.5 amps to watts. Doing so gives us 780 watts.

Thus, the HME020031N draws more power than the FFAD7033R1. It also draws more power than most other 70 pint dehumidifiers on the market.

Note that it will only draw 780 watts of power at maximum humidity levels. At 50% relative humidity, we measured the hOmeLabs unit pulling only 602 watts of power. This is actually 40 watts less than the Frigidaire’s 642 watts of power draw at the same humidity level. But wait, there’s more!

Energy efficiency is a two headed snake: it involves power draw and moisture removal rate. For example, let’s say you have a standard appliance pulling 100 watts of power that takes 10 hours to do a job. Another appliance pulls 500 watts of power but only takes 1 hour to do exactly the same job. Which appliance draws more power? The first. Which appliance is more energy efficient? The second.

The same principle applies when evaluating a dehumidifier’s efficiency. The Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 draws slightly more power than the hOmeLabs unit in similar conditions (642 vs 602 watts) but, according to our moisture removal tests removes moisture faster (removes the same amount of moisture in less time) than the hOmeLabs unit by a considerable margin. Thus, the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 is the more energy efficient dehumidifier. Compared to the fifteen other 70 pint units we’ve tested, the hOmeLabs HME020031N is one of the more energy efficient units on the market.

Winner: Frigidaire

Noise Output

We test for noise output in two different tests. The first test involves placing the sound meter right above the dehumidifier’s control panel. The second test involves placing it 10 feet away from the dehumidifier. In each test we measure noise output on both low and high fan speed.

If you were to take recorded dB values at face value you would think that the hOmeLabs 9 gallon dehumidifier performed very well in our noise output tests. At close distance (by the dehumidifier’s control panel) on high fan speed we recorded 60.2 dB on the sound meter. On low fan speed – 58.2 dB. At long range (10 ft.) we recorded 51.6 dB on high fan speed and 49.8 dB on low fan speed.

These readings were all well below average for the 70 pint size class. They are also slightly lower than readings recorded for the FFAD7033R1. For example, in the first test (control panel on high fan speed) the hOmeLabs produced 60.2 dB of noise while the FFAD7033R1 produced 61.2 dB of noise. In fact, in all four tests the hOmeLabs unit was measured to produce about 1 dB less noise than the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1.

But, these statements come with one major caveat: We heard an audible buzzing noise coming from the hOmeLabs unit while no such sound emanated from the FFAD7033R1.

You see, 70 pint dehumidifiers use a compressor to facilitate dehumidification. When this compressor turns on it can be

1. nearly silent as it is on the FFAD7033R1

2. audible but having its noise masked by fan noise

3. loud enough to be heard above fan noise as it is for the hOmeLabs HME020031N

The easy comparison to draw here is to a fridge. Refrigerators, like dehumidifiers, use compressors. Have you ever heard an old fridge make a buzzing noise? That’s exactly the noise the hOmeLabs unit makes.

While the sound meter shows the hOmeLabs unit to produce less dB of noise, our hands on testing of both the HME020031N and FFAD7033R1 showed the Frigidaire to produce a much more pleasant sounding “noise”. With the Frigidaire, all you hear is fan noise. With the hOmeLabs unit, you still hear fan noise but you also hear a compressor buzzing noise that cuts right through the fan noise.

Winner: Frigidaire

Moisture Removal

The hOmeLabs 9 gallon dehumidifier performed quite well in our moisture removal tests. In our first test, in which we measure how long it takes the dehumidifier to dehumidify a 50 square foot room from 90% to 40% humidity its time of 11 minutes, 2 seconds puts it in the upper half of performers in the 70 pint category. The same is true for its performance in the second test, in which we measure how long it takes the unit to dehumidify the same space from 80% down to 50% relative humidity. In this test, it was measured to do so in 5 minutes, 34 seconds.

In both tests, the hOmeLabs HME020031N took about 1 minute longer than the FFAD7033R1, but, as we alluded to above, it did so faster than most other 70 pint dehumidifiers we tested.

Winner: Frigidaire

Hygrometer Accuracy

The HME020031N’s built-in hygrometer was tested to read room humidity to within 3 to 4% of the actual room humidity. For example, at 54% RH it would show a reading of 50 to 51% RH. We saw very similar performance when testing the FFAD7033R1.

Winner: Tie

Included Features, Functionality, Build Quality, Warranties, and Value

Durability (Build Quality)

General Impressions

The HME020031N is a budget grade dehumidifier. At a glance it looks very similar to a higher end unit like the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 but upon closer inspection it becomes quite clear which unit is better built with higher end components.

The hOmeLabs unit has three problem areas, in particular:

1. Its water tank which in itself has two problem areas: the edges of the tank and the piece that connects the handle to the tank. The edges of the tank are made of an especially think piece of plastic. We believe these edges can bend, crack, or even break over continual use (when emptying and replacing the water tank). We would also like to see the handle connected to the tank in a more secure manner. The water tank can get quite heavy when filled with water. We believe it’s quite possible for the handle to break off from the tank over continual use as it is currently constructed and attached to the tank.

hOmeLabs-thin

2. The unit’s air filter is held together by an especially thin plastic frame. We believe this frame may be susceptible to cracking and/or breaking over continued use.

hOmeLabs-filter-thin

3. The unit’s control panel appears to be composed of especially low quality parts. The LED display is of a noticeably lower quality than that of the FFAD7033R1, for example.

hOmeLabs-display

Consumer Feedback

The HME020031N has thus far seen an overwhelmingly positive response from consumers. The vast majority of user reviews praise its great value (something we agree with), quiet operation (something we do not agree with), and effectiveness in lower the humidity in humid environments (something we agree with). According to our most recent survey it has a negative review rate (% of total reviews that are 1 and 2 star reviews) of less than 5% – about 6% less than that of the FFAD7033R1.

In evaluating consumer response to this dehumidifier you have to consider two things:

1. At the time of this review in early May, 2018, the hOmeLabs HME020031N has been on the market for only one year and has thus received reviews for only one year. There are no consumer reviews for this dehumidifier after 2+ years of use and that is simply because it hasn’t been on the market that long.

Why is this important? Well, because most common dehumidifier problems only occur after 2+ years of use. These problems often result in 1 and 2 star reviews. We saw a similar trend with the FFAD7033R1. In its first year on the market it received very few negative reviews. By its second and now third year it receives more such reviews, not because it’s a poorly built dehumidifier but because a small percentage of users do experience certain problems with the dehumidifier and they only experience such problems after 2+ years of ownership.

2. The second thing to consider when evaluating consumer reviews is the fact that most consumers only purchase one dehumidifier at a time. We’ve tested over sixteen 70 pint units alone. Comparing them side by side makes it very clear which dehumidifier is better than the other in which areas. Most consumers don’t have the ability to base their rating off of a comparison of multiple units.

Overall Category Score

This hOmeLabs dehumidifier certainly has its problem areas when it comes to long term durability and reliability but it is by no means a poorly built dehumidifier. We rate its durability as being below that of top tier units like the FFAD7033R1 but not by much. It receives an above average score in the category: a 4/5.

Adjustability

The hOmeLabs HME020031N features standard adjustability for the size class: a humidistat that can be adjusted in 5% increments and a timer that can be set up to 24 hours. Set the timer when the dehumidifier is off for an auto-start or set it with the dehumidifier off for an auto-off, up to 24 hours.

This hOmeLabs unit features two fan speed – normal and turbo – as opposed to 3 fan speeds for the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1. Both units feature a continuous mode that simply runs the dehumidifier at maximum power continuously.

Overall Category Score

Not much to say in this category. The hOmeLabs unit, for the most part, features standard functionality here. It does have one less fan speed than the most adjustable units we’ve tested which reduces its score in the category to 4/5.

Versatility

Set Humidity Range

This dehumidifier can be set from 35% up 85% humidity. For example, should you set it to 40% and the actual room humidity is 60%, the dehumidifier will run until the room reaches 40% humidity. We have tested 70 pint units that can be set to as low as 30% or as high as 90% but a range of 35% to 85% is perfectly acceptable for the vast majority of applications.

Operating Temperature Range

This unit features a standard operating temp. range of 41-95°F.

Gravity Drainage

The unit can be drained using a standard garden hose connected to the back of the dehumidifier. Doing so will prevent condensate from collecting in the water tank.

hOmeLabs-drain

Built-in Pump

This unit does not feature a built-in pump.

Overall Category Score

Again, this hOmeLabs 9 gallon dehumidifier features standard functionality in the category. It has a nearly identical humidity range, operating temperature range, and drainage functionality to that of the FFAD7033R1. It earns an identical score in the category – a 4.5/5.

Extra Features

Temperature Reading

This unit does not display room temperature. Neither does the FFAD7033R1.

Defrost

Like the FFAD7033R1 it features an auto-defrost mode. This mode will activate automatically at lower temperatures.

Check Filter

The same as on the FFAD7033R1, a check filter light will illuminate on the unit’s control panel after several hundred hours of use. This light doesn’t work in conjunction with any sensors. It’s simply a reminder light.

Overall Category Score

Again, this hOmeLabs unit earns an identical score to the Frigidaire in the category – a 3/5.

Ease of Use

LED Display Clarity

The hOmeLabs 9 gallon dehumidifier’s control panel looks and feels very similar to that of the FFAD7033R1’s predecessor, the FAD704DWD. In other words it is not as good as the FFAD7033R1’s control panel. While the FFAD7033R1 has a very sleekly designed control panel with a very high quality LED display the hOmeLabs unit has a more primitively styled control panel with a much lower quality LED display.

Setup Difficulty

Both Frigidaire and hOmeLabs units are very easy to setup and program.

Filter Removal Difficulty

With both units you remove the air filter in a similar manner – it’s very easy to do as the filter simply clips out at the back of the unit.

hOmeLabs-filter

Manual Clarity

All hOmeLabs dehumidifiers have the same well written, well organized, and well-illustrated manual.

Water Tank Size

Both the hOmeLabs 9 gallon (70 pint) and 6 gallon (50 pint) units have the same capacity water tank – 1.6 gallons or 12.8 pints. The Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 has a 13.1 pint water tank. Thus, all of these units have roughtly the same size water tank.

Of special note, however, is the fact that the FFAD7033R1’s tank features a plastic piece that extends over most of the top of the tank. This plastic piece is there to prevent water from splashing out of the tank every time you remove the tank to empty and replace it. The hOmeLabs unit’s water tank does not offer this same functionality.

hOmeLabs-tank

Overall Category Score

Compared to the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1, the hOmeLabs HME020031N features a lower quality LED display, a slightly smaller water tank, and one without splash guard functionality. Unsurprisingly, it earns a lower score in the category – a 3/5.

Aesthetics

At a glance, all hOmeLabs dehumidifiers are very pleasing to look at. Should you purchase and receive this dehumidifier, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be complaining about the way it looks – it really does look very good – exactly like a modern appliance should.

Compared to most other 70 pint units on the market the hOmeLabs HME020031N has a higher quality, more modern look to it. The one and only exception is the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1. Comparing these two units side by side the FFAD7033R1 is the more modern and aesthetically pleasing appliance. It’s the little details of the FFAD7033R1’s design – things like the LED bar on the top front of the dehumidifier to signal whether it’s on and ready for use or not – that gives the FFAD7033R1 the edge over the hOmeLabs unit when it comes to aesthetics.

Portability

The hOmeLabs 9 gallon dehumidifier weighs only 40 lb. – more than 7 lb. lighter than the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1.

Like the Frigidaire it features excellent cord storage. Unlike the Frigidaire, this hOmeLabs unit features side pocket handles. The FFAD7033R1 features a handle that extends from the top of the dehumidifier. Both units have nearly identical dimensions: approximately 15 in. wide, 12 in. deep, and 24 in. tall.

Overall Category Score

The HME020031N scores very well in this category. The primary reason why is its weight. At only 40 lb. it is very light for a 70 pint dehumidifier. Its side pocket handles work well and its cord storage is excellent. It earns a 4.5/5 in the category.

Warranty (Manufacturer’s)

This hOmeLabs dehumidifier comes with a 2 year warranty on all parts. If you register your dehumidifier on the manufacturer’s website another 6 months are added to the warranty.

Most other 70 pint dehumidifiers on the market, including the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1, come with a 1 year warranty on all parts and an additional 2 to 5 year warranty on the dehumidifier’s compressor, condenser, evaporator, and associated tubing.

The obvious question is, “which is the better warranty?”. And the answer to that question, unfortunately, is quite difficult to answer. You may be inclined to think the hOmeLabs warranty is better simply because it’s longer. But think about this:

1. We’re sure that hOmeLabs is a terrific company but they’re relatively unknown and haven’t been around for a very long time. Even if your appliance comes with a 2 year warranty, who’s to say that the manufacturer will even be there to honor the warranty a few years from now? With companies that have been around for several decades – companies like Danby, Frigidaire, Honeywell, etc. – it’s more likely for them to still be there if and/or when it comes time to honor that warranty.

2. The hOmeLabs warranty does cover all parts for longer but it actually covers many of the more important parts of the dehumidifier – the compressor, evaporator, etc. – for a lesser time. With the hOmeLabs warranty you get 2 years (possibly 2.5 years) on all parts. With most other manufacturers you get only 1 year on many parts but you do get up to 5 years on major parts like the compressor, evaporator, etc.

And so, both types of warranties each have their own pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide which type you prefer.

Value

All hOmeLabs dehumidifiers are a terrific value. The 9 gallon (70 pint) model retails for about $180 while the 6 gallon (50 pint) and 4 gallon (30 pint) models retail for around $160 to $170.

The 70 pint model is an especially great value. Most other 70 pint models we’ve tested retail for well above $200. The FFAD7033R1 retails for about $230 as of the writing of this review.

Final Thoughts

The hOmeLabs HME020031N is one of the better performing 70 pint dehumidifiers we’ve tested. While it fails to outperform the exceptional Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 in most major categories it does perform better than most other 70 pint dehumidifiers we’ve tested.

The question then becomes, which dehumidifier is the better buying choice? The hOmeLabs or the Frigidaire?

Here’s the short answer: the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1.

Here’s the longer answer: The Frigidaire is more energy efficient (because it removes moisture faster). It’s also more quiet simply because it doesn’t make the same audible compressor buzzing noise the hOmeLabs makes. In our opinion, the Frigidaire is also the better built, more high quality dehumidifier of the two units. This is painstakingly obvious when placing the two units side by side.

On the flip side of things the hOmeLabs unit is cheaper. It retails for about $50 less than the Frigidaire. In all other categories, the two units perform very similarly.

So, in summary, the Frigidaire either ties or outperforms the hOmeLabs in almost every category except value. Is the approx. $50 price difference enough of a difference for us to recommend the hOmeLabs over the Frigidaire? No it is not. We believe that the extra energy efficiency, moisture removal rate, lower noise, and better overall build quality of the FFAD7033R1 is more than enough reason to recommend it over the hOmeLabs unit, even though it is the more expensive option.

That being said, if you’re on a tight budget and cannot spare the extra (approx.) $50, the hOmeLabs HME020031N is still a good dehumidifier. It will dehumidify fairly quickly and it will do so fairly quietly (albeit with a compressor buzzing noise). It has a very similarly sized water collection tank and an identical set humidity range, operating temperature range, and defrost functionality. If you were to never purchase the FFAD7033R1 and compare it side by side with the hOmeLabs unit you will almost certainly be very happy with your purchase of the hOmeLabs unit.

Which is the better dehumidifier? The Frigidaire. Which is the better dehumidifier if you only have (approx.) $180 to spend or simply don’t want to spend more than (approx.) $200 on a dehumidifier? The hOmeLabs.

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