The Ivation IVADM20 is a mid-size thermo-electric dehumidifier – it’s not the smallest thermo-electric dehumidifier we’ve reviewed but it’s also not the largest. In this way it fits into an interesting niche in the market. Those consumers looking for the absolute least expensive, smallest, and lightest duty thermo-electric dehumidifier won’t find what they’re looking for in the IVADM20. Conversely, those consumers looking for the most “heavy duty” thermo-electric dehumidifier available won’t find it in the IVADM20 either. If one word describes the IVADM20, it’s “compromise”. This unit is an excellent option if you’re looking for something a little more heavy duty than the “lightest duty” mini thermo-electric dehumidifier and you don’t want to pay for the high moisture removal capacity of a “heavy duty” thermo-electric dehumidifier.
Note that we did not perform any hands-on testing of this unit for this review. We will make our recommendations based on how this unit’s manufacturer specified attributes (moisture removal rate, power draw, tank capacity, etc.) compare to those of similar models we did test for review. Those similar models include the Ivation IVADM10, IVADM35, IVADM45 – all three of which we did actually subject to hands-on testing in preparation for their reviews.
Manufacturer Specified Moisture Removal Rate
The IVADM20 is one of the larger capacity Ivation branded thermo-electric dehumidifiers on the market. Among the seven Ivation thermo-electric dehumidifiers we’ve reviewed thus far it has the third highest moisture removal capacity. The manual for the IVADM20 specifies that it can remove up to 13.5 ounces of moisture per day. Of the seven Ivation dehumidifiers we’ve reviewed, only the IVADM35 and IVADM45 are higher capacity – the IVADM35 removes up to 20 ounces of moisture per day while the IVADM45 removes up to 25 ounces of moisture per day. Lower capacity units include the IVAGDM20, ERSDM18, IVADM15, and IVADM10 – each of these units remove between 6 and 12 ounces of moisture per day.
The IVADM20′s daily capacity of 13.5 ounces is a maximum theoretical value and doesn’t necessarily reflect its capacity in the average real life environment. This unit will only remove as much as the manufacturer specified 13.5 ounces per day at the manufacturer specified temperature of 86° F and humidity level of 80% RH (relative humidity). If the environment you plan on using this dehumidifier is colder or warmer than 86° F or if it is less or more humid than 80% RH the daily capacity for this unit will be lower than the maximum theoretical capacity of 13.5 ounces. Realistically, you can expect this dehumidifier to remove anywhere between 8 and 13 ounces of moisture per day.
Note that this concept of reduced efficiency at lower or higher temperature and relative humidity doesn’t apply exclusively to the IVADM20. The capacities we gave above for the other Ivation dehumidifiers we’ve reviewed are also maximum theoretical values. The given manufacturer specified capacity of any Ivation dehumidifier, any thermo-electric dehumidifier, and really any dehumidifier regardless of dehumidification method or brand will vary according to the temperature and humidity of the space you’re trying to dehumidify.
The manufacturer specified power draw for the IVADM20 is 60 watts. Again, this is one of the larger capacity Ivation dehumidifiers on the market and with that larger capacity comes higher power draw. Similar higher capacity models have a similar power draw. The IVADM35 and IVADM45 each draw 72 watts of power. The power draw for lower capacity models vary between 13.5 watts for the IVADM10 and 27 watts for the ERSDM18.
Note that regardless of which thermo-electric dehumidifier you choose to buy, you won’t really see it having any effect on your monthly power bill. Running any one of these units continuously for a full month will cost you well under $2. Smaller capacity units (around 20 watts of power draw) will cost closer to $1 to run for a full month while larger capacity units (around 60 watts of power draw) will cost closer to $2 to run for a full month. Of course, cost will vary depending on which part of the country you live in, or whether you live in the United States at all. The bottom line here is that the cost of electricity to run any thermo-electric dehumidifier, including the IVADM20, is negligible.
Durability (Build Quality)
The IVADM20 should have exactly the same durability and reliability as every other Ivation dehumidifier and, in our opinion, every other thermo-electric dehumidifier on the market. All thermo-electric dehumidifiers feature the exact same internal components – two heat sinks, a fan, and a Peltier module that heats up one heat sink and cools down the other (onto which humid air condensate). Because all thermo-electric dehumidifiers feature the exact same internal components with the exact same basic design (the Peltier module is the most “complex” component and it is itself very basic in its design) they all have good durability and are therefore fairly reliable (we discuss this concept in greater detail in our general buyer’s guide for this type of dehumidifier).
The IVADM20 has a very high rate of negative consumer reviews (we consider a negative review to be any review with a 1 or 2 star rating). It is in fact the worst reviewed (by consumers) thermo-electric dehumidifier we’ve reviewed ourselves with an alarmingly high consumer negative review rate of 37%. This means that almost half of the reviews left for this unit are either 1 or 2 star reviews.
What does this high negative review rate mean in terms of the unit’s reliability? Does it mean that the IVADM20 isn’t a reliable dehumidifier? The short answer is no, its high negative review rate does not mean that this unit is unreliable. Most of the negative reviews we surveyed had nothing to do with the unit’s reliability. Instead, most negative reviews had to do with either the unit’s inaccurate built-in hygrometer or, the big culprit, the fact that the unit didn’t remove as much moisture as was expected.
Let’s discuss each of these issues separately. Unfortunately, we were not able to test this unit for this review and therefore were unable to test the accuracy of its built-in hygrometer (as we do for all of the compressor based dehumidifiers we’ve tested). However, we feel that the myriad of negative consumer reviews that talk about this unit’s built-in hygrometer being highly inaccurate are sufficient evidence to suggest that this unit does in fact have a highly inaccurate built-in hygrometer. The take away here is that you should not purchase this unit for its ability to set humidity levels. It won’t work well for that purpose. Do not set this unit to 50%, 60%, etc. expecting it to turn off when the room humidity reaches the corresponding value. It won’t. Our recommendation is that you set the dehumidifier to its lowest setting (40%) and allow it to dehumidify continuously. The truth is that any thermo-electric dehumidifier, regardless of model or brand, will have a hard time getting any even mildly humid space down to 40% humidity. Thus, should you set this unit to 40%, it will operate continuously just like every other thermo-electric dehumidifier (without a built-in hydrostat) because the humidity in the room will probably never reach 40% RH.
The second reason for most of the negative consumer reviews for this unit is the fact that it did not meet many consumers’ expectations in terms of moisture removal capacity. As we discussed in the section on this unit’s moisture removal rate above, the maximum amount of moisture the IVADM20 can remove per 24 hour period is 13.5 ounces. This capacity is more than double that of the very low capacity IVADM10 (6 ounces) and a little more than half that of the higher capacity IVADM45 (25 ounces). So, the IVADM20 has average capacity for an Ivation dehumidifier.
We can tell you also that thermo-electric dehumidifiers, in general (outside of the Ivation brand), don’t really remove more moisture per day than the IVADM45. The IVADM45 was in fact the highest capacity thermo-electric dehumidifier we tested and is also the highest capacity thermo-electric dehumidifier we’ve reviewed (recall that we’ve reviewed 14 different thermo-electric units thus far). Thermo-electric dehumidifiers, in general, remove anywhere between 6 and 25 ounces of moisture per day. Thus, the IVADM20 has average capacity for a thermo-electric dehumidifier also.
What we’re getting at is the fact that this unit has average moisture removal capacity for a thermo-electric dehumidifier and the fact that the IVADM20′s moisture removal rate doesn’t meet consumer expectations is less of a negative on the IVADM20, specifically, and more of an indictment on thermo-electric dehumidifiers, in general. Thermo-electric dehumidifiers, in general, simply do not have a very high moisture removal rate. They are designed for only mildly humid spaces and very small spaces at that. Many consumers do not understand this. They buy a thermo-electric dehumidifier and expect it to have similar performance to a high capacity much more expensive compressor based unit – the result in many cases is a 1 or 2 star review.
Just to make things clear consider the fact that an approximately $200 70 pint dehumidifier removes over 1000 ounces of moisture per day. The IVADM20, at a daily maximum capacity of 13.5 ounces removes between 1 and 2% as much moisture per day. In terms of cost vs moisture removal capacity, compressor based units are far and away a much better option. The IVADM20 is only 25% the price of the average 70 pint compressor based unit with less than 2% the capacity. The same types of ratios apply to other thermo-electric units.
You only want to purchase a thermo-electric dehumidifier if the space you plan on dehumidifying is A. very small and B. not very humid. If this is the case then a compressor based unit is overkill and you’re better off spending less and getting a much more inexpensive thermo-electric dehumidifier. In any other case (if the space is large and/or perpetually and/or severely humid) a compressor based dehumidifier is highly recommended. Click here for our general buyer’s guide on compressor based dehumidifiers.
The IVADM20 comes equipped with a built-in hydrostat and hygrometer. A hygrometer is much like a thermometer. While a thermometer measures temperature a hygrometer measures humidity. This unit’s built-in hygrometer simply measures the humidity in the room. A dehumidifier’s hydrostat is much like the thermostat in your home. In the same way that a thermostat allows you to set temperature and automatically turns on the air conditioning/heat in your home when the ambient air’s temperature falls below or rises above this set temperature, a hydrostat allows you to set a desired humidity level and automatically turns on or turns off the dehumidifier depending on whether that desired humidity level is reached or not. In summary, the hygrometer does the measuring of the ambient air’s humidity while the hydrostat allows you to set a desired humidity level in the room.
With that being said this unit can be set to as high as 80% RH (relative humidity) and as low as 40% RH. Should you set the hydrostat to 50% RH, for example, the unit will automatically turn off when the unit’s hygrometer senses that room humidity has reached 50%. Unfortunately, the built-in hygrometer on the IVADM20 is highly inaccurate. You might set the desired humidity level to 50% but because this unit’s hygrometer is so inaccurate it will sense an actual room humidity of 65% as 50% and so the unit will turn off at an actual room humidity of 65% even though it’s set to as low as 50%. To combat this issue our recommendation is that set this unit to its lowest setting (40%) which will allow it to operate continuously. In this way it will operate exactly the same way as other thermo-electric dehumidifiers that do not come equipped with a built-in hygrometer and hydrostat.
Water Tank Size
To go along with its fairly large moisture removal capacity, the IVADM20 also has a fairly large 50 ounce water collection reservoir. Compare this water tank size to the IVADM35 and IVADM45 which each have a 68 ounce tank. Not surprisingly, smaller capacity units have much smaller tanks. The IVADM15, for example, has a 20 ounce tank. The IVADM10 has an even smaller tank (17 ounces) but it also has a very small moisture removal capacity (6 ounces per day). The take away here is that dehumidifier manufacturers try their best to have water tank size correspond to moisture removal capacity in order to maximize convenience for you, the consumer. Larger tanks correspond to larger moisture removal rate capacities and smaller tanks correspond to smaller moisture removal rate capacities.
In any case, regardless of which thermo-electric dehumidifier you buy, you can expect to have to empty and replace its water tank once every 2 to 7 days. As we discussed near the beginning of this review, despite the fact that the IVADM20 has a maximum theoretical moisture removal rate of 13.5 ounces per day, you can expect it to remove anywhere between 8 and 13 ounces of moisture per day. To make the math easier let’s say that it removes approximately 10 ounces of moisture per day. Since it has a 50 ounce tank you’d have to empty and replace that tank once every 5 or so days. If it removes more than 10 ounces per day you’ll have to empty it more frequently (maybe once every 4 or so days) and if it removes less than 10 ounces per day you’ll have to empty it less frequently (maybe once a week or so).
This unit has the same square design as the IVADM45 (vs the rounded design of the IVADM10, IVAGDM20, and IVADM35). It also features a front control panel like the IVADM45, the difference being that the IVADM20′s control panel is off to the right side of the front of the unit while the IVADM45′s control panel is centered on the front of the unit.
The IVADM20 is very light and portable. However, it is larger and heavier than many other thermo-electric dehumidifiers on the market. In terms of size and weight we put this unit in the same class as the IVADM35 and IVADM45. All three units weigh approximately 5 pounds and all three are over 10 inches tall (the IVADM20 is approx. 11 inches tall). If you’re looking for the smallest lightest most portable options in the category, take a look at any of the “mini” thermo-electric dehumidifiers we’ve tested and reviewed, including the IVADM10, Gurin DHMD-210, and Eva-Dry EDV-1100. These units weigh only 2 or so pounds and are under 10 inches tall.
Warranty terms for this dehumidifier are unknown. A manufacturer’s warranty is implied on the sales page for this unit, but actual warranty terms are given nowhere in the included documentation that ships with this dehumidifier.
The IVADM20 normally retails for between $50 and $70 (approx.). At around $70 it’s reasonably price compared to similar models. The IVADM35 and IVADM45 retail for more (normally between approx. $85 and $100) but they also remove more moisture per 24 hours (20 to 25 ounces vs 13.5 ounces for the IVADM20). Conversely, the IVADM10 is much less expensive (about $40) but removes much less moisture per day (only 6 ounces).
The IVADM20 is certainly not without its faults. Its most unique feature, its built-in hygrometer, is highly inaccurate and makes its ability to set humidity levels really no ability at all. The only way to really run this unit is to set its humidity level to the lowest level possible and run it continuously, the exact same way you’d run a dehumidifier without a built-in hygrometer. Thus, in judging the merits of this unit and in comparing it to other units at its price point we can’t really take its built-in hygrometer functionality into account. What we can compare is its moisture removal rate, power draw, tank size, portability, and perhaps most importantly, the value associated with all of these factors.
To put it bluntly, our recommendation hinges on whether or not you can snag this unit for about $50. At around $50 the IVADM20 is a great value. It removes more than twice the moisture of the IVADM10 (13.5 oz. vs 6 oz), but at only a 1/5 (approx) higher price (approx. $50 vs approx. $40). At $50 it’s about half the price of the IVADM45 and almost half the price (approx.) of the IVADM35 while it removes more than half the moisture of the IVADM45 and well more than half the moisture of the IVADM35 – again, in terms of what you get vs what you pay, the IVADM20 is the better option.
These recommendations are exactly the opposite if you can only find the IVADM20 for around $70. At around $70 we do not recommend it over the IVADM10 and we also don’t recommend it over the IVADM35 or IVADM45.
In summary, we recommend this unit if you can find it for around $50 and you don’t mind having to deal with the quirk of having to set its hydrostat to its lowest setting in order to force it to run continuously. At around $70 we do not recommend it and instead suggest that you read our IVADM10, IVADM35, and/or IVADM45 reviews to decide which of those three models would be the best option for your situation. If you’re trying to dehumidify a very small very mildly humid space the IVADM10 will work. For a larger (but still small) space with less mild humidity either the IVADM35 or IVADM45 is recommended.