Last Updated: January 7th 2021
There are three major types of dehumidifiers:
- Compressor based dehumidifiers
- Thermo-electric dehumidifiers
- Desiccant dehumidifiers
Full-size compressor based dehumidifiers (such as those in the photo above) are capable of removing several gallons of water from the air each day. Most thermo-electric and desiccant units can remove only a few ounces per day at best.
A Critical Step Before You Buy
New Dehumidifier Standards
There are, broadly speaking, two basic requirements:
- that the pints/day specification be given according to testing standards outlined by the DOE
- that the dehumidifier meets certain energy efficiency requirements
A. The Pints/Day Requirement
A 70 pint dehumidifier before June 13, 2019 is a 50 pint dehumidifier after June 13, 2019.
Why the decrease? Why the lower pints/day specification?
At 80°F and 60% RH (pre-2019)
At 65°F and 60% RH (post-2019)
|Frigidaire FFAD5033W1||70 pints/day||50 pints/day|
|hOmeLabs HME020031N||70 pints/day||50 pints/day|
|Black+Decker BDT50WTB||70 pints/day||50 pints/day|
B. The Energy Efficiency Requirement
In the past, the requirements looked like this:
Energy Factor (EF) - L/kWh
Beginning June 13, 2019 the requirements are now this:
Integrated Energy Factor (IEF) - L/kWh
Note the differences between these two tables:
- the pints/day categories
- the use of “energy factor” vs “integrated energy factor” in the right column
- the actual energy efficiency requirements – the numbers in the right column
The pints/day categories have changed because pints/day testing and specification requirements have changed as we discussed earlier.
Rest assured, all top rated dehumidifiers we recommend fit this requirement.
New Energy Star Requirements
Version 4.0 was effective as of October 25, 2016. The requirements were as follows:
Energy Factor (EF) - L/kWh
|< 75||≥ 2.00|
|75 to ≤ 185||≥ 2.80|
Version 5.0 is effective as of October 18, 2019. The requirements now are as follows:
Integrated Energy Factor (IEF) - L/kWh
|≤ 25.00||≥ 1.57|
|25.01 to 50||≥ 1.80|
|≥ 50||≥ 3.30|
Dehumidifier Capacity and Area of Coverage
What Capacity Dehumidifier Should You Buy?
The chart might require you to
- Select the dampness of the space you need to dehumidify
- Select the square footage of that space
Many manufacturers give a more simplified size chart to help you choose which dehumidifier to buy.
- Some charts suggest dehumidifier capacity based on dampness alone
- Other charts only use square footage to suggest which size dehumidifier to buy
Unlike most other consumer publications and many manufacturers, we do not recommend that you use a chart or table to help you decide what capacity dehumidifier to buy.
Why do we disagree with the use of such methods? See the 6 reasons below.
Charts and tables cannot account for these real world variables.
So, what do we recommend? Our recommendation is simply the following:
Buy the highest capacity dehumidifier you can afford.
Why You Shouldn’t Take Our Recommendation Lightly
High capacity 50 pint dehumidifiers dehumidify faster than lower capacity 35 and 22 pint units.
50 pint – 48 hours
35 pint – 66.7 hours
22 pint – 111.1 hours
Another way of looking at it is with percentages.
Our Top Picks for 2021
#1 – The Best Overall – Frigidaire FFAD5033W1
#2 – The Best Budget Alternative – hOmeLabs HME020031N
#3 – Black + Decker BDT50WTB
If neither the Frigidaire nor the hOmeLabs are available the Black + Decker is a solid third option.
Why You Can Trust Our Recommendations
Additional Picks for 2021
The Best Small Dehumidifier
Can you get away with buying a smaller cheap dehumidifier for less than $30?
Can you get away with buying a dehumidifier for less than $100?
The Quietest Dehumidifier
The perceived loudness of a dehumidifier depends on many different factors including:
2. whether the dehumidifier exhausts air upwards or to the side – if upwards, fan noise distributes evenly throughout the room which increases perceived loudness overall but better masks compressor noise; if to the side, the fan noise can be directed away from you but compressor noise isn’t masked nearly as well
3. whether the dehumidifier produces an audible “compressor buzz” or not and to what extent that buzzing sound is audible – some units have internal compressors that make a louder “buzzing” sound when the dehumidifier is actively dehumidifying than others
The quietest dehumidifiers exhausts air out of the side and produces little to no compressor noise. The 50 to 55 dB of noise is mostly wind noise produced by dried air exhausting out of the dehumidifier.
The Most Energy Efficient Dehumidifier
The Most Portable Dehumidifier
Three factors determine a dehumidifier’s portability:
3. the quality and design of its handles
Two types of handles dominate the market:
1. Side pocket handles
2. A top extendable handle
Scoring Our Dehumidifier Reviews
Each of our dehumidifier reviews is broken down into 13 different categories including
- Energy Efficiency
- Noise Output
- Moisture Removal Rate
- Hygrometer Accuracy
- Extra Features
- Ease of Use
We use the rating rubric below to give each dehumidifier we test a score out of 5 in each category.
|2.0||Below Average||Our worst rating indicating poor and unacceptable performance|
|3.0||Below Average||Below average but acceptable performance|
|3.5||Average||The unit's performance was up to par compared to the industry standard|
|4.0||Above Average||Only slightly above average performance|
|4.5||Above Average||More than slightly above average but also not perfect|
|5.0||Above Average||Perfect. Nothing could have been done better|
Complete Dehumidifier Rankings
All the dehumidifiers we’ve tested so far, ranked according to their cumulative score (in the right-most column), are listed in the tables below. Note that you can read our full review for each unit by clicking on its model name.
|The best rated dehumidifier overall. Provides terrific all-around performance.|
|A great option for the more budget minded consumer. A solid performer at a great value.|
|Average to below average performance in most tests. Comes with a 2 year "carry in" warranty.|
|Noisy with an inaccurate hygrometer. Also has poor durability.|
|9||GE ADEL45LY (ADEW45LY)||42.5|
|Average to below average performance in all of our tests. Average durability.|
|50 Pint (70 Pint 2012 DOE)|
|50 Pint Built-in Pump (70 Pint 2012 DOE)|
|35 Pint (50 Pint 2012 DOE)|
|22 Pint (30 Pint 2012 DOE)|
Commonly Asked Questions
What is the optimal place to put a dehumidifier?
Other strategies you can use for optimal dry air distribution include:
2. In larger spaces place the dehumidifier in a more central location.
3. Use fans to better move air between rooms if necessary.
Will the dehumidifier’s fan continue to run after the desired humidity level is reached?
What about the filter? Does it need to be replaced?
Can I use an extension cord?
According to the manufacturer, absolutely not. We don’t recommend it either.
Will the dehumidifier restart automatically after a power outage?
Do I need to buy a separate hygrometer (device to measure humidity) along with my dehumidifier?
What is the lowest humidity a dehumidifier is able to achieve?
What is the minimum and maximum operating temperature for dehumidifiers?
What’s in the box of the typical dehumidifier?