hOmeLabs Dehumidifier Review

homelabs-HME020031N

Pros

  • A tremendous value – one of the least expensive 50 pint dehumidifiers we’ve tested 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 50 pint units we’ve tested

Cons

  • Loud compressor
  • Not the most well-built 50 pint dehumidifier we’ve tested – built using noticeably lower quality components than the #1 rated Frigidaire FFAD5033W1

Included With Your Purchase

  • Dehumidifier
  • Instruction Manual
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Quick Review Summary

The hOmeLabs 4,500 sq. ft. Energy Star Dehumidifier (model no. HME020031N) is a terrific value in the 50 pint dehumidifier category. It’s staunchest competitor in this size class, the Frigidaire FFAD5033W1, 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 FFAD5033W1? We answer both of these questions in detail in the review below.

Please note that while the review below is for the 4,500 sq. ft. (50 pint) HME020031N, much of it also applies to the 3,000 sq. ft. (35 pint) HME020006N and 1,500 sq. ft. (22 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 115V this translates to 748 watts.

The HME020031N’s rated power draw of 6.5 amps compares favorably to most other high capacity units on the market. The manufacturer specified power draw for the #1 recommended Frigidaire FFAD5033W1 is more – it’s 7.8 amps. It’s also more for the Black+Decker BDT50WTB – it’s rated at 7 amps of power draw. Many other models have a rated amperage over 7 amps.

All of this would seem to indicate that the hOmeLabs is one of the least power hungry dehumidifiers on the market. However, our own real world testing contradict these manufacturer specifications.

At 50% relative humidity we measured the hOmeLabs at 610 watts of power draw, the Frigidaire at 570 watts, and the Black+Decker at 554 watts. At higher humidity levels power draw increased and evened out around 760 watts for all three units.

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 FFAD5033W1 draws slightly less power than the hOmeLabs unit at lower humidity levels (570 vs 610 watts) and approximately the same amount of power at higher humidity levels.

But here’s the added variable – according to our moisture removal tests, the Frigidaire removes moisture faster (removes the same amount of moisture in less time) than the hOmeLabs unit by a considerable margin (more on this later). With these facts in mind we feel confident calling the Frigidaire FFAD5033W1 the more energy efficient dehumidifier.

That being said, the hOmeLabs HME020031N also did very well in our moisture removal testing (just not as good as the Frigidaire) and for this reason we still consider it a highly energy efficient option compared to most competition in the high capacity size class.

Nonetheless, when it comes to energy efficiency –

Winner: Frigidaire

Extra note

You can use manufacturer specified amperage to evaluate 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.

As an 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 4,500 sq. ft. unit on the same circuit.

Noise Output

hOmeLabs-side

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 4,500 sq. ft. dehumidifier performed very well in our noise output tests. At close distance (by the dehumidifier’s control panel) on high fan speed we recorded 59.3 dB on the sound meter. On low fan speed – 58.6 dB. At long range (10 ft.) we recorded 50.3 dB on high fan speed and 48.8 dB on low fan speed.

These readings were all well below average for the 50 pint size class. They are also much lower than readings recorded for the FFAD5033W1. For example, in the first test (control panel on high fan speed) the hOmeLabs produced 59.3 dB of noise while the FFAD7033R1 produced 70.2 dB of noise. In fact, in all four tests the hOmeLabs unit was measured to produce considerably less noise than the Frigidaire FFAD5033W1.

But, these statements come with major caveats:

First, the compressor buzzing noise produced by the hOmeLabs was much louder than the same noise produced by the Frigidaire.

Second, the Frigidaire has a much higher CFM fan (229 CFM on high fan speed vs 188 CFM on the hOmeLabs) and an upward facing exhaust that masked its compressor noise much better than the lower CFM fan and sideways facing exhaust of the hOmeLabs.

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 and, to a lesser extent, that the Frigidaire makes.

While the sound meter shows the hOmeLabs unit to produce less dB of noise, our hands on testing of both the HME020031N and FFAD5033W1 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 through the fan noise.

In terms of raw noise output,

Winner: hOmeLabs

In terms of the quality of the noise that is produced,

Winner: Frigidaire

Moisture Removal

The hOmeLabs 4,500 sq. ft. 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 10 minutes, 3 seconds puts it in the upper (faster) half of performers in the 50 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, 33 seconds.

In the first more difficult test (90% to 40%), the hOmeLabs HME020031N took about 2 minutes longer than the FFAD5033W1 (7 minutes, 56 seconds). In the second test (80% to 50%) it took only a few seconds longer than the Frigidaire (5 minutes, 19 seconds).

Thus, according to our testing, you can expect the Frigidaire to do much better than the hOmeLabs in especially challenging (highly humid) conditions. In reasonably non-challenging conditions (mild to low humidity) both units should perform quite similarly.

In conclusion,

Winner: Frigidaire

Hygrometer Accuracy

The HME020031N’s built-in hygrometer was tested to read room humidity to within 2 to 3% of the actual room humidity. For example, at 54% RH it would show a reading of 51 to 52% RH. We saw very similar performance when testing the FFAD5033W1.

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 FFAD5033W1 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 (see photo below) 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 thin 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-bucket

2. The unit’s air filter (see photo below) is glued to an especially thin plastic frame. We believe this frame may be susceptible to cracking and/or breaking over continued use. We also don’t like the fact that the filter is permanently glued to the grille. For comparison, the Frigidaire FFAD5033W1’s filter is a separate part that can be removed from its grille for cleaning.

hOmelabs-air-filter

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 many other dehumidifiers we’ve tested.

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 necessarily agree with), and effectiveness in lowering humidity in a timely manner (something we mostly 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 only about 6%.

There is one important caveat here: in evaluating consumer response to this dehumidifier you have to consider the fact that most consumers only purchase one dehumidifier at a time. We’ve tested twenty-six high capacity 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.

On the flip side of things consumers definitely use these units over a longer period of time than we do. And so consumer feedback, while not the best indicator of overall performance and build quality compared to the competition, is a good indicator of long term reliability.

Overall Category Score

According to our own hands-on testing, the hOmeLabs dehumidifier has a few problem areas when it comes to long term durability and reliability, but it is by no means a poorly built dehumidifier. Furthermore, consumer feedback indicates good reliability with this unit. We rate its durability as being below that of top tier units like the FFAD5033W1 only because the difference in build quality is so stark. Nonetheless, it still 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. You can set the timer when the dehumidifier is off for an auto-start or set it when the dehumidifier is on 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 FFAD5033W1. Both units feature a continuous mode that simply runs the dehumidifier at maximum power continuously.

Overall Category Score

We don’t have 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 to a desired humidity level between 35% and 85%. 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 50 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

The manufacturer specifies a minimum operating temp. of 41° F. We couldn’t find any reference (in the user manual or online literature) to a maximum temperature although almost every other compressor based unit we tested is limited to a maximum temperature of 89° to 90° F.

Gravity Drainage

The unit can be drained using a standard garden hose connected to the back of the dehumidifier (photo below shows the drain plug location). Doing so will prevent condensate from collecting in the water tank.

hOmeLabs-drain-outlet

Built-in Pump

This unit does not feature a built-in pump.

Overall Category Score

Again, this hOmeLabs 4,500 sq. ft. dehumidifier features standard functionality in the category. It has a nearly identical humidity range, operating temperature range, and drainage functionality to that of the FFAD5033W1. 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 FFAD5033W1 or most other compressor based dehumidifiers on the market.

Defrost

This unit features an auto-defrost mode. This mode will activate automatically at lower temperatures. The hOmeLabs also features an indicator light on its control panel to let you know when the mode is activated.

The FFAD5033W1 does not feature a dedicated defrost mode as it does not need it. The unit is optimized for low temperature operation without needing to employ a separate defrost mode.

Check Filter

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 pre-programmed reminder light.

Overall Category Score

The hOmeLabs unit earns a 4.5/5 in the category.

Ease of Use

LED Display Clarity

The hOmeLabs dehumidifier’s control panel looks and feels very similar to that of most other units on the market. Unfortunately, this means that it is not as good as the FFAD5033W1’s control panel. While the FFAD5033W1 has a very sleekly designed control panel with a higher quality LED display, the hOmeLabs unit has a more primitively styled control panel with a lower quality LED display.

Setup Difficulty

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

Filter Removal Difficulty

The hOmeLabs’ air filter is permanently glued to its grille. You simply remove its grille to clean its filter. With the Frigidaire you still remove its grille to access its filter, but the filter is a separate part that you unclip from the grille before cleaning it.

Manual Clarity

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

Water Tank Size

Both the hOmeLabs 4,500 sq. ft. (50 pint) and 3,500 sq. ft. (35 pint) units have the same capacity water tank – 1.6 gallons or 12.8 pints. The Frigidaire FFAD5033W1has a much larger 16.9 pint water tank.

Also of note is the fact that the FFAD5033W1’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.

Overall Category Score

Compared to the Frigidaire FFAD5033W1, the hOmeLabs HME020031N features a lower quality LED display, a much 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 great – exactly like a modern appliance should.

Portability

hOmeLabs-cord

The hOmeLabs 4,500 sq. ft. dehumidifier weighs only 40 lb. – about 3 lb. lighter than the Frigidaire FFAD5033W1.

Like the Frigidaire it features excellent cord storage (see photo above). Unlike the Frigidaire, this hOmeLabs unit features side pocket handles. The FFAD5033W1 features a handle that extends from the top of the dehumidifier. Both units have similar 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 50 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 50 pint dehumidifiers on the market, including the Frigidaire FFAD5033W1, come with only a 1 year warranty

The only caveat is this: 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.

Nonetheless, we still think the hOmeLabs is the better pick if warranty length is a priority for you.

Value

All hOmeLabs dehumidifiers are a terrific value. The 4,500 sq. ft. model retails for about $50 less than the Frigidaire as of the writing of this review.

Final Thoughts

The hOmeLabs HME020031N is one of the better performing 50 pint dehumidifiers we’ve tested. While it fails to outperform the exceptional Frigidaire FFAD5033W1 in most major categories it does perform better than most other 50 pint dehumidifiers we’ve tested.

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

Here’s the short answer: the Frigidaire FFAD5033W1.

Here’s the longer answer: The Frigidaire is more energy efficient (because it removes moisture faster). We also consider it to be 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 likely to be cheaper. It usually retails for about $50 less than the Frigidaire. It also comes with a longer warranty – 2 years vs 1 year for 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 and warranty. 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, faster moisture removal rate, more pleasant sounding noise output, and better overall build quality of the FFAD5033W1 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, or if you would feel much better about your purchase with a longer included warranty, the hOmeLabs HME020031N is still a great option. It will dehumidify fairly quickly and it will do so fairly quietly (albeit with a compressor buzzing noise). It has an identical set humidity range and operating temperature range.

If you were to never purchase the FFAD5033W1 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.) $220 to spend or simply don’t want to spend more than (approx.) $220 on a dehumidifier? The hOmeLabs.

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Comments

    • Admin says

      The unit should automatically defrost its coils over time. If it doesn’t, it usually means the temperature is too low (below 41 °F) for normal operation.

  1. Samuel Frederick Macalus says

    What size unit should I consider for a 1075 square foot area? Is the filter of the HomeLabs units a major problem? It seems a bit flimsy. How do you clean it if it’s glued to the frame? Thanks for your help.

    • Admin says

      I would recommend a 50 pint unit for 1,075 sq. ft. The filter is not a major issue as you rarely need to remove it and/or clean it. You can clean it by washing or vacuuming it. If you wash it you just wash the frame right along with it.

  2. warren smith says

    Will the Frigidaire Model FFAD3033W1 shut off after it reaches the humidity range of say 40% and start up again when the room humidity rises above the set range.

    Thanks

    • Admin says

      The dehumidifier will automatically divert collected condensate to the drain hose if you have one connected to the back of the unit.

  3. Chris says

    Is it ok to get the 4500 sq foot dehumidifier for basement if the basement is maybe less than 3000 square feet?

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