Cut Through Clammy Air With the Best Dehumidifiers
The small-space choice is ideal for a home office.
Updated Oct 12, 2018 3:18 AM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
When you spend a certain amount of time, money, and effort into getting your interior looking just right, the last thing you want to deal with is a moisture-related catastrophe—which is why experts say it’s so important to invest in a first-rate dehumidifier. Spending a couple hundred bucks on one could prevent thousands of dollars in damage to your home, in addition to warding off dust mites and mildew that trigger asthma, allergies, and other health problems (ick).
Dehumidifiers work by drawing in warm air from a room and moving it over refrigerated coils, removing moisture and collecting it in a tank, one drop at a time. And while the general mechanics are pretty simple, choosing the best dehumidifier for your home (or particularly sized room) can be a bit tricky—that’s why we consulted the experts to figure out which features matter most.
- Best overall: Honeywell Dehumidifier
- Best value: TCL Portable Dehumidifier
- Best quiet: HomeLabs Energy Star Dehumidifier
- Best smart: LG Dehumidifier with WiFi PuriCare
- Best pump: Whirlpool Dehumidifier
- Best for small spaces: Frigidaire Dehumidifier
- Best for the whole house: York Whole-House Dehumidifier
Best Overall: Honeywell Dehumidifier
Dimensions: 12.4-by-5.75-by-5.4 inches | Capacity: 70 pints | Room size: 4,000 square feet
What we like:
- Easy to use and take care of
- 5-year warranty
- Large capacity for big rooms, like the basement
- Heavy (over 40 pounds)
Why we chose it: Top-rated brand featuring a digital humidistat for easy, automatic controls.
If you’re battling a big, damp basement with visible wet spots and a persistent musty odor, you need a dehumidifier with serious drying power. This 50-pint model from Honeywell (complete with energy-saving timers, a sleep mode, and more) is up to the challenge. Besides being able to remove a lot of moisture, its humidistat is pretty accurate and the digital display lets you choose a precise target humidity level for the space. It also features frost control, which turns the unit off if the temperature drops below a certain point thanks to a nifty sensor; if you live in a cold region, that will keep the machine from running without dehumidifying.
Best Value: TCL Portable Dehumidifier
Dimensions: 12-by-15-by-25 inches | Capacity: 40 pints | Room size: 3,500 square feet
What we like:
- Washable filter (great if you have pets)
- 3 simple modes (continuous, basement, bedroom)
- Wheels make it easy to move around
- Suitable for single rooms
Why we chose it: Forty pints for less than $130.
For middle-ground dehumidifying needs—say, a family room where the humidity only gets up to around 60 percent—this budget buy from TCL will fit the bill. While the smaller, 20-pint model is always going in and out of stock, the midsize 40-pint option is still pretty quiet despite its bulk, though it’ll perform best when placed in a single room rather than a wide-open first floor. For a bargain model, it has a decent feature set, including a digital display, defrost control, and auto restart, which automatically turns the machine back on to its prior setting after a power outage.
Best Quiet: HomeLabs Energy Star Dehumidifier
Dimensions: 15-by-10-by-19.7 inches | Capacity: 22 pints | Room size: 1,500 square feet
What we like:
- A barely-know-it’s-there kind of noise
- Drain hose–outlet compatible
- Turbo mode for maximum moisture removal
- Thread tape reduces leaks
Why we chose it: Out of sight, out of mind—thanks to its whisper-quiet workings.
This 50-pint dehumidifier from HomeLabs is a standout for its quiet operation, but it has made a ton of noise on Amazon, where more than 30,000 reviews give it an average of 4.5 stars. And while it definitely is great for keeping midsize rooms comfy and crisp, we’re drawn to its built-in handle and minimalistic, clean exterior. A slim, glass peephole is enough to let you know when it’s running low on water, without having to look at the entire tank. And aside from being exceptionally quiet, this dehumidifier excels at accurate humidity control and is fully loaded with features, including digital display, frost control, and auto restart.
Best Smart: LG Dehumidifier with Wi-Fi PuriCare
Dimensions: 12.6-by-16.8-by-26 inches | Capacity: 50 pints | Room size: 2,000 square feet
What we like:
- LED-lit screen
- Clear bucket (gauge water levels at a glance)
- Wi-Fi required
Why we chose it: Status updates sent to your smartphone.
Connected technology has found its way to dehumidifiers, as evidenced by this large-capacity model from LG. Thanks to its Wi-Fi capability, you can control the dehumidifier through the LG SmartThinQ app as well as Alexa and Google Assistant. That makes it possible to start and stop the unit when you’re away from home; keep tabs on the bucket capacity; and receive other notifications, like when it’s time to change the filter. On top of all that intelligence, the LG does its primary job of pulling water from the air extremely well, and the accurate humidistat means moisture levels will stay just where you want them.
Best Pump: Whirlpool Dehumidifier
Dimensions: 5-by-12-by-25 inches | Capacity: 40 pints | Room size: 3,000 square feet
What we like:
- Internal, built-in pump
- Digital humidistat
- Preprogrammed for the bedroom, living room, and basement
- Not the sleekest exterior on this list
Why we chose it: A brand we trust for appliances across the board, with the benefit of a built-in pump.
All dehumidifiers have a hose connection that lets you send water to a nearby floor drain. But this Whirlpool option goes a step further by offering a built-in pump that can send water to a higher drain, like a utility sink or even out a basement window. The 40-pint unit is also very capable at removing air, so it will do the trick in large, damp basements. You’ll also appreciate the easy-to-use digital display and built-in timer, allowing you to program the machine to turn on and off at certain times.
Best for Small Spaces: Frigidaire Dehumidifier
Dimensions: 15-by-10-by-19.7 inches | Capacity: 22 pints | Room size: 330 square feet
What we like:
- Washable filter
- 3 fan speeds, all quiet
- Compact and portable
- Small coverage
Why we chose it: Small rooms get dusty—fast—and this dehumidifier is a great excuse to delay your next cleaning day.
While there’s no harm in having an oversize dehumidifier in a bedroom, home office, or other small space, there’s also no reason to spend hundreds extra on a large-capacity model when something smaller will do the job—like this 22-pint winner from Frigidaire. Despite its diminutive appearance, it has an impressive tank size at just over 9 pints, so you won’t have to empty it all the time, and the addition of wheels also makes it easy to move from room to room. Since it lacks frost control and auto restart, it’s not ideal for extreme climates, but its digital display and timer are nice conveniences for anyone dealing with moderate humidity problems. Plus it will capture dust in the air that can accumulate quicker in tight quarters.
Best for the Whole House: York Whole-House Dehumidifier
Dimensions: 19.5-by-18.75-by-30 inches | Capacity: 130 pints | Room size: 7,400 square feet
What we like:
- Long-term energy bill saver
- Made by a reputable HVAC brand
- 5-year warranty
- A bit bulky (but it’ll be outside)
- Requires the help of a professional
Why we chose it: The largest dehumidifier on the list for the toughest (and biggest) task.
While this unit isn’t the easiest on the eyes, you won’t mind its looks if you live in a sweltering climate like Texas or Florida. In that case, it makes sense to spring for a whole-house dehumidifier, which works with the forced-air system in your home to condition all the air moving throughout the interior—and York’s model removes up to 130 pints of water per day. Besides making a home more comfortable, this system eases the burden of your energy bill, since dry air feels cooler, making you less reliant on AC during warmer months. The trouble is finding a dealer near you. And one other caveat: Costs vary depending on the size and configuration of your home’s ductwork, but with professional installation, you could be looking at $1,000 or more.
On Our Radar
For dehumidifiers on a smaller, more wallet-friendly scale that (stylistically) caught our eye, we’d be willing to give these two a try:
How We Chose These Products
Are dehumidifiers cute? Not really. But this is an essential piece of equipment. When putting together our list of the best dehumidifiers, we favored models that feature sleek lines and clean silhouettes (the majority on our list sport a white exterior to blend in with surroundings rather than stick out like a sore thumb); are free of too many buttons or distracting perforations while still prioritizing functionality; and are Energy Star efficient (in other words, bringing one in your home won’t mean your electricity bill will skyrocket). For products less likely to be seen by a visitor—especially in an extra-large basement—or for a whole-home situation if you live in a climate where humidity is always high, you might have to deal with a slightly unsightly machine for consistently comfortable air.
Our Shopping Checklist
Most dehumidifiers have a built-in humidistat that measures moisture levels in the air, allowing you to program the dehumidifier to maintain a specific humidity. For most homes, between 30 and 50 percent is ideal; 60 percent or higher is the danger zone where bacteria and mold thrives—on the higher side in the summer and the lower side in the winter, when the air can feel especially dry. But there are some parts of your home that may always feel humid, no matter the time of year.
“One of the more common reasons to get a dehumidifier is a very humid basement, as high humidity isn’t great for an area used for storage,” says Misha Kollontai, the senior test project leader in charge of dehumidifier testing at Consumer Reports. “The moisture can lead to rot in wood, mold, or fungus growth and other issues.”
Size and Capacity
Dehumidifiers are sized according to how much moisture they can remove from the air in a 24-hour period. Large dehumidifiers can remove more than 40 pints per day, so they’re good for large, humid spaces like a dank basement. Medium-capacity models can remove 30 to 40 pints per day—great for a family room or apartment with moderate humidity. Small dehumidifiers remove less than 30 pints per day, making them best for an occasionally damp bedroom or home office (or just to survive the swampy summer months).
Types of Dehumidifiers
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a dehumidifier can either be an individual, stand-alone unit or ducted. Both, however, can offer a hose connection that allows you to send water from the tank to a floor drain to avoid having to empty the bucket on your own. Even if you don’t have a floor drain, look for a dehumidifier with a built-in pump, which will enable you to divert water to a utility sink or other elevated drain.
And unlike portable dehumidifiers, whole-home systems tie into the ductwork used for a home’s forced-air heating and cooling. The robust units can remove around 200 pints of water per day, making them a good choice for extremely humid environments. But they’re more expensive and require professional installation; the all-in cost can easily reach $1,000.
All dehumidifiers have a washable filter that cleans air as it moves through the machine, improving performance and efficiency. Most have an indicator light that tells you when it’s time to clean the filter.
Pro Tips on Where to Park a Dehumidifier
- Check the airflow direction. With some machines, the vents are on top, so they can sit against a wall. Others have side vents, which could be blocked by walls or furnishings.
- Close windows and doors. This will prevent humid outdoor air from entering the space, forcing the dehumidifier to work overtime.
- Think about noise. If the dehumidifier will be in a living area, especially the bedroom, look for one with quiet operation. Small-capacity models tend to be the quietest.
Q: How big does my dehumidifier have to be?
When in doubt, it’s better to oversize than undersize. If the dehumidifier is a bit too big for the space, it just won’t run as frequently. But if it’s too small, it will run constantly without ever reaching the desired humidity level.
Q: Can I run my dehumidifier all the time?
As noted above, an undersize dehumidifier will run all the time without doing a good job of capturing moisture in the air. A dehumidifier that’s constantly running is also more prone to conking out prematurely. Ideally you want the machine to run 50 percent of the time or less.
Q: Will my dehumidifier last for at least a few years?
A dehumidifier should last around a decade, according to NAHB. Of course, proper maintenance is key to prolonging the life of the unit. “Replace the filter in the humidifier as specified in the manual,” says Kollontai. “Also clean the water tank occasionally to prevent growth of mold and mildew.”
The Last Word
A dehumidifier is one of those unsung appliances that most homes benefit from having. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but by dutifully maintaining optimal humidity levels throughout the year, it can save you from all kinds of headaches—and the sniffles, too—by keeping mold, mildew, and other airborne allergens in check. Bottom line: It’s worth the couple hundred bucks you can spend to keep your home in top shape.