Best Cheap Dehumidifiers
- Published on
- By Elizabeth Sheer
When there's too much humidity in your home, the air feels heavy; people and plants wilt; and mold, mildew, and dust mites have a party, but a cheap dehumidifier can help. The ideal humidity level in a house is 50 percent. At this level, mold will not grow and you and your family will be the most comfortable. Higher humidity levels are bad for paint and wallpaper, bad for pipes, and bad for your sinuses. A cheap dehumidifier can help solve those problems for anywhere from $50 to $200.
Soleus Air DP1-70-03 Review
Capacity 70 pints per day
Bucket Size 2.5 gallons
Fan Settings 3
Automatic Settings Humidistat, auto shutoff, full-bucket indicator, timer, auto defrost, auto restart after loss of power
Warranty 1-year limited
|179||70 pints per day||2.5 gallons||3||Humidistat, auto shutoff, full-bucket indicator, timer, auto defrost, auto restart after loss of power||1-year limited|
Frigidaire FAD504DUD Review
Capacity 50 pints per day
Bucket Size 2 gallons
Fan Settings 2
Automatic Settings Humidistat, auto shutoff, full-tank alert
Warranty 1-year limited, 5 years on the sealed system
|189||50 pints per day||2 gallons||2||Humidistat, auto shutoff, full-tank alert||1-year limited, 5 years on the sealed system|
Cheap Dehumidifiers Buying Guide
While there are many inexpensive dehumidifiers that consumers deem satisfactory, we found some that are notable for how effectively they draw moisture from the air. The Soleus Air DP1-70-03 (starting at $179) has a huge 70-pint capacity, which makes it ideal for basements. The Frigidaire FAD504DUD (starting at $189) has a 50-pint capacity, so it can handle smaller basements, and users say it's quiet as well as efficient. The Eva-Dry 2200 (starting at $79) is also very quiet and much cheaper, but it's much smaller, and too many reviewers have found it ineffective.
At the high end of the dehumidifier market, prices start at $500 and range upward of $5,000. Some of these pricier units are built into the heating and cooling system in a house and must be professionally installed, while others are portable but remove moisture from the whole house. The differences between cheap dehumidifiers and mid-price or high-end models have to do with size and durability. Expensive dehumidifiers tend to hold a lot of water and tackle multiple rooms (or the whole house), work at low temperatures, and often last for years. They often have pumps that will keep them running continuously into a drain without having to be elevated. Cheap dehumidifiers are fine for smaller areas. They generally remove up to 50 pints of water a day and come with buckets that need to be emptied often. Their life expectancy is relatively short.
Don't base your choice of humidifier solely on price. If you live in a tropical or humid area, there may be more moisture in the air than a small, budget dehumidifier can handle. If the machine is going to be situated in a room you use often, noise will play a role as well -- smaller units tend to be quieter. Using a cheap dehumidifier in a cold basement presents another issue: Most will freeze at lower temperatures.
Dehumidifiers come in several types. Portable units can be moved from room to room. Basement dehumidifiers are heavy-duty and stationary and come with a drain attachment. There are also dehumidifiers made especially for crawlspaces, to combat humidity lurking there that can damage the wooden supports of a house. Mini dehumidifiers are designed for closets and small bathrooms. We found that most portable dehumidifiers also come with a drain attachment option so they can be used in the basement. If that's where you plan to place your dehumidifier, make sure to buy a model with enough capacity to handle the larger (and probably damper) area.
For the most part the models on our list are effective and easy to use and maintain, according to dehumidifier reviews. They quickly dry out humid spaces and aren't difficult to empty or clean. Dehumidifier reviews indicate that consumers appreciate features such as wheels (for transport), a handle (for the water container), and a washable filter (for easy maintenance). Our picks come through on all three counts.
Moisture Removal.Of course, the most important attribute of any dehumidifier is how well it draws moisture from the air. Our top picks seem to perform quite well. The Frigidaire FAD504DUD (starting at $189) is capable of drying a dripping basement within 48 hours, according to dehumidifier reviews posted at Walmart, where more than 100 consumers give the dehumidifier an average of nearly five stars. In the same way, consumers say the Soleus Air DP1-70-03 (starting at $179) dries out basements with almost miraculous speed. In a review at Amazon, a user notes that the bucket had to be emptied several times a day at first, because the machine was drawing so much water from the air. Another satisfied consumer who posted a review on the website of specialty retailer Sylvane used a hygrometer to measure the moisture in his basement. He reports that the humidity dropped from 80 percent to 57 percent in a day, with the Soleus dehumidifier set at 50 percent on the other side of the basement. The Eva-Dry 2200 (starting at $79) is no match for all but the smallest rooms, according to dehumidifier reviews. A couple of consumers posting at Target have been pleased with this appliance's performance in their bathrooms, but others have found it ineffective. Even satisfied customers warn that the Eva-Dry 2200 can't efficiently control humidity in large areas.
Ease of Use and Maintenance.How Stuff Works explains that most dehumidifiers use a fan to pull air inside, where coils cool the air to a point where it can't hold as much water. The resulting condensation drips into a container or hose, while the dehumidified air is reheated and sent back into the room. Most of the budget dehumidifiers we researched collect the water in a container that must be manually emptied but also come with a drain attachment. If you choose a dehumidifier with a container, make sure it has a sensor that prevents overflow by automatically turning off the unit when the container is full, as all our picks do. The container should be easy to remove and empty without spilling. Repair Clinic also advises users to clean the container at least every couple of months to help keep the unit running smoothly and prevent scummy build-up. A cheap dehumidifier that hooks into a drain via a hose may take a little longer to set up but doesn't require any emptying or cleaning after that.
A consumer who posted a dehumidifier review on the Frigidaire site writes that the Frigidaire FAD504DUD took about 10 minutes to set up. However, several people had problems hooking it up to a hose for continuous drainage, according to reviews at Amazon. Some say it doesn't work at all unless you tip it back a bit and others warn that the hose needs to be perfectly straight. As noted by Consumer Reports and user reviewers, some units may require an adapter that should be provided free by the manufacturer. Emptying the container manually seems to go far more smoothly. As one reviewer points out, the 2-gallon bucket doesn't get too heavy, and a handle makes it a snap to carry.
Reviews of the Soleus Air DP1-70-03 at Sylvane deem this model simple to set up, even if you're connecting a hose. The same is true for the Eva-Dry 2200, according to dehumidifier reviews, although it doesn't attach to a hose. The smaller bucket has to be emptied more often, but on the plus side, a reviewer points out on Amazon that it's easier to carry.
Most dehumidifiers also come with air filters or ionizers that remove dust and other allergens from the surrounding air, and Repair Clinic recommends replacing or cleaning these once a year. The NewAir AD-400 (starting at $200) has a built-in ionizer, and the Soleus Air DP1-70-03 and Frigidaire FAD504DUD have washable air filters, which eliminates replacement costs.
Portable Dehumidifiers, Size, and Controls
Our top picks are portable dehumidifiers with wheels to make them easy to transport from room to room. Most cheap dehumidifiers can't be considered lightweight, though -- the models we researched range from 25 to 49 pounds. The Eva-Dry 2200 is the exception. At less than 10 pounds, this tiny, portable dehumidifier can easily be carried from room to room.
Dehumidifier Size.A dehumidifier's size or capacity explains how much moisture it can pull from the air in a 24-hour period. Allergy Consumer Review suggests a 25- to 30-pint dehumidifier for a 400-square-foot area, a 40-pint dehumidifier for 800 square feet, a 50-pint dehumidifier for 1,000 square feet, and a 65-pint dehumidifier for 1,300 square feet. If in doubt, buy a larger model than you think you need. A model that's too small will run continuously and still not lower the humidity sufficiently to reduce mold, mildew, and dust mites.
In our price range, dehumidifier sizes generally range from 8 ounces (half a pint) up to 50 pints (800 fluid ounces). The Soleus Air DP1-70-03 is unusual in handling up to 70 pints of water a day for a budget price. This makes it a frugal choice for basements -- even fairly large ones don't seem to deter it, according to reviews. The Frigidaire FAD504DUD can accommodate up to 50 pints a day, which is typically the most you can expect out of a low-cost portable dehumidifier. In the middle range of dehumidifier sizes are the 40-pint NewAir AD-400 and the 30-pint Danby DDR30E (starting at $139). The Eva-Dry 2200 will work for closets or small bathrooms, with a daily capacity of about 2 liters of water (a little more than 4 pints).
Eva-Dry also makes a so-called mini dehumidifier, the E-333 (starting at $13), with a small price tag to match. It is specifically meant for closets and absorbs just 6 ounces of moisture (a little more than a third of a pint). This mini dehumidifier works very differently from a typical electric dehumidifier; it contains crystals that absorb moisture from the air. An indicator turns from blue to pink when the unit is full and needs to be "renewed." That requires the user to plug the mini dehumidifier into an outlet in a well-ventilated area (such as a garage or an outdoor porch) to heat up the crystals and release the water vapor back into the air.
Electronic Controls.Most of the larger dehumidifiers we researched, with the exception of the Eva-Dry 2200, can be set to a desired humidity level using an adjustable humidistat that reads the amount of moisture in the air. Some cheap dehumidifiers, including the Soleus Air DP1-70-03, turn on and off automatically to maintain the proper humidity. The Frigidaire FAD504DUD and Eva-Dry 2200 are set up for continuous operation, so they are always on the go unless they're turned off manually or the bucket fills up (which signals the dehumidifier to turn off automatically). Owners of the Soleus Air DP1-70-03 note online that the dehumidifier automatically starts up again after a power failure. One consumer who posted a review on Amazon found this feature especially handy for clearing out the dampness when the power returned after a hurricane. The NewAir AD-400 and Danby DDR30E also restart automatically.
Many electronic dehumidifiers come with multiple fan settings. The fan can be noisy as it sucks in air and disperses it, so consumers see the ability to turn it down as a definite plus. The Frigidaire DAD504DUD and Danby DDR30E have two fan settings and the Soleus Air DP1-70-03 has three. (See the next page for more on quiet dehumidifiers.)
Most cheap dehumidifiers are designed to work indoors at temperatures of about 65 degrees or higher, but basements are liable to be chillier. While the dehumidifiers we looked at can operate in areas as cold as 41 degrees, low temperatures can freeze the coils. The Soleus Air DP1-70-03, as well as the NewAir AD-400 and Danby DDR30E, have an automatic defrost function to help keep them from freezing.
Energy Star Dehumidifiers, Noise, and Durability
Energy Efficiency.A dehumidifier can eat up as much energy as a refrigerator, so look for an Energy Star dehumidifier that has met Environmental Protection Agency standards for performance and energy use. The Frigidaire FAD504DUD, Soleus Air DP1-70-03, and Danby DDR30E are Energy Star dehumidifiers.
It's important to make sure the model you buy is sufficient for the size of the room. Otherwise it will cost more to run the dehumidifier longer and the machine is likely to wear out faster.
While room dehumidifiers use a lot of electricity, they can help lower your electric bills in the summer, according to Sylvane. Sticky humidity makes the air feel hotter, and running a dehumidifier can make a room more comfortable without the air conditioning on full blast. A couple of consumers posting reviews of the Soleus Air DP1-70-03 on Sylvane's website note that a budget dehumidifier can also have the effect of heating up the space around it. Likewise, a purchaser who posted a review of the Frigidaire FAD504DUD on Amazon observes that the air coming out of the dehumidifier is dry but also warm enough to kick-start the air conditioning.
Quiet Dehumidifiers.Consumers posting reviews online give high ratings to quiet dehumidifiers, especially if they use the unit in a room where they spend a lot of time, as opposed to in an unfinished basement or crawlspace. Noise is not an issue for the Eva-Dry 2200, which has no compressor. One consumer who posted a review of this dehumidifier on Amazon refers to the sound as a low-level hum. The NewAir AD-400 also stands out as a quiet dehumidifier, based on reviews on the website of retailer Air & Water. Customers don't find it bothersome even in a bedroom or music room.
Noise is the one downfall of the Soleus Air DP1-70-03. It's large, at 70 pints, with a big fan and compressor. From a meter away, according to the manual, the unit registers 59 decibels on high, 56 on medium, and 54 on low. A purchaser who posted a comment on a consumer product review site complains that it's difficult to hear the TV over the dehumidifier. As one consumer suggests in a review at Walmart, between the size and the noise, the Soleus Air DP1-70-03 is well-suited to a basement. It can be turned to a lower setting when people are downstairs.
The Frigidaire FAD504DUD seems to strike a happy medium between size and noise level. In a review at Best Buy, a consumer writes that this dehumidifier is no louder than a fan and you can use it near a TV set without turning up the volume. A customer Q&A on the Walmart site suggests that the Frigidaire is a quieter dehumidifier than most people expected.
Durability.One big negative that repeatedly pops up in reviews of budget dehumidifiers, including those on our list, is that they don't seem to last longer than a year or two. Warranties are rarely longer than one year, which gives some idea of how well the units are made. Often it seems to be the compressor that goes first. A few reviews on Amazon, though, mention that the Soleus Air DP1-70-03 continued to run after the one-year limited warranty ran out, despite getting quite a bit of use. Another consumer commends the manufacturer for replacing a unit that stopped working after just three months.
Consumers posting on Amazon note the warranty on the Frigidaire FAD504DUD: a full one-year warranty and five years on the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and tubing. One user reports that registering the purchase online with the manufacturer made it easier to get a replacement when a 2009 model died after two years.
Even satisfied customers posting reviews at Amazon warn that the power supply on the Eva-Dry 2200 runs extremely hot. One user says she had to have it replaced twice -- once after about a year and again six months later.