Dehumidifiers

dehumidifier

Which dehumidifier is right for your home?

A dehumidifier can be an essential tool in the fight against airborne moisture. But don’t believe the manufacturer’s hype: they base their water extraction claims on tests that might as well be conducted in a sauna. The only way you’ll get a good indication of dehumidifier performance at Kiwi winter temperatures is by using our test results.

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Condensation control

If you’ve got a problem with condensation, consider where the water is coming from. Before buying a dehumidifier, do everything possible to reduce the causes of dampness.

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Our test

We measure the water each model collected at three combinations of temperature and humidity: 16°C and 65% relative humidity (RH), 12°C and 75% RH, and 8°C and 90% RH. Then we score them on their performance. These scores are weighted to focus on performance between 8°C and 12°C as dehumidifiers often start to struggle at this temperature range.

We also consider running costs, and whether they fill to their claimed capacities before switching off. We finish our test with an assessment of each model’s ease of use, including the usability of controls, ease of cleaning and whether we had any trouble emptying the tank.

Don’t believe the hype

Dehumidifier manufacturers base their water extraction claims on tests conducted at about 30°C and 80% relative humidity (RH). Unless you live in the Amazon, those conditions are nothing like the winter climate in your home.

We tested dehumidifiers in conditions ranging from 8°C and 90 percent RH to 16°C and 65 percent RH, which are more typical of a New Zealand winter, and found actual performance is far lower than claimed.

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Getting the most from your dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers perform best when placed in the centre of a room with doors and windows shut. We advise vacuuming before switching them on, otherwise the filter can clog up quickly.

Every model we recommend has an adjustable humidistat allowing you to choose from a range of humidity levels. Take care though, removing too much water from the air can result in dry skin and itchy eyes. We recommend a humidity level between 30-50%.

In the colder months, use your dehumidifier in combination with a heat pump, woodburner or electric heater.

Points to consider

Advice to help you demystify dehumidifiers

  • Dessicant vs compressor: Most dehumidifiers available here are compressor (refrigerant) models, which use the same tech as a heat pump or fridge. The exception is the Goldair GD330 “Dessicant” dehumidifier, which blows air through a rotating disk filled with moisture-absorbing material, and performs better in lower temperatures (below 12°C) than compressor models. The downside is this dessicant model costs three times as much to run as its compressor counterparts, though it generates twice as much heat as other models. Our low-temperature performance scores show how a model performs in temperatures below 10°C.
  • Price: We’ve found you need to spend at least $350 to snag a good dehumidifier. That said, they’re often on sale, especially in the off-season. If you’re budget is tight, consider a second-hand model. Our reliability survey found dehumidifiers were very reliable appliances – 96 percent had never needed repair. At time of writing some of our recommended models were available on Trade Me for half their RRP.

  • Energy efficiency: Our energy efficiency score indicates how much energy the dehumidifier uses to extract each unit of moisture from the air. Higher scores mean it uses relatively less energy. We also calculate the running cost per year, based on typical use.

  • Humidistat: Like a thermostat for relative humidity, this allows you to set desired humidity and the dehumidifier will work until the room reaches that level. All our recommended models have digital humidistats.

  • Laundry mode: This setting means the dehumidifier will run at full bore without switching off in order to dry laundry quickly.

  • Timers: Allow you to set the times a dehumidifier will switch on and off, giving it a set duty period each day. If you don’t have this function, you can use an inexpensive wall plug timer.

  • Noise: Most dehumidifiers, including all our recommended models, make upwards of 50 decibels (dBA) of noise. That’s enough to be annoying if you’re trying to watch TV or have a kip. For comparison, a reasonably quiet fridge makes about 40dBA. See our ‘quietness’ scores, a model scoring above 7.0 is quieter than average.

  • Tank: There’s a trade-off between mobility and tank size. Small water-collection tanks make a dehumidifier more compact, lighter and easier to carry around. But if the tank is too small, you’ll have to empty it several times a day. Models with larger tanks won’t need to be emptied as often but can take up more floor area, and a big tank full of water can be difficult to manoeuvre to the emptying point. All dehumidifiers can be plumbed with a hose allowing continuous drainage, a good option in the garage.

Reliability

We received information on 589 dehumidifiers in our 2017 appliance reliability survey.

To see which brands are trustiest, become a paying Consumer member or log in.

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