Whole-Home Dehumidifier vs. Portable Dehumidifier — Which Do You Need?

Whole-Home Dehumidifier vs. Portable Dehumidifier Which Do You Need?

OK, you’ve got as far as recognizing that your house has a humidity problem — the level is way too high. But you’re unsure how to deal with it. Should you purchase a whole-home dehumidifier or a portable dehumidifier? Is bigger always better? How does each one work? And are there any other pros and cons you should know about?

These are all great questions. Read on to find out our expert, informative answers.

How Does A Whole Home Dehumidifier Work?

A whole-home dehumidifier is designed to work in conjunction with your forced-air heating and cooling system and is usually installed in your basement. This efficient appliance extracts excess moisture from your indoor air as it passes through the HVAC return ductwork. (Don’t confuse a dehumidifier with a humidifier, which adds moisture to overly dry homes.)

The dehumidifier condenses the moisture to liquid form and channels it down a drain, commonly a floor drain or laundry sink.

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The drier air is then recirculated back into your rooms.

How Does A Portable Dehumidifier Work?

A portable humidifier, by contrast, must be located in the room that you want to dehumidify — although, as its name suggests, it can be moved from room to room.

Portable dehumidifiers use a fan to pull in excessively moist air. The air is passed over coils cooled by a refrigerant, similar to an air conditioner.

As the cold coils cool down the air, much of its humidity content is condensed.

Now transformed into a liquid, the humidity content is collected in a removable container or drip pan, which usually must be emptied by hand. (Some portable dehumidifier models drain using a convenient built-in pump.)

The dehumidifier releases the dry air back into the surrounding room.

Pros & Cons

Dehumidifier Comfort Impact

A whole-home dehumidifier brings down indoor humidity throughout your house to a comfortable, healthy level of 40-50 percent (slightly lower in winter to prevent window condensation problems). As a result, you’ll be able to save energy by setting your AC higher in summer while you still enjoy cool home comfort.

A portable dehumidifier is capable of treating only a small area. It can reduce the indoor relative humidity in just 1 or 2 rooms and won’t have much impact on your hot-weather comfort level.

Dehumidifier Placement

A whole home dehumidifier is discreetly tucked away, making it more discreet both in appearance and in noise level.

A portable dehumidifier takes up floor space and sits out in plain view, which many folks find unattractive. It can also be quite noisy. However, a portable unit might be the best option if you need to dehumidify only a small area or you do not have ductwork in your home.

Dehumidifier Capacity

Whole-home dehumidifiers have capacities from 33 up to 62 litres. The size you will need depends on two factors: the size of your home and the percentage of humidity in your indoor air.

Portable dehumidifiers are available in capacities ranging from 14 to 33 litres.

Dehumidifier Cost

A whole-home dehumidifier will cost more to purchase and will need professional installation because it’s a more complex and effective appliance.

A portable dehumidifier is less expensive to buy and needs no installation.

Which Wins?

Whole-home dehumidifiers score better than portables in almost every category. As a result, they are ideal for medium to large houses with existing ductwork, which need high-quality humidity control throughout. 

On the other hand, portable dehumidifiers are much more affordable, making them a practical solution for smaller spaces or ductless homes.

You’re The Winner With Dr HVAC

Rely on the friendly experts at Dr HVAC for high-quality installation of whole-home dehumidifiers. We carry 2 top brands — Aprilaire Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers and GeneralAire Legacy Series Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers.

We also offer advice for reducing humidity at home and improving any other air quality issues you might have. With our help, you’ll protect your family’s health and the integrity of your house. Win-win!