Humidity control is the key to controlling the growth of mold and protecting sensitive items such as books and wood furniture.
Mold growth can occur just about anywhere as long as the conditions are right. One of the most important factors is humidity. A relative humidity above 60% is often all that’s needed for mold growth to occur.
Keeping the humidity below 60% and ideally between 40-50% is your first priority. Your next priority should be to keep the humidity mostly constant. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity are particularly damaging for wood and paper.
There are tons of dehumidifiers out there. Let’s distill that list down to just the top few.
Best Rated Basement Dehumidifiers
|Frigidaire FFAD7033 R1||70 pints||13.1 pints||Check Price|
|Keystone 70 pint KSTAD70B||70 pints||10.4 pints||Check Price|
|Pro Breeze PB-02-US Electric Mini Dehumidifier||9 oz||16 oz||Check Price|
1. Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 – Best Overall Choice
The humidistat, which measures the humidity, will automatically turn on the dehumidifier when the humidity rises too high and automatically shut it off when humidity drops too low. Remember that there is a goldilocks zone for humidity. Too high and you’ll have mold but remember also that too low can be damaging to materials.
This humidifier can take 70 pints of water out of the air every 24hrs. To do that it has to move a lot of air. If you have a particularly large space to dry out you may want to have additional fans moving air around so that there aren’t regions of air with higher humidity.
The thing to remember about the 70 pints of water per day figure is that it refers to the amount of water that the device is rated to pull from the air. This doesn’t mean that the bucket that collects the water can necessarily hold 70 pints of water.
2. Keystone 70 pint KSTAD70B – Runner Up
The Keystone 70 pint dehumidifier is absolutely solid.
For those of you that have used both the Frigidiare (our #1) and the Keystone the first thing you might notice is that the Keystone is slightly louder than the Frigidaire. Now, don’t get me wrong, both are very quiet. Most people are happy just so long as the thing doesn’t sound like an industrial fan 😀
Keystone has a reputation for being a little cheaper… Now, what do I mean by that? With the early production versions of this model the bucket was made of a thin plastic that people we’re concerned would break. Thankfully that seems to have been corrected.
If you plan on using the bucket another sweet feature is that this dehumidifier beeps at you when full. A dehumidifier with a full bucket is off and does no good and this will save you (unless you have a regular emptying schedule.) Other models like the GE I own never beep and just blink… maddening!
3. Pro Breeze PB-02-US Electric Mini Dehumidifier – Best Closet/Small Bathroom
I have two of these little guys. One is protecting a closet and the other is in a bathroom.
The first thing you notice is how quiet these little things are. The next thing you notice is just how much water they’re pulling from the air. The stated 9oz per every 24 hours is no joke. During particularly humid periods I often have to empty the collection bucket once a day. The bucket holds 16oz.
You should know before purchasing that the fan doesn’t really move a ton of air. That said, these things are so cheap that you can just buy 2 or 3 of them and place them a fair distance apart. Also, unlike their larger cousins the only moving part in them is the fan. That means no compressor failures to worry about!
In fact, the only problem I’ve ever had with this dehumidifier is that the top of the collection container sometimes gets a tiny bit of mold. Simply wipe the top after you dump the water out and you should be set.
One word of warning would be that there are a TON of knock offs of the pro breeze floating around. ProBreeze is what I know and love so if you decide to go with something that looks the same but has a different label you might not get what you expect.
What to Look for Basement Dehumidifier
When you first buy a dehumidifier the first thing you see is the rate the dehumidifier can potential pull water from the air. For example, 70 pint dehumidifier can potentially pull 70 pints of water from the air during a 24 hr period.
Great. However, 70 pints of water weighs about 73 pounds!
That’s more than most people can carry. Realizing this they intentionally give you a bucket of at most 13.1 pints which still weighs about 13 lbs (which most people can carry to a sink). So expect to empty a humidifier like this multiple times per day or it will shut off when full.
(If you have a drain nearby you have other options like running a hose to from the dehumidifier to the drain.)[panel type=”danger” heading=”Key Lesson”]Most dehumidifier buckets are much smaller than their rated capacity.[/panel]
Hoses and Pumps
Note: This only applies if you plan on using a hose to a drain as the water disposal method.
Most dehumidifiers do not pump the water out into the hose. They rely on the water being able to run down the hose into a drain. If you have your dehumidifier on the floor with a hose going UP to a sink, for example, the water will just sit in the hose!
To handle situations where you need the water to go up a hose to reach a drain you’ll either need a dehumidifier with a built in pump OR a separate pump.
If you don’t need a pump you’re better off. The pump is usually what dies first in my experience.[panel type=”danger” heading=”Key Lesson”]If you hose needs to travel upwards to reach a drain then you’ll need a pump.[/panel] [panel type=”danger” heading=”Bonus Key Lesson”]Leakage from where the hose attaches to the dehumidifier is often a problem. (Bad seals) Pumps often are the first thing to die. (External pumps may help.)[/panel]
Other Considerations and Random Thoughts
A humidistat measures the humidity of the air. If the humidity is too high mold growth will occur. If it’s too low you can damage materials such as paper and wood. You’ll definitely want to choose a dehumidifier with a humidistat to ensure that after it’s brought down the humidity it doesn’t continue to run. Without it you’re potentially wasting energy and damaging materials that depend on a certain minimum humidity.
So dehumidifiers are equipped with water pumps. They will have a hose end attachment through which the collected water will be pumped out. Why would you want this? Well most of these dehumidifiers will sit on the floor and the closest place to dispose of the water is a utility sink (which is three feet above the floor). Without the pump to work against gravity the water will just pool in the hose and will never make it to the sink.
Automatic defrosting here means that the dehumidifier will detect when the coil is beginning to freeze and will turn off (allowing the coil to thaw). In lower temperatures this can save your dehumidifier and allow it to continue operating.
If you’re not using to hose attachment the other option is to use the collection bucket that comes with the unit. The capacity is important here. Often the bucket is only a fraction of volume of what the humidifier can take out of air. For example, if your dehumidifier can take out 30 pints of water from the air every 24hrs but the bucket only holds 17.5 pints… well you’re going to have to empty the humidifier bucket more than once per day. At capacity the humidifier will automatically shut off.
Washable Air Filters
Air filters are important. The cooling coils cannot become covered in lint and dust as that will prevent air from reaching them. To solve this most manufacturers include an air filter to collect the dust before it reaches the coils. A washable air filter is one that you can pull out, rinse off and reuse. This eliminates the need to constantly have to buy replacement filters.
Energy Star Ratings
You can think of a dehumidifer as a airconditioner and heater all in one. First the air reaches the cold coils on which the water will condense. Next the air is reheated back to room temperature. If you think this sounds like it’s energy intensive, you’re right. Efficiency definitely counts.
If you value you’re energy bill or care about the environment even the slightest bit, then you’ll absolutely will want a high efficiency energy star rated dehumidifier.
At the end of the day a humidifier either does the job or it doesn’t. Don’t overthink a dehumidifier purchase and you’ll do fine.
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