Dehumidifier Buying Guide

Sticky, damp, clammy, dank, muggy, soggy, moist. If you’ve used any of those words to describe your basement or laundry area, you could use a dehumidifier. With its drying power, a dehumidifier can not only make a space more comfortable but also prevent potential health issues that result from too much moisture in the air—humidity levels above 50 percent can breed dust mites, mildew, and mold, triggering allergies or other health problems.

A dehumidifier uses a fan to move air in the room over refrigerated coils, removing moisture and collecting it in a tank. Dehumidifier makers all claim the units remove a given number of pints of water from the air; our tests showed significant variability in their success at that task (for more on this, see "Changes in Dehumidifier Test Standards," below). Some of the models we tested come much closer than others to meeting the selected humidity level, use less energy, or have a larger tank, meaning you won’t have to empty it as often.

How We Test Dehumidifiers

We test dehumidifiers in three categories on their capacity, which is the claimed measurement of the amount of water each model can remove from the air. Here’s how we categorize the models in our current dehumidifier ratings:

• Small: Claimed to remove less than 30 pints of moisture per day.

• Medium: Claimed to remove greater or equal to 30 pints to less than 40 pints per day.

• Large: Claimed to remove 40 or more pints per day.

Our water-removal tests measure a dehumidifier’s ability to remove moisture from the air (the number of pints of water per day, as claimed by the manufacturer) in our test chamber set at 65° F and 60 percent relative humidity. The humidistat accuracy test determines how closely each dehumidifier can reach and maintain a set humidity level.

For energy efficiency, our engineers calculate the amount of energy it takes to remove 1 pint of water from the air. For our convenience rating, we evaluate how often you’ll have to empty the tank. We also measure and judge noise levels.

These lab test results, along with brand reliability and owner satisfaction data from our CR member survey, are incorporated into an Overall Score for each dehumidifier

Changes in Dehumidifier Test Standards

Labels and packaging of dehumidifiers sold since the beginning of 2020 typically claim the units can remove 20, 30, or 45 pints in 24 hours. That’s a change from the packaging of earlier dehumidifiers, which claimed removal rates of 30, 50, or 70 pints per day.

The lower figures don’t mean these new models remove less water, though. Rather, in accordance with new, more realistic government standards that went into effect in 2019, they were tested by the manufacturer in a condition where less moisture needs to be removed.

Dehumidifiers are typically used in basements, and the Department of Energy changed its test standard by lowering the room temperature by 15° F to 65° F, to better reflect basement conditions. There’s less water to remove in cooler air, which is why the number of pints of water drops. The relative humidity level in both the old and new test is 60 percent. CR uses the new standard in its tests as well. 

What to Know Before You Shop

Fix Existing Problems
Even the best dehumidifier might not work effectively if too much outside moisture seeps into your home. Unclogging gutters and making sure downspouts are directing rainwater at least 5 feet from the house can help. For more tips, check out "How to Get the Most From Your Dehumidifier."

Consider Where It Will Go 
Noise can be a concern in living spaces. Our measurements from 3 feet away range from 58 decibels to 67 decibels for the dehumidifiers in our current ratings. 

Normal conversation is around 60 decibels, and a washer is about 70 decibels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Focus on Models Meeting the 2019 Standard
The more realistic claims should be closer to the dehumidifier’s true performance in your basement, says Misha Kollontai, who oversees CR’s dehumidifier testing. If you can’t find mention of the 2019 standard on the packaging or product information guide, check the model page on the manufacturer's website. The retailer’s page may also display the information in the product details.  


Match the Machine to the Moisture

Dehumidifiers vary in the amount of moisture they can remove in 24 hours. Here are the types to consider.

A large-capacity dehumidifier.

Large-Capacity

The tested models are claimed to remove 40 or more pints per day. They can also handle a wider range of humidity levels with little or no additional noise. You may also be able to run them on a lower, quieter setting. For large, wet spaces, buy the largest capacity model you can afford. The extra cost is worth it.

Dehumidifiers Ratings
A medium-capacity dehumidifier.

Medium-Capacity

For midsized or large spaces that aren’t quite as damp, these models typically are claimed to remove greater or equal to 30 pints to less than 40 pints of moisture per day. Though medium-capacity dehumidifiers can sometimes cost as much as large models, you’ll usually pay less.

Dehumidifiers Ratings
A small-capacity dehumidifier.

Small-Capacity

Claimed to remove less than 30 pints of moisture per day, these can dehumidify small spaces that are damp rather than wet.

Dehumidifiers Ratings
A whole-house dehumidifier.

Whole-House

Whole-house dehumidifiers are available as portable units or as add-ons to your existing central heating and air conditioning system. Manufacturers say they can handle an area up to 5,000 square feet. These units are expensive, but the large amount of moisture they remove allows you to cut back on air conditioning. (CR doesn’t test this type of dehumidifier.)

Dehumidifiers Ratings

Video Buying Guide

Watch our video below for more.

Features That Count

Most portable dehumidifiers now come similarly equipped. Here are the features you’ll typically see. 

Dehumidifier Brands

Here are some of the more popular brands. 

Exclusive to Walmart, this brand sells models in a variety of capacities. Prices range from $130 to $380.
This brand sells dehumidifiers ranging from small to large. Prices range from $145 to $340. You can find models at Home Depot, as well as Amazon and other online retailers.
DeLonghi is known for its countertop appliances, along with space heaters and portable air conditioners. Its dehumidifiers come in small, medium, and large capacities. Prices range from $270 to $390, and you’ll see the dehumidifiers at Lowe’s, Amazon, and other online retailers.
This well-known name in air conditioning also sells dehumidifiers in a range of sizes. Don't confuse this brand with Emerson Radio.
This widely sold appliance brand sells medium- and large-capacity dehumidifiers, ranging in price from $180 to $600. You'll find them at Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe's, Target, and Walmart.
Another widely sold brand, GE dehumidifiers are available in small, medium, and large capacities. Prices range from $170 to $300. Available at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Amazon, and other online retailers.
This brand, owned by the same parent company that owns GE Appliances, makes dehumidifiers in a variety of sizes. Prices range from $150 to $240. They're available at Walmart and Amazon.
Exclusive to Lowe’s, Hisense dehumidifiers are available in several capacities and sell for $190 to $500.
This brand is new to CR’s ratings. HomeLabs offers dehumidifiers in various capacities for $160 to $230, and they’re sold on Amazon and at Walmart.
A well-known brand, Honeywell sells small-, medium-, and large-capacity models for $200 to $350. Available at Home Depot, Amazon, and other online retailers.
Available in capacities ranging from 30 to 95 pints, Keystone dehumidifiers sell for $170 to $350. Available at Home Depot, Amazon, and other online retailers.
The appliance giant offers only one dehumidifier, a large-capacity model. It's available for around $300 at Home Depot, Costco, and other independent retailers.
Midea makes a variety of small and large appliances under a number of brands, including Midea, Eureka, and Toshiba. You’ll see Midea dehumidifiers at Home Depot, Sam’s Club, Walmart, and online.
This brand offers small- and medium-capacity dehumidifiers, ranging in price from $170 to $280. Find them at Walmart and Amazon.
This new brand, which also sells air conditioners, markets just two dehumidifiers—one large and one small. Look for them at Walmart and Amazon.
The electronics giant is new to the dehumidifier market. It offers a variety of capacities, ranging from $150 to $280 and available at Walmart.
A well-known brand, Whirlpool dehumidifiers are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from $180 to $270. The brand is available at Amazon and other online retailers, as well as Home Depot, Lowe's, Target, and Walmart.
This brand has a variety of capacities, ranging from $160 to $400. They're available at Home Depot and Amazon.
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