Dehumidifier Buying Guide

A dehumidifier can remove that dampness from a basement or laundry room and prevent sticky issues that come with 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. Almost all the dehumidifiers in CR’s ratings remove the number of pints of water from the air as claimed by the manufacturers. But some 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 based on capacity, a claimed measurement of the amount of water each model can remove from the air—a claim we test. Here’s how we categorize the models in our current dehumidifier ratings:

Small: Claimed to remove 20 to 25 pints of moisture per day.

Medium: Claimed to remove 30 to 35 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 60° 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 the Dehumidifier Aisle

Some older dehumidifier boxes say 30-pint, 50-pint, or 70-pint, referring to the amount of water the dehumidifier can remove within 24 hours at 80° F and 60 percent relative humidity. 

But you’ll also see more and more dehumidifiers labeled 20-, 30-, or 45-pint, which is what’s in our ratings now. It doesn’t mean these models remove less water; it’s just that they were tested 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 humidity level in both the old and new test is 60 percent. 

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. 


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 are typically claimed to remove up to 30 to 35 pints of moisture per day. While medium-capacity dehumidifiers can sometimes cost as much as large models, you’ll typically pay less.

Dehumidifiers Ratings
A small-capacity dehumidifier.

Small-Capacity

Claimed to remove 20 to 25 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

Features That Count

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

Dehumidifier Brands

Here are some of the more popular brands. 

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 humidifiers at Lowe’s, Amazon, and other online retailers.
Another widely sold brand, GE dehumidifiers are available in small, medium, and large capacities. Prices run from $170 to $300. Available at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Amazon, and other online retailers.
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.
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.
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