Demystifying the Dehumidifier:
How to Select the Best Machine for Your Needs in 8 Easy Steps
So, you know youíve got a moisture problem. Whatís next? Whether you want to dry out a damp basement, fight back against mold and mildew, or just make your bedroom a bit more comfortable in the hot summer months, a dehumidifier is likely to be your best bet. But making the right choice in a market thatís brimming with choices can be difficult.
All dehumidifiers perform the same basic task -- removing excess water from the air -- but each type has unique features and functions that work best in different environments. To pick the one that will suit your needs, it helps to first take stock of your moisture problem and the area you want to dry out. Work your way through this checklist to get a handle on the kind of dehumidifier thatís right for you.
Size Up Your Space
The very first thing to consider is the size of the area you want to dehumidify. This will help you determine what type of equipment youíll need. Looking to dry out a large area? Youíll need a large-capacity coil dehumidifier. On the other hand, if your problem spot is a small, enclosed area, your best bet will probably be a compact desiccant-based dehumidifier.
Hot or Not?
Another important thing to consider is the average temperature of your target area. Some premium dehumidifiers are specially rated for use in extreme conditions, while standard models typically fare best in spaces with average temperatures. This is a particularly important feature to consider if the space you want to dehumidify gets cold -- many standard dehumidifiers donít function properly when the mercury plunges.
Thereís no doubt about it -- some dehumidifiers are louder than others. If you have the kind of serious moisture problem that demands a powerful machine, itís likely that your ideal unit is not going to be the quiet, reserved type, although some higher-end models are equipped with new technology that allows quieter operation. This may be an important factor to consider if your target space is located close to bedrooms or study areas.
To Drain or Not to Drain?
Everyone knows that dehumidifiers remove water from the air. But what some people donít realize is that in many models, this water must be manually removed from the machine. If you donít mind the task of changing out buckets, a standard model will suit you fine. On the other hand, if you prefer turn-it-on-and-forget-it convenience, it may be best to seek out a self-pumping or self-draining model that will do the job for you.
Another factor that you should consider in the process of choosing a dehumidifier is the amount of extracted liquid each unit can hold. In units that require manual draining, capacity is particularly important -- the smaller the capacity, the more often youíll be changing out buckets. Although dehumidifiers with lower capacities are usually cheaper, most experts recommend saving up for a higher-capacity unit to save yourself the hassle of frequent draining.
Aside from the water-draining process, the upkeep demands of most humidifiers are usually fairly low. Some models have filters that must be changed periodically, while others require manual defrosting of the coils. If you prefer a low-maintenance machine, be prepared to pay a premium for models that allow for hands-off operation.
The Brand Name Game
Some people prefer always to stick with products whose brand names they recognize, while others like to seek out bargains from lesser-known manufacturers. Experts say that while machines from well-known companies come with some benefits, products made by smaller specialty companies sometimes offer higher quality and better customer service. Before you make a final decision, it canít hurt to do a bit of research into the track record and reputation of the manufacturer of the product youíre considering. Make sure you compare the terms of the warranties offered with each unit, as well.
With environmental awareness at an all-time high, manufacturers and consumers alike are more concerned than ever before with the amount of energy that appliances use. Traditionally, coil-based units have needed a fairly large amount of power to do their jobs, and many standard models are still pretty power-hungry. However, there if youíre interested in a more efficient model, the options available are increasing everyday. Compare the energy efficiency rating of the units you are considering to find your best match. For easy shopping, look for the Energy Star Symbol when purchasing your next dehumidifier.