Portable dehumidifiers: Everything you need to know to buy the best one for your home

A portable dehumidifier is an important tool to help remove moisture from your home. In the summer, when it's hot, the humidity in your home can be uncomfortable. This humidity can also cause long-term damage, often without your knowledge.

Humidity in your home can promote mold growth, cause unpleasant odors, irritate allergies, and promote dust mites. All of these factors can lead to health problems for you and your family.

A portable dehumidifier helps combat these problems by removing moisture from your home. Here's everything you need to know about choosing a portable dehumidifier for your home.

How portable dehumidifiers work

Portable dehumidifiers work by using a fan that pushes air over coolant-filled coils, which removes moisture. The air is recirculated back into the room while the moisture is collected in a bucket or tub. The longer you run your portable dehumidifier, the drier the air in your home becomes.

As the bucket fills with water, it must be emptied as the dehumidifier continues to remove moisture from the air. Depending on the unit you have, you may have to manually empty the buckets, while others have a drain function, which allows them to automatically empty into a floor-level drain.

To keep your portable dehumidifier working at its best, be sure to place it in an area with free air circulation. Do not place the vents directly against the wall. You can place these units in generally damp spaces such as basements, laundry rooms, attics, bathrooms and kitchens.

One of the most important things to consider when buying a portable dehumidifier (or anything else for your home) is the price. You want to buy a quality unit without breaking the bank. Portable dehumidifiers can cost anywhere from under 100 $ to over 1,000 $, but most are in the 200-300 $ range.


When choosing the right dehumidifier, consider how portable you want it to be. Some dehumidifiers are quite small, making them easy to move around your home. Others are much larger, making them more difficult to move. Keep in mind that for the harder-to-move dehumidifiers, it's best to find one with wheels and a long power cord.

Capacity and coverage area

The right dehumidifier for your space depends primarily on two factors: the humidity level and the size of the space. Here's a chart to help you determine the capacity you might need for certain room sizes. Capacities shown are in pints per 24 hours.


500 square feet 1,000 square feet 1,500 square feet 2,000 square feet 2,500 square feet 3,000 square feet

Moderately humid 22 pints 22 pints 22 pints 22 pints 30 pints

Very Wet 22 pints 22 pints 30 pints 30 pints 40/50 pints 40/50 pints

Wet 22 pints 30 pints 40/50 pints 40/50 pints 40/50 pints 60 pints

Extremely Wet 22 pints 30 pints 40/50 pints 40/50 pints 60 pints

Once you've determined the capacity you'll need, you can search for portable dehumidifiers that fit that range.

Water Capacity

Many portable dehumidifiers are self-draining, which means you don't have to worry about manually emptying the water bucket. But if you choose a unit that is not self-draining, consider its water capacity. The smaller the water bucket, the more often you'll have to empty it.

Energy performance

Energy performance refers to the amount of water a dehumidifier extracts per hour compared to the amount of energy it uses. As with other appliances, some portable dehumidifiers are more energy efficient than others. The federal government's Energy Star program helps consumers identify the most energy-efficient products, including dehumidifiers.

Combination dehumidifier and air conditioner

If you're looking for a way to reduce humidity in the summer, a combination dehumidifier and air conditioner may be the perfect tool for you. These units cool your home while removing moisture from the air. By purchasing one unit to do both jobs, you save on the purchase price and your energy bill - and you save space in your home. Keep in mind that a combination unit is not suitable for every situation. In humid spaces, a combination air conditioner and dehumidifier may not remove enough moisture.

Special features of portable dehumidifiers

Here are some features to look for when purchasing a portable dehumidifier:

Automatic Humidistat: A humidistat measures the humidity level in your home, so the dehumidifier only works when it reaches a certain humidity level.

Internal Pump : An internal pump automatically pumps water so the dehumidifier can run continuously.

Direct Drain: With a direct drain, you don't have to worry about emptying the collection bucket yourself. Instead, the water continuously drains under its own power.

Automatic restart: If your dehumidifier loses power for any reason, it automatically resumes the settings from before the shutdown.

Programmable Timer: A timer allows you to program your dehumidifier to run at certain times of the day.

Automatic defrost : This feature prevents your dehumidifier from freezing inside, which can happen at temperatures below 65 degrees.

Maintaining Your Portable Dehumidifier

Proper maintenance is essential to keep any appliance running smoothly, and the same is true for your dehumidifier.

First, read your new portable dehumidifier's owner's manual to find out what type of maintenance is required. In general, maintenance tasks include cleaning or replacing air filters, cleaning your dehumidifier, cleaning the water tank and properly draining the unit before storing it for a season.

The Basics

Humidity in your home is not only uncomfortable, it can also cause serious damage to your home and create health problems for your family. Fortunately, a portable dehumidifier is a simple solution. It can help keep your home comfortable, keep the humidity below recommended levels and prevent the development of mold, pests and allergies.

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