The humidity level – i.e., the amount of moisture in the air – isn’t something we always consider, but it can nonetheless wreak havoc in a basement. In the chilliest places and the coldest months, overly moist air can be especially problematic leading to black spots on the walls, mould, deteriorating paintwork, and potential health implications too.
Dehumidifiers use one of two types of technologies to remove moisture from the air. The better models can usually get the humidity level down to 30 to 50 per cent. At this point, moisture poses little danger of creating mould or mildew that’s such a risk in a basement.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Differences Between Types of Dehumidifiers
Whilst it’s possible to use a dehumidifier unit in a basement (or one of the rooms in the house), the technology operates using one of two systems; refrigerant and desiccant.
We explain this below to make it clear which is which and where they’re best used.
The refrigerant dehumidifier is the all-round type that is often used in basements, the main occupied areas of the home, and unheated spaces at risk of developing damp. It’s sometimes also referred to as a compressor type, but it’s the same thing.
This type of dehumidifier works by collecting the air in the space, passing it through cold coils inside the unit which condenses it. In other words, it treats the air to remove the moisture from it, and that water then drips into a convenient collection tank below (or is fed out using a hose).
A refrigerant dehumidifier is a more common type. It will remove condensation from the windows and surfaces extremely well. Its main limitation is that it will only operate down to 30-degrees Centigrade, but not below this temperature level. Overall, it’s a better all-rounder, so it can be used in a heated basement or any room in a house or flat.
A desiccant dehumidifier is based on using absorbent material. This alone will extract moisture from the air that passes through the unit. The material is then warmed up to remove the collected water that flows into the collecting tank (or out through a hose in some models).
The models usually operate from 1-degree Centigrade to around 35 to 40-degrees Centigrade; significantly lower than with more restricted refrigerant dehumidifiers.
This different design works better in rooms, basements, or unheated spaces. Also, they perform admirably in areas of the home that are commonly colder as a rule. So, for basements dealing with the scientific reality that heat rises, keeping any basement warm enough at colder temperatures is difficult.
Also, when using a basement as a home office, spare bedroom, games space, etc., then the breathing process adds moisture that has nowhere to go. This leads to higher levels of humidity (moisture in the air) when a basement is occupied for long periods.
Tackling the Core Condensation, Damp or Mildew Issue
While it’s highly beneficial to remove the excess moisture in the air, said moisture is coming from somewhere. If the moisture is creating daily problems with condensation or it’s even more concerning with mildew or damp problems appearing, then fixing these issues is important too.
Unheated basements or any unheated living space will always cause more problems over the long-term. Making arrangements to heat the space will help avoid many of the concerns appearing in the first place.
However, with the above said, any occupied basement space may also have humidity issues unlike with the rest of the property. This is because it’s at the lowest level – possibly even below ground level – and heat naturally rises to the other occupied levels above making it harder to keep the space warm enough. This is where good insulation is useful to retain more of the warmth and prevent a dehumidifier from getting overworked.
What do you consider before buying a dehumidifier?
There are different things to consider before purchasing a dehumidifier.
Here are some of those:
Is a Dehumidifier Needed for Better Health?
Excess moisture in the air can cause a host of medical ailments over time. Certainly, people with any kind of respiratory diseases such as asthma or COPD will feel the effects.
Also, anyone with allergies including being allergic to dust may discover that extra moisture causes dust mites to proliferate and exacerbates their condition.
Choosing Between Dehumidifier Types
Given that many dehumidifier models are small enough to be somewhat portable (or are completely portable due to being more compact), it’s possible to purchase a unit and use it in various places around your home. This often points to needing one that’s suitable for that role.
A refrigerant (aka a compressor) dehumidifier uses cold coils to condense the water that’s collected in a water tank. It can handle different temperature levels but is not the best for lower temperatures such as below 30-degrees Centigrade or the cold British winters that get even colder.
A desiccant dehumidifier on the other hand is a strong performer at colder temperatures and in unheated spaces like a basement used for storage purposes. These models typically keep working down to 1 degree Centigrade and up to 35-degrees or warmer. They use a material that absorbs moisture from the air and then heats it to release the water that’s been collected.
How Large of a Dehumidifier Do I Need?
Dehumidifiers are categorized not only by type but also by the litres of moisture they can collect each day. The smaller the humidifier, the less capable it is in his regard.
Buyers should match the litre capacity with the size of the room or basement that the unit will be situated. When in a smaller space, then a 10-litre daily capacity may be fine. In other situations, 20-liters is a possibility. Also, bear in mind whether you’ll possibly use the dehumidifier not just in the basement but also in other rooms of sizes. In which case, a larger litre capacity wouldn’t go a miss to cover all requirements in a single unit.
High Humidity vs. Low Humidity
It’s useful to get a small monitor to check whether the basement or other areas in the home have a high, medium, or low humidity level. An affordable ThermoPro TP60 hygrometer humidity checker can confirm the current levels. This will give you a base measurement and confirm whether you have a humidity issue anywhere in the basement or anywhere in the rest of the property.
Dehumidifier units collect water in their tanks and need to be emptied periodically to avoid it overflowing. They will stop working once a sensor is tripped to confirm that the tank is full.
Some models allow for a hose to be attached that can allow the proper transfer of the collected water to the drainage system. Therefore, homeowners need to think about whether they have access to the drainage from the basement level or if not, how they’ll empty the water tank?
Special Features Needed or Wanted in a Dehumidifier Model?
Different special features might hold extra appeal, or you feel are necessary. Here is a quick rundown of those options:
- HEPA Filter – An improved filter that can clean the air as it’s collected or before it’s redistributed. Other models may have a nanosilver filter that’s antibacterial but not up to the HEPA standard. Will this be acceptable and how accessible are replacement filters in the marketplace? Some filters are washable too, but not all.
- Does It Need to be Smart? – Is a Smart dehumidifier available or even worthwhile? Do you want to download an app to control it when you’re asleep in bed or away from the home to turn in ON/OFF or to change the settings? Only the most expensive models offer Smart features.
- Continual Drainage – Larger models are the most likely to come with external drainage through a hose to keep the dehumidifier operational without needing to worry about emptying its water tank. Some hose options are included, or purchasable as added extras. Other models don’t have this option at all because they are smaller, have a lower capacity or are in the budget end of the market.
- Noise – How noisy is the model in decibels? Some models are 30 dB or lower while others are a bit noisier. Different operational modes alter the decibels depending on the dehumidifier model. It’s worth thinking about when using the basement as a bedroom or a home office.
- Defrost – Some models can check the temperature to avoid frost developing. They can sometimes defrost too but may also have the ability to stop operating when it becomes too cold in the room.
- Control System – Is the control system easy to use? Are there convenient digital controls, a rotary dial, or other options? Are the controls granular, so you can set the desired humidity level to an exact percentage or do the controls not allow for that degree of specificity?
- Auto-restart – An auto-restart feature is useful when power outages are an occasional inconvenience. They can get the dehumidifier going without the need for human intervention.
- Timed Operation – Some models have a timer to allow them to be set to run at a specific amount of time and then discontinue operation. This is useful to run them at less busy times or before bedtime.
- Humidistat Included? – Not all models come with the humidistat technology included to repeatedly measure the humidity levels in the basement or room. Their inclusion can allow more precise settings based on the readings.
The amount of clearance needed for a dehumidifier is typically around 20cms where the vents are located. It’s a good idea not to place a unit right up against a wall. This prevents it from heating up.
Frost Sensor Included?
A unit can get frosted up from collected moisture when the temperature in the basement or room becomes too chilly. A frost sensor will verify if frost is being created internally and then discontinue operation to protect the inside workings.
Our Recommended Dehumidifiers:
Here are our best dehumidifiers for the basement. We’ve broken them down conveniently into different categories to make them easier to choose the right one for your home.
Best ‘All Rounder’ Dehumidifier: Corlitec 12L/Day Dehumidifier with Digital Humidity Display
The Corlitec 12-liter per day model is a standout as a refrigerant performer than collects an ample amount of moisture.
It has a detailed control panel on the top of the unit and a digital ring display on the front that indicates the current approximate humidity level (below 45 per cent, between 45 and 65 per cent, and above this level). There’s also a child lock to prevent unwanted meddling with the controls.
The Smart Timer feature allows you to run the dehumidifier for between 1 hour and 12 hours, at which point the unit turns itself off. There doesn’t appear to be a defrost detection feature that we could find.
There’s a cloth drying mode that’s handy in the colder months to dry out clothes that would normally get hung out on the clothesline.
The 2-litre tank can be emptied manually or use the included hose to empty the water to prevent damp. Also, an indicator light lets you know when the unit is full, and it turns off automatically to avoid any overflow too.
The filter mesh unclips and can be cleaned easily. A couple of times a month should do it. Also, it’s a good idea to wash the water tank with a basic detergent to remove any mould or possible slime that’s built up.
The unit is quiet at 36 dB and it requires between 160-watts to 185-watts during operation.
Overall, this model is the best all-rounder right now. It has a good capacity at 12-litres a day, a continual drainage option, digital controls including a flexible timer, and has a child lock too.
Best Portable Dehumidifier: AUZKIN Dehumidifier 1000ML Portable Mini Electric Dehumidifier
The AUZKIN refrigerant dehumidifier is a nifty 1-litre tank portable model that’s easier to move around at only a 1.3-kilogram weight. The unit is smaller, and so is capable of up to 450-ml of water collection daily using its condenser approach in basements or rooms at 30-degrees or warmer. This model not only captures excess moisture, but it can filter dust and remove mouldy bacteria too.
The design is small with a compact 15cm width by 15cm depth by 25.6cm tall. It has a black top with two buttons for the controls. At the bottom half of the humidifier is a see-through 1-litre water tank lit up using different LED bulbs to indicate when the portable dehumidifier is operating. Also, it changes to a red colour across the front of the water tank when it’s full, a nice touch.
There is an automatic shut-off feature that can deactivate the functions once the water tank has 700ml to 800ml of water inside it. This is to prevent overflow.
The tank itself slides out from the front, can be carried to a sink, and then emptied. It’s then a good idea to give it a good clean before reinstalling it again.
The clearance needed for walls is at least 0.5-metres for best operation.
The 39dB sound level is good. The 40-watts required to operate it is much lower than many other models but also matches its portable design ideals.
Overall, it’s important to understand what you’re getting here. This little operator gets the job done, and it’s pretty quiet while it does it. It doesn’t sport a 2-litre tank or let you use a hose to empty it. Also, it’s not as capable of removing a lot of moisture that an expansive basement might require. But it’s also lighter, more portable and will fit into a smaller basement without taking up too much floor space.
Quietest Dehumidifier: Manwe 900ML Portable Small Air Dehumidifier
The Manwe is fairly small with a similar dimension to the portable Auzkin dehumidifier above; it’s lighter too at just 1.21-kilograms. But it’s standout feature is that it is only 28 dB making it great for people trying to work in a basement office or using it as a bedroom.
This cylindrical refrigerant model has a simple ON/OFF button at the top and a coloured LED display both on the front and top (this can be deactivated if desired too). The water tank has a 1-litre capacity to collect up to 300-400ml daily of moisture from the air. As a smaller, quieter unit, that’s an acceptable amount of moisture collection ideal for small to medium-sized basements without major issues with humidity but looking for some improvement to combat condensation or surface moisture.
The tank has a sensor and will auto-shutdown when it has become full. This is good because the tray must be pulled out and carried to a sink or drain. There is no option for continual drainage through a hose.
The unit comes with filtration to remove up to 99 per cent of impurities. It will catch pet dander, dust, smoke, bacteria, unwanted odours and more.
The power control is a simple push-button affair at the top. Only 23-watts is used during operation – very energy-efficient compared to larger capacity models.
Overall, when wanting a smaller capacity dehumidifier for a modest-sized basement and needing a quiet one too, then this model is perfect. The energy-efficiency is also impressive. Lastly, it’s no slouch in the moisture collection department and cleans the air quality while it’s at it too.
Best Dehumidifier for Large Damp Problems: Pro Breeze 20L/Day Dehumidifier
The Pro Breeze is a refrigerant dehumidifier that’s a major player in the pack.
This model has a 20-litre daily capacity to collect a huge amount of moisture from the air. This is no 400-ml daily capacity model here and it shows. The unit aims to operate between 30% and 80% humidity levels. The targeted humidity level can be set specifically for your needs.
The large 5.5-litre water tank also shows that Pro Breeze means business here. However, the included hose also allows for continuous water drainage to prevent the tank from ever becoming full.
Furthermore, in case you’re not using the continual drainage feature, the unit will turn itself off when the tank is nearing capacity to prevent overflowing. And we’re not done – there are four castor wheels on the underside to assist in moving the entire unit where you need it to go. That will be nice if you’re needing to move a full water tank to the sink area.
The digital display on top of the unit is replete with options. The child lock is nice to have. Both the operating mode and speed setting can also be adjusted as needs be. Also, the digital display shows the current humidity levels, plus other indicators besides that too.
It is a four-mode system that includes a fan only for cooling (speed can be set manually), laundry mode to dry clothes, auto-defrost to prevent the machine from getting frosted up in colder temperatures (it shuts off), and the aforementioned child lock too.
Furthermore, there’s a longer timer at 24-hours and one that can be set with start/stop times, rather than just set to run for a specific period. That’s very convenient.
The unit weighs in at 14.5-kilograms. Its dimensions at 20 by 32 by 58 centimetres are more sizable too. It also uses 450-watts of power during operations.
Overall, this Pro Breeze model is a very capable unit. It has just about all the features you would want to deal with major moisture, damp, or mould issues in a basement and keep everything under control. It’s our top pick for a refrigerant dehumidifier to handle serious damp issues.
Best Desiccant Dehumidifier for Basements
Desiccant dehumidifiers as explained previously are designed for colder environments. They are not as common so it’s more difficult to pick out a recommended model.
What we’ve found is that the two best models are from the same brand, EcoAir. Each of the models is quite similar but one has a smaller capacity and the other has a large capacity with additional features.
We’ve reviewed both of them below for you.
EcoAir Desiccant Dehumidifier DD1 SimpleCheck Price On Amazon
The EcoAir Desiccant Dehumidifier (DD1 Simple) is a 7-litre daily capacity model to collect moisture from the air. It is extremely capable down to 1 degree Centigrade, not the usual 30-degrees and above limitation with refrigerant dehumidifiers. It also works up to 35-degrees Centigrade for hotter days too.
There is a 2-litre water tank included and a continuous drainage option via the 1-metre hose supplied in the box. The automatic shutdown feature when the water tank is full is convenient. Also, unusually, an alarm comes on to notify you when the unit has been tipped over and could be a water leak hazard.
The turbo mode gets the dehumidifier running through its paces. Also, there’s an Economy mode that will perform peacefully but still deliver pleasing results. The laundry mode to dry clothes holds considerable appeal too.
The humidity settings are accessed using a rotary dial, not a set of digital controls (the latter reviewed EcoAir DD3 Classic MK2 does have a digital control panel).
There is a pull-out, removable nano-silver air filter that helps to improve indoor air quality. It should be cleaned every fortnight. Vacuuming or brushing it is best, rather than washing it and reducing its effectiveness. Replacing the antibacterial filter every year or two is advisable.
The dehumidifier weighs 7-kilograms but has a convenient carry handle on the top to lift it and move the unit into position.
The noise level is quiet at 34 dB despite its high capacity because it doesn’t use a compressor which makes all the difference! The power consumption is 300-watts that sits in the mid-point for dehumidifiers of this size. It will also auto-restart after a previous power loss in the home.
Overall, the DD1 Simple model from EcoAir hits a lot of points that buyers will want. It lacks a digital display, timer, and some other nuances, but it’s very capable, nonetheless.
EcoAir Desiccant Dehumidifier DD3 Classic MK2Check Price On Amazon
The EcoAir DD3 Classic MK2 is a superior model to the previously reviewed DD1 Simple model.
It comes with a 10.5-litre daily capacity to remove moisture from the air down to the same 1-degrees Centigrade and up to an improved 40-degrees (over the 35-degrees of the DD1 model).
The water tank is a large 4.2-litres that thoughtfully has a lid over it to avoid water spillage. However, there’s also the continuous drainage option via a supplied drainage hose. And the anti-tilt protective feature to alert you is nice to have too.
The top-level digital control panel offers greater options compared to the DD1 too. There’s a timer to choose between 2, 4, 8, and 12 hours. The targeted humidity can be set to 40, 50 or 60 per cent levels. Also, there is a laundry mode and three others that control the strength of the moisture collection (and how much power the unit uses).
The nano-silver filter can be pulled out, wiped down, or replaced entirely.
The noise level is between 36 dB and 47 dB depending on the operating mode being used at the time.
The power usage depends on the mode too. It varies from 420-watts to 735-watts. Also, the model weighs in at 7.5-kilograms and has a fold-away carry handle too.
Overall, the EcoAir DD3 Classic MK2 is a significant step up from EcoAir’s DD1 Simple model. It has your back down to a chilly 1-degrees, operates at a low 36 dB, sports a 4.2-litre water tank with a continuous drainage option, and has a 10.5-litre daily capacity for moisture collection. It’s really hard to ask for more than that!
Founder of homeappliancegeek.com, avid cook, and lover of Asian food.
Signature dishes include Thai Red Curry, Chicken Saag, Bibimbap and Sushi.
Massive clean freak; a habit baked-in after spending 9 years in the catering industry.
The one appliance he couldn’t live without? Easily the dishwasher (total relationship saver!).