We Tried 7 Top-Rated Dehumidifiers: These 2 Were Clear Standouts

We Tried 7 Top-Rated Dehumidifiers: These 2 Were Clear Standouts

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CNN —  

With heat and humidity on the way, we tested seven dehumidifiers to help you find the best one to keep your home dry and comfortable this summer. The models we looked at — all leading, well-reviewed, Energy Star-certified models — all performed as advertised, bringing our test space to a comfortable humidity level quickly, quietly and efficiently. But after exhaustive testing in a suburban home and basement, we found two great dehumidifiers with better usability and ergonomics to help you manage the humidity in any space in your home.

Best overall dehumidifier

The Frigidaire FFAP5033W1 tied for first place in pulling moisture from the air, had the best user interface and was simple to use in any household situation.

Runner-up, Best living space dehumidifier

The LG PuriCare UD501KOJ5 features a tall, slim design, an easy-to-empty bucket and a closed design that makes it safe to use around children or pets.

Suzanne Kattau/CNN

Frigidaire dehumidifier

The Frigidaire dehumidifier was among the best performers in our testing, tying for first place in removing moisture from the air in our test space, but it also stood out because of its superior interface and usability. Its control panel is better thought out than the other dehumidifiers we looked at, with comfortable buttons clearly labeled with both easy-to-understand graphical icons as well as text, something missing in some of the other contenders.

The Frigidaire offers three fan speeds (low, medium, high); in our testing it did a good job controlling the humidity. With plenty of drainage options, the Frigidaire is suitable for anywhere in the household you need to address a humidity issue. For use in a bedroom, living room, office or other living space, an easy-to-read water level indicator lets you know when the bucket needs emptying, and the bucket itself is sturdy, easy to pull out when full and replace once emptied, and has a splash guard that kept us and our carpet and furnishings from getting damp.

It was simple to attach the passive drain hose to direct water to a floor drain, and the onboard pump was powerful enough to drain via a hose run overhead, as you would if you were directing the flow to a basement window. A sturdy pull-up handle (it’s hidden in the unit when not in use) and rolling casters made it very easy to move around from task to task, or to put away in drier weather.

Care is simple as well. The air filter was easy to access, take off, wipe clean and put back on. The Frigidaire unit also came with the most clear, comprehensive and useful user manual (in English, Spanish and French).

Suzanne Kattau/CNN

LG PuriCare dehumidifier

The LG PuriCare dehumidifier is taller and narrower than the other units we tested, giving it a smaller footprint that is easier to place in a living space, and it has a more attractive design, making it easier to integrate with furnishings than the other models we tested, which all shared a more industrial, office-supply look.

While the PuriCare has drainage options similar to the Frigidaire, its water bucket features an especially well-engineered design that we think makes it well suited to use in a living space, where you are unlikely to run a hose to a floor drain. The bucket slides in and out of the side of the unit (it was the only model we tested with this arrangement, which gave the LG PuriCare a cleaner look), where water levels are easy to see at a glance because of its transparency.

The bucket has a cover that completely covers it while you are transporting it (much like the Frigidaire’s full clear plastic cover), though it’s even better in that half of the cover lifts away for easy pouring. It was a pleasure to use during testing.

Connectors for drain and pump hoses were very similar in operation to the Frigidaire, and cleaning and care were straightforward. Its air filter was easy to access, take off, wipe clean and put back on. We even liked the LG PuriCare’s happy jingle-song sounds that let you know when the unit’s been turned on and off.

In simple terms, a dehumidifier sucks in air from your desired room at one end of the unit, removes the moisture from that bunch of air by using a fan to draw warm, moist air over a cold coil (in much the same way that a refrigerator works) and then blows the now cool, dry air back out into the room again, out the other end of the unit.

The moisture the dehumidifier collects usually drips into a removable collection bucket within the unit. You have to either manually remove and empty this bucket every so often, or, with some dehumidifiers, you can run a water hose out from the dehumidifier and into a floor drain. If you don’t have a floor drain, then some dehumidifiers have built-in pumps that can direct the collected moisture out and up through a water hose leading to a shop sink, out a window or wherever might be convenient.

If it’s been a while since you shopped for a dehumidifier, you may have noticed that based on their labels today’s models don’t seem to be able to remove as much moisture from the air as they used to. While 70-pint dehumidifiers were once common, now it’s more typical to find 50-pint offerings. But dehumidifier technology hasn’t really changed — the shift in ratings is due to a change in how the devices are tested (and has to do with how much moisture the air can hold at different temperatures).

In 2019, the Energy Star program (the joint project of the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy that rates consumer products for energy efficiency) changed the way it tested and rated dehumidifiers to more realistically approximate real-world use across a wider range of temperatures. Formerly, dehumidifiers were tested at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but since they’ve been tested at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Since warm air holds considerably more water than cold air, this has changed the ratings — a dehumidifier that would draw 70 pints of water over a 24-hour period at 80 degrees Fahrenheit pulls about 50 pints over the same period at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The actual performance of the fan and coils is the same.

Since dehumidifiers are meant to run more or less continuously, we narrowed our choices to highly rated, well-reviewed units that are Energy Star-rated for energy efficiency and rated for use in rooms up to 1,500 square feet in size. To suit the widest variety of spaces, we selected models with 50-pint capacity according to the current 2019 Energy Star standards; smaller and larger versions of these units are typically available if you need to address dampness in smaller or larger rooms.

To make sure the tested units would be versatile enough for most household applications, we made sure each one came equipped with multiple drainage options, including a direct passive drain port and an internal pump, and shipped with a drainage hose.

We then tested the dehumidifiers in an approximately 1,250-square-foot finished basement featuring wall-to-wall carpeting and adjustable baseboard heating. We raised humidity levels at the outset of testing using the AILINKE Whole House Humidifier, then tracked temperature and relative humidity during our tests using the SensorPush HTP.xw Wireless Thermometer/Hygrometer with its iOS app on an iPhone 11; the SensorPush device was calibrated using a Boveda One-Step Calibration Kit. To measure water weight we used the Health o Meter BFM884DQ1-60 Body Fat Monitoring Scale.

Humidity reduction: We measured how efficient the units were by measuring their ability to reduce relative humidity from a sticky 60% at 80 degrees Fahrenheit to a comfortable 40%. All units performed similarly; reducing the humidity to a comfortable 40% without issue within the test period, set to low or medium speed fan settings. Better performers were able to pull more moisture out of the air.

On each dehumidifier, we ran two humidity reduction tests. First we measured the amount of moisture collected in a unit’s enclosed water bucket. Then we repeated the test to assess each unit’s built-in pump’s ability to move water through an exhaust hose. We suspended the exhaust hose near the ceiling using hooks and back down into waiting metal pails to simulate draining to a distant sink or up through a basement window. Water output was measured in a graduated glass vase and weighted with a digital scale.

Listed from most to least, the amount of pints collected in four hours were as follows: Ivation (12.653 pints), Frigidaire (9.01

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We tried 7 top-rated dehumidifiers: These 2 were clear standouts

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