Pros and Cons of Whole-House Dehumidifiers
If you live in a humid climate, you know just how much warmer it can feel with excess moisture swirling around. A whole-house dehumidifier can ease that sticky feeling inside your home for those with HVAC systems or those interested in installing one for the first time.
In Southern California, we’ve serviced homes in the most humid of months. While the whole-house dehumidifier is an obvious solution to your humidity woes, we’ve also identified a few pitfalls of installing one.
In this article, we’ll touch on the following the following:
- What is a whole-house dehumidifier?
- The pros of whole-house dehumidifiers
- The cons of whole-house dehumidifiers
Despite carrying out the same essential function as a standard dehumidifier, there are some key aspects of a whole-house dehumidifier that further differentiate them from their smaller siblings.
We’ll break down the pros and cons of whole-house dehumidifiers so you can see if the results are worth the investment for you. But first, let’s define what a whole-house dehumidifier is.
What is a Whole-House Dehumidifier?
A whole-house dehumidifier is what it sounds like: an add-on unit capable of dehumidifying an entire home. These dehumidifiers are built directly into HVAC systems, meaning you can’t have one without an HVAC system.
Whole-house dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air similarly to how an air conditioner works. Once the humidity reaches a set level within your home, the dehumidifier kicks in. The dehumidifier takes in humid air from your home, cools and condenses the humidity into liquid, and then drains.
Whole-house dehumidifiers are generally set to kick in at 50% humidity to bring levels back down to the EPA-recommended sub-60% levels.
Pros and Cons of Whole-House Dehumidifiers
There are inherent benefits to running a dehumidifier in your home, but there can also be a couple of downsides. You should consider everything from the size of your home to your family's respiratory health when researching whole-house dehumidifiers to see if they’re the right fit for you.
1. Defends Against Household Damage
Humdity can weasel its way into your home and cause long-term damage to exposed wood flooring like warping. On top of protecting floors from damage, whole-house dehumidifiers also protect against mold and mildew, making them ideal for humid climates.
A whole-house dehumidifier is an easy way to ensure each room in the house gets the same level of protection as the next.
2. Promotes Respiratory Health
Aside from protecting your home, whole-house dehumidifiers also protect your family and friends with respiratory issues.
High humidity above 50% can worsen asthma and allergies. Above-average humidity can boost mold and dust mite levels in the air, causing asthma and allergies to worsen.
Humidity can also make rooms feel warmer and make the air more difficult to breathe for sensitive persons. A whole-house dehumidifier helps defend against humidity to create a more comfortable environment for those with allergies and asthma by helping them breathe easy.
3. Greater Comfort
On top of improving the air quality for those with allergies and asthma, a whole-house dehumidifier makes your home more comfortable.
Humidity can cause any room to feel several degrees warmer than it is. Because humidity can impact the perceived room temperature, running a whole-house dehumidifier can reduce humidity to feel cooler.
4. Use Air Conditioning Less
An inherent benefit of whole-house dehumidifiers is their ability to make a room feel cooler. Water has a greater heat capacity, meaning it can hold more heat than dry hair with lower moisture.
If you decide to run a whole-house dehumidifier, your home will feel several degrees cooler and allow you to set your thermostat slightly higher. Setting your thermostat higher means less time spent cooling your home and less wear and tear on your air conditioning unit.
On top of this benefit, dry air is often easier to cool than humid air, contributing to not running your air conditioning as much. Less time using your air conditioner also means reduced energy bills.
1. Additional Installation Cost
While there are plenty of upsides to a whole-house dehumidifier, the biggest downside to one is the upfront cost. A whole-house dehumidifier will add an extra layer to your investment that might be out of reach for some homeowners.
A typical whole-house dehumidifier install will usually run between $6,000 and $12,000, depending on the model you choose. High-efficiency models will rack up a higher installation cost overall, bringing you closer to that $12,000 mark. A portable or standalone model would be around $800 to $4,000 if you don’t feel like going all-in just yet.
You’ll still have to account for additional labor based on the required ducting, mounting hardware, and other necessities.
2. Not Recommended for Smaller Homes
Humid climates don’t discriminate regarding the size of your home. Whether your home is big or small, the humidity will impact the comfort of your home.
While whole-house dehumidifiers sound like an ideal option for every type of home, they don’t quite make sense for smaller houses. A portable dehumidifier would be a better option for smaller homes since it would save you on your energy bills and provide adequate performance.
Spending excess money on installing a whole-house dehumidifier when a cheaper option could do the trick isn’t advised. The additional cost to operate the whole-house dehumidifier also doesn’t stack up to the price-to-performance ratio that determines the value of your investment.
When you make a substantial upfront investment, there’s often the expectation that you’ll continuously gain from that investment year over year. But whole-house dehumidifiers can’t be schlepped from house to house. Once they’re in, they’re in for the long haul.
With whole-house dehumidifiers being difficult to uninstall, the unit is more or less locked in place since it isn’t as easy as rolling away a portable one.
Considering how long you intend to be in your home before installing is a must before going all in. However, this pitfall is a double-edged sword since installing a whole-house dehumidifier can increase the value of your home.
Is a Whole-House Dehumidifier Right for You?
We’ve weighed the pros and cons of whole-house dehumidifiers to give you a better look at what to expect while considering your options. With these insights, you’ll be able to adequately assess your home’s needs and figure out if a whole-house dehumidifier is right for you.
While some climates are more humid than others, Southern California gets its fair share of stickiness. If you’re located in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, or Orange County, and are interested in pursuing a whole-house dehumidifier, visit our HVAC services page to book an appointment with a technician.
If you’re looking for other ways to make your HVAC system run at its best, you’ll want to know when to get a tune-up, when to change out your filter to prevent dips in efficiency, and ways to make your HVAC system more efficient overall. These may not aid directly in dehumidifying your home, but they’ll ensure that you’re as comfortable as possible while you make your decision or wait for an installer to help you out.