Dehumidifier Vs Air Conditioner: Which One To Choose?

dehumidifier vs air conditioner

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Hot, humid air can be very uncomfortable, and it can also cause problems for your home, your possessions and even your health. And since both air conditioners and dehumidifiers will reduce the amount of humidity in the air, we here at Know the Flo are often asked which is better – a dehumidifier or an air conditioner?

So in this article we’re going to look into that very question, to help you understand the differences between the two products and figure out which is best for you and your needs.

What is the Difference Between a Dehumidifier and an Air Conditioner?

As we’ve already said, both a dehumidifier and an air conditioner will reduce humidity in the air, and by doing so they will make your home’s air drier – which can make you feel much more comfortable, as well as having many other benefits.

But while an air conditioner will reduce that humidity by a fairly significant amount, the average dehumidifier will remove a lot more moisture, and reduce humidity to a much greater extent.

Another key difference between an air conditioner and a dehumidifier is in temperature. An air conditioner in cooling mode will reduce the temperature in your room or home a lot – as much as 20 degrees – while a dehumidifier will not reduce the temperature at all – some actually raise the temperature a very slight amount.

That said, the best dehumidifier will make a home at least seem a bit cooler, in that dry air is always more comfortable and allows your body’s natural cooling processes to work more efficiently and effectively. Still, it’s nothing compared to the cooling of an air conditioner.

It should also be mentioned that air conditioners are much more expensive to run than dehumidifiers, and if you use an AC regularly or continuously it will add quite a bit to your utility bills. They can also be more expensive to purchase, and you might want to have your new AC professionally installed, adding even more to the bill.

‘Dehumidifiers, on the other hand, tend to be less expensive to buy, and are typically plug-and-go types of units, which require no real installation or setup and can be put in lots of different spots in your home. And they have much lower running costs.

That’s the simple summary, but we can understand more by looking in some depth at how each of these household appliances work.

Dehumidifier Vs Air Conditioner: Which One To Choose?

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

An air conditioner uses a refrigerant chemical sealed in a metal tube called an evaporator coil. A fan moves your home’s air across this evaporator, which not only significantly lowers the air’s temperature but also removes a lot of the air’s moisture.

The refrigerant becomes warm during this process, and is moved to the back of the AC unit by a compressor, which increases the refrigerant’s temperature even more. Air is moved across this warm coolant and released to the outside air, and the now cooler refrigerant is moved back to the front to begin the cooling (and drying) process again.

So an air conditioner’s main function is to cool the air, and drying the air is just a side-effect of the process – if a desirable one.

How Does a Dehumidifier Work?

Most dehumidifiers also use an evaporator coil and refrigerant, and cool and dry the air in the same way as an air conditioner. As the air in your room passes over the evaporator coil, the water condenses and drips down into a collection tray, and the air becomes much drier.

This drier air then passes over a much warmer condenser unit, which re-warms the air to about its original temperature. The air is then pushed back into your room – much drier than before but – unlike an air conditioner – not cooler.

The water which is gathered below is monitored, usually by a simple float mechanism, and when the collection tray becomes full the dehumidifier will let you know, and may even turn off, to allow you to empty the tray.

So a dehumidifier’s main function is to dry the air and make your home less humid, and it has no cooling effect.

What Does This All Mean?

Basically, an air conditioner is optimized for cooling. It has a thermostat which will shut the AC off when the desired temperature is reached – this is perfect for temperature control, but it’s important to note that when the air con is turned off humidity can and will rise again.

A dehumidifier is optimized for dehumidifying. It does not have a thermostat, but it does have a humidity sensor called a hygrometer, and will keep working as long as the air’s humidity is too high.

So if you want drier air that is also much cooler, you should probably opt for an air conditioner. 

If on the other hand you aren’t looking to cool your air, but you need to really decrease the humidity in your space, a dehumidifier is a better choice.

Ok, So, Which is Better – a Dehumidifier or an Air Conditioner?

You may already be getting some idea of which type of unit – an AC or a dehumidifier – you need and want, but it still might be helpful if we clearly summarize the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Dehumidifier Pros and Cons

✅ Pros❌ Cons
Cheaper to BuyDo Not Cool the Air – can also be an advantage, depending on your preferences and your climate
Cheaper to Buy
Much Cheaper to Run
Easy to Set Up and Can Be Moved Around
Can Make You Feel Cooler
Can Reduce Mold and Mildew
Can Protect Your House, Your Household Items and Your Health

Air Conditioner Pros and Cons

✅ Pros❌ Cons
Make the Air Much CoolerMuch More Expensive to Run
Offer Some Dehumidifying Effect – many ACs even have a (non-cooling) dehumidifying modeSomewhat More Expensive to Buy
May Need Professional Installation
Most ACs Cannot Be Moved Around Once Set Up
Lower Dehumidifying Effect

Conclusion: Air Conditioner or Dehumidifier – Which is Better for You?

From the above pros and cons list it might seem that a dehumidifier is a much better choice – they are cheaper in many ways, they are easy to set up and they offer the best dehumidifying effect. And, in making the air drier, they can even make you feel cooler.

Besides, they have 7 items on their “pros” list, and ACs only have 2!

And yeah, if you are primarily concerned about reducing moisture and humidity in the air, a dehumidifier is a great idea, and there are many really good choices on the market today (see below for some of our top picks).

But at the end of the day – or more likely in the middle of the day – if what you really want is relief from the heat, a dehumidifier probably just won’t cut it, and you’re going to need an AC.

An air conditioner, though more expensive to buy and to run, is still the best and only answer if you want a real drop in temperature – again, up to 20 degrees cooler air. And they will also offer at least some dehumidifying effect, and help protect your home and its precious contents.

Do You Have to Choose?

Not at all – a lot of people opt for both, and many people who already have a good air conditioner end up getting a dehumidifier as well.

In this way, they can get the best cooling possible, and at the same time the strongest dehumidifying.

In fact, even with an air con already in place, having a dehumidifier can still make your own natural cooling processes work better, which means you may need the AC less – which in turn can mean a real savings in utility bills!

Who Makes the Best Air Conditioners?

This isn’t a buyer’s guide – more of an informational article – but still it might be helpful if I list a few of the air conditioners I find to be really excellent units and great choices.

I won’t get into any detailed descriptions or reviews here, just the makes and models of half a dozen air conditioners that I would consider the best choices in their respective class, with links to the best prices currently available.

Frigidaire Window-Mounted Room Air Conditioner, 5,000 BTU – one of the most popular and highly rated window-mount air conditioners for rooms up to 150 square feet. Very inexpensive, easy to install and easy to use, and a very well made machine.

Frigidaire FFRA051WAE Window-Mounted Room Air Conditioner, 5,000 BTU with Temperature Control and Easy-to-Clean Washable Filter, in White
16,398 Reviews
Frigidaire FFRA051WAE Window-Mounted Room Air Conditioner, 5,000 BTU with Temperature Control and Easy-to-Clean Washable Filter, in White
  • Effortless Temperature Control: Our air...
  • Easy-to-Clean Washable Filter: Capture dust...
  • SpaceWise Adjustable Design Optional Side...
  • Power Cord: Comes with an extra long...
  • Effortless Restart: Automatically resumes...

Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner – for rooms up to 350 square feet, the Midea is an extremely quiet and very strong AC that has smart features and is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa – and at a very low price!

DeLonghi Portable Air Conditioner 14,000 BTU,cool extra large rooms up to 700 sqft,remote,energy saving mode,extremely quiet,dehumidifier,fan,programmable,window venting kit,AC Unit for room,EX390LVYN
  • SPECS: Hose length: 51 inches | Hose...
  • SUPER QUIET: Stay cool, don’t hear it. With...
  • POWERFUL COOLING: This powerful machine can...
  • ECO REAL FEEL: Saving up to 30% in energy...
  • ENERGY EFFICIENCY: With features like Eco...

Amana White 12,000 BTU Window-Mounted Air Conditioner with Remote Control – a great value in a larger unit – for rooms up to 550 square feet – the Amana is exceptionally well made, quiet and very effective.

Amana White 12,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Air Conditioner with Remote Control | AC for Rooms up to 550 Sq.Ft | 24H Timer | 3-Speed | Auto-Restart | Digital Display AMAP121BW, 12000
305 Reviews
Amana White 12,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Air Conditioner with Remote Control | AC for Rooms up to 550 Sq.Ft | 24H Timer | 3-Speed | Auto-Restart | Digital Display AMAP121BW, 12000
  • POWERFUL COOLING CAPACITY: The 12,000 BTU...
  • FUNCTIONALITY: Electronic control panel with...
  • ENERGY STAR RATED COOLING: Energy Star...
  • EASY TO INSTALL: Comes with a quick and...
  • REPLACEABLE FILTER: Clean Alert indicates...

Koldfront 18,500 BTU Window Air Conditioner with Supplemental Heater – just as an air conditioner for large spaces (up to 1,000 square feet) the Koldfront is an amazing value, and amazingly energy efficient – and it also has a built-in electric heater!

BLACK+DECKER BPACT10WT AC with Remote Control Portable Air Conditioner, 10,000 BTU, White
40,777 Reviews
BLACK+DECKER BPACT10WT AC with Remote Control Portable Air Conditioner, 10,000 BTU, White
  • QUIET & POWERFUL - Our 5,500 BTU DOE (10,000...
  • PERFECT FOR SMALL ROOMS - This floor-standing...
  • SIMPLE & QUICK TO INSTALL – Just wheel this...
  • EASY TO USE & CLEAN – The simple remote...
  • 3-in-1 FUNCTIONALITY - Combines 3 energy...

Black+Decker 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control – a portable air conditioner – as opposed to the window mounts above – this Black and Decker is much more flexible in placement and can even be moved around – a very powerful and effective unit at a great price.

BLACK+DECKER BPACT10WT AC with Remote Control Portable Air Conditioner, 10,000 BTU, White
40,777 Reviews
BLACK+DECKER BPACT10WT AC with Remote Control Portable Air Conditioner, 10,000 BTU, White
  • QUIET & POWERFUL - Our 5,500 BTU DOE (10,000...
  • PERFECT FOR SMALL ROOMS - This floor-standing...
  • SIMPLE & QUICK TO INSTALL – Just wheel this...
  • EASY TO USE & CLEAN – The simple remote...
  • 3-in-1 FUNCTIONALITY - Combines 3 energy...

DeLonghi Portable Air Conditioner 14,000 BTU with Remote – a big, powerful, premium portable air conditioner that can be placed in lots of different spots and cool even larger spaces – up to 700 square feet.

DeLonghi Portable Air Conditioner 14,000 BTU,cool extra large rooms up to 700 sqft,remote,energy saving mode,extremely quiet,dehumidifier,fan,programmable,window venting kit,AC Unit for room,EX390LVYN
  • SPECS: Hose length: 51 inches | Hose...
  • SUPER QUIET: Stay cool, don’t hear it. With...
  • POWERFUL COOLING: This powerful machine can...
  • ECO REAL FEEL: Saving up to 30% in energy...
  • ENERGY EFFICIENCY: With features like Eco...

Who Makes the Best Dehumidifiers?

Pro Breeze Compact Portable Dehumidifier for 225 SF – An inexpensive but highly effective humidifier for bedrooms, offices or personal space. Very quiet and very low energy usage.

Sale
Pro Breeze Dehumidifiers for Home, 225 sq ft Mini Dehumidifier, Compact Portable 17oz Capacity for High Humidity in Home, RV, Bedroom, Bathroom, Basement, Kitchen, Laundry or Closet
44,069 Reviews
Pro Breeze Dehumidifiers for Home, 225 sq ft Mini Dehumidifier, Compact Portable 17oz Capacity for High Humidity in Home, RV, Bedroom, Bathroom, Basement, Kitchen, Laundry or Closet
  • SMALL & COMPACT: Lightweight, Compact and...
  • REMOVES 9 OZ OF MOISTURE PER DAY: Our...
  • ULTRA QUIET & ENERGY EFFICIENT: Unlike most...
  • EFFICIENTLY LOWERS HUMIDITY: Perfect...
  • AWARD WINNING BRAND: Pro Breeze is a world...

Konsiden 2 Liter Quiet Dehumidifier for 500 SF – A great inexpensive dehumidifier for both small and larger spaces. Not as effective as some more expensive units, but excellent for the low price!

Sale
Quiet Dehumidifiers, 68oz(2Liter)Big Dehumidifier for Home up to 500 Sq ft, Dehumidifiers for Bedroom with 7 Color LED Light, 2 Speed Modes,12H Timer, Auto Shut-off, Dehumidifier for Basement Bathroom
58 Reviews
Quiet Dehumidifiers, 68oz(2Liter)Big Dehumidifier for Home up to 500 Sq ft, Dehumidifiers for Bedroom with 7 Color LED Light, 2 Speed Modes,12H Timer, Auto Shut-off, Dehumidifier for Basement Bathroom
  • 【Ultra Efficient Dehumidifier】 The...
  • 【Ultra Quiet & 2 Working Modes 】Turn on...
  • 【Safety- Anti-overflow Protection】The...
  • 【Practical-Large Clear Detachable...
  • 【Pretty- 7 Colors Romantic LED...

Midea Energy Star Certified Dehumidifier for 1,500 SF – Midea is one of our favorite companies here at Know the Flo, and their 22 pint humidifier is probably the best I’ve used in its class.

Sale
Midea 1,500 Sq. Ft. Energy Star Certified Dehumidifier With Reusable Air Filter 22 Pint 2019 DOE (Previously 30 Pint) - Ideal For Basements, Large & Medium Sized Rooms, And Bathrooms (White)
12,168 Reviews
Midea 1,500 Sq. Ft. Energy Star Certified Dehumidifier With Reusable Air Filter 22 Pint 2019 DOE (Previously 30 Pint) - Ideal For Basements, Large & Medium Sized Rooms, And Bathrooms (White)
  • 1,500 SQ. FT. DEHUMIDIFIER – This Midea...
  • QUIET & ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED – With a low...
  • INNOVATIVE FEATURES & WARRANTY - Features...
  • MODERN DESIGN – This dehumidifier has a...
  • EASY MAINTENANCE – Easily empty the...

Clevast Energy Star Rated 35 Pint Dehumidifier for 3,00 SF – A reliable and highly effective product, ideal for larger spaces, easy to set up and to empty and clean.

Dehumidifier for Home Basement Energy Star - CLEVAST 3000 Sq. Ft 35 Pints with Reusable Air Filter for Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Living Room, Garage and Closet, 0.8 Gallons Capacity Detachable Water Tank, UL Listed
875 Reviews
Dehumidifier for Home Basement Energy Star - CLEVAST 3000 Sq. Ft 35 Pints with Reusable Air Filter for Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Living Room, Garage and Closet, 0.8 Gallons Capacity Detachable Water Tank, UL Listed
  • 3000 SQ FT LARGE DEHUMIDIFIER: The CLEVAST...
  • ELIMINATES MOISTURE EFFECTIVELY: This...
  • STYLISH & SMART DESIGN: That most...
  • EASY TO CLEAN AND MAINTAIN: Its portable...
  • WARRANTY & SUPPORT: Our dehumidifier is UL...

Shinco Energy Star Dehumidifier with Pump for 5,000 SF – This big 70 pint humidifier is perfect for basements and larger spaces, and runs very quietly and cheaply for its size.

Shinco 70 Pints Energy Star Dehumidifier with Pump for Basements, 5,000 Sq.Ft Dehumidifier, Medium to Large Room with Auto or Manual Drainage, Quietly Remove Moisture, Auto Defrost, Dry Clothes, 24HR Timer
2,791 Reviews
Shinco 70 Pints Energy Star Dehumidifier with Pump for Basements, 5,000 Sq.Ft Dehumidifier, Medium to Large Room with Auto or Manual Drainage, Quietly Remove Moisture, Auto Defrost, Dry Clothes, 24HR Timer
  • 【5,000 Sq.Ft DEHUMIDIFIER】- Shinco...
  • 【QUIET AND ENERGY-SAVING】- This Energy...
  • 【EASY AND CONVENIIENT DRAINAGE】- The...
  • 【MORDEN DESIGN】- 24-hour timer, 2 fan...
  • 【After Service】- Shinco provides a...

AlorAir Large Capacity Commercial Dehumidifier – For commercial or industrial use, very large spaces or restoration jobs, this is one of the very best and strongest dehumidifiers available, and it has smart functionality and a great remote monitoring app for smartphones.

ALORAIR 180PPD Commercial Dehumidifier for Crawl Space & Basement, Wi-Fi APP Controls with Pump, Capacity up to 85 PPD at AHAM Condition, for Large Space, Job Sites, Yellow
55 Reviews
ALORAIR 180PPD Commercial Dehumidifier for Crawl Space & Basement, Wi-Fi APP Controls with Pump, Capacity up to 85 PPD at AHAM Condition, for Large Space, Job Sites, Yellow
  • ✔【App Control & Dry anywhere】: MONITOR...
  • ✔【5 Years Warranty】: Rugged...
  • ✔【COMMERCIAL, INDUSTRIAL, and PERSONAL...
  • ✔【Design with humanized】: Onboard...
  • ✔【Memory Starting, Auto Shut Off】:...


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