Dehumidifiers perform an important function -- they reduce moisture in muggy basements, bathrooms and laundry rooms -- but some models are better at stopping mold and mildew than others.
You need a dehumidifier if your basement is damp, if there's condensation on your windows or walls, if there's a musty smell, or if you see evidence of mildew or mold -- and especially if you notice all of the above.
We tested six dehumidifiers you can set up yourself from Black & Decker, Frigidaire, GE, Honeywell, LG and Toshiba, with prices ranging from $179 to $329. While they all share similar designs and features, they're actually quite different from one another. Read on for a detailed look at each model, where they shine and where there's room for improvement, including our top pick for best all-around residential dehumidifier.
Before we go in depth on product comparisons, let's talk testing. According to industry standards, all dehumidifiers are assigned a number -- 30, 50, 70, 95 and so on. That number is essentially a rating for the amount of water (in pints) a dehumidifier will collect over a 24-hour period, when the conditions are 60 percent relative humidity and 80 degrees, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).
Seventy is typically the highest number available for a consumer-level dehumidifier before you have to start spending some serious cash on commercial-grade models. Not only is a 70-pint dehumidifier supposed to collect more water than 30- and 50-pint models over 24 hours, it's also supposed to cover larger spaces more effectively -- and handle worse conditions, such as a recently flooded basement, more effectively.
For reference, a 70-pint dehumidifier can handle a 3,500-square-foot space, whereas a 30-pint version only covers up to 1,500 square feet.
But because 70-pint dehumidifiers are supposed to collect more moisture over the same period of time as less-expensive models, a 70-pint dehumidifier is a worthwhile upgrade regardless of the size of the space you plan to install it in or the current conditions. You can always scale up with a 70-pint model -- you might be using your dehumidifier in your master bathroom now, but you might want to use it in your larger basement later this summer.
For that reason, all six dehumidifiers we tested are 70-pint models. Check out the chart below to learn more about each dehumidifier we tested for this roundup:
||Black & Decker BDT70WT||Frigidaire FFAD7033R1||GE APEL70LW||Honeywell DH70PW||LG UD701KOG3||Toshiba TDDP7011ES2|
|Dimensions (height, width, depth in inches)||24.9 x 11.2 x 15.2||24.4 x 15 x 11.6||24 x 14.8 x 11.4||23.6 x 15.3 x 11.1||28.8 x 19 x 14.3||24.3 x 11.1 x 15.4|
|Weight (in pounds)||47||47||47||45||53||44|
|Bucket capacity (in pints)||16.9||13.1||17.5||14.4||13.3||16|
|Hose included (for continuous pumping)||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Built-in pump (for continuous pumping)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Estimated moisture removal per day (in pints)||70||70||70||70||70||70|
Note: These dehumidifiers can either collect water in buckets (which you would have to drain roughly six times a day) or they can be connected to a drainage hose. Some of these models come with a hose and for some you'd have to buy one separately. The hose allows you to continuously drain the water the dehumidifier collects into a sink or another drain.
We tested all of the dehumidifiers individually over four hours with each one's fan set to high, maintaining 60 percent relative humidity and 80 degrees in a climate-controlled room. Here are the results.
LG's UD701KOG3 collected more water over its four-hour test period than the other models, specifically an impressive 13.9 pints of water. We multiplied that number by six for an estimate of its 24-hour moisture removal and got 83.4 pints. That's significantly better than the manufacturer's 70-pint estimate.
Given that the machines run continuously (and under the same conditions -- 60 percent relative humidity and 80 degrees), we reasonably expect the dehumidifiers to perform at the same level over 24 hours as they did over 4 hours. Either way, LG's UD701KOG3 removed moisture from the air more effectively than any of the other models within the 4-hour timeframe we tested.
Note: We tested these dehumidifiers in climate-controlled (but not airtight) rooms. For that reason, there were slight fluctuations above and below the 60 percent relative humidity and 80-degree mark. These fluctuations will be even more significant in a home, where it won't be possible to control for those things. As a result, our lab testing could vary slightly from your experience in a residential setting.
By comparison, the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 only collected 11.2 pints. That translates to roughly 67.2 pints over 24 hours -- less than the manufacturer's expected 70 pints.
The other four models scored somewhere in the middle. The Black & Decker BDT70WT collected 12.6 pints (75.6 pints over 24 hours), the GE APEL70LW collected 13.7 pints (82.2 pints over 24 hours), the Honeywell DH70PW collected 13.1 pints (78.6 pints over 24 hours) and the Toshiba TDDP7011ES2 collected 12.4 pints (74.4 pints over 24 hours).
That makes Frigidaire's FFAD7033R1 the only dehumidifier with a 24-hour estimate below the expected 70 pints.
At just $179, the Toshiba TDDP7011ES2 offers a great value for a 70-pint dehumidifier. All of the other models cost at least 200 bucks. The Frigidaire FFAD7033R1, the GE APEL70LW and the Honeywell DH70PW all have suggested retail prices over $300.
$179 is still a lot to spend, so how does it compare to its 70-pint competition? The TDDP7011ES2 performed better than the $319 Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 and has a larger 16-pint bucket than the Frigidaire's 13.1-pint capacity. It also got a similar performance score to the $200 Black & Decker BDT70WT.
GE's APEL70LW has the most appealing options out of any of the dehumidifiers in this roundup. It has the largest bucket capacity -- 17.5 pints. Your purchase also includes a 16-foot hose, if you want to forgo the bucket and instead drain the water it collects continuously into a sink. It has three fan speeds -- low, medium and high -- whereas the fans on some 70-pint models come with just two.
And it helps that it got the second-best performance score, collecting 13.7 pints compared with the LG UD701KOG3's 13.9 pints. In addition, the GE APEL70LW costs $279 (at Home Depot -- the suggested retail price is $329). It's certainly a lot to spend, but its retail price is less than the $319 Frigidaire FFAD7033R1, the $329 Honeywell DH70PW and the $300 LG UD701KOG3.
Black & Decker's BDT70WT has my favorite display out of the six dehumidifiers. It's easy to read and offers extra settings like "continuous," "bedroom" and "basement," in addition to three fan settings. It also has a convenient roller-suitcase-style handle for easily transporting it around your house. The Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 has a similar handle, but it's much flimsier than the BDT70WT's.
Design isn't the most important thing to consider when you're shopping for a dehumidifier. That said, these 70-pint models aren't small; each one weighs between 44 and 53 pounds. They're roughly the same dimensions as a large wheeled carry-on suitcase. Some of them even come with handles similar to rolling suitcases so you can easily move them from one (ideally non-carpeted) room to another.
If one of these dehumidifiers is going to take up space in a room you use every day, it'd be nice if it looked somewhat...nice. My vote's for the LG UD701KOG3. Its glossy black finish is a welcome change from the predictable white finishes you often see. And the bucket and other features are tucked away on the sides and on the back so it looks especially sleek from the front.
While the LG UD701KOG3 had the best performance and design, its performance score of 13.9 pints collected was so close to the GE APEL70LW's 13.7 pints that the difference isn't significant.
The GE model had more features, including a larger bucket capacity, an included hose -- and, at a retail price of $279, it costs less than the $300 LG UD701KOG3. Both would make great choices for home dehumidifiers you can install yourself.
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