Whole-House Dehumidifier or Portable: Which Is Better?

condensation on home window caused by high humidity

If you have a moisture problem in your house, you should be looking at getting a dehumidifier. As you shop, you’ll find that you are faced with the decision of which type is better, a whole-house dehumidifier or a portable one. There are several factors to consider when you are making your decision, such as where the moisture is located in your house and if the moisture is seasonal or year-round. 

Bowman Mechanical Services, Inc. has expertise in removing moisture from homes. Our focus is to improve your indoor air quality and, in that endeavour, we can assist you in getting the right dehumidifier for your specific needs. In this article, we outline pros and cons of whole-house dehumidifiers and portable ones, as well as things to consider about your moisture situation.

Assess the Humidity Problem in Your House

A moisture problem in your house leads to a whole host of other problems. High humidity levels allow indoor mold to grow, which affects the health of your family. Issues that result from humidity levels higher than 70% are:

  • Allergies
  • Corrosion
  • Decay
  • Dust mites
  • Termites and other insect infestations
  • Moisture-related deterioration of the house

Is the humidity high in just one room? If so, you may look at a portable dehumidifier being the best solution. But, if the humidity level is high in a larger space in your house, then a whole-house humidifier makes better sense. Additionally, is the moisture seasonal or year-round? Seasonal humidity may make a portable dehumidifier be the better choice.

How a Dehumidifier Works

A dehumidifier works by drawing warm air currents into its coils by a fan. The warm air contracts as it moves through the refrigerated coils of the machine and condensation is left inside the dehumidifier. As the condensation collects, it drops into a storage tank that is attached to the dehumidifier. Then, cooler and drier air is released back into your home through the other side of the machine.

The result of using a dehumidifier is drier air. If you use gas or electricity to heat your home, a dehumidifier may not be needed, because these dry out your air anyway.

A portable dehumidifier is placed in the room with the high moisture and keeps the level of humidity at the percentage at which it is set. Experts suggest that the humidity level should be 45% – 50%. So, for example, if you set the dehumidifier at 50% and the humidity level in the room moves above 50%, the dehumidifier kicks on to remove moisture until the level is below 50%. This makes a portable dehumidifier a great option if the moisture problem is contained to one room or space.

A whole-house dehumidifier is installed in conjunction with the existing HVAC system to remove excess moisture from all rooms the HVAC ducting reaches. So, this is the best solution when you have high moisture levels in several rooms or in the entire house.

Signs You May Need a Dehumidifier

If you have areas in your home where damp air collects, like a basement, you may need a dehumidifier. Signs that you probably need a dehumidifier include:

  • Anyone in the home has a prolonged allergy season each year
  • You have recently moved into the house and your allergies are worse
  • Have a persistent damp smell 
  • The space experiences water leakage after heavy rainfall
  • Muggy air 
  • If anyone has an allergy to dust mites
  • Increase in unwanted pests like spiders, cockroaches, moths, or silverfish
  • Clothes smell damp or moldy
  • Persistent symptoms of respiratory issues like coughing and runny nose

Whole House Dehumidifier Pros

There are several advantages to using a dehumidifier for the whole house:

  • You have the ability to automatically control humidity throughout the entire house.
  • The dehumidifier is located out of sight and has a lower sound level.
  • It is up to 4 times more energy efficient than portable dehumidifiers.
  • There is very little maintenance.
  • Most have better air filters, allowing for fresh air ventilation, than portable dehumidifiers.
  • They are more durable and have better warranties than single room dehumidifiers.
  • They work automatically as needed and can be controlled from a remote humidistat.

Whole House Dehumidifier Cons

There are only a few aspects for a whole house dehumidifier that may be considered disadvantages:

  • Professional installation is required
  • More expensive on the initial purchase, with typical costs between $500 to $700
  • Whole house dehumidifiers can’t be taken with you when you move

Portable Dehumidifier Pros

If your moisture problem is in one defined space, a portable dehumidifier has these advantages:

  • Less expensive than whole-house models
  • Easy to install with a simple plug-in
  • Easy to move around to different areas or take with you when you move
  • Simple to operate with digital controls

Portable Dehumidifier Cons

Cons for portable dehumidifiers include:

  • Only dehumidify one room at a time
  • Require maintenance (for example, dumping collected moisture with a gravity drain or pump)
  • Noisy in the rooms where they are situated
  • Take up space in the room
  • Shorter lifespan than a whole house dehumidifier
  • Louder during operation
  • Often less energy efficient

How to Decide

Again, you first ascertain the area that you need to control the humidity in. If it is a larger area–multiple rooms, floors, or throughout the entire home–a whole house dehumidifier will address your needs. Additionally, if the humidity issues are year-round, a whole house option works better. If, on the other hand, the excess humidity problem is primarily seasonal, just in one or two rooms, or in a smaller area, then the portable dehumidifier may be the better solution. 

Call Us for Dehumidifier Solutions!

If you have moisture issues in your home, call Bowman Mechanical Services, Inc. to help! We are experts in achieving healthy air quality for you and your family. To learn more about air quality control for your home in Raleigh, Garner, and surrounding areas of the Triangle, call us at 919-679-9583 or contact us via the form below.