Dehumidifier vs Air Conditioner [Detailed Comparison]
Dehumidifier vs air conditioner is a very long debate, and people tend to fight over choosing only one appliance during the summer months. However, intelligent people instead of fighting over dehumidifier vs air conditioner, prefer using both appliances and keeping their home fresh and cool.
Those who ask air conditioner or dehumidifiers, which one is better, should know that,
Air conditioners and dehumidifiers both serve different purposes. While dehumidifiers pull the excess humidity levels in the air, air conditioners work on cooling the room/area. They are not designed to remove moisture, but since cool air can decrease the humidity levels, an air conditioner alone can help control the moisture levels.
However, if you think your dehumidifier can make your room cool, then please prefer reading this guide.
In this article, we will closely look at the application of both appliances and compare them on various parameters. Let’s not roll into our Dehumidifier Vs Air Conditioners comparison.
What is a dehumidifier and how does it work?
A dehumidifier is an appliance that reduces the level of humidity in a room. Through a process called refrigeration, it pulls moisture out of the air and collects it into water tanks or drains it away via gravity.
In simpler terms, a dehumidifier helps eliminate the moist air/humid air and improvises the indoor air quality. Excess humidity is very harmful to health, and during the summer months, excess humidity can also cause acne, skin rashes, and encourages the development of mildew and molds.
A dehumidifier usually comes with a variety of settings that let you choose the humidity level you would like in your room. This helps to add comfort and also prevents any damage caused by excess moisture in the air.
Because it deals with moist air and improves indoor air quality, a dehumidifier is useful in humid climates or during seasons when there is a lot of rainfall. During rainfall, the temperature falls a little, and moisture in the air increases, therefore a dehumidifier can be really helpful because turning on an air conditioner during monsoon season can make you sick.
Types of Dehumidifiers
The most common types of dehumidifiers can be classified by the way they remove moisture from the air. Two of the most popular types are desiccant and compressor-based units.
Desiccant units use a chemical desiccant that pulls moisture into its material, where it is then absorbed. Desiccants dry out quickly, which is why these are best suited for short-term use.
Compressor-based units work by using a compressor to compress the gas of the refrigerant internally, lowering its temperature. The resulting gas is then circulated throughout the air in the room, effectively reducing humidity levels.
While compressor models can provide higher humidity control, you should note that they tend to be a little noisier than desiccant models. In addition, compressor units can become damaged if the condensate drain is blocked.
In any case, you should make sure that your dehumidifier has a continuous drainage option, or else you may have to drain it manually by removing water tanks frequently.
Also, note that dehumidifiers come in both portable and industrial sizes. If you’re in need of a heavy-duty unit, be sure to look for an industrial dehumidifier.
What is an air conditioner and how does it work?
An air conditioner is a device that uses refrigeration to cool the air in a room.
Air conditioners usually come with a wide range of settings that you can use to manage the temperature and humidity levels in your room. This helps to make your room comfortable, while also protecting it from damage due to excess moisture in the air. Moreover, air conditioners can help to reduce the presence of allergens in the air.
There are two main types of air conditioners: window units and split air conditioning systems.
Window units are installed in a room’s window frame and use an exhaust hose to expel hot air outdoors. These are usually affordable, easy to install, and relatively energy efficient. However, they must be installed by a professional unless you have experience with this task.
Split air conditioning systems are more expensive than window units but tend to be more energy-efficient as well. They can also provide greater cooling capacity compared to other types of systems, making them ideal for larger rooms.
Split systems come with an indoor unit and an outdoor unit, which are connected by a series of copper tubing and wires. The indoor unit sits inside your room while the outdoor unit is installed outside in a shaded area.
In addition, air conditioners come in both portable and industrial sizes. If you’re in need of a heavy-duty unit, be sure to look for an industrial air conditioner.
Air Conditioner Vs Dehumidifier
With detailed information about both ac units and dehumidifiers above, you now know the basics of both appliances. Dehumidifiers are your best friend during humid weather and help you fix poor indoor air quality by removing excess moisture from the air.
Whereas air conditioners remove moisture by cooling process, which is quite costly. Moreover, it only cools down the air, it does not really extract the excess moisture from the air.
1. Effectiveness and cooling capacity
Both devices can help to reduce the humidity levels in your home, but dehumidifiers have a greater impact on humidity. In fact, desiccant dehumidifiers can reduce humidity by as much as 50% in just 2-3 hours of functioning. This makes them more suitable for short-term use and doesn’t increase your electricity consumption.
Whereas ac units help eliminate the warm air by cooling it. This also helps in decreasing the humidity levels and thus making the air quality much better. Unlike dehumidifiers, air conditioners are quick, you can notice a change in the environment within 15-20 minutes of turning on the ac unit.
2. Future maintenance and cost-effectiveness
Dehumidifiers require little maintenance such as cleaning the unit, draining the water (if it only has manual mode). While air conditioners require more maintenance services such as cleaning or changing the filters, cleaning the outer unit, and refilling the cooling gas (rarely).
You can literally disassemble the entire dehumidifier unit and clean it, whereas the AC unit requires a technician if you want to clean it thoroughly from the inside, however, you can clean the AC filters on your own.
Coming to the most important part, that is, how cost-effective is AC and dehumidifier, then the answer is very simple. Dehumidifiers are cost-efficient, while ac units are not.
How much does it cost to run a 1 ton AC unit?
It totally depends upon the location, energy rates, and AC unit, here’s a quick estimation, you can change the values and find out how much does it cost to run a 1 ton AC unit in your area.
- Energy rates in the USA: 13.75 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) source.
- AC unit energy consumption: 3,000 watts per hour
- Ac unit operational hours: 6 hrs a day
- Wattage consumption of Ac Unit: 3000 watts per hour
Total Cost of running the air conditioner unit for 6 hours a day
Breakdown (Prices in $)
|Cost Per Hour||0.4125|
|Cost Per Day||2.4750|
|Cost Per Month||75.29|
|Cost Per Year||903.47|
3. Ease of use and size
Both air conditioners and dehumidifiers are easy to use. You just need to turn on the unit using a remote control, set a timer, and relax. Ac units do not require any further instructions to work, whereas some dehumidifiers that do not come with a pump and automatic drainage solution require you to manually empty the container once its full of water.
I always recommend using a dehumidifier with a pump and auto shut off feature that turns it off once the bucket is full of water. Moving towards the size, ac units are now coming in a portable size as well, but are still not famous. We still use a traditional wall attached ac unit, and that seems to be the best option.
It is not easy to move the wall-attached ac unit from one room to another, but that’s not the case in dehumidifiers. You can place them anywhere and leave them turned on. Moreover, they are as small as a table fan sometimes and can be carried to a different place easily.
4. Types and availability
Window units are available in both portable and industrial sizes, while desiccant dehumidifiers are only available in portable sizes. Split air conditioning systems are also available in portable sizes, but they are more commonly found in the industrial category.
5. Noise levels
Compressor-based dehumidifiers tend to be noisier than desiccant models because of the sound made by the compressor motor. Window units and split air conditioning systems vary in terms of noise levels, with some models being louder than others. Portable air conditioners tend to be quieter than desiccant dehumidifiers, but they are noisier than split systems.
6. Effect on the environment
Desiccant dehumidifiers do not cause any significant harm to the environment because they use natural silica gel to reduce humidity levels.
On the other hand, compressor-based dehumidifiers rely on oil changes for maintenance purposes, which can affect the environment over time if the disposal is not performed properly.
Split air conditioning systems also require regular servicing and some window units can cause harm to the environment as well if they are disposed of improperly or if they contain chemicals that are harmful to wildlife or humans.
7. Operating temperature range
All three devices can help you control humidity in your home, but the operating temperature range for dehumidifiers is broader than that of air conditioners. Dehumidifiers can be used in temperatures as low as 41 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas air conditioners typically only work in temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Automatic shut down capability
Both compressor-based dehumidifiers and air conditioners have an automatic shutdown feature. However, this feature is activated when the water tank of a desiccant unit fills up, which prevents it from overflowing onto your floors or furniture pieces. Remember that compressor units don’t have this kind of safety mechanism in place because they rely on drainage kits instead.
9. Ideal for different tasks
Desiccant dehumidifiers are best suited for short-term use, while split systems and window units excel at short-term and long-term applications respectively. Compressor-based dehumidifiers are a good fit for commercial purposes as well as long periods of continuous use.
Desiccant dehumidifiers tend to be the cheapest option, while split systems come in at an average price point and compressor-based models tend to be expensive. Of course, you can find special deals online or from retailers that may offer discounted prices on any of these devices.
In addition, portable air conditioners cost more than desiccant units but they are cheaper than split systems – remember to compare prices before you make a purchase so you don’t spend too much money on your device.
11. Maintenance costs
The operating cost of an air conditioner is greater than that of a desiccant unit, but both split systems and window units have lower maintenance costs than compressor-based models. The reusability factor also comes into play when you compare device life spans, but the energy usage rates vary from model to model.
Desiccant dehumidifiers are affordable devices that can help you control humidity levels in your home. They are best suited for short-term applications, but they do require maintenance over time because of the silica gel beads.
Air conditioning systems and split units are more expensive options that can be used for both short-term and long-term purposes, although compressor-based models are more expensive and have higher maintenance costs.
Portable air conditioners are the most expensive option of the three, but they provide more cooling power than the other devices. Comparing prices is important before making a purchase so you can find the best deal. Whichever device you choose, make sure to read the reviews first.
The bottom line
When it comes to choosing between an air conditioner and a dehumidifier, the decision depends on your specific needs and preferences.
If you’re looking for a device that can quickly reduce humidity levels in a small area, a desiccant dehumidifier is the best option.
However, if you need a heavy-duty unit or you’re looking for a device that can also cool your home, an air conditioner is the better choice.
Is it better to use an air conditioner or dehumidifier?
If you live in a warm climate, you are likely to use an air conditioner more often. However, either device can help you control humidity in your home when used properly.
Is it cheaper to run a dehumidifier than an air conditioner?
The operating cost of a dehumidifier is lesser than that of an air conditioner.