Whole-house dehumidifiers remove humidity from indoor air, reducing uncomfortable stickiness and mitigating the likelihood of mold growth that may trigger certain illness and cause damage to a home. If you live in a naturally humid region or are simply a fan of extra-long steamy showers, you may benefit from a dehumidifier.
The nice thing about whole-house dehumidifiers—also called “ducted” or “inline” dehumidifiers—is that they connect to the home’s HVAC system to remove moisture throughout every room in the house, not just one. They’re pricier than other types of dehumidifiers, and in many communities, local codes will require professional installation. But they’re usually pretty quiet and can help reduce cooling costs in warm weather seasons.
According to the EPA, optimal indoor humidity levels are between 30 and 50 percent. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for a ducted dehumidifier and find out why the following models are among the best whole-house dehumidifiers for today’s homeowners.
- BEST OVERALL: AprilAire E100C Pro 100-Pint Whole-Home Dehumidifier
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AprilAire E080 Pro 80-Pint Dehumidifier
- BEST SMALL-HOUSE: Honeywell Ducted 5.2A Whole-House Dehumidifier
- BEST AIR QUALITY: Santa Fe Ultra98 98-Pint Whole-Home Dehumidifier
- ALSO CONSIDER: Honeywell Ducted 7.3A Whole-House Dehumidifier
How We Chose the Best Whole-House Dehumidifiers
We researched over 20 models of whole-house dehumidifiers, assessing quality, operating capacity, and cost-effectiveness. While we took brand reputation into account, particularly for industry leaders such as AprilAire and Honeywell, we also explored newer brands that offered competitive pricing and strong buyer reviews. We were looking for models that were quiet, energy efficient, and required minimal maintenance.
For many, whole house dehumidifier cost is a pricey prospect—homeowners can expect to pay between $900 and $2,000 just for the unit alone. Professional installation can bring the final tally to an average of $1,300 to $2,800. The models in our lineup are well suited for several excess-humidity situations. Still, it’s always a good idea to consult with an HVAC specialist before purchasing one to ensure it’s correctly sized for a specific heating and cooling system.
Our Top Picks
For those looking to reduce the humidity level in their entire home, odds are that one of the whole-house dehumidifiers on this lineup will fit the bill. While the following models vary in price and the amount of living space they will effectively treat, each one is designed to reduce moisture in the air so the home’s occupants are more comfortable. We detail all the whole-house dehumidifier pros and cons in each individual review.
The E100C Pro ducted dehumidifier from AprilAire tops our lineup of whole-house dehumidifiers for quality, efficiency, and convenience. The E100C removes up to 100 pints of water from the air in a 24-hour period and is suitable for use in homes with up to 5,500 square feet of living space. The AprilAire E100 series has been tested and certified by Energy Star as being “most efficient,” meaning it’s among the best models for conserving energy while still providing high levels of indoor comfort and performance.
This dehumidifier installs on a home’s HVAC duct system, and professional installation is recommended. It features a single on/off switch, and the desired relative humidity (RH) level is programmed during installation, so there’s nothing for residents to adjust once installation is complete. Once set, the dehumidifier will sense and maintain the desired RH independently. Alternatively, a wired wall-mount controller (sold separately) can be connected to adjust the dehumidifier from a central location.
This AprilAire dehumidifier comes with caster wheels that are designed to make it easier to roll the unit into place on a hard surface, such as a concrete basement floor. There’s no water tank to monitor or dump—optimally, condensation is routed through a pipe or tube into the same drain the HVAC uses. However, if the unit is located in a spot with no drain, such as a crawl space, a separate condensate pump will be necessary to remove the collected water to a suitable drain.
- Dehumidification capacity: 100 pints per day (ppd)
- Coverage: Up to 5,500 square feet
- Professional installation: Recommended
- The unit automatically turns on and off to maintain desired relative humidity
- Constructed from durable, corrosion-resistant materials to resist rusting
- Condensation is directed via a hose or pipe to the home’s drainage system
- Professional installation is recommended to ensure correct wiring and ducting
- A separate condensate pump must be used if the E100C is located in a spot where a drain isn’t available
Get the AprilAire E100C whole-house dehumidifier at Amazon, SupplyHouse, or AprilAire.
There’s no question that ducted dehumidifiers are a costly investment, but those with a smaller living space can spend a little less and still get a high-quality whole-house dehumidifier. Our budget pick is from the same manufacturer as our top pick; it simply has a slightly smaller capacity. The AprilAire E080 is the least expensive model on our lineup, yet it still treats homes up to 4,400 square feet and, like its more powerful cousin, it’s also certified by Energy Star for further savings.
The E080 should be installed by an HVAC professional for best results. It’s designed to be connected to the home’s return-air ducting, removing humidity before the drier air is directed back into the house. The desired relative humidity can be set on the unit during installation, or an alternative controller (sold separately) can be installed in a more convenient spot.
The dehumidifier can be positioned over a floor drain if one is convenient, or a hose can be run from the unit to a floor drain. If no drain is available, a separate condensate pump will be required to pump the collected water to a suitable drain. The E080 offers a high level of climate control for a fairly affordable price.
- Dehumidification capacity: 80 ppd
- Coverage: Up to 4,400 square feet
- Professional installation: Recommended
- Desired RH can be set directly on the unit—no further adjusting necessary
- The dehumidifier is manufactured from rust- and corrosion-resistant materials
- Can be located directly over a floor drain for easy water removal
- Professional installation is recommended to ensure the best possible results
Get the AprilAire E080 whole-house dehumidifier at Amazon or SupplyHouse.
From an industry leader in heating, cooling, and air purification comes our top pick for a whole-house dehumidifier for smaller homes. This Honeywell model dehumidifies living spaces up to 1,800 square feet and has a 65 ppd removal rate.
Like the other ducted dehumidifiers in the lineup, the Honeywell installs on the home’s HVAC system. It features a built-in humidistat that can be programmed to the occupants’ desired humidity level—the unit will then automatically turn on and off to maintain that level. Alternatively, this dehumidifier can be used in conjunction with several types of Honeywell digital controllers, such as the HumidiPRO Digital Controller (sold separately).
The Honeywell dehumidifier can be positioned over a floor drain or used with a hose to drain collected water to a nearby drain. If no drain is available, the user must purchase and install a separate condensate pump to remove the collected water to a suitable drain.
- Dehumidification capacity: 65 ppd
- Coverage: Up to 1,800 square feet
- Professional installation: Recommended
- Dehumidifier can be programmed or will work with 1 of several Honeywell humidity and temperature controllers
- No water reservoir to dump—the unit empties into a floor drain
- Once set up, the dehumidifier maintains optimal humidity level without further adjusting
- Professional installation is recommended because electrical wiring is involved
Get the Honeywell 5.2A whole-house dehumidifier at Amazon or Standard Supply.
For midsize homes up to 2,300 square feet, the Santa Fe Ultra98 offers a whole lot of humidity reduction. It can remove as many as 98 pints of water in 24 hours when operating at full capacity, and water drains via a hose into a nearby drain—no tank to dump.
While all dehumidifiers have filters of some sort, the Santa Fe Ultra98 boasts a high-efficiency MERV 13 filter that can trap 90 percent or more of airborne particulates that measure up to 3 microns in size. As a comparison, an average human hair is about between 75 and 100 microns thick. So not only does the Ultra98 remove unwanted humidity, it also banishes airborne pollutants.
The Ultra98 installs to the home’s HVAC ducting, and an optional outdoor air intake can be added to introduce fresh air to the home if desired. A separate controller is required for use with the Santa Fe Ultra98—the manufacturer suggests the Ultra-Aire DEH 3000/3000R (sold separately). Other controllers may be compatible, so check with an HVAC technician to be sure. The Ultra98 installs on the home’s HVAC ducting system, and like all whole-house dehumidifiers, professional installation is highly recommended.
- Dehumidification capacity: 98 ppd
- Coverage: Up to 2,300 square feet
- Professional installation: Recommended
- Dehumidifier features a high-efficiency filter that traps airborne pollutants
- The unit can be adapted to bring fresh outdoor air into the home
- Well suited for use in midsize homes of up to 2,300 square feet
- Professional installation is strongly recommended due to electrical wiring needs
- No built-in controller—a separate controller must be ordered
Get the Santa Fe whole-house dehumidifier at Amazon, Sylvane, or SupplyHouse.
Those looking for a high-quality, high-capacity ducted humidifier may wish to check out the Honeywell 7.3A whole-house dehumidifier. The second Honeywell model to make our lineup, this model is intended for larger homes with up to 3,500 square feet of living space.
This powerful dehumidifier can remove up to 120 pints of water from the air daily, giving it the highest dehumidification capacity of any pick on our lineup. This powerful Honeywell is well suited to homes in areas with high natural humidity, such as coastal communities and tropical regions.
Professional installation is recommended. The built-in humidistat can be programmed to maintain a consistent humidity level, or the dehumidifier can be controlled with one of several Honeywell thermostats and humidistats (sold separately).
A drain hose can be connected to the unit’s built-in drain port and run to a nearby floor drain. Alternatively, the hose can be connected to a condensate pump (not included) that can pump the collected water to a suitable drain if one is not nearby. While this is the priciest model on the list, it’s made by Honeywell, a name that’s earned a high degree of trust in HVAC and air-treatment appliances.
- Dehumidification capacity: 120 ppd
- Coverage: Up to 3,500 square feet
- Professional installation: Recommended
- Offers a high level of dehumidification—up to 120 pints per day
- Can be preprogrammed or configured for use with other Honeywell controllers
- Dehumidifies homes with up to 3,500 square feet of living space
- Requires professional installation due to wiring, so it’s not a DIY project
Get the Honeywell 7.3A whole-house dehumidifier at Amazon, Zoro, or Walmart.
What to Consider When Choosing a Whole-House Dehumidifier
As a pricey investment, a whole-house humidifier shouldn’t be an off-the-cuff purchase. Below, learn about the factors and features to keep in mind while shopping for a unit. Whole house dehumidifier pros and cons run the gamut–some relate to the type of unit while others are associated with the initial investment or operating costs. Still, the benefits of whole-house humidifier systems are substantial.
There are two main categories of dehumidifiers: portable and ducted. Whole-house systems fall into the ducted category and connect to a home’s HVAC ducting. When the furnace or central air conditioner is running, moist air from the house is pulled through the return air vents and then through the connected dehumidifier, where the moisture is removed and the dry air is heated or cooled and dispersed throughout the house via vents.
In addition to the different types, there are two main methods of dehumidification: refrigerant and desiccant. In general (although there are exceptions), the desiccant method is used for portable room models, and the refrigeration method is used in whole-house dehumidifiers.
- Refrigerant dehumidifiers work by cycling hot, humid air over a cold surface, usually coils filled with liquid refrigerant. When the hot air passes through the coils, it forms condensation and drips into the collection tank or out of the drainage tube into a floor drain. This is the preferred type of moisture removal found in a whole-house dehumidifier system.
- Desiccant dehumidifiers use chemicals that absorb moisture to pull water from the air as it cycles through the system. The water is collected in a tank or directed to a drain via a hose.
Dehumidification capacity indicates how much moisture a dehumidifier can remove from the air daily. It is measured by the number of pints of water removed per day. The capacity can vary—even for the same model—depending on existing humidity, desired humidity level, space size, and temperature. Some manufacturers provide a capacity metric for their dehumidifiers. The Department of Energy provides guidelines and regulates the process of capacity testing for manufacturers seeking certification.
While single-room dehumidifiers usually fall within the range of 25 to 40 pints of moisture removed daily, installed and ducted whole-house systems usually remove between 70 and 120 pints daily. It’s possible to use several room dehumidifiers and achieve the same dehumidification capacity as an installed whole-house dehumidifier. Going this route may make the most sense for renters or those planning to move soon.
Before purchasing a new whole-house dehumidifier, shoppers will want to take stock of the size of the space they want to dehumidify. Matching the size of the space to the capacity and coverage area of the dehumidifier is known as “sizing.” Accurate sizing is critical to achieving maximum energy efficiency and dehumidification effectiveness.
While capacity and coverage are related, they are not synonymous. Just because a dehumidifier has a high ppd rating doesn’t mean it’s automatically well suited to a larger home. Things such as the size of the unit and the amount of air it circulates factor into the coverage area as well, so check both ratings when comparing dehumidifiers.
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a portable whole-house dehumidifier, because these units are designed to install on the return-air ducting of the home’s HVAC system. They are permanent fixtures.
Many manufacturers list their dehumidifier’s airflow rate in cubic feet per minute (CFM), but if it doesn’t appear on the product’s listing, don’t be surprised—it’s not a requirement. Generally, whole-house dehumidifiers come with 100 to 300 CFM ratings, with the larger and more powerful models at the upper end.
This is where the advice of an HVAC professional can come in handy because the goal is to have sufficient airflow to process the air in the home quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, if the airflow exceeds what is needed, the unit can remove too much moisture, resulting in dry, itchy skin and higher-than-necessary utility bills from operating an oversize unit.
Keep in mind that units with high airflow ratings may be noisier than those with lower ratings, so the goal is to balance coverage, capacity, and airflow.
The easiest way to ensure getting an energy-efficient unit is by choosing one with Energy Star certification. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the unit. Something that’s too large for the space in question will cause energy waste, while something too small will cause the system to overwork itself, which lessens its longevity.
Lastly, some dehumidifiers come with smart sensors. Buyers can place the sensors in different areas of the home, and the dehumidifier will run only as needed to maintain the desired humidity level in those areas. In terms of long-term efficiency, modern, fully installed ducted dehumidifiers are more energy efficient than portable-room dehumidifiers, but they come with higher upfront costs.
Portable room dehumidifiers come with internal collection tanks—whole-house dehumidifiers do not. Still, all dehumidifiers remove water from the air, and that water has to have a place to go. Ducted whole-house dehumidifiers are designed with drainage ports, which can be used in two ways. The user can position the drain port directly over a floor drain, which is standard practice, or attach a drain hose and drop the end of the hose in a nearby floor drain.
That works well if the dehumidifier is installed in a basement or utility room next to the HVAC unit because the HVAC unit also produces condensed water that requires a drain. It doesn’t work as well when there’s no space to locate the dehumidifier next to the HVAC unit.
When that happens, the dehumidifier is often located in an adjacent room or below the HVAC unit in a crawlspace, and there may be no drain nearby. In those cases, the user must also install a separate condensate pump and run a drain hose from the dehumidifier to the pump, which then pumps the water to a remote drain or to the yard’s surface, where it can run off.
Helpful extras such as digital displays, remote-control ability, Wi-Fi connectivity, and internal filter-change warning systems make the dehumidifier more enjoyable to use. Wi-Fi connectivity or app controllability is a nice feature as it allows users to monitor the unit as it operates and turn the desired humidity level up or down as they choose.
A few whole-house dehumidifiers offer added features, such as a high-efficiency filter that removes airborne particles while removing humidity. Others may offer the option of attaching a fresh-air intake hose that brings outdoor air inside to help reduce stuffiness.
Purchasing a whole-house dehumidifier can be quite an investment, and shoppers might have some additional queries. Check out the most commonly asked questions and their answers below to help you make your decision.
Q. Do whole-house dehumidifiers use a lot of electricity?
Like most whole-house appliances, dehumidifiers can be energy intensive. Still, the ultimate cost depends on the ppm rating, the wattage of the unit, and the local cost of electricity. Those trying to get a good idea of the energy usage of a dehumidifier can use an online calculator to help predict the monthly fee. And keep an eye out for a dehumidifier with Energy Star certifications.
Q. Where is the best place to put a whole-house dehumidifier?
The best spot is close to the existing HVAC system because the dehumidifier must be tied into the ducting. In many homes, this means in a utility room or a basement. If there’s not enough available space right next to the HVAC system, a professional will install the dehumidifier nearby, sometimes in a crawl space, and run the ducting through the walls or floor to reach the HVAC system.
Q. How much does a whole-house dehumidifier installation cost?
A whole-house dehumidifier install usually costs between $1,300 and $2,800, including the price of the dehumidifier. Extra-large or powerful units can run higher.
Q. How does a whole-house dehumidifier work?
These units draw in humid indoor air, remove the moisture, and then expel drier air into the home via the home’s vent system.
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