Dehumidifier vs AC: Which One to Pick?

Last updatedLast updated: July 30, 2021
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Dehumidifiers, as air control systems, work by removing moist air from indoor environments, turning it into water which is dripped in a tank. An air conditioning system does the same, but while it removes humidity, it also lowers the temperature considerably, making the indoor air more pleasant and livable.

In recent years, many manufacturers have been emphasizing the dehumidification function to praise their air conditioners. However, it is not that easy to understand why an air conditioner can act as a dehumidifier. Because of these reasons and many others, many would-be users are usually torn in a choice between the two. In this dehumidifier vs AC comparison article, we’ll see what is better for you: a dehumidifier or an air conditioner?

Luckily, we’re here to help you make up your mind!

How does a dehumidifier work?

Dehumidifier vs AC: Which One to Pick?

The dehumidifier is a small device capable of “drying” up the atmosphere by removing inherent moisture, raising the indoor climatic conditions to levels that the user can set according to their preferences.

This type of device is widely used in winter because it brings a lot of advantages that make the environment more pleasant to live in.

Having a dehumidifier in the home during the summer season helps make the heat less intolerable, reducing the hot humidity level which, as we said, affects the perception of heat.

By reducing the humidity to a level lower than that recorded in the atmosphere, the dehumidifier allows the body to perceive dry heat. This is much less suffocating and exhausting than the moist heat.

Therefore, the dehumidifier in the summer does not lower the temperatures. But it makes the atmosphere less humid, less difficult to bear, and much more pleasant, which relieves from the heat.

When do you need one?

Dehumidifying the air does not mean cooling it. Are you looking for a device that emits cold air quickly and sometimes almost immediately changing the temperature of a room at home or in the office? Then the dehumidifier is not the right tool for you. It does not lower the temperature.

However, it transforms moist heat into dry heat (without significantly changing the temperature). If you want to cool the air without making it less humid then you should consider purchasing an air conditioner.

Types of dehumidifiers

There are generally three types of dehumidifiers: the refrigerant dehumidifier, the desiccant dehumidifier, and the whole-house dehumidifier:

The refrigerant dehumidifier

For this first device, the air extracted by the fan is led directly to the evaporator, where it will be cooled. The humidity in the air would thus be transformed into water and then discharged into a tank.

The air will be sent to the condenser to be reheated before being emitted into your room and restarting its cycle. These phases make it possible to obtain the desired percentage of humidity.

Some of the common types are dehumidifiers for the basements, dehumidifiers for the bedroom and living room and dehumidifiers for the bathroom.

According to experts, Homelabs is one of the most reliable brands in the air dehumidification unit producing sector, and its 1,500 Sq. Ft Energy Star Dehumidifier is one of the best in its range. It’s ideal for medium to large rooms as well as basements.

The desiccant dehumidifier

In a desiccant dehumidifier, the fan is assisted by silica gel to extract and capture moisture from the air. The air is then evacuated to a tank to be heated before being released into your room by the operation of the fan. Because of how they work, they’re also known as absorbent dehumidifiers.

Whole-house dehumidifiers

The whole-house dehumidifiers are completely different from the earlier ones described as these are not portable but installed permanently.

Also installed in commercial and industrial facilities, whole-house dehumidifiers are hooked up with the HVAC vent. They are more powerful, functional, and cost-effective.

How does an air conditioner work?

Another device widely used in the fight against summer heat is the air conditioner. The principle of operation is profoundly different from that of the dehumidifier.

The main advantage of this type is that it sends out a pleasant jet of cold air that can relieve pain.

In general, an air conditioner uses a refrigeration circuit. This is not for bringing cold air into the room, but to extract the hot air from the room. The exchanger of the indoor unit reaches cold temperatures, and the fan of the unit itself takes care of distributing the cold air in the room by passing air through the exchanger.

According to users who have tested the device, the MIDEA EasyCool Window Air Conditioner is one of the best air conditioning systems on the market. It can cool, dehumidify, and fan a space of up to 250 square feet.

Dehumidifier vs AC: Which One to Pick?

Functions

The air conditioning system consists of a series of buttons and symbols that may seem complex to us. Sometimes we don’t understand what these kinds of commands are for.

Normally, with almost all brands and models of air conditioning systems, we can find the same functions that are represented by very similar symbols. Among the most common are the following:

  1. Mode: As its name indicates, it is in charge of selecting the different operating modes of the equipment. These modalities are:
  • Heat: When you select the heat mode, heating is achieved thanks to a heat pump.
  • Cool: This is the function designed to cool the room where the device is placed.
  • Dry: With this function, the device releases dry air. Thanks to this function, the room is heated and the humidity in the room decreases. Typically, this feature appears next to a water drop icon.
  • Fan: It does not heat or cool, it only moves the air.
  • Silent mode: This function reduces the noise from the outdoor unit.
  • Econo mode: This increases the temperature by about three degrees, saving up to 30% of energy.
  • Sleep (night mode): Thanks to this function, you can program the device to turn it off.
  1. Select and Time: These functions are related to the mode mentioned above (night mode). Select allows you to set the clock or timer and Time programs the moment you want the device to turn on or off.
  2. Powerful Cool (rapid cooling): It helps us to cool a room more quickly, but it will also consume more energy.
  3. Vane / Moving: This allows you to change the inclination of the vanes of the device to direct the air higher or lower.
  4. Too warm / Too Cool (too hot/cold): Symbolized with a downward and upward arrow respectively, it is used to lower the temperature degrees if it is too hot, or increase them if it is cold.
  5. Ventilation power: This marks the speed with which the air leaves the appliance. There are usually four different levels; high, medium, low, and automatic

When do you need one?

The air conditioner is not suitable for you if the room temperature is usually below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You need an AC when the temperature goes beyond 70 degrees Fahrenheit, especially in the summer. Air conditioners are however also suitable for use in winter, thanks to their heating mode.

Portable AC with dehumidifier

This device has a regulation panel installed on the back. Here, the different cooling options are found and you can adjust the temperature and the speed with which the fan releases the cold air.

This device works by attracting hot air that is in the environment. It captures the air and compresses it until it is dispersed in space and at a lower temperature by the front area of the device.

The heat created when the unit is on is distributed through an outward conduit located in the most adjacent window.

On the other hand, it also has an outlet for the water stored in a tank that originated in the process.

To have a higher degree of efficiency, it is advisable to place the appliance at a considerable distance from walls and curtains.

These air conditioners with dehumidifiers are very portable like the refrigerant dehumidifiers, and you can change their locations in the house at will.

The viability of the portable air conditioner with a dehumidifier function has allowed it to break through the market. It’s of incredible benefit not only at home but for those who love camping. You can get one, use it in your camper or even in a tent outdoors when there is heat or too much if humidity.

If you love the blend of functions of these devices, you will love the MIDEA MAP08R1CWT, a 3-in-1 portable air conditioner that also works as a dehumidifier and a fan.

Dehumidifier vs AC: Side-by-side comparison

Dehumidifier vs AC: Which One to Pick?

So, an air conditioner or dehumidifier: which of the two wins?

An air conditioner also dehumidifies! It is used to regulate the temperature in the rooms.

The air conditioner takes heat from the room. The air, thus taken, passes into an evaporator where refrigerant circulates at low temperature and which will cool this air before it is returned to the room.

The fluid will continue on its way to the compressor in a gaseous form; then it will be compressed before being sent to the condenser.

The latter will extract the substances resulting from heat and will eject them outside.

It also redirects the fluid that has become gaseous again to the evaporator via a pressure-reducing valve.

This cycle will continue until the requested temperature is obtained.

When we find ourselves with humidity problems in our home, we naturally turn to dehumidifiers. However, air conditioners have the same function!

The air returned to the room by the air conditioner will be colder but also drier: dehumidified air. Air conditioners dry the air in rooms because their role is to transform warm, humid air into drier cold air.

This is an advantageous system because the function called “Dry” by the manufacturers is very efficient and can work independently of the air conditioning function on most models.

It maintains a constant humidity level of around 50%, extracting from the ambient air up to 50 liters of water per 24 hours.

Dehumidifying with an air conditioning system can be useful in some areas where it is hot and humid, and this mode is often sufficient for comfort but also more energy-efficient than a dehumidifier on its own.

Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can meet the same need for comfort. However, air conditioners have other functions (air conditioning/heating/air purification/wi-fi, and more), so they have a higher cost to purchase.

In this case, you have to assess the quality of comfort you are looking for to adapt your budget to your needs and choose the most suitable air conditioner model.

We will give you a more descriptive comparison in a comparison table which you can find below:

Dehumidifier AC
Functions and uses It removes moist air and circulates the treated air It cools, heat, purifies and dehumidifies the air
Efficiency Dehumidifiers are more effective for dehumidification Air conditioners are more effective overall
Versatility Dehumidifier only dehumidifies and circulates air Air conditioners are more versatile
Durability Dehumidifiers are usually made of plastic are not as durable as ACs. They last for 5 to 10 years Air conditioners are more durable. They last for 10 to 15 years
Ease of installation and maintenance Dehumidifiers are easier to maintain and install Installation and maintenance often requires the service of a professional
Running cost The dehumidifier uses less energy Air conditioners consume a lot of energy
Price Dehumidifiers are less expensive during acquisition. Costs around $30 to $600 Air conditioners are considerably more expensive during acquisition

Final thoughts

The choice depends primarily on your personal needs, as well as the type of environment in which you want to place the device.

Nowadays, people prefer the dehumidifier for health reasons. It also offers a beneficial action of air purification, elimination of mold, and bad odors from the environment.

Those with humidity issues will likely prefer a dehumidifier, which will offer the benefit of being able to be used year-round, consuming less, and avoiding muscle and joint damage caused by excessively cold air conditioning.

For those who need to cool one or more rooms quickly, it is worth opting for an air conditioner (which in some cases also emits hot air and can be used even in winter).

The dehumidifier vs AC comparison, therefore, has no clear winner. The best to choose is dependent on your needs.

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