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The best dehumidifiers of 2021

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CNN
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With heat and humidity on the way, we tested seven dehumidifiers to help you find the best one to keep your home dry and comfortable this summer. The models we looked at — all leading, well-reviewed, Energy Star-certified models — all performed as advertised, bringing our test space to a comfortable humidity level quickly, quietly and efficiently. But after exhaustive testing in a suburban home and basement, we found two great dehumidifiers with better usability and ergonomics to help you manage the humidity in any space in your home.

Best overall dehumidifier

The Frigidaire FFAP5033W1 tied for first place in pulling moisture from the air, had the best user interface and was simple to use in any household situation.

Runner-up, Best living space dehumidifier

The LG PuriCare UD501KOJ5 features a tall, slim design, an easy-to-empty bucket and a closed design that makes it safe to use around children or pets.

Frigidaire dehumidifier

Suzanne Kattau/CNN

Frigidaire dehumidifier

The Frigidaire dehumidifier was among the best performers in our testing, tying for first place in removing moisture from the air in our test space, but it also stood out because of its superior interface and usability. Its control panel is better thought out than the other dehumidifiers we looked at, with comfortable buttons clearly labeled with both easy-to-understand graphical icons as well as text, something missing in some of the other contenders.

The Frigidaire offers three fan speeds (low, medium, high); in our testing it did a good job controlling the humidity. With plenty of drainage options, the Frigidaire is suitable for anywhere in the household you need to address a humidity issue. For use in a bedroom, living room, office or other living space, an easy-to-read water level indicator lets you know when the bucket needs emptying, and the bucket itself is sturdy, easy to pull out when full and replace once emptied, and has a splash guard that kept us and our carpet and furnishings from getting damp.

It was simple to attach the passive drain hose to direct water to a floor drain, and the onboard pump was powerful enough to drain via a hose run overhead, as you would if you were directing the flow to a basement window. A sturdy pull-up handle (it’s hidden in the unit when not in use) and rolling casters made it very easy to move around from task to task, or to put away in drier weather.

Care is simple as well. The air filter was easy to access, take off, wipe clean and put back on. The Frigidaire unit also came with the most clear, comprehensive and useful user manual (in English, Spanish and French).

LG PuriCare dehumidifier

Suzanne Kattau/CNN

LG PuriCare dehumidifier

The LG PuriCare dehumidifier is taller and narrower than the other units we tested, giving it a smaller footprint that is easier to place in a living space, and it has a more attractive design, making it easier to integrate with furnishings than the other models we tested, which all shared a more industrial, office-supply look.

While the PuriCare has drainage options similar to the Frigidaire, its water bucket features an especially well-engineered design that we think makes it well suited to use in a living space, where you are unlikely to run a hose to a floor drain. The bucket slides in and out of the side of the unit (it was the only model we tested with this arrangement, which gave the LG PuriCare a cleaner look), where water levels are easy to see at a glance because of its transparency.

The bucket has a cover that completely covers it while you are transporting it (much like the Frigidaire’s full clear plastic cover), though it’s even better in that half of the cover lifts away for easy pouring. It was a pleasure to use during testing.

Connectors for drain and pump hoses were very similar in operation to the Frigidaire, and cleaning and care were straightforward. Its air filter was easy to access, take off, wipe clean and put back on. We even liked the LG PuriCare’s happy jingle-song sounds that let you know when the unit’s been turned on and off.

In simple terms, a dehumidifier sucks in air from your desired room at one end of the unit, removes the moisture from that bunch of air by using a fan to draw warm, moist air over a cold coil (in much the same way that a refrigerator works) and then blows the now cool, dry air back out into the room again, out the other end of the unit.

The moisture the dehumidifier collects usually drips into a removable collection bucket within the unit. You have to either manually remove and empty this bucket every so often, or, with some dehumidifiers, you can run a water hose out from the dehumidifier and into a floor drain. If you don’t have a floor drain, then some dehumidifiers have built-in pumps that can direct the collected moisture out and up through a water hose leading to a shop sink, out a window or wherever might be convenient.

If it’s been a while since you shopped for a dehumidifier, you may have noticed that based on their labels today’s models don’t seem to be able to remove as much moisture from the air as they used to. While 70-pint dehumidifiers were once common, now it’s more typical to find 50-pint offerings. But dehumidifier technology hasn’t really changed — the shift in ratings is due to a change in how the devices are tested (and has to do with how much moisture the air can hold at different temperatures).

In 2019, the Energy Star program (the joint project of the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy that rates consumer products for energy efficiency) changed the way it tested and rated dehumidifiers to more realistically approximate real-world use across a wider range of temperatures. Formerly, dehumidifiers were tested at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but since they’ve been tested at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Since warm air holds considerably more water than cold air, this has changed the ratings — a dehumidifier that would draw 70 pints of water over a 24-hour period at 80 degrees Fahrenheit pulls about 50 pints over the same period at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The actual performance of the fan and coils is the same.

Since dehumidifiers are meant to run more or less continuously, we narrowed our choices to highly rated, well-reviewed units that are Energy Star-rated for energy efficiency and rated for use in rooms up to 1,500 square feet in size. To suit the widest variety of spaces, we selected models with 50-pint capacity according to the current 2019 Energy Star standards; smaller and larger versions of these units are typically available if you need to address dampness in smaller or larger rooms.

To make sure the tested units would be versatile enough for most household applications, we made sure each one came equipped with multiple drainage options, including a direct passive drain port and an internal pump, and shipped with a drainage hose.

We then tested the dehumidifiers in an approximately 1,250-square-foot finished basement featuring wall-to-wall carpeting and adjustable baseboard heating. We raised humidity levels at the outset of testing using the AILINKE Whole House Humidifier, then tracked temperature and relative humidity during our tests using the SensorPush HTP.xw Wireless Thermometer/Hygrometer with its iOS app on an iPhone 11; the SensorPush device was calibrated using a Boveda One-Step Calibration Kit. To measure water weight we used the Health o Meter BFM884DQ1-60 Body Fat Monitoring Scale.

Humidity reduction: We measured how efficient the units were by measuring their ability to reduce relative humidity from a sticky 60% at 80 degrees Fahrenheit to a comfortable 40%. All units performed similarly; reducing the humidity to a comfortable 40% without issue within the test period, set to low or medium speed fan settings. Better performers were able to pull more moisture out of the air.

On each dehumidifier, we ran two humidity reduction tests. First we measured the amount of moisture collected in a unit’s enclosed water bucket. Then we repeated the test to assess each unit’s built-in pump’s ability to move water through an exhaust hose. We suspended the exhaust hose near the ceiling using hooks and back down into waiting metal pails to simulate draining to a distant sink or up through a basement window. Water output was measured in a graduated glass vase and weighted with a digital scale.

Listed from most to least, the amount of pints collected in four hours were as follows: Ivation (12.653 pints), Frigidaire (9.010 pints), GE (6.518 pints), LG PuriCare (6.135 pints), Honeywell (5.751 pints), Danby (4.601 pints) and hOmeLabs (3.451 pints).

We kept track of how many pints of water were collected by each dehumidifier over a test period using color-coded tape we affixed to the water line on the outside of a tall glass vase.

Suzanne Kattau/CNN

We kept track of how many pints of water were collected by each dehumidifier over a test period using color-coded tape we affixed to the water line on the outside of a tall glass vase.

Internal pump: All of the humidifiers were able to complete this pump test satisfactorily except for the Ivation unit. All of the units started pumping up the water just as soon as their internal water collection buckets were full; however, the Ivation indicated that its bucket was full, yet we waited an hour for its pump to start pumping up the water into the hose. It only pumped water up about 12 inches and then that action stopped; the unit just continued to run without pumping. We ended each test after one hour, so within this time frame, the Ivation unit did not perform like the other units in our testing.

To keep track of each humidifier's output during our pump hose test, we used colored powdered dye.

Suzanne Kattau/CNN

To keep track of each humidifier’s output during our pump hose test, we used colored powdered dye.

Noise level: We measured the noise levels produced by each unit over a 15-minute period while running at medium speed in our quiet basement using the NIOSH app running on an iPhone 11. While all of the models we tested made an audible hum in operation, in the end, each unit measured at an average level of around 50 decibels (dB) — no louder than the hum of a fan or running refrigerator and not loud enough to interfere with conversation or sleep, making any of the models we tested suitable for most anywhere around the house you’d want to use one.

From quietest to loudest: Honeywell (49.1 dB), Danby (49.8 dB), LG PuriCare (50.1.dB), hOmeLabs (50.7 dB), GE (52.2 dB), Frigidaire (52.9 dB) and Ivation (55.3 dB). For reference, a Conair 1875 hair dryer set on low measured 65.7 dB; that same hair dryer set on high came in at 75.8 dB.

Unboxing: We took each humidifier out of its box. Some came with warnings to let them sit upright out of their box for a set amount of time. We set them up vertically, took off all the protective wrappings and tape and let them rest out of the box for 36 hours before plugging them in. We noted how easy or difficult it was to locate all the hoses and accessories each dehumidifier was shipped with.

Tape removal: We noted how easy each unit was to remove from its box as well as noted how carefully taped and packaged each unit’s parts were during shipment. Most of the movable external parts of each dehumidifier were carefully taped down during shipment to prevent breakage or loss.

Mobility: We set up each dehumidifier on the same spot on our wall-to-wall carpeting, 2 feet from the nearest wall and at least 4 feet away from any other object. We noted each unit’s weight and bulk and how easy or difficult it was to glide the dehumidifier across our carpeted floor, with the bucket empty and then full (the latter not recommended by manufacturers but something that’s likely to happen in everyday use).

All the tested dehumidifiers set up for our pump hose test.

Suzanne Kattau/CNN

All the tested dehumidifiers set up for our pump hose test.

Water buckets/hoses/cords: We took note of each unit’s water bucket capacity, the ease of use of the bucket itself, the ease of water hose installation, as well as the length of its water hose and its materials, and length of the unit’s power cord.

Control panel: We also noted the readability and legibility of each control panel’s buttons, LED readout window and water level indicator see-through slot on each water bucket.

Warranty: We noted the comprehensiveness and length of each unit’s warranty. All offered similar and satisfactory warranties.

User manual: We read each manual, assessing readability, usefulness and clarity in its instructions and images, as well as noting how often we had to consult the manual during setup and use.

Subjective assessment: We also judged each dehumidifier on its unit’s attractiveness and whether or not we felt the unit was a safety hazard for toddlers and small children left unattended (based on our observations of each unit’s vents and other open slots on the top and sides).

Danby DDR050BJPWDB-ME ($269; amazon.com)

The Danby dehumidifier performed well in our tests and was easy to maintain and use, but was let down by its control panel that was difficult to read, with small, unlabeled buttons and a tiny, hard-to-read display. The small square window on the bucket made water levels difficult to see until the unit was nearly full.

GE APER50LZ ($246.64; amazon.com)

The GE dehumidifier we tested, like the other dehumidifiers, performed well. It was a bit more difficult to care for (we had to consult the user manual to find the air filter, which is hidden away behind the water bucket and figure out how to remove it). The bucket is easy to take out and empty, though we had some issues with spillage. And the gray color looks a bit commercial or industrial and might not blend in well with residential decor.

hOmeLabs HME020391N ($224.99; amazon.com)

This dehumidifier by hOmeLabs did not collect as much water as the other units did during our four-hour tests by far, though it did maintain humidity levels. It featured a useful red water line indicator like the Frigidaire, and the air filter was easy to access, take off, wipe clean and put back on. Its bucket, however, takes a little bit of wrangling to remove and replace. It was also the most difficult bucket to empty, almost spilling water all over our testing floor as we tried to pour it into our glass vase to measure it.

Honeywell TP70PWKN ($334.59; amazon.com)

The Honeywell dehumidifier was considered for the top spot given its nice bucket design and clear, visible display and control panel (it was the only model that displayed the current relative humidity of the room on the side of the unit in bright, clear numbers); it had middle-of-the-pack performance and energy efficiency, however. We liked its long, comfortable handle, which makes moving the unit around easy. It has a removable splash guard on the top of its water collection bucket, which comes in handy when carrying the full bucket across the room and up the stairs to empty it of its water. The dehumidifier’s air filter was easy to access, take off, wipe clean and put back on.

Ivation IVADH50PWP2 ($289.95; amazon.com)

The Ivation dehumidifier collected the most water in four hours, filling our measurement vessel. However, it did not perform as well as the other units during our internal pump test; over the course of an hour, it was unable to pump water to our overhead drainage setup. Like the GE, the Ivation’s air filter is hidden behind the internal bucket; we took a look at the manual to figure out how to access it, though it was easy to clean once we did. We liked the power cord, which features a space-saving plug design that should fit even the most crowded outlets. It also has a comfortable handle.

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