Dry out your home for healthier living with the best dehumidifiers tried and tested
If your home suffers from damp patches or mould, a dehumidifier could be the answer to your problems. The root cause of damp is often excess moisture. Sometimes the construction of the building, poor insulation, ineffective drainage or a lack of ventilation are to blame, while cooking or drying clothes inside can have an impact. Either way, once your humidity level gets much above 60%, it’s bad for both you and your home.
It’s bad for you because bugs and mould love high humidity levels. Dust mites and mould spores thrive and can trigger allergies, skin irritation and respiratory problems such as asthma. Moods and general wellness can also be affected.
It’s bad for your home because you will get patches of damp and mould on your walls and ceilings – some superficial, but some creating lasting damage. You might even find your favourite things affected: books, clothing, furniture, printed art and old records can all be wrecked by mould and damp.
While opening windows and fixing up your home can help with damp or mould, the best way to combat excess humidity is often a dehumidifier. It will dry out your rooms, fight back against the damp and protect your walls and precious things from being affected. We’ve tested dozens of dehumidifiers in real-life damp conditions, measuring their impact using humidity meters and air quality monitors, to recommend the best dehumidifiers to banish the damp and mould in your home.
Best dehumidifiers: At a glance
|Best for small to mid-sized homes||De’Longhi Tascuigo AriaDry Multi 16L | £350||Check price at Argos|
|Best for larger homes||MeacoDry Arete One 20L | £260||Check price at John Lewis|
|Best for colder spaces||EcoAir DD1 Simple | £230||Check price at Ecoair|
|Best-value option for smaller homes||MeacoDry Arete One 10L | £160||Check price at Meaco|
|Best for performance and ease of use||Sharp UD-P20U-W | £280||Check price at JD Williams|
How to choose the best dehumidifier for you
All dehumidifiers do the same basic job of removing excess moisture from the air. However, there are three different technologies that do all the hard work.
- Compressor dehumidifiers work in much the same way as a fridge or freezer. They draw in air and cool it, condensing any moisture as it passes across a refrigerated coil. The water then drips off into a water tank below, while the air is reheated and released into the room. Compressor dehumidifiers can be noisy and may use more energy than other types, although new compressor technology and refrigerants are bringing improvements on both counts. They’re most efficient at warmer temperatures of 20°C and above, and your best bet if you need to remove lots of moisture from a larger space.
- Peltier dehumidifiers also cool the air and condense the moisture content into water, but they do it using a cold heat-sink rather than a compressor. They’re not as effective as compressors, removing smaller amounts of water in a given time, but they’re quieter and more energy-efficient. Peltier dehumidifiers tend to be compact, lightweight units designed for smaller spaces.
- Desiccant dehumidifiers don’t use a heat-sink or refrigerated coil to condense excess moisture, but instead draw the air across a wheel made from a desiccant material, which sucks the moisture out. As the wheel turns, moisture drips into the tank, while the damp patches are heated to dry them out again, warming up the air. Desiccant models tend to be expensive, but they’re generally quieter in operation than compressor dehumidifiers and more effective at lower temperatures. In fact, they will work in temperatures below 10°C, where compressor and Peltier units won’t work at all. If you need to dry out a loft or garage, you really need a dessicant model, but they can also be useful in a cold British winter for drying out your colder, damper rooms.
How we test dehumidifiers
We test dehumidifiers between October and March in real-world conditions in a damp-prone, three-bed detached home. We set up the dehumidifier in the living room and run it for a period of two hours, using the built-in humidity meter and an air quality monitor to take the humidity readings before switching on, following one hour and then again at two hours. We also measure noise levels using a smartphone app sound meter from a distance of one metre. We then retested the humidifiers in other areas of the house, including an upstairs landing and – with desiccant models – a free-standing concrete garage. We also check how easy it is to empty the water tank, and how easy it is to clean and store the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
What size dehumidifier do I need?
It all depends on how much space you need to dehumidify. Dehumidifiers are often rated in terms of their extraction rate: how much water they can remove from the air in a single day. This is separate from their water tank capacity, which covers how much water they can store before you need to empty them out.
An extraction rate of around five to ten litres per day is fine if you’re dehumidifying a small to medium-sized room in an average UK home, but if you want to dry out larger rooms where you spend more time, you might want to go up to ten litres and beyond. Push that further to 15, 18 or 20 litres and you can dehumidify large rooms or even a flat, terraced house or a floor of a detached house or semi.
If you’re only planning to dehumidify occasionally – for a few hours here or there in a kitchen or bathroom, for instance – you can get away with a mini-dehumidifier with an extraction rate of less than one litre. It will be cheap to buy, cheap to run and perfectly effective. The same applies if you’re trying to fight damp or mould in a smaller area, such as a wardrobe, utility room or box bedroom.
If you’re pulling out 15 to 20 litres per day, the dehumidifier needs to have a tank with the capacity to handle it or you will be emptying it out every few hours. Three litres is the absolute minimum, while five or six litres will give you a bit less emptying to do.
Is there anything else worth looking out for?
Dehumidifiers don’t have to be noisy, and there are some good near-silent options. They will work discreetly in your home without interfering with your sleep or work, so a quiet mode or eco mode is well worth any extra, particularly if it will save you some cash in running costs.
Laundry modes are another great feature. Wet laundry drying on a rack or radiator is one of the most common causes of excess moisture in the winter months, and models with a specific laundry setting are designed to suck the water out of your drying clothes at a faster rate and prevent it from adding to the room’s humidity. They might even create airflow across a drying rack. Your clothes should dry quicker, too, making this a more eco-conscious alternative to slinging them into a tumble dryer.
How much do dehumidifiers cost to run?
This varies according to the design, size and extraction rate. Generally speaking, desiccant dehumidifiers use more energy per hour than a compressor model, but can also work more effectively at removing moisture, which means costs tend to even out.
However, it’s worth looking out for newer and more energy-efficient designs. For example, Meaco’s MeacoDry Arete One 20L costs around 6p per hour to run, based on an electricity rate of 28.3p per kWh, while some models will cost significantly more at the same rate. Use your dehumidifier daily for a couple of hours and the difference soon mounts up.
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The best dehumidifiers you can buy in 2023
1. De’Longhi Tascuigo AriaDry Multi 16L: The best dehumidifier for small to mid-sized homes
Price when reviewed: £350 | Check price at Argos The AriaDry Multi is a stylish, compact dehumidifier which comes in a glossy midnight blue. It’s easy to use, with just three humidity settings targeting 40%, 50%, and 60% levels, and a laundry function. It’s easy to look after too – the 2.1l water tank pulls out neatly from one side, and DeLonghi also provides you with an outlet and a 1m plastic hose for continuous draining, if that’s an option.
Don’t get too excited about any claims of silent running – we found that, while actively dehumidifying, it puts out around 50dB on all of its three settings, so you won’t want to sit and watch the TV while it’s on. However, it’s a good performer for its size, reducing humidity in a damp-prone living room by 9% in the first hour and by nearly 22% within two hours. The laundry function’s quite effective too, helping dry your washing indoors without adding a layer of condensation to the windows. And at 9kg it’s light enough to take from room to room, making this a great dehumidifier for the average flat or small to medium-sized home.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 2.1l; Extraction rate: 16 litres per day; Dimensions: 50.8 x 33.2 x 22cm (HWD); Weight: 9kg; Warranty: 2 years
2. Princess Smart Dehumidifier 20L: The best smart dehumidifier for power
Price when reviewed: £280 | Check price at B&Q
Don’t get too excited about this dehumidifier’s smart capabilities. You can connect it to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, but the app is little more than a glorified remote control with only basic scheduling features and no way to integrate with existing air quality meters you might have hooked up. That aside, it’s a well-designed and effective dehumidifier, capable of extracting up to 20 litres per day into a larger-than-average six-litre tank. We found this surprisingly easy to remove from the rear of the machine when full, with a built-in handle for carrying.
The Princess isn’t as quiet as Meaco’s Arete models, but you can live with the 46dB it puts out at its highest fan setting, or the 40dB noise levels at low. It also has a useful laundry drying feature that makes the most of the vertical swing on the air output and the powerful fan. It’s simple to control, either through the app or via the built-in controls, and you can keep an eye on the current humidity level through a subtle “hidden” digital display on the front. Rival dehumidifiers have the edge on noise and performance, but the Princess gives you a great set of features at a very reasonable price.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 6l; Extraction rate: 20 litres per day; Dimensions: 59.5 x 37.1 x 25.1cm (HWD); Weight: 16.4kg; Warranty: 2 years
3. MeacoDry Arete One 20L: The best dehumidifier for larger homes
Price when reviewed: £260 | Check price at John Lewis
High-capacity dehumidifiers are usually power-hungry and noisy, but the MeacoDry Arete One is designed to do more with less energy and a lower volume, topping out at 40dB during typical use and keeping consumption to around 200W. In fact, both figures fall dramatically as humidity levels start to drop. It’s an excellent dehumidifier for larger spaces and, unlike most compressor models, will work at temperatures of between 5 and 25°C.
Its talents don’t end there; it has a laundry mode to dry your washing and a night mode for working quietly while you get some kip, although it’s still not really suitable for lighter sleepers. It also has an air purifier mode, complete with a proper HEPA filter. Throw in easy-to-use controls and a five-year warranty, and you’re looking at one of the most feature-packed and effective dehumidifiers out there, and easily the best for medium-sized and larger homes.
Read our MeacoDry Arete One review
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 4.8l; Extraction rate: 20 litres per day; Dimensions: 56.2 x 37.6 x 23.2cm (HWD); Weight: 15kg; Warranty: 5 years
4. EcoAir DD1 Simple: The best dehumidifier for colder spaces
Price when reviewed: £230 | Check price at EcoAir
This EcoAir model can extract up to seven litres of moisture per day, and as a desiccant-type dehumidifier, it works at lower temperatures than your average refrigerant device.
It’s slightly louder and consumes more power than the equivalent refrigerant, but can also run more effectively over shorter periods. That makes it a good bet for drying clothes or using in an outside office, garage or workshop where damp is becoming a problem, and it’s relatively lightweight and portable to boot.
With a two-litre tank, it might need emptying more regularly than some models, but there’s a 1m hose if you need continuous draining into a sink or drain. And while there’s no timer, you do get a laundry mode and a choice of quiet and turbo functions, and the rotary control is – as advertised – simple and easy to use.
Keep it running all day long and the costs could mount up, but this is an excellent dehumidifier for situations where a refrigerant model just won’t work.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Desiccant; Tank size: 2l; Extraction rate: 6 litres per day; Dimensions: 48.5 x 29 x 17.5cm; Weight: 6kg; Warranty: 2 years
5. MeacoDry Arete One 10L: The best-value dehumidifier for smaller homes
Price when reviewed: £160 | Check price at Meaco
The latest model in Meaco’s dehumidifier range is a compact version of the superb Arete One, dropping the extraction rate down to ten litres per day, but reducing the size of the unit to less than 50cm high. Not only is the Arete One 10L physically unobtrusive, but it’s also impressively quiet. While we measured noise levels of around 42dB with the fans running at full tilt, these rapidly decreased to well below 40dB, which is about as close as dehumidifiers get to silent. In its night mode, the Arete One 10L can go as low as 35dB.
Just like the larger model, the 10L has a laundry mode to dry your washing, and can double as an air purifier with the bundled HEPA filter inserted – although we found it a little less effective in our air-purifying tests than most dedicated models. As a dehumidifier, it’s hard to fault, working efficiently in small and medium-sized rooms to reduce humidity levels and get rid of mould and moisture. Throw in the intuitive controls and easily removable water tank, and this is the best of the compact options, and ideal for smaller rooms and homes.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 2.5l; Extraction rate: 10 litres per day; Dimensions: 47.2 x 23.7 x 31.9cm (HWD); Warranty: 5 years parts and labour
6. Sharp UD-P20U-W: A simple, powerful dehumidifier for medium to larger homes
Price when reviewed: £280 | Check price at Amazon
If your priority is performance rather than mod cons, the Sharp UD-P20U-W is a great dehumidifier. Sharp keeps things simple with just two modes – Dehumidfy and Dry – to tackle damp and deal with your laundry. Otherwise, you have a choice of two fan settings, a button to set the required humidity level and a simple timer to turn the unit off after one to eight hours. The clear display and dedicated controls make it a very easy machine to use, and with a 3.8l tank you won’t need to empty it often unless it’s running all day long.
It’s good at its job, too, taking the humidity level in our test room down from 72% to 48% within an hour, though only reaching 46% with another hour to play with. The Dry function was also fairly quick at drying clothes. Even some thicker tops and long-sleeved T-shirts were dry after six straight hours of Dry mode. Noise levels aren’t bad, either, ranging from 41.6dB to 47.1dB during testing, and power consumption peaked at 221W while in drying mode. While bigger, heavier and noisier than the MeacoDry Arete One, this is a solid alternative with plenty of drying power.
Key specs – Dehumidifier type: Compressor; Tank size: 3.8l; Extraction rate: 20 litres per day; Dimensions: 35.5 x 56.7 x 25.9cm (HWD); Weight: 16.7kg; Warranty: 2 years