Drying up: The best dehumidifiers on a budget

Perhaps warm weather, like prescription drugs, should come with a disclaimer: May cause high humidity and side effects including mold, mildew, musty smells, and allergic reactions. The treatment is, of course, a dehumidifier. Professionally installed units integrated into a home’s heating and cooling system cost thousands, and large, stand-alone dehumidifiers can go for $500 or more. With the right model, you can spend a lot less and still dehumidify a large area.

Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable dehumidifiers.

  • The Soleus Air DP1-70-03 (starting at $179) can extract up to 70 pints of water per day from humid air. Many consumers who have posted reviews online say they’ve found this dehumidifier ideal for a basement. It has three speeds, so you can adjust the fan if it gets too noisy. Extra features include automatic restart after a power outage, an automatic defrost function in case the coils freeze, and a timer that can be set to turn off the dehumidifier after two or four hours. (Where to buy)
  • The Frigidaire FAD504DUD (starting at $189) has a capacity of 50 pints per day. In online reviews, consumers deem this dehumidifier quiet and effective. Users also seem to appreciate the easy-to-empty bucket, with its carrying handle and splash guard. A washable filter combats bacteria and odor, and an indicator light comes on to remind you to clean the filter. In addition to the typical one-year limited warranty, the manufacturer guarantees the sealed system (the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and tubing) for five years. (Where to buy)

A digital humidistat lets you set the target humidity level — experts suggest between 30 percent and 50 percent. (Air that’s too dry brings its own set of discomforts.) The dehumidifier cycles on and off automatically to maintain the desired level. Each model listed above also has a continuous mode to keep it running all the time. However, that can start to significantly affect your electric bills. These dehumidifiers are Energy Star compliant, which means they meet government standards for efficiency and can save you about $20 per year on energy costs compared with conventional models. The Energy Star website offers a guide to determining the capacity you need to efficiently control the humidity in your space. According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, our picks can handle 2,500 square feet in extremely wet conditions.

These dehumidifiers use a fan to draw humid air inside, where it’s cooled until some of the water in the air condenses. That moisture drips into a bucket that must be emptied. Both of the models above turn off automatically so they don’t overflow and have alerts that indicate when the bucket is full. They also give you the option of hooking up a hose for continuous drainage, so you don’t have to keep emptying the bucket manually. Both can operate in temperatures as low as 41 degrees, although that shouldn’t be necessary for quite a while yet.

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