Sure, you’ve got an amazing man cave, but it can get stuffy in the single room or basement. What to do? The answer is simple: Get a dehumidifier.
But, you ask, why would that help me, and which kind should I get? We’re glad you asked.
I Wish It Was More Humid. Said No One Ever.
Benefits Of Dehumidifiers
Dehumidifiers are effective at reducing the amount of moisture in the surrounding air. Dehumidifiers are different from humidifiers, which instead increase the moisture content in the air. For a man cave, a dehumidifier makes more sense than a humidifier because the spaces, such as basements, can get warm and humid, rather than cold and dry.
In a room where the humidity level is often over 50%, a dehumidifier can effectively reduce humidity in the air to a healthier level of 35-50%.
As well as reducing humidity levels, so you can be more comfortable in your lair, dehumidifiers also help to alleviate allergies by eliminating bacteria, such as mold, mildew, and dust mites, in the air. Also, the flu virus, which typically thrives when humidity levels exceed 98%, are kept at bay when the unit is in regular use.
How Dehumidifiers Work
Perhaps the most important part of the dehumidifier is the fan. It pulls air over two sets of refrigerant-filled coils. While one coil is warm, the other is cold.
The dual temperatures alleviate moisture as they work. Dehumidifiers vary by how much moisture they wring out of the air in 24 hours. See the section below titled “Size Of The Space And Degree Of Wetness” for additional information.
What Makes A Good Dehumidifier?
The dehumidifier that is best or “good” for your basement, crawlspace or another muggy room depends on your needs, preferences, and budget. Dehumidifiers range from $50-$300, depending on the size.
Typically, the quality ones range from $150-$180. Here is an overview of the various features of dehumidifiers to consider as you comparison shop:
Choose an energy-efficient model so that you are not only doing being kind to the planet but good to your wallet as well; you won’t waste energy and will keep down costs on your next power bill. As there are new federal energy guidelines, new models will likely be energy efficient.
If you live in small living quarters, you will probably want a quieter model. Within a four-foot radius, a dehumidifier can range from 55-67 decibels; that difference can seem like a lot when you’re in a limited area.
Size Of The Space And Degree Of Wetness
If you have a small, damp space, then a large-capacity dehumidifier will quickly be able to dry it out. A large-capacity model is rated to remove up to 75 pints per day. If you want to reduce cycling, though, opt for a medium-capacity alternative, which is rated between 45-50 pints a day.
For a small, wet space, however, a small-capacity dehumidifier will usually work best; the unit removes about 25-40 pints of moisture a day. A large-capacity model will efficiently dry a bigger space or a wet one (more moisture than a damp space).
These are general tips, though. Do not rely solely on the dehumidifier to rid your space of an overwhelming amount of moisture. Instead, fix any structural-related problems that are contributing to excess moisture problems, such as gutters or dryer vents that are clogged. Plumbing leaks might be the root of a water issue in a basement, as can condensation.
Another option is a whole-house dehumidifier, which is an add-on to your home’s A/C or central heating system. While they can be expensive, they are useful in very large areas, up to 3,000 feet, and can save you having to turn on your A/C unit all of the time. This type of dehumidifier is outside the scope of this review post.
Some additional features that not all dehumidifiers have but that you may find useful include: an internal bucket that is easy to empty, Automatic Restart in the case of a power outage, Automatic Shutoff when the bucket is full, Frost Sensor, and a Timer. You may also want a dehumidifier that comes on castors for ease of mobility and has a hose connection.
Top 5 Dehumidifiers
Below is an overview of the five leading dehumidifiers under $300. We assessed each model on its features, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses to give you the knowledge to make a wise buying decision. The top five units are, in order of discussion, Haier DE45EM, DeLonghi DD50PE, Sunpentown SD-61E, Frigidaire FAD704DWD, and Danby DDR60A3GP.
The white Haier DE45EM, with a price of about $200, has a tank size of 13 pints and is rated to remove about 45 pints every 24 hours. The medium-capacity unit is designed for damp conditions and, ideally, for a room size of 1,200-1,500 feet. A filter is included with the 2-speed Energy Star Certified dehumidifier.
Pros & Cons
This unit has a digital display that is easy to read and modern in appearance. It has Frost Control and Auto Restart features, unlike some dehumidifiers. It is energy efficient and does well at its job of removing moisture in the surrounding air. It has casters, so it is portable, and comes with a six-foot power cord too.
Unfortunately, testing samples reveal that some of the tanks malfunction. In particular the internal bucket overflows sometimes, until it is manually shut off. Leakage is, therefore, an issue, with its bucket switch being unreliable. It lacks a continuous fan, but even so several online user reviews still explain that the sound of the unit is loud when it is in use.
The white DeLonghi DD50PE pump system dehumidifier, with a price just over $250, has a tank size of 12 pints and is rated to remove about 50 pints per day. The medium-sized, pump-system unit is ideal for medium to large rooms (typically up to 1,000 feet). It is Energy Star Certified.
Pros & Cons
This particular unit has sophisticated controls, including a digital control panel full of useful features. The digital style makes it easier to be precise when turning on features, which include Frost Control and Auto Restart. As for the appliance’s built-in pump, it is useful if you want to dispose of water in a location above the dehumidifier, such as a window or sink.
Unfortunately, the DD50PE dehumidifier has an uphill battle when it comes to performing well in colder rooms. Also, it has a continuous fan, so the unit stays on even when the humidity level is reached; for people looking for a fan that shuts off itself, they may not like this feature.
The white large-capacity Sunpentown SD-61E is a 60-pint dehumidifier that costs just over $200. It has a tank size of 13 pints and is recommended to work optimally for a room area that is roughly 450 square feet (although it can perform well up to 1,200 square feet).
It is Energy Star Certified, mobile, and features a full-bucket indicator with Auto Shutoff. The SD-61E model offers a choice of continuous dehumidifying or 35-85% humidity settings, in increments of 5%. It does not have a continuous fan.
Pros & Cons
The Sunpentown SD-61E rates highly in online reviews for its effectiveness at removing water and how quietly it operates, particularly in comparison to the Haier DE45EM. It has Auto Restart too, in case a power outage occurs. The Auto Shutoff feature for when the internal bucket is full helps to prevent damaging spills and tells you when to empty the bucket. Also, enjoy two drainage options and a 24-hour Timer.
While the unit has a continuous drainage option, the required hose is not included. Here is an extra expense; if Sunpentown had included the hose with purchase it would have added value to the dehumidifier (note that the DeLonghi DD50PE includes not just one but two hoses). Some reviewers on the Web explain that their Sunpentown model stopped working within the first few months of installation; however, the majority of reviews are positive for the unit.
Frigidaire has a great reputation in the appliance field. The white FAD704DWD model extracts 70 pints of moisture per day and has a price tag currently at $219.99. Its tank size is 16 pints and its manufacturer-suggested room size is 1,300 square feet.
The large-capacity Energy Star Certified dehumidifier is mobile and features a range of convenient features, as well as digital controls.
Pros & Cons
The Frigidaire model’s biggest “pro” is perhaps that it has a particularly large tank for its size, which means you empty the internal bucket less often than a competitor’s smaller model. It has convenient features, such as Auto Restart, Frost Control, and Digital Display. Plus, it can be used in rooms down to 41 degrees Fahrenheit and has Frost Control.
One drawback of the Frigidaire DAD704DWD is that it does not include a pump system. Thus, you cannot remove the water via an elevated location.
However, it does perform exceptionally well at whisking moisture from the air, which may more than make up for this disadvantage for some consumers. Also, it does not have a defrost mode and struggles to work at its best in very cold rooms.
The Danby DDR60A3GP, in white, extracts 60 pints of moisture per day and has a current price slightly under the $240 mark. Its tank size is 15 pints and its manufacturer-suggested room size is 3,600 square feet. It comes with a pump system, with a drainage hose included.
The unit is Energy Star Certified, mobile, has electronic controls, and features extras such as Auto Restart and Frost Control.
Pros & Cons
The Danby model is great for drying out a large space that has a lot of moisture. It has an accurate humidistat, and its pump system offers the convenience of dispelling water at a higher location. Extras included with the dehumidifier are Frost Control, Timer, Remote Control, and Auto Restart.
Nothing is perfect! The DDR60A3GP unit has a continuous fan, can be noisy (as per some reviewers), and uses a lot of energy when its fan is on its high speed. As well, some online reviewers cite an unresponsive customer service section at Danby.
Our Recommendations For The Best Dehumidifier
With so many dehumidifiers on the market, you now have all of the basics to make an informed decision as to which one is the best model for your needs. In determining the most suitable one, your considerations should include the room size, pints, drainage system (continuous or manual), Energy Star Certified, and more.
Our search for the best performing, all-around dehumidifier, took into consideration the properties of a typical man cave. It is likely to be damp rather than wet and probably hovers around 1,000 square feet (as in the case of a basement). After looking over our top five list, we chose what we considered to be the top performer. Drumroll, please!
Our top pick is the Frigidaire FAD704DWD. Its manufacturer-suggested room size of 1,300 square feet is appropriate for a basement or another manly space, and it comes with a ton of extras, such as Auto Restart and Frost Control, without its price being outrageously out of line.
Plus, it is quiet and has a large internal capacity, which means you will empty the bucket less often than many competitor models. You get high value, in our opinion, along with the quality you expect from the Frigidaire name.
In second place is Sunpentown SD-61E, which covers about the same square footage as the FAD704DWD and is also meant for occasionally damp locations. While the Sunpentown model has a pump system, unlike the Frigidaire unit, it is difficult to switch between the manual and continuous drainage options. Also, it does not come with a drainage hose. These limitations kept the SD-61E dehumidifier out of the top spot.
As for the other three units, they had at least one downfall each that kept them out of the running for first or second place.
The Haier DE45EM is rated to remove 45 pints a day, which is half of the Frigidaire model, and some reviewers noted leakage issues. As for the DeLonghi DD50PE, it has a continuous fan and doesn’t have the value of the top two dehumidifiers.
What about the Danby DDR60A3GP? The noise complaints of online reviewers kept it out of the number one slot.
Now you have all of the information to make an informed decision about the right humidifier for your man cave. If you got even a little value out of this review post, please share below!