Have you ever heard of “dry heat?” When people talk about places like Arizona, they talk about how it can be 100 F but it doesn’t feel as bad because it’s dry heat—basically, heat without any humidity. People usually consider dry heat a good thing, because let’s face it: the worst thing about summers here in Maryland isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity!
What does a dehumidifier do?
As the name suggests, a dehumidifier draws humidity out of the air. The way it does this is actually pretty interesting:
Dehumidifiers have four major components:
- Compressor – the compressor uses a refrigerant gas to cool the dehumidifier coils by means of an expanding/compressing cycle.
- Cooling coils
- Reheater – the reheater collects heat generated by the cooling process
When a dehumidifier runs, the fan pulls in air and blows it over the compressors cold coils. This causes moisture (humidity) in the air to condense along the coils, removing it from the air. Moisture from the coils drips into the reservoir, and the reheater brings the air back up to temperature before blowing it back into your home.
Many dehumidifiers have a humidistat, which basically acts as a thermostat for humidity and lets you set your desired comfort level. Setting the humidistat too low will result in your dehumidifier needing to work much harder, and may cause problems with overly dry air in your home. Try to find a good balance between comfort and efficiency.
Air Conditioners vs. Dehumidifiers
If a dehumidifier sounds a lot like an air conditioner, that’s because they’re very similar, and air conditioners will provide some dehumidification. Where they differ is in how they handle both heat and runoff.
Air conditioners absorb heat from the air inside your home and exhaust it outdoors, leaving only the cooled air inside. Dehumidifiers also absorb heat from the air, but they exhaust the warm air back into your home for a net temperature effect of zero.
Air conditioners also drain moisture outside using a condensate line, whereas dehumidifiers drain moisture into a reservoir. Often this reservoir will come with a hose attachment for dedicated drainage.
Should you use an air conditioner and dehumidifier?
While it may seem like they serve the same function, dehumidifiers are distinct from air conditioners for one key reason: since they are smaller and less costly to operate, you can run them all day.
An air conditioner only pulls humidity out of the air while it’s cycled on. And while you could set the thermostat to ON instead of AUTO to have it collect humidity all day, you’d certainly be in for a surprise when you got your power bill in the mail!
A dehumidifier can be used to supplement your air conditioner’s dehumidification, especially if you leave your AC off for most of the day while you’re away from home. Remember that reducing humidity levels in your home isn’t just for keeping you comfortable—it can also protect your home from mold, mildew, and the other damaging effects of humidity.
If you’re having trouble with humidity in your home and your air conditioner just isn’t cutting it, call Michael Bonsby Heating & Air Conditioning today! We can install a dehumidifier to keep you comfortable and protect your home all summer long.