If you have a lot of condensation in your bathroom or utility room or worse, damp, mould-infested walls then a dehumidifier is probably the best single purchase you can make.
We’ve gathered together a tidy quintet of dehumidifiers that do the job better than most.
What is the best dehumidifier?
All of these dehumidifiers perform exceptionally well and are highly regarded by both users and professional reviewers.
But for our money the premier-league Meaco 25L takes top spot for exceptional, low-cost moisture extraction followed hotly by the keenly-priced and very efficient Electriq CD12LE.
How to buy a dehumidifier
The first thing to note here is the word ‘dehumidifier’. In other words, when purchasing online don’t mistakenly click on ‘humidifiers’ as they're for overly dry environments.
But you already knew that so forgive my condescension.
Dehumidifiers are not the most popular or glamorous of appliances but they can be among the most useful.
If you already have a good extractor fan in your bathroom or utility room you probably will never need one although some people use them to dry clothing instead of a tumble dryer.
But if you have a damp problem – and especially evidence of mould, flaking paintwork and crumbling plaster – then a dehumidifier is an essential purchase, at least until you can afford the necessary building repairs.
It’s not just your crumbling walls you need to worry about, it’s your health. Mould and fungus are a bad thing when confined indoors and are a recognised cause of respiratory problems including chest infections, allergies and asthma.
A dehumidifier isn’t the ultimate cure but it will dry out the offending area, help prevent mould spores from getting airborne and make things a little more habitable.
The one really good thing about a dehumidifier is that you can easily see evidence of it working. Just peer into the water collection container and you’ll likely be amazed at how much moisture it’s extracted from thin air (up to 25 litres a day with some models). Every so often you’ll need to empty the water container although all of these models will switch themselves off when full.
Tell me more, Derek, tell me more, you cry.
There are two main types of dehumidifier: compressor or refrigerant and desiccant. There’s some good words for your next game of Scrabble.
According to a horde of experts, desiccant models can operate consistently at temperatures from 1˚C to 30˚C but use more energy than compressors which work best at around 20˚C - but that happens to be the average UK household temperature.
We’ve concentrated on compressor models since they tend to be the most popular type of dehumidifier for the British climate.
Before randomly clicking on a purchase, you’re strongly advised to contact the prospective website’s sales department first to discuss your needs. This is a complex subject and some professional guidance should not be sniffed at.
The best dehumidifiers in order
1. Meaco 25L Ultra Low Energy Dehumidifier
This British family-run company makes both compressor and desiccant units and this is its award-winning flagship compressor model.
It’s not the prettiest of appliances, granted, but you know what's uglier? Mould up your walls.
The stats certainly impress. It’s a DC inverter model for a start and that means exceptionally low running costs. In fact, Maeco says that the more you make it work, the more water it collects and the less electricity it will use. It's similar to using air-conditioning - if it runs 24/7 it's more economical.
This thing isn’t just for dealing with day-to-day damp issues either since it will also dry your clothes, perhaps not as quickly as a tumble dryer but almost certainly for a lot less wonga.
Despite its size (64cm x 38 x 29), it’s a genuine all-rounder. You can site it pretty much anywhere in the home (it’ll dehumidify a five-bedroom house), including the garage, the cellar, the bathroom and the laundry room. It’s also suitable for use in museums, apparently.
The Meaco has four main operating modes: Humidistat lets you choose your target humidity between 30 and 80%rh (relative humidity); Laundry makes use of the 280m³/hour fan speed to dry clothes; Quiet turns off the beeper and lowers the fan speed; and Auto mode regulates the compressor and fan speed to retain an ideal balance of 50% humidity. It even has a built-in ionizer to help clean the air.
As with all dehumidifiers, the 25L’s extraction rate varies depending on the temperature and humidity in the room but, to use an extreme example, at a rather stifling 30˚C and 80% humidity it will absorb 24.96 litres in a 24-hour period. That’s a lot of water extracted from seemingly nowhere. Don’t worry about it overflowing either since it will switch off when the float in the five-litre water tank hits the top.
Meaco is one of the most awarded brands on the market and the staff know their stuff, so you’re advised to click on the company website’s ‘chat’ link before purchasing if only to be sure you’re buying the correct model for your damp needs.
2. Electriq CD12LE
Best dehumidifier under 150
You’re not going to see anything beautiful in this feature, and this compressor model isn't exactly going to have Jonny Ive looking to his laurels, but it is at least a bit more stylish looking than most. It’s certainly a unanimous hit with users.
The Electriq uses very little energy (180 watts) and comes with an air purifier function replete with plasma ionizer and UV sterilisation for extra air-cleaning pizzazz. According to Electriq it also ‘dries laundry more efficiently than a tumble dryer’.
We’ll let you know more once we’ve tested that particular claim more in depth, but in the meantime, lets bask in some stats: its water collection tank capacity is four litres; its extraction rate is up to 12 litres per day; it has a 24-hour timer and an operating temperature range of 5˚C to 35˚C.
The front of the unit also displays the level of humidity in the room – a handy visible feature that let’s you know whether you should make any adjustments to the humidity setting.
The Electriq is suitable for flats and homes up to three bedrooms and is one of the cheapest and quietest models in this roundup. With a surfeit of glowing user reviews, perhaps this is the only dehumidifier average-sized homes may ever need.
3. Electrolux AmbiFlex EXD20DN3W
Another great dehumidifier
This Which? Best Buy option uses compressor technology to purge excessive moisture from laundry rooms, showers and damp walls. It will also dry damp clothing more economically than a tumble dryer.
The unit is designed to work between 5˚C and 35˚C.
The Swedish-designed AmbiFlex is 51cm tall and 35cm wide (about the size of a kitchen bin) so it’s perfectly suitable for a small home even though it’s ostensibly designed for properties with up to three bedrooms. In the pantheon of dehumidifiers, it doesn’t look too bad either.
The water collection tank has a five-litre capacity – about average for a model of these dimensions – but you can also connect an optional hose and have the water ported to a nearby sink or outlet.
The AmbiFlex comes with a host of different modes, including a Turbo function that quickly reduces humidity to 45%. Electrolux says this setting is perfect for drying clothing, especially if windows and doors are kept closed during the process. The machine also has an ionizer for energizing the dry air it pumps out, so that can be considered a bonus.
The Electrolux has gleaned some very favourable reviews with users: its operational temperature range is excellent, it’s not too big, not too ugly and it’s pretty quiet, too.
4. DeLonghi Tasciugo Ariadry DX 10
Best portable dehumidifier
This compact DeLonghi entry boasts some decent stats, and a tranche of positive user reviews.
It comes with a small two-litre water tank and a separate outlet hose for those who can’t be arsed with making trips back and forth to the sink. Its optimal operating temperature range is between 2˚C and 30˚C and it’ll absorb up to 10 litres of moisture per day.
This is the model to go for if you have a small bathroom, cellar, cabin or narrowboat as it takes up very little room and can be easily moved around.
5. EcoAir DC18
Another strong budget option
This compressor model is 50cm in height and sports an extraction capacity of 18 litres per day, so it’ll work just fine in properties with up to three bedrooms.
A smaller than usual 3.5-litre water tank may mean a few extra runs to the sink and back, however.
I have got to say that this model’s unattractive LED control fascia is a bit of a let down as it’s of the old fashioned bubble press variety with confusing icons that will almost certainly have you reaching for the manual. Nevertheless, the unit itself isn’t quite ugly enough to warrant hiding it in the cellar.
The EcoAir comes with the usual gamut of functions including a Laundry mode that is said to dry clothes in two to four hours – handy if you don’t have the space or financial means to afford a tumble dryer.