a home dehumidifier on the ground in front of a pink wall

A dehumidifier can be necessary when living in tropical climates or places with high humidity levels. As the machines work to decrease humidity and therefore increase the coolness in the air, many homeowners wonder if a home dehumidifier can actually give off heat.  

This article will help you understand why dehumidifiers give off heat, how they operate, and their maintenance requirements. You will also learn how to determine whether or not a dehumidifying unit is suitable for your needs. 

Does a Home Dehumidifier Give Off Heat?

Home dehumidifiers give off small amounts of heat while operating. However, these trace amounts are usually not enough to cause any change in overall room temperature. Plus, removing humidity from the air creates a cooling effect in the room’s general atmosphere.  

Why Do Dehumidifiers Give Off Heat?

Dehumidifiers give off heat because of how they operate. The unit takes in air from the room using a fan and cools it to its dew point using cooling coils. This is the point at which air must be cooled to become water vapor.

Once the air reaches this point, the water vapor drips down into the unit as condensation. The unit then heats the air to remove any remaining moisture before sending it back into the room. 

An illustrated diagram of how a dehumidifier functions
Courtesy of Learn Metrics HVAC Systems

Due to the heated air being released into the room, there’s usually a slightly higher temperature around the device. However, the warmth is so slight that it causes no shift in the overall temperature in the room. On the contrary, since moisture is sucked from the air, the general atmosphere in the room feels cooler. 

How Much Heat Does a Dehumidifier Give Off?

On average, a fully operational dehumidifier heats the air being exhausted to around 3-15°F (-16.11 to -9.44°C). You can feel this slight change in temperature only in direct proximity to the dehumidifier. It has little to no overall effect on the room temperature.

Types of Dehumidifiers and Their Differences

All units work on the same principle of sucking in air, cooling it, then heating and releasing it back into a room. However, the way they store the condensation removed from the atmosphere varies. 

Type 1

The first type of dehumidifier will have a tank or bucket inside to store the water vapor that drips due to condensation. Most units will let the user know when to empty the water storage. For home models, this will usually be every day if used daily. 

A homeowner opens the water collection chamber of a dehumidifier to empty it

Type 2

The second type of dehumidifying unit will have a drainage pipe attachment that drains the water. Some units offer the feature of constant water removal during usage. In contrast, others require you to turn off the device before emptying it.

How Do You Maintain a Dehumidifier?

Like with all appliances, the better you maintain your dehumidifier, the better it will perform. Here are some quick tips to help optimize your device. 

Clean the Air Filter

A clean air filter is necessary for your dehumidifier to work at standard capacity. 

Like with other products such as air conditioners and heaters, if your unit contains a dirty air filter, it will require much more effort on the unit’s part. This extra effort (for airflow) not only decreases the device’s performance but also causes overheating and potential appliance damage. 

Clean the Evaporator Coil

Similar to a clean air filter, having a clean evaporator coil is a must for the dehumidifier’s efficiency. If dirty, it will need to use up more energy and power to dehumidify the air, making it less efficient. 

A homeowner cleans a dehumidifier's evaporator coil with a brush
Courtesy of K2 HVAC

A dirty coil can also stop your unit from properly cooling the air to reach the dew point. Instead, it will reheat the air too much before the release, causing the device to put out excess heat. 

To clean the coil, you will need to read your appliance’s manual on how to open the unit. 

Check for Ice or Frost Buildup

When a dehumidifier is used in colder climates or rooms, there is a tendency for moisture to build up frost or even ice within the unit.

If you feel your device is not operating correctly, check the user manual to open it up and look for frost or ice buildup. This buildup is most commonly found around the cooling coils. 

Do You Need an Air Conditioner When Using a Dehumidifier? 

You may need an air conditioner when using a dehumidifier. As the name suggests, the device’s primary job is to remove humidity and moisture from the air. This process may create a cooling sensation, but a dehumidifying unit cannot take the place of a traditional air conditioner. 

Central air conditioner units on the exterior of a home.

A simple model will not suffice in warmer climates or the summer months. Similarly, an air conditioner on its own can be heavy on the wallet and less environmentally friendly—the AC has to run for long periods to create a cooling effect. 

However, an air conditioner used in conjunction with a dehumidifier creates the perfect balance. The dehumidifying unit decreases moisture in the air, making it easier for your air conditioner to cool the air using less energy. This compatibility makes them both more sustainable and wallet-friendly. 

Dehumidifier Pros and Cons

If you are still on the fence about whether or not you truly need a dehumidifier, look at the benefits and drawbacks below to help you make an educated decision. 

Pros

  • Helps with allergens 
  • Helps decrease dust in the atmosphere
  • Helps improve air quality for better respiratory function
  • Decreases chances of mold growth 
  • Decreases chances of damage to furniture and items due to moisture

Cons

  • Can be pricey
  • Not suitable in low temperatures due to chances of frost and ice buildup
  • Not ideal in hot climates (without an air conditioner) for the sole purpose of cooling air

Primary Considerations When Purchasing a Dehumidifier

Some of the key things you need to consider when buying a dehumidifier include:

Your Local Climate

When considering purchasing a dehumidifying unit, check with a specialist whether or not your local climate is suitable for one. If you live in a cold area, chances are a dehumidifier will not be because of the risk of frost or ice buildup inside the cooling coils of the unit.

Similarly, you will be disappointed if you plan on relying solely on a dehumidifier to keep you cool in a hot climate. The device will not inherently cool the air in a room like an air conditioner would. 

While it helps with air quality and regulating humidity levels, you will require an air conditioner to impact room temperature.

Room Size vs. Unit Size

With appliances, the bigger, the better, right? Not necessarily. With dehumidifiers, the right balance between unit size and room size is vital. 

Suppose you invest in a unit that’s too large for your space. In that case, you will end up with a trace amount of heat produced by the dehumidifier impacting overall room temperature. 

Similarly, investing in a small unit for a vast space will not allow for optimum operation, causing the device to run longer and less efficiently. 

The living room of a Florida home with a dehumidification system on the floor and homeowner sleeping on the couch

Conclusion

Home dehumidifiers do give off heat when operating. However, this heat is minimal and has no notable impact on the room atmosphere temperature-wise. 

Before investing in a dehumidifier, check whether it will be enough on its own to give you thermal comfort and invest in a high-quality unit. 

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