Dehumidifiers are a very efficient way to deal with dampness, musty odours, mould growth and other moisture issues in your home or workspace. Depending on the climate you reside in, choosing between a desiccant dehumidifier or a compressor/refrigerant unit can help relieve these moisture issues and help improve indoor air quality.
Here, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about desiccant dehumidifiers, from when you should use them to how they work and how to choose the right one for your needs.
What is a desiccant dehumidifier?
Desiccant dehumidifiers are moisture-removing machines that remove excess moisture from the air and improve the quality of indoor air in your living space while also getting rid of moisture-related issues, mainly the spread of mould, the rotting of wood and other furniture, the cultivation of insects and even respiratory problems.
Healthy indoor humidity levels are between 30 to 50 per cent, while humidity levels of 60 per cent and higher can start leading to the household issues mentioned above.
Ionmax desiccant dehumidifiers differ from compressor units as they use a moisture-absorbing material called zeolite to remove moisture from the air. Other moisture-absorbing materials used in desiccant units include silica gel or activated carbon.
When to use desiccant dehumidifiers?
Despite desiccant and compressor machines operating through different technology, they still serve the same purpose of removing excess moisture from the air. Desiccant technology is considered to be rather new and is most efficient in colder climates. However, they can still operate effectively in warmer conditions, making them ideal to suit your dehumidification needs all year round.
Ionmax dehumidifiers work by drawing air into the unit via the air inlet, which is usually protected by a pre-filter to avoid large airborne particles like dust and hair from entering the unit. This drawn, humid air then passes through the zeolite desiccant rotor, which then absorbs moisture from the air, trapping it within the rotor.
Once the desiccant material is saturated with moisture, it needs to be regenerated to continue working efficiently. The regeneration process happens by heating the zeolite material to release the trapped moisture, which eventually drips down into the water collection tray.
The processed air is then released through the air outlet, providing the space with regulated air and improving the air quality of your home.
This heating element causes the unit to slightly raise the temperature in a room by a few degrees, meaning that it can double as a heater. However, this will also mean desiccant units use more energy than compressor models.
Characteristics of desiccant dehumidifiers
Apart from the technology used within desiccant units, these dehumidifiers have other, more visible traits that set them apart from their compressor counterparts. Some of these common traits include:
- Noise level – Because of the technology used, desiccant units operate much quieter than compressor units.
- Portability/bulkiness – Because of the technology, Ionmax dehumidifiers weigh anywhere between five to eight kilograms, whereas compressor units can go up to 19 kg. This makes desiccant units easier to move around from one room to the next, allowing for humidity control across more spaces in your home.
- Energy efficiency – Because of its added heating element, desiccant dehumidifiers use more energy than compressor units. Compressor dehumidifiers typically use less energy to operate and hence, are cheaper to run.
- Price – Desiccant units are typically more expensive than compressor units because of the desiccant technology. It’s common to find compressor units that absorb more moisture to be significantly cheaper than desiccant units that absorb less moisture.
Choosing the right desiccant dehumidifier
With many different desiccant dehumidifiers in the market, you’ll be hard-pressed to decide which dehumidifier will be best for you and your indoor humidity control needs. Below is a list of a few factors that should be considered before bringing home a brand-new dehumidifier:
The extraction rate refers to the amount of moisture a dehumidifier removes from the air, usually measured in litres per day. A higher extraction rate means the unit is more efficient at removing moisture from the air. If you want to use a desiccant unit in a highly humid room, consider getting a unit with a high extraction rate like the Ionmax Vienne or ION632 that removes up to 10 litres of moisture a day.
This is among the most important factor to consider. Coverage refers to the maximum space size in which the unit can effectively dehumidify. For effective dehumidification, it’s best to understand the size of the room to be treated and get a dehumidifier that provides sufficient coverage of the room size. Choosing a dehumidifier that covers too little space will lead to struggles with controlling humidity levels, whereas choosing a dehumidifier that covers more than the size of the space may cause it to consume more energy than necessary.
Moving your unit around is necessary if multiple rooms or spaces within a house are to be dehumidified. Ionmax dehumidifiers have built-in wheels and carry handles to help with portability, making it easier to move the unit around.
This factor is particularly important if the unit will be used in a bedroom, living room or other frequently used areas of your home. Dehumidifiers with a high decibel rating can be distracting or disruptive. If you plan to use a dehumidifier in a living space, look for a unit with a noise level of 50 decibels or lower.
To learn more about indoor humidity control, read our recent blog post on ‘How to control humidity levels in your home’. For more information about humidity and its effects on human health, read ‘How humidity affects your health’ and ‘Mould, humidity and condensation’.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.