Desiccant Or Compressor Dehumidifier? Which Is Best For Me?

Solenco Reporter
 May 17, 2017
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Selecting the right dehumidifier may prove a daunting task for many as many brands send out conflicting information to make a sale into the type of technology (desiccant or compressor) that they prefer.

For Meaco brands, the sales are pretty much 50/50 between the two technologies which leave us in a unique situation to provide unbiased advice.

There are two different types of dehumidifiers on the domestic market – namely the desiccant and compressor. The confusion comes when someone who has never used a dehumidifier before has to decide which one to buy.

Below is a cut out and keep guide to help you make the right choice:

Compressor vs Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Compressor dehumidifiers work by creating a cold surface and when the warm, damp air from within the room comes into contact with the cold surface condensation forms and the water is removed from the air.

Desiccant dehumidifiers have no compressor and do not use a cold surface to extract the excess moisture from the air. Instead, it has a desiccant wheel that absorbs the moisture from the air – similar to how a sponge absorbs water. The desiccant is regenerated by an internal heater so that the process can be repeated time and time again.

Many customers prefer the desiccant dehumidifiers because they are lighter and quieter in operation because of the lack of a compressor. Though there are other factors to take into consideration….

Air Temperature Below 15 Degrees Celsius

Any application whereby the room air temperature is likely to fall below 15 degrees Celsius, you should choose a desiccant type.

Desiccant type dehumidifiers have a consistent performance regardless of the temperature.

The compressor type dehumidifier works best in temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius, because the inside of the compressor dehumidifier needs to be colder than the air within the room and the colder the room is, the harder the dehumidifier has to work to create that cold surface. If the room temperature falls down towards 10 degrees Celsius then chances are that the inside of the dehumidifier will get close to freezing.

Keep The House Warm And Dry

Both types of dehumidifier will warm the air up slightly (this does not mean that they are heaters! – they simply warm the air as it passes through the dehumidifier). The air coming out of the compressor dehumidifier will be about 2 degrees Celsius warmer, while the air coming out of a desiccant dehumidifier will be about 10 to 12 degrees warmer – quite a difference between the two.

So if you’re putting a dehumidifier into a passage or room that is on the chilly side, then the desiccant makes sense as it will warm it up. However, if your home is already warm and you don’t want to add more heat, then the compressor dehumidifier will be a more suitable option.

In a nutshell – if the room is cold go for a desiccant dehumidifier. If not, then a compressor dehumidifier is the winner.

Low Energy Consumption

With everyone watching their pockets and counting every cent, the compressor dehumidifiers are in general cheaper to run, however, if you are more than likely to use your dehumidifier in the winter months the extra energy a desiccant uses is released into the room as heat. In essence, you get water AND heat for your money! Therefore this is a more personal choice: would you like warmth or would you like the dehumidifier that is the cheapest to run?

In short – for low energy consumption, the compressor dehumidifier is the winner – especially the Meaco 12L Low Energy dehumidifier and the Meaco 20L Low Energy Dehumidifier!

For Drying Washing

Drying washing indoors is one of the most common reasons why people get condensation and mould. Washing dries because the air around is drier and it give up the moisture in order to be in equilibrium with its surroundings.

Using a dehumidifier to create that dry atmosphere and blowing the dry air across the wet washing is a great way of drying the laundry quickly (much in the same way as drying laundry on the washing line) and ensuring that the moisture from the clothes goes into the dehumidifier and not on your walls and windows.

The desiccant dehumidifier tends to have a larger faster air flow than a compressor dehumidifier and as we have seen above the air coming out of the dehumidifier is warmer.

For drying washing, the desiccant dehumidifier is the winner.

Moving The Dehumidifier Around The House

In general terms is best to leave the dehumidifier in the one spot and as long as the internal doors are open, the moisture in the house will migrate towards the dehumidifier until it is close enough for the dehumidifier fan to pull it in.

There are some cases when you are likely to want to move the dehumidifier around and perhaps position it in front of a smelly wardrobe or in a room with a mouldy and damp south facing wall. Or you may be using the dehumidifier upstairs and need to move it downstairs to dry washing – there are many examples. Compressor dehumidifiers are generally heavier than desiccant types and are therefore more difficult to carry around.

The winner here? For moving around the house, choose a desiccant type dehumidifier.

Low Noise Level

In low fan speed, desiccant dehumidifiers are all just above or below 40dB and you will not easily find a compressor dehumidifier below 40dB. In the middle and top fan speeds, the desiccant is the same noise level as the compressor type. The important point is that at least with desiccant, you have the option to switch to a quieter mode, whereas you cannot with a compressor type.

For lower noise levels choose a desiccant type!

In Summary

To summarise the above by means of examples:

          Meaco 12L-AH        

  Meaco DD8L Standard  

Low Temperature Application

(below 15 degrees Celsius)

Operate in warm rooms


   Keep the house warm and dry   
Low Energy ConsumptionWinner
Drying Washing
Moving around the house
Low Noise Level

As you can see, it is not that simple as many dehumidifier brands make out when they claim that desiccant is best or that compressor is best. Hopefully the above will help, but if you are still unsure then give us a call at 0861 388 878, drop us an email at info@solencosa.co.za or chat to us live on our website at www.solencosa.co.za . We are happy to assist.

Read more on these two dehumidifier models here:

Meaco 12L-AH   Meaco DD8L Standard

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