A Dehumidifier or Air Conditioner? What are my options?
Now that the long summer days are getting warmer, it’s time to make sure your air conditioners are working properly so you can stay cool and comfortable this year.
Whether you have central ducted air conditioning or rely on a portable or window air conditioner, this is the time of year when questions and concerns about air conditioning come up. For example:
Should I use a dehumidifier instead of an air conditioner this summer?
Which unit is better?
Do air conditioners also work as dehumidifiers?
Or can you have them both if you want to, depending on your requirement?
Luckily, we have the answers for you right here. But before you answer that question, you should first know what a dehumidifier stands for. What is its purpose?
Dehumidifiers vs. air conditioners
What is the basic difference?
A dehumidifier is basically an electrical device that reduces and maintains humidity, usually for health or comfort reasons, eliminates musty odours and prevents mould growth by removing water from the air.
Do not get them mixed up with air purifiers. They do a completely separate task that does not relate to cooling or humidity control.
Both of these devices operate on the same principle and have many parts in common. However, the difference lies in the intended use of the devices.
Whereas air conditioners introduce cool air into a room, dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air.
The dilemma with dehumidifiers and air conditioners is that they are designed to either cool or just remove excess moisture.
While the primary purpose of an air conditioner is to remove hot air and direct cool air into a room, it also removes moisture from the air. However, the amount of moisture removed is not so high that it has a noticeable effect on the indoor environment. This is where a dehumidifier is more effective; it can remove a large amount of moisture from the room.
However, while the indoor climate can naturally lower due to moisture removal, dehumidifiers do not release cool air into the room.
How do air conditioners work?
An air conditioner consists of a complex combination of different parts, the most important of which are the evaporator, the condenser, the compressor and the expansion valve. In addition, a liquid called refrigerant is pumped through a series of pipes and is the primary medium through which heat is extracted from a room.
The component that releases cool air into the room is the evaporator. The refrigerant, which is liquid at this point, is rapidly expanded by the expansion valve and turned into a gas. This process chills the refrigerant, which is then passed through the evaporator coils.
Behind the evaporator are fans that blow the cool air into the room. After this process, the refrigerant has absorbed the heat present in the room and is now a hot gas.
The refrigerant then flows onto the compressor, where it is compressed and converted into a high temperature, high pressure gas. Next, the refrigerant passes through the condenser coils and is circulated by fans that remove heat from the refrigerant. This is what you see when a fan on the outdoor unit is running and blowing hot air. At this point, the refrigerant has turned into a liquid, and the cycle repeats.
How do dehumidifiers work?
You may be wondering how a dehumidifier works? A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air but does not cool it. The dry air does lower the perceived temperature, but not to the same degree as air conditioning.
In the most common type of dehumidifier, moist air is drawn in by the dehumidifier and cooled to a temperature where the moisture condenses and separates from the air. This water is collected in a bucket or tub that must be emptied from time to time.
All of the moisture is pulled out from the air and drips into a bucket or tub that can be manually emptied.
Unlike an air conditioner, a dehumidifier does not expel warm air into the room, and it can be placed in the room without external vents.
This is a Mitsubishi Model so you can see how they are a stand alone product.
We install their air conditioning systems and they are always reliable!
Which one is the better choice?
Which unit you should choose depends mainly on your personal preference, budget, where you live, and the design of your home.
There are some great air conditioning systems that do have a dehumidifier setting.
Get in touch with us to discuss which makes and models are available and at what price point.
Everyone has their own personal preferences for indoor climates. Some people place more importance on a tightly controlled temperature, while others prefer to reduce humidity. A humid environment can cause more discomfort than a room with a similar temperature but low humidity.
This depends entirely on the climatic conditions in your area and the condition of your property. For example, if you reside in Queensland or Sydney and Darwin it is generally advisable to invest in reverse cycle air conditioning to dry the air and keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
In Australia, humidity is high in coastal regions for most of the year, and people often struggle to cope with the high humidity.
Bureau of Meteorology studies shows that cities like Melbourne experience high relative humidity year-round. It is exceptionally high in the winter months – May, June, July and August. In such places, it is better to eliminate excess moisture by installing a dehumidifier.
If you have a room that gets condensation on the walls and windows. You may notice mould on the curtains and furniture near the windows.
A dehumdifier will remove the moisture from this room without making it colder.
The other option is to install a heater in the room to heat it up and dry it out. But if you do not use this room everyday. The heating costs will be high. It is more cost effective to run a dehumidifier.
Ultimately, the deciding factor may be budget. Even though both devices work differently, you still need to make a comparison if you have to choose between the two.
An air conditioner is usually more expensive to purchase and also has additional installation costs. The cost of a dehumidifier, on the other hand, requires no subsequent installation and are often portable plug-and-play devices. They are also less expensive to purchase but do not provide the same cooling function as an air conditioner.
Do some air conditioners really dehumidify the air?
Yes! Some systems have a dehumidification option also know as the “Dry Mode”
Some ducted and split system air conditioning units feature this latest technology to not only provide efficient cooling and heating for your home, but also to add humidify, dehumidify, ventilate or purify the air. You can switch to the dehumidification mode with a single touch of a button on your remote control or smart devices.
The moisture is sucked out of the air as a sort of side effect of the cooling process.
By setting your system to “dry” it will reduce the moisture output in the air.
This is great because it will enable you to use the air conditioner as a robust dehumidifier in the winter (without causing the house to become even colder) and then use it as a full-fledged air conditioner in the summer months.
If you’d like to know more about how to beat the heat this summer, contact Beyond Heating and Cooling to find a suitable solution that will keep you comfortable.