High indoor humidity is often a major problem for Florida homes. Even though your air conditioning system helps to capture moisture and reduce humidity, most systems simply don’t run long enough and aren’t effective enough to manage a home’s humidity on their own. This is where whole-home dehumidifiers can be a great investment as they will work along with your AC to help ensure your home is never too humid, and here’s a quick overview to help you understand what they are and how they work.
What Is a Whole-Home Dehumidifier?
Whole-home dehumidifiers work just like portable dehumidifiers as they all use a refrigerant coil to capture moisture from warm air so that the air stays drier. The difference is that a portable dehumidifier can only decrease the humidity level in one room or area, whereas a whole-home dehumidifier can help make the entire house less humid just as its name suggests.
Portable humidifiers are quite similar to portable AC units as they both have a built-in fan that draws air in and then pumps the air back out into the surrounding area, but even the largest, most powerful portable units can still only dehumidify a fairly small area. Whole-home humidifiers, on the other hand, are installed onto the home’s ductwork system and rely on the HVAC blower to move the air around the home. These units are typically mounted onto the main supply duct just before it meets the air handler compartment where the AC evaporator coil and blower are located.
Another difference with whole-home dehumidifiers is that you never need to empty the water reservoir as you do with portable units. Whole-home dehumidifiers have a condensate drain system just like your air conditioning does that collects water and then funnels it outside of the house or into a floor drain.
How Does a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Work?
Whenever your AC turns on, the dehumidifier will also turn on. Its fan then works to pull warm, moist air out of the ductwork and into the dehumidifier. The fan then forces the air over the unit’s evaporator coil, which has extremely cold refrigerant flowing through it just like your AC evaporator coil. When the warm air hits the cold coil, much of the moisture in the air condenses and transforms from water vapor into liquid water. The refrigerant also captures some of the heat energy from the air, and this process results in the air that flows out of the dehumidifier being colder and much drier than the air flowing into the unit.
This is exactly the same process that happens when your AC system blows warm air over its evaporator coil and is how air conditioners both cool and dehumidify the air. The only issue is that the humid Florida climate often makes it nearly impossible for an AC system alone to keep the humidity level in check. This is what makes a whole-home dehumidifier so useful as it will allow your AC system to remove nearly twice the amount of moisture from the air at one time. As such, your home will always stay much drier so you can avoid issues with surface condensation, water damage, and mold.
You can also continue using a whole-home humidifier on cooler days when you don’t need to turn your air conditioning system on or your AC only ever runs sporadically. All you have to do is turn the fan setting on your thermostat to “On” so that the HVAC blower constantly runs. This way, the blower will keep drawing moist air into the ductwork. The dehumidifier will then pull lots of moisture out of the air, and the blower will pump the dry air back out into the home so it stays less humid.
Benefits of Installing a Whole-Home Dehumidifier
One of the biggest benefits of installing a whole-home dehumidifier is that will prevent condensation from forming on your walls, ceilings, and other surfaces. Surface condensation can be a major problem as not only can it cause water damage, but it can also allow mold and mildew to start growing. Any time the humidity level in your home is above 60%, it makes it much more likely for condensation to form on any surfaces that are colder than the air temperature in the home. When this happens, mold can start to grow within 24 to 48 hours at the most and can then quickly start to spread and infest large areas of your home. Whole-home dehumidifiers should prevent this issue by ensuring your home’s humidity level always stays around 50% or lower.
Decreasing the humidity level in your home can also help to prevent pest infestations. Cockroaches, spiders, and many other pests prefer to live in warm, moist conditions and are often attracted by high humidity. By keeping your home drier, a whole-home dehumidifier will make your house less attractive to these pests.
Whole-home humidifiers typically use between 400 and 900 watts of electricity per hour. This may sound like a lot considering that a large LED or LCD TV will typically only use around 100 watts per hour. Nonetheless, studies have shown that a whole-home dehumidifier can actually help lower your electricity bills during the hotter months when you always have your air conditioning running. In some cases, it could end up lowering your air conditioning costs by 10% or more.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is that air conditioning systems always cool more quickly and work more effectively when the air is less humid. As the humidity level in the home increases, the AC will not cool as effectively. This means the system will use more energy since high humidity will force it to run longer. By decreasing the humidity level, the dehumidifier will help your AC work cool more quickly, work more effectively, and use less electricity.
The second reason has to do with how whole-home dehumidifiers work. The fact that these units have an evaporator coil essentially makes them similar to a small air conditioner. They not only remove moisture from the air as it flows through the unit, but the evaporator coil and refrigerant also work to capture heat from the air. This means that the air will be cooler when it enters the air handler and flows over the AC evaporator coil, which results in your AC not having to work as hard or needing to run for as long each time. The fact that a dehumidifier will take some of the strain off of your AC system also helps to reduce wear and tear on your AC condenser so it will last a bit longer and have fewer issues.
If you’re thinking about installing a whole-home dehumidifier, American Air & Heat is here to help. We also install a range of other indoor air quality units including air cleaners, air purification systems, and UV lights. As a full-service HVAC contractor, we can help if you need any air conditioning or heating service as well. We serve customers throughout the Oviedo area so give us a call today for all of your air quality and HVAC needs.