Do Dehumidifiers Work In Cold Rooms? [Solved!]

Liz Yang

We often see people using dehumidifiers on hot days since summer is the most humid season all year around. But do dehumidifiers work in cold rooms?

Simply put, dehumidifiers are sensitive to air temperature and will not work very effectively in cold rooms. Desiccant units are better choices if you plan to use them in low temperatures. 

But why can’t dehumidifiers function well in low temperatures, and why do desiccant models perform better in low temperatures? Read this article to find out more details.

Do dehumidifiers work better in hot or cold rooms?

Do Dehumidifiers Work Better In Hot Or Cold Rooms

Dehumidifiers work better in rooms that are above 60°F, so you can expect your machine to perform better in hot rooms than in cold rooms. 

This is because the power of a dehumidifier lies in a simple physical phenomenon – condensation.

The air will pass through an evaporator coil when it gets into the machine. This coil is cold due to the work of the compressor and coolant. When the air is in touch with the cold coil, it will be cooled down.

Once the air temperature is below the dew point, condensation will form, and the water vapor in the air will be converted to liquid. So the air will become drier when it leaves the evaporator coil. 

As for the evaporator coil, the incoming air can warm it up, preventing it from icing up. So the machine can continue to work. 

However, things will change with the climate. When you put a dehumidifier in a cold room, the cold air may not be able to warm up the coil, causing the coil to freeze up or decrease in efficiency. That’s why dehumidifiers often have better performance in hot rooms.

Which type of dehumidifier can work better in cold rooms?

What I mentioned above are refrigerant dehumidifiers since most portable dehumidifiers these days fall into this category.

This is not a big issue in most cases because most people don’t need a dehumidifier in winter since winter is always low in humidity.

However, some places at home, like bathrooms, bathrooms, crawl spaces, and attic, are humid even in the winter. If you intend to run a dehumidifier in these areas, you can purchase another type of dehumidifier – a desiccant dehumidifier.

Desiccant dehumidifiers work on another principle. Unlike compressor models, they absorb moisture through a rotor full of silica gel. Silica gel can continue to suck up moisture under 60°F. 

Moreover, it comes with a built-in heater, which will reheat a proportion of the dry air to take away the moisture stored in the rotor so that the rotor can work constantly. Then the moistened air will be condensed out. As long as the heater can warm the air, the incoming air temperature doesn’t matter much. On top of it, since these models blow out warmer air, many people use them to dry clothes.

Desiccant models are better if you plan to run a dehumidifier in low temperatures. However, you should make sure the room temperature is above 0°F.

Side effects of using a dehumidifier in cold rooms

A dehumidifier will not stop working immediately when it runs in cold rooms, making people feel there is nothing wrong with doing it. However, it may cause a few consequences with time.

More energy cost

As the efficiency of the dehumidifier drops when it is in the cold room, it will keep working at full power, trying to reach the target humidity level. This will raise energy consumption, but you may still not be able to get the result you expect.

Make noise

Dehumidifiers can be loud for many people. Worse yet, the noise will go up when it works harder.

Since dehumidifiers can’t absorb as much moisture as usual in cold weather with the same power rate, their fans and compressors will work harder to compensate for the efficiency loss. This will make more noise, disturbing your sleep and rest.

Freeze up

As I mentioned above, the air in a cold room can’t warm up the evaporator coil. In this case, the liquid on and in the coil will freeze up gradually, causing the machine to stop collecting water.

Some models these days have a defrost function that allows the machine’s ice to thaw. However, the appliance will ice up again if it continues to run in low temperatures.

Break down easily 

When a dehumidifier keeps working at a high rate or often comes across freezing, it will not last as long as usual, even if it is made with quality materials.

If you want your device to serve you longer, you can use it with a heater or only use it when the temperature is above 60°F.

Beyond that, finding the root cause and fixing it is your ultimate way to combat humidity issues at home.

Conclusion

Dehumidifiers are great at regulating indoor humidity. However, most of them are not suitable for cold rooms. The cold air can’t warm up the coil, making it prone to freezing and having to work at low efficiency.

Therefore, to save more on electricity bills and extend its lifespan, you’d better keep the room temperature above 60 °F when running a dehumidifier.

For those who have to use a dehumidifier in cold weather, you can buy a desiccant model. This type of dehumidifier can put up with lower temperatures without damaging the machine.

Liz Yang is the founder of Airsmartly. She has been working at home for a few years and realizes that the performance of the HVAC system plays such an important role in our life. She has tested a lot of products in person, like humidifiers, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and ACs, and wants to share tips about using or troubleshooting these products with you. Her uncle is an HVAC expert with over 30 years of experience in the field, and often offers assistance when she is unsure how to handle a situation. He is also in charge of reviewing the articles on this site.

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