Dry Mode On AC: What Is It & When To Use It?

Liz Yang

Air conditioners come with a range of modes. While everyone understands the meaning of cool mode and heat mode, some people have no idea what dry mode is. 

The truth is that if you use the dry mode correctly, you can reap numerous benefits. Doesn’t that sound pretty good?

This article will teach you everything you need to know about the dry mode in an air conditioner. After reading it, you will understand why you should and when you should use it.

Let’s dig in!

What is the dry mode on an air conditioner?

The dry mode is a common air conditioner mode that focuses on dehumidifying the air. It is denoted by a water droplet symbol on the remote control, which is easy to spot. To activate it, you can simply press the “mode” button and stop when you see the symbol.

The room may still feel cold, but the dry mode achieves this primarily by lowering the humidity level rather than lowering the air temperature.

Some air conditioners, depending on the brand and model, allow you to adjust the temperature and fan speed in this mode, while others do not.

How does the dry mode work?

As you may be aware, when the humidity level is high, we tend to feel hotter. This is due to the inability of our bodies to dissipate heat quickly. Excess moisture in the air prevents sweat from evaporating.

Air conditioning systems, in general, have a minor impact on moisture levels. Because of condensation on the evaporator coil, some moisture is removed from the air when it is cooled. However, the primary function of an air conditioner is still to cool the air.

Enabling the dry mode causes the AC to change the speed of the compressor and fan, allowing it to remove more moisture and, as a result, lower the humidity level.

The evaporator coil will not be as cold as when the cool mode is activated, but it will be able to condensate more moisture. Technically, it converts your air conditioner into a small dehumidifier.

Cool mode vs. dry mode, what’s the difference?

Even though you may not be able to tell the difference between the cool mode and dry mode from how you feel, they work in a different way. 

The cool mode focuses on decreasing the room temperature, it will increase the compressor and fan speed so as to achieve the preset temperature. The compressor can turn off or run on a lower power once the target temperature is reached. Your room may become cold and humid. 

The dry mode is designed to remove more moisture from the air. As a result, it will adjust the compressor and fan settings accordingly. In other words, the air coming out of the air conditioner may not be as cold as you expect.

Furthermore, some advanced AC models reheat the air before returning it to the room, which has no effect on the room temperature.

However, because you will feel colder as the humidity level drops, you may mistake the dry mode for the cool mode in some situations.

When to use dry mode? What is the best temperature for it?

It is good to turn on the dry mode when the summer is approaching, and the local humidity level is high. It is also a good option for rainy days because the humidity will increase in and after the rain.

Please refrain from using it on extremely hot summer days. After all, it isn’t a mode for air conditioning.

Furthermore, if the room temperature is too low, the cold air cannot warm up the evaporator coil, resulting in a freeze-up or a loss of efficiency. This makes using the dry mode a bad idea as well. This is also why refrigerant dehumidifiers perform poorly in cold rooms.

In a nutshell, use the dry mode when the weather is humid but not excessively cold or hot. The best temperature for dry mode is between 25°C/77°F and 30°C/86°F.

How long to use dry mode on AC?

Keeping the relative humidity level of our room between 45% to 55% is appropriate. You shouldn’t make your room too dry, which can also cause some negative effects on our health and property. 

Running the dry mode for two or three hours daily to eliminate the excess moisture is your best bet. Using a dehumidifier is preferable if you live in a very humid environment.

Can I use dry mode in winter?

Winter could be moist in some areas, and you want to use the dry function to deal with the clammy air. However, according to what we have discussed earlier, the dry mode can’t work properly when the room temperature is too low.

Hence, it is not recommended to use it in winter unless you turn on the heater in advance to increase the room temperature to at least 25°C/77°F.

Does dry mode save electricity?

Generally speaking, the dry mode can save electricity compared to the cool mode in AC because the compressor will run slower. But it may achieve the same result by lowering the humidity. 

However, as previously stated, some advanced models will reheat the air, consuming some electricity. In this case, you should calculate the power consumption based on your model.

Benefits of using a dry mode on AC

If you are still on the fence about using a dry mode, these benefits may allow you to make up your mind. 

Save money 

We can use the dry mode rather than the cool mode to make the room feel cold because we will feel more comfortable and cooler as the humidity decreases. As a result, your air conditioner will use less energy and you will save a lot of money.

The only exception is that some models reheat the air, which partially offsets the energy-saving effect.

If you are on a tight budget, you can also try using an ECO mode or Fan mode in different situations.

Reduce respiratory issues

High humidity can promote the growth of mold, mildew, and dust mites. These contaminants can trigger allergic reactions, breathing difficulty, lung infections, and other complications. 

Using the dry mode can keep the humidity level in an ideal range, which is beneficial for your health.

Protect your property

Moisture can be absorbed by the wooden material. Too much moisture in the air can cause swollen furniture, doors, windows, and frames, which can then warp and split. Fungi will begin to grow on these surfaces as well.

Furthermore, too much water will rust the electrical devices in your home.

Because dry mode can remove excess moisture, it can protect your property.

Remove musty smell

Mold spores can contribute to the musty smell in your house. No one wants to live in an environment with bad odors. The dry mode can mitigate the bad smells, allowing you to stay comfortable.

Sum up

Knowing how to use different modes on your AC can make your life easier and more comfortable. 

The dry mode can help you control humidity, save energy, and protect your health and property. Unlike the cool mode, it improves comfort by lowering humidity rather than temperature.

However, if the day is extremely hot, the dry mode is not powerful enough to make the room feel cold.

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.