Dehumidifier vs Air Conditioning

The dehumidifier versus air conditioner question is quite interesting since both devices work in a very similar manner and achieve somewhat similar results. There are several distinct differences between the two, however, which make them suitable for different purposes. So, let’s go into the dehumidifier vs air conditioning comparison by first explaining what each device does.


Dehumidifiers are devices that filter the air around them through a combination of evaporator and condenser coils in order to remove some of its moisture. They can come in different types, models, and sizes such as refrigerative/mechanical dehumidifiers, absorption/desiccant dehumidifiers, and others, however, they all work on the principle of sucking in air, reducing its humidity, and releasing it.

A side-effect of this dehumidifying process is that the air is warmed up by the condenser coil. This warming effect isn’t too significant and dehumidifiers can’t be used to heat a room but it’s worth mentioning.

The main goal of a dehumidifier is to reduce the relative humidity in a room. The standard recommended humidity in residential and office spaces is between 40% and 50% as humidity levels above or below these values can result in a lot of respiratory problems.

High humidity, in particular, is a perfect prerequisite for mold and mildew, as well as for various bug infestations. That’s why a lot of homeowners use dehumidifiers in basements and garages. Dehumidifiers are also very helpful after water damage incidents.

Air conditioners

These devices are much more well-known by most people. Their main goal isn’t so much to dehumidify the air but to cool it off, typically to help us deal with the searing summer heats at home or in the office. However, because air conditioners achieve that effect by sucking in the air, passing it through a series of condenser and evaporation coils, and then returning it back into the room, they do have a dehumidifying side-effect similar to that of dehumidifiers. That’s largely what makes the dehumidifier vs AC discussion so popular.

Which should you choose?

The difference between the two devices is that while dehumidifiers’ main purpose is to dehumidify the air and they simply have a slight warming effect on the air, AC units’ main goal is to cool down the air and they just happen to have an additional dehumidifying effect on it.

With that in mind, if you need the temperature in your home to be regulated and, in particular, lowered – you need an AC unit. If, instead, you have water damage and/or you want to prevent mold and mildew formation, or you simply live in an area with unpleasantly high air humidity – getting a good humidifier is your best bet.

To further help you make up your mind, here are several other factors to consider:

  • Dehumidifiers are much more energy-efficient and won’t make as big of a dent in your electric bill as AC units.
  • Dehumidifiers are usually portable and can be easily moved from room to room.
  • Air conditioners have the added benefit of removing the odor from the room more effectively than dehumidifiers.
  • Certain AC units are usually easily connected to larger venting systems and can work for more than just one room at a time.
  • AC units and dehumidifiers can be used in tandem for even faster results.

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