Air Conditioning vs. Dehumidifiers: 7 of the Most Common Questions Answered

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With the sizzling and sweltering heat of summer, most of us are dealing with some sort of uncomfortability as a result. Whether it is a home or office that is too warm due to high temperatures, high humidity that is making life miserable, or a combination of the two, understanding the basic principles of air conditioning vs dehumidifiers will help get through the upcoming months.

As a provider of cooling solutions across North America, our MAPR team often hears similar questions regarding air conditioners and dehumidifiers. With that being said, we have put together a guide to the 7 most common questions to help eliminate any confusion regarding each of the two.

Before we get into those FAQs, let’s take a look at how humidifiers and air conditioners operate. At a basic level, air conditioners transfer heat from the interior location to the warm outside environment. The evaporator’s cooling coils remove heat using refrigerant, the blower circulates the cool air, and the condenser releases the heat to the outside air. On the other hand, dehumidifiers remove excess moisture and humidity from the air inside your space using a refrigerant. The fan compressor compresses and expands the refrigerant to cool the coils, the reheater captures the collected heat, and the collected moisture is held in the reservoir. So one main difference between the two is that air conditioners move warm and cool air and dehumidifiers do not.

Now that you are equipped with a better understanding of their functionality, let’s dive into those frequently asked questions!

Should I run an AC and dehumidifier together?

There may be times when running an air conditioner and dehumidifier together is useful. For example, if your thermostat is set to 78 degrees and the room is under that, you can use a dehumidifier and fans to stay cool. If the temperature spikes above 78 degrees, the air conditioner can supplement the dehumidifier. Keep in mind, air conditioners will naturally lower the humidity and can be effective on their own. Running a dehumidifier with an air conditioner can reduce the wear and tear on your AC unit under certain circumstances.

Can I use a dehumidifier instead of an air conditioner?

Yes. Air conditioners typically cost much more to run so if the temperature outside is not too high, but humidity is unbearable, a dehumidifier can be used instead of the air conditioner. However, if the outside temperature is too high, the air conditioner will be needed, either on its own or in combination with the dehumidifier.

Is a dehumidifier better than an air conditioner?

Dehumidifiers are better at removing excess humidity and moisture from the air than air conditioners but are not better at moving warm and cool air like AC units do. So, it really depends on your end goal and needs.

Is it cheaper to run a dehumidifier or air conditioner?

Yes, dehumidifiers cost significantly less to run. So, when the temperature outside isn’t that high, you can save money and thousands of watts of electricity each day by using your dehumidifier alone.

Do air conditioners dehumidify when heating?

Air conditioners do dehumidify a bit, but in many cases it will not be sufficient enough. For example, in humid climates and in basements, moisture levels will remain high even with an air conditioner running. In these cases, a dehumidifier is recommended to remove the thick, moisture filled air.

How do desiccant dehumidifiers work?

For certain restorative and construction applications, desiccant dehumidifiers may be used in place of standard, refrigerant dehumidifiers. These produce much drier air and can remove moisture down to 0% relative humidity, versus standard dehumidifiers that remove moisture down to 20% or 30% on average. This is accomplished by a blower that forces air into the unit and through the desiccant wheel. The desiccant then absorbs the air’s moisture and releases much drier air back into the space it is being used.

How does dehumidifier vs air conditioner power consumption compare?

When comparing average sized, or average capacity dehumidifiers versus average sized air conditioner units, it is almost always cheaper to run the dehumidifier. Although energy efficiency has improved through the years, air conditioners use more watts of energy to operate. In either case, you will want your air conditioner and dehumidifier to be Energy-Star certified for optimal efficiency.

Still have questions regarding temporary cooling and dehumidifying solutions? MAPR offers rental cooling units and dehumidifier rentals for various applications nationwide. With our 24/7/365 emergency services and support team, we have the answers to those pressing cooling inquiries. Contact us today at 888-305-3038 to discuss!