Which dehumidifier to buy – desiccant dehumidifier or compressor ?

by Josephine Gan    

Which dehumidifier to buy – desiccant dehumidifier or compressor ? - Andatech Distribution

Desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier? If you’re asking yourself this question now, you’re not the only one! We get asked about which dehumidifier to choose all the time – desiccant dehumidifier or compressor –  and it’s a great question before you invest in something for your home. So here’s a short article we hope will help you decide 🙂


Desiccant dehumidifier, compressor dehumidifier.. what are they? 

Desiccant dehumidifiers and compressor dehumidifiers are two of the main types of dehumidifiers on the market. When it comes to comparing a desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier, they both have their pros and cons.

Compressor dehumidifiers have been around for over 40 years and are the most widely available type of dehumidifier in stores. It uses condensation to remove water from the air – the unit has a cold surface, and when warm, damp air from within the room comes into contact with it, it forms condensation and water is removed from the air and into a tank for later disposal.

A desiccant dehumidifier doesn’t have a compressor and instead, uses a desiccant wheel to adsorb moisture from the air. The internal heater regenerates the desiccant, so that this process can be repeated time and time again. You can learn more about how desiccant dehumidifiers work here.

As mentioned in our dehumidifier buying guide, desiccant dehumidifiers are usually preferred because they are lighter and quieter in operation, and can work in both high and low temperatures to extract moisture efficiently. However, they are not always the best recommendation to buy. There are several things to take into consideration when choosing between a desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier.

Read on to find out how the desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier compete with each other based on different environment and humidity issues:


Dehumidifier for cool or warm temperature

In general, compressor dehumidifiers work better during warmer climate, whereas desiccant dehumidifiers work well in both warm and cold climates. Here’s why:

Compressor dehumidifiers need to be colder than the surrounding air in order to work better, so in colder climates, compressor types are less effective. The inside of the compressor dehumidifier needs to be colder than the air within the room, and the colder the room is, the harder the compressor dehumidifier has to work to create that cold surface. Once the temperature starts to fall below ~15°C, chances are that the inside of the dehumidifier will get close to freezing, increasing the chances of ice forming on the dehumidifier’s cooling coils. Below 15°C, compressor dehumidifiers would spend up to two thirds of their time just defrosting themselves rather than dehumidifying.

On the other hand, desiccant dehumidifiers have a consistent dehumidifying performance regardless of the temperature. Desiccant dehumidifiers  work according to the adsorption principle, making them especially suited for high humidity levels at low temperatures. Desiccant dehumidifeirs’ drying process involves a heating element which evaporates the water and collects it in the tank. Unlike compressor dehumidifiers, they do not get influenced much by surrounding temperature.

If the dehumidifier will mostly be used in cool temperatures below 15°C (spring, fall, winter months) or any time of the year you are more likely to use a heater than air conditioning, use a desiccant dehumidifier instead. It produces heat, and the energy used for dehumidifying your room can double up as a heater in your home and reduce energy used by other heat sources.

desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier - dehumidification graph

Desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier verdict:

Warm temperature – Compressor dehumidifiers

Cool temperature – Desiccant dehumidifiers


Dehumidifier for wine cellar

wine cellar dehumidifier

The only exception to the rule above on cool and warm temperature, would be if you are using a dehumidifier for a wine cellar.

Wine cellars tend to be kept cold, but you would not want to use a desiccant dehumidifier as it would warm the room back up at about 3 ~ 5°C. Therefore, compressor dehumidifiers are the recommended type to use for wine cellars, and anything else where the room temperature needs to be maintained. Note that compressor dehumidifiers may still increase the room temperature by a bit, but it would be minimal at 1 ~ 2 °C.

It is also recommended to use a compressor dehumidifier that has an in-built humidistat in order to prevent the room from drying out too much and therefore can help protect the corks.

Desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier verdict:

Wine cellars – Compressor dehumidifiers


Indoor humidity, condensation, and mould problems

humidity moisture condensation dehumidifier


Customers facing condensation and mould issues caused by excess humidity indoors usually seek dehumidifiers as a solution. 

In this case, either desiccant dehumidifiers or compressor dehumidifiers would be suitable. However, note that both types of dehumidifiers will warm up the air slightly as it passes through the dehumidifier.

As mentioned above, air coming out of compressor type dehumidifiers will be about 1 ~ 2°C warmer than room temperature. Air coming out of desiccant dehumidifiers will be about 3 ~ 5°C warmer than room temperature.

Therefore, we recommend desiccant dehumidifiers for chilly hallways. If the hallway is already warm enough, then a compressor dehumidifier will be more suitable.

Desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier verdict:

Cold hallway – Desiccant dehumidifiers

Warm hallway – Compressor dehumidifiers


Drying clothes indoors

dehumidifier for laundry


Another common reason why people are getting excess humidity indoors that’s causing condensation and mould, is because they’re drying their wet clothes or laundry indoors. This is especially common in apartments or townhouses in Australia that have no balcony or lawn area for drying clothes. Additionally, moisture from clothes can also escape from a clothes dryer and increase indoor humidity, especially if there isn’t proper ventilation in the home.

Clothes are able to dry indoors when the air around it is drier, and it gives up the moisture in order to be in equilibrium with its surroundings. A dehumidifier can create that dry atmosphere and absorb moisture from wet laundry to dry out wet clothes quickly. This also ensures that moisture from the clothes will collect in the dehumidifier rather than circulate around the home. When moisture circulates around the home, problems associated with excess moisture (like it does with clothes dryers) tend to occur.

Desiccant dehumidifiers are better for this purpose because they tend to have a larger and faster air flow compared to compressor dehumidifiers. Also, as explained before, they produce warmer air than compressor types. They work just as efficiently as drying your clothes outside during summer on a warm, windy day!

Desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier verdict:

Drying clothes indoors – Desiccant dehumidifiers


Dehumidifier to move around


In general, a dehumidifier should remain in one spot to dehumidify the air. Just leave internal doors open, and external doors and windows closed to prevent extra airflow coming in. By doing so, moisture inside the house will migrate towards the dehumidifier. Once moisture is close enough to the unit, the dehumidifier fan pulls it in.

Most of the time, one dehumidifier would be sufficient for the whole house. However, if you have a large home or multiple levels, you’d need a more compact dehumidifier. This is so that you can easily move it around between rooms or levels. You may also want to move the dehumidifier for specific problem areas for better efficiency. For example, a poorly ventilated bathroom, or a built-in wardrobe that is prone to mould growth.

For this reason, we would recommend desiccant dehumidifiers. These are more compact and lightweight than compressor types, which can be very bulky and weigh up to 20kgs.

On the other hand, desiccant dehumidifiers are more compact and light while maintaining high water removal rates.

The Ionmax ION612 desiccant dehumidifier is just 6kg in weight but can dehumidify up to 7L of moisture a day.

Its big brother, the Ionmax ION632 dehumidifier, is just 7.8kg and can remove up to 10L of moisture a day.

So if you’re after a dehumidifier that you can move around the home, opt for a desiccant dehumidifier, and remember to take the size of the unit into account. 

Desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier verdict:

Dehumidifier to move around – Desiccant dehumidifiers


Which to buy: desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier?

So it seems as though for most of the applications, the desiccant dehumidifier came up as the winner. It’s also quite clear as reflected in the number of desiccant dehumidifiers we sell. However, as we’ve explained above, compressor dehumidifiers still rule for certain applications.

So, desiccant vs compressor dehumidifier, which one is suitable for you? If you’re still not sure, just contact us for some personal assistance 🙂

Check out our select range of desiccant dehumidifiers or all dehumidifiers online.

ionmax dehumidifiers choice dehumidifier review


 You can also decide which dehumidifier to purchase for yourself by having a look at our full dehumidifier range below:

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.

Josephine Gan

As our Customer Service Manager, Josephine has a great understanding of people- which is not surprising, given that her major is in Psychology. She is able to transfer her friendly demeanour into our safety and support related posts for our products and services.