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Are cheap dehumidifiers worth buying?

Find out much dehumidifiers typically cost and what you can expect from a cheap one

Dehumidifiers reduce humidity levels, helping keep allergens such as dust mites, mould and mildew at bay. Find out how much dehumidifiers cost and what you can expect from a cheap one versus a more expensive one. 

High levels of indoor dampness can cause asthma and other respiratory problems, make it harder for you to dry your clothes in winter, and provide an ideal climate for clothes moths, dust mites, fleas, cockroaches and other nasties to thrive.

If you’re noticing water stains on your walls or ceiling, condensation on your windows, mould spores lurking in your shower or a general musty smell, then we’re sorry to say you have a damp problem. And it’s probably time you bought a dehumidifier.

But having to splash out on a dehumidifier at a time of year when you’re already spending more on your energy bills can feel like a kick in the teeth. We explore whether a cheap dehumidifier will banish damp as effectively as an expensive one.

We’ve reviewed more than 45 dehumidifiers. Jump straight to our in-depth dehumidifier reviews

Cheap vs expensive dehumidifiers

Dehumidifiers start at around £50 and go up to more than £450.

The cheapest usually have a smaller capacity. ‘Capacity’ refers to the amount of water the manufacturer claims the dehumidifier can pull from the air. In general, 10-litre capacity dehumidifiers are claimed to work in areas of around 15 square metres.

The dehumidifiers we’ve featured here, which all cost less than £130, have a capacity of 10 litres or less. Head to our dehumidifier reviews to see larger ones, too.

Cheaper dehumidifiers also tend to have fewer features than more expensive ones. A cheap dehumidifier is less likely to have:

  • Laundry setting  – useful if you don’t have a tumble dryer and it’s too cold to dry clothes outside (or if you don’t have access to a garden or balcony where you could hang your washing). Hanging clothes on a radiator can cause condensation. Manufacturers say that a dehumidifier will leave your clothes soft, as it doesn’t use heat.
  • Integrated cord storage – for keeping cords neat and tidy when the dehumidifier’s not in use
  • Castors – for wheeling the dehumidifier around rather than having to lift it.

Here are some features you’ll see on cheap dehumidifiers as well as expensive ones:

  • Built-in humidistat aka auto-setting – for monitoring the moisture in the air so that the dehumidifier can turn itself on and off to maintain the humidity level you’ve selected, rather than you having to do this yourself.
  • Display – most dehumidifiers have a digital or analogue display, although a handful just have an on/off switch.

Are cheap dehumidifiers less reliable?

Not necessarily. We asked more than 500 dehumidifier owners to tell us how long their machines had lasted, and what had gone wrong if they broke down. As a general rule, dehumidifiers were rated highly for their reliability, meaning they’re unlikely to develop faults.

The dehumidifier brand that was rated least reliable still had 72% of products staying fault-free after six years – which is better than can be said for many other categories of product.

Three budget dehumidifiers

Electriq CD10L-V2 (£80)

The cheapest dehumidifier we’ve tested that’s currently available. It has a digital display, a built-in humidistat and cord storage. It’s a refrigerant dehumidifier (the most common type in the UK). Refrigerant dehumidifiers are designed to work best under the sort of conditions you might expect in a typical occupied home in Britain.

Unusually, Elecriq says this 10-litre dehumidifier can work in a house with up to three bedrooms. As we mentioned above, 10-litre dehumidifiers are often designed to work in areas of around 15 square metres. The average new-build three-bedroom home is 91 square metres. Our full Electriq CD10L-V2 review takes a closer look at these claims.

Ecoair DD1 Simple (£125)

A desiccant dehumidifier from Ecoair. Desiccant models are designed to work better in lower temperatures and humidities – a caravan or unheated garage, for example. We tested it in heated and chilly conditions, so we can tell you whether it will work as well in your lounge as in your garage.

It has an analogue display, a laundry setting and a built-in humidistat but no cord storage. It doesn’t have wheels either but, as it’s only 6kg, you should be able to lift it fairly easily.

It has two fan levels – economy, for everyday use, maximum energy saving and quiet operation; and turbo, for speedy dehumidification if you have a severe damp problem.

Our full review reveals whether the Ecoair DD1 Simple is a bargain dehumidifier.

Meaco 10L Small Home (£133)

Weighing 8.9kg, this is one of the lighter dehumidifiers we’ve reviewed. As with the Electriq above, Meaco says this 10-litre capacity dehumidifier could work in a three-bedroom house – so our experts put this claim to the test.

It doesn’t have a display or castors, but it does have a dedicated clothes-drying setting, integrated cord storage and a built-in humidistat.

It’s a refrigerant dehumidifier that’s easy to use, both in terms of operating the controls and emptying the water tank. But is it also effective at pulling water from the air? Find out in our full Meaco 10L Small Home review.

Running costs

It’s not all about buying a cheap dehumidifier up front – you should also consider the ongoing running costs. Our test results show that some are much slower at extracting water from the air than others. This means you’ll have to use them for longer, which will increase the amount of energy you use.

We assess how energy efficient each dehumidifier is, and award it a star rating. Make sure you pick one that scores well for pulling water from the air, and for energy efficiency, to get the complete package.

Which? Best Buy dehumidifiers

Our reviews can tell you:

  • How much water the dehumidifier extracts from the air
  • How much energy the dehumidifier uses
  • How noisy it is
  • How easy it is to use
  • Whether the auto-setting function works effectively

A dehumidifier needs to earn 75% in our tests to be a Which? Best Buy. Any model that scores less than 45% is a Don’t Buy.

See our full list of Best Buy dehumidifiers and check back in a few weeks, when we’ll have expanded our reviews to cover a fresh batch of models.

For more information, you can also read our guide to dealing with damp – from stopping condensation in its tracks to calling in a professional.

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