Portable vs. Whole-Home Dehumidifiers – Pros & Cons

So, you have a humidity problem inside your house…which isn’t too uncommon here in Florida! How should you deal with it? Should you purchase a portable dehumidifier or invest in a whole-home unit? Are there pros and cons to each?

These are all great questions! Keep reading to learn more about dehumidifiers from our pros at Super Heat & Air!

How Does a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Work?

A whole-home dehumidifier is designed to work in conjunction with your HVAC system and will usually be installed in your basement or attic. This appliance extracts excess moisture from the indoor air in your home as it passes through the HVAC’s return ductwork.

Then, the dehumidifier condenses the moisture to its liquid form and channels it down a drain such as a floor drain or laundry sink. Dry air is then recirculated throughout your home.

Remember, a dehumidifier extracts extra humidity from the air; a humidifier adds moisture to dry homes.

Automatically controls humidity in your home
Can be up to four times more energy-efficient than portable models
No need to empty buckets or drip pans full of water
Most have better air filters than most portable models
Much quieter operation
More expensive up-front
Complex installation (requires a professional)
Difficult to uninstall and take with you if you sell your house
How Does a Portable Dehumidifier Work?

A portable dehumidifier must be in the room or area that you want to dehumidify, but it can conveniently be moved from room to room.

Portable dehumidifiers use a fan to pull in the humid air. This air is passed over coils cooled by refrigerant, like your AC system. As the cold coils cool down the air, its humidity content is condensed, and dry air is released back into your space.

Once it is a liquid, it is collected in a removable container or drip pan which you will need to empty by hand.

Controls humidity in one large room or area
Less expensive
Quick to set up
Many models are equipped with digital controls
Loud operation and visible always
Only controls humidity in a designated area
Must empty drip pan or attach a hose for continuous use
Uses more energy during operation

Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of both options.

Comfort Level

A whole-home dehumidifier can bring the humidity level in your house down to a healthy level of 40-50% quietly and efficiently. As a result, you will likely be able to save energy by setting your air conditioner higher in the summer while your home still stays cool.

A portable dehumidifier can only treat the humidity in a small area, reducing the relative indoor humidity in just 1 or 2 rooms. It also won’t have much impact on your hot-weather comfort, but it can drive up energy costs.


Because whole-home dehumidifiers are discreetly tucked away with your HVAC system, you’ll forget that it is there, especially since it doesn’t make any extra noise!

On the other hand, a portable dehumidifier takes up floor space and sits out in view, which many homeowners find unattractive. They can also be quite noisy. That being said, a portable unit might be your best option if you only need to dehumidify a small area, or you do not have central HVAC ductwork in your home.


A whole-home dehumidifier will cost more to purchase and will need to be installed by a professional as it is more complex than a portable unit.

Portable units are less expensive to buy and do not need to be installed. You can set one up in minutes.

Which is Better?

Deciding on which option is better is based largely on the size of your home, existing ductwork, and the humidity levels in your home. Whole-home dehumidifiers are ideal for medium to large houses that need humidity control throughout the entire home.

Portable dehumidifiers are much more affordable and are the most practical and cost-effective solution for ductless homes or smaller spaces.

Learn More> What is the Ideal Indoor Humidity Level?

Improve Your Indoor Air

If you have humidity problems in your Tampa Bay home, rely on the friendly experts at Super Heat & Air for whole-home dehumidifier installations. We can also offer advice to reduce the humidity in your home if you don’t have ducts, as well as ways to improve the overall air quality in your home.

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