Informational Guide

What Should I Set My Dehumidifier At?

Making sure you are using the proper dehumidifier settings can have long-term effects. Learn how to optimize your home humidity and get comfortable!

by Josh M

Got yourself a dehumidifier and set it up at home? That’s great! But you’re only halfway there. The key to getting the most from your dehumidifier and protecting your home is about setting it to the right level. Over the years I’ve used a wide range of dehumidifiers in lots of different places and I know the settings can vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about humidity levels, explain what the relative humidity you want is, and show you how to set your dehumidifier up to achieve it.

Understanding Humidity Levels

The humidity around you is the amount of moisture in the air. Ever felt hot and sticky in warm weather? That’s probably down to the humidity. Ever been down by the sea and felt the air get heavy? You might think that this is just about the relative temperature, but it’s not, it’s about the humidity.

Humidity is measured as the % of moisture in the air. This is sometimes described as relative humidity. The higher the %, the more moisture is in the air and the higher the humidity in your home.

Why Does Relative Humidity Matter?

When the air is heavy with water vapor and high humidity it can impact our skin, hampering breathability, and even making it hard to sweat. In fact, prolonged exposure to high humidity can have a really negative impact on our bodies [1].

Higher humidity from damp air can make your home and belongings damp. This humidity in your home can damage your belongings and even lead to mold growth.

Low humidity and dry air can prevent mold from developing, but it can cause issues too. It can dry your skin, irritate your skin, and generally make you feel really uncomfortable. [2]

Below is a rough guide to help you understand the optimal humidity in your home:

  • 0-30% humidity is uncomfortably dry
  • 30-50% humidity is considered the optimal comfort range
  • 60-100% is uncomfortably humid

Dehumidifiers are used to help you reach and maintain the desired humidity in your home. They regulate the relative humidity in your home by sucking in the fresh air, removing the moisture, and releasing it back into the room. The dehumidifier humidity settings will determine exactly how much moisture it removes from the air.

Dehumidifier Setting Options

Everyone will need to use a dehumidifier slightly differently and modern dehumidifiers allow you to change your settings. This means you can program the dehumidifier to run until the room reaches a certain level of humidity. Usually, there’s a display screen and buttons on the outside to program the appliance.

How does the dehumidifier know when the humidity level has reached the desired level? Well, most dehumidifiers have a built-in humidistat. This measures the humidity levels periodically and it will turn on and off depending on the humidity setting which you’ve programmed.

What Impacts The Optimal Dehumifidier Humidity Setting?

Even the best dehumidifiers need the correct dehumidifier setting to work properly. The exact humidity setting you choose to use will depend on the following factors:

  • Humidity Levels

The higher the relative humidity, the more damp air your dehumidifier has to deal with. You may need to adjust your dehumidifier humidity settings down to compensate.

  • Weather and Climate

You may need to change your dehumidifier settings throughout the year to adapt to the climate. If you have humid summers where it feels wet outside then you’ll need to adjust your settings to extract more moisture.

  • Ventilation

Ventilation usually reduces indoor moisture levels and relative humidity [3]. Here is a rundown of how the most common settings fare in areas that lack ventilation:

  • 30%: Unnecessarily minimal, a waste of energy
  • 40%: Ideal setting
  • 50%: Unsafe for areas with less ventilation; can promote mold growth in hard-to-reach spots
  • 60%: Unnecessarily high, will lead to eventual pest infection or mold-growth
Dehumidifier by the Post Beside a Window

What Should I Set My Dehumidifier To?

Your optimal dehumidifier humidity setting is almost always 30-50%. To an extent, the dryness setting comes down to personal preference, but keeping it around this level will prevent mold growth and leave you feeling most comfortable.

Where you install your dehumidifier will have an impact on the dryness setting you use. It’s about finding the right balance, and here’s a breakdown of the preferred dehumidifier settings for different situations/places:

The Best Dehumidifier Setting For Basement

The optimal humidity setting for a basement is 40-45%. Basements generally have little ventilation and higher levels of humidity than other parts of your home. This makes them more susceptible to mold growth which can damage your home and spread into the foundations.

Your basement generally isn’t a space that you’ll spend a lot of time in, so comfort isn’t as much of an issue, but to keep the mold in check you should ensure that the humidity doesn’t get above 60%. If you have a crawl space you should set it to roughly the same humidity level too.

Ideal Dehumidifier Setting For Living Spaces

The best dehumidifier humidity setting for living spaces is 40-50%. Living rooms are more likely to have ventilation which will help to regular the humidity level to an extent, but if you let the air become too full with water vapor then it can lead to dust mites. By keeping the humidity level under 50% you’ll suffocate the dust mites (and some other micro-organisms), preventing damage to your sofas or cushions.

Just remember that the humidity level in living areas will have an impact on your personal comfort, so you may choose to experiment with different humidity settings to see which works best for you.

Perfect Bedroom Dehumidifier Settings

Studies have shown that you should keep the humidity level under 60% for a great night’s sleep [4]. If the humidity rises above that point then the excess moisture can become uncomfortable. If the humidity drops below 30-40% then it can make irritate your skin and throat.

There is a debate over whether your bedroom dehumidifier should be set to 30-50% or 40-60%, but keep it between 30-60% and you should be fine.

Optimal Laundry Room Dehumidifier Settings

Laundry room dehumidifiers operate to help dry out your clothes and they should be set to 30-40%. This will dry the air and keep dust mites and other pollutants out of the air around your clothes.

Most modern dehumidifiers have a specific laundry room setting that will extract humidity more quickly, but also set the fan to go more quickly. This acts as air conditioning for your clothes and will allow them to dry more quickly. Consult the owner’s manual or control panel to find out more about the laundry function.

Dehumidifier Setting To Tackle Mold

Keep your dehumidifier at 30-50% to deal with mold. This will kill the mold from forming and improve the overall air quality so it can’t return. Hot and damp climates suffer more from mold, so you may need to adjust the settings depending on the environment around you.

Ideal Dehumidifier Setting For Winter

Cold air doesn’t contain as much moisture as warm air, so you can set your dehumidifier to 50-60% over winter. This will keep the moisture from gathering on surfaces in your home and damaging your belongings, but won’t dry out the air around you. It should also prevent any mold from developing.

Refrigerant dehumidifiers are susceptible to freezing over winter, so make sure you’re cleaning and maintaining them properly, especially if they’re placed in a cold basement.

Mobile Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier with Open Ventilation

Dehumidifier Settings Chart

To provide clarity to the ideal dehumidifying conditions in these scenarios; here is a brief yet insightful rundown:

Type of Location/Purpose Ideal humidity (%) Indications
Basement 40% Less ventilation keeps the air stagnant. 40% humidity emulates natural conditions
Living Spaces 45% Even favorable airflow can cause dust mites. Keeping humidity levels a bit higher can avoid that.
Mold Prevention 35% The more moisture in the air, the more mold will grow, especially in a tropical or wet region. Hence, humidity levels should be kept very low.
Winter Season 50% Winters are already dry; however, to prevent dust mites and avoid mold, a higher level may be required.

How to Set the Dehumidifier Correctly?

Once you have decided to get a humidifier, you need to make sure you install it properly. Here is a step-by-step process of how you can achieve that:

  • 1: Choose The Right Location – Dehumidifiers need to be placed somewhere with a lot of airflow. Air should be able to enter and also leave seamlessly. Remember, a dehumidifier’s water tank and electrical appliances don’t mix, so don’t place them together or you could end up getting an electric shock!
  • 2: Set Up The Draining System – Your dehumidifier can either have an internal reservoir that needs emptying or a water drainage system facilitated with pipes and a dryer duct. Whichever one you have – portable or fixed –  set it up so that it doesn’t impede the room’s functionality.
  • 3: Set Your Ideal Level – Once all is set up, you need to tinker with the dehumidifier to see what humidity level fits you best. Check the owner’s manual if the control panel isn’t clear.
  • 4: Keep Track Of How It’s Working – A dehumidifier requires you to keep an eye on it. For example, if it has a removable reservoir, it needs to be emptied, or else the dehumidifier will stop working. Remember, if you’re using your dehumidifier a lot to remove excess moisture it’s worth investing in one with a good energy star rating so it doesn’t cost a fortune to run.
Dehumidifier Water Reservoir Plug

Best Setting For Different Dehumidifier Brands

Arctic King Dehumidifier Setting

Arctic King offers fixed dehumidifiers that provide continuous functionality when set to a drainage hose. Hence, even if they are set to function at a 40% humidity level for the entire day, they will thrive.

And if you want to program them to shut off at a pre-decided time, they come with an efficient 24-hour timer.

Hisense Dehumidifier Setting

Most Hisense units come with an ‘Auto Dry’ setting. This mode lets the dehumidifier decide the desired fan speed according to the room while setting the humidity level at 50%.

Customize the level according to our guide, and you’re good to go!

Haier Dehumidifier Setting

Haier units boast an efficient ‘Smart Dry’ mode that automatically detects the current humidity level in the room and calibrates the settings accordingly.

This mode works efficiently; however, the humidity level will mainly fluctuate between 35-60%. Hence, you can customize the level according to your requirements.

Trane Dehumidifier Setting

Most brands – including Haier – limit fan speeds to 2 options (high and low); conversely, Trane units run at multiple speeds.

This allows them to function longer and enables the air to eject more water into the coil. Therefore, running it at a standard of 40% humidity level can do the job.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Should you leave a dehumidifier on all the time?

No, dehumidifiers generally don’t need to be left on all the time. A dehumidifier should be left on for 12-15 hours to function properly, but it only needs to be on for as long as it reaches the required levels of humidity. Once it does that, it can be turned off.

When should you turn off your dehumidifier?

You should turn the dehumidifier off when it reaches the desired level. Most dehumidifiers come with a built-in humidistat which will tell you the humidity, but you can also buy a separate device to measure the humidity if needed.

Should I run my dehumidifier on low, medium, or high?

If you’re dealing with a lot of humidity then you should use a medium or high setting. If the relative humidity is low then you should use a low setting. Always align the usage to the task at hand, but keep in mind that some brands only offer two speeds.

What is the best temperature for a dehumidifier?

The ideal operating temperature for a dehumidifier is around 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it also depends on the external and internal conditions of the house.

Conclusion

Dehumidifiers are powerful tools, but only if you use them correctly. If you program the device in the right way you can make your home more comfortable and keep mold and mites at bay. This will lead to a happier, healthier life!

Hopefully, this guide has shown you exactly what your dehumidifier should be set to, and you’ll be able to get the most from your appliance.

References:

1- https://www.achooallergy.com/blog/learning/the-effects-of-humidity-on-the-human-body/

2- https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/humidifiers/art-20048021

3- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143947/

4- https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/humidity-and-sleep

Last Updated on January 23, 2023

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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