Guide to Choosing the Best Settings for Your Dehumidifier

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

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I have dehumidifiers in my basement, garage, living room, and bedroom, and they are all programmed differently.

This is because they have different jobs to do, and a key part of managing your indoor humidity is setting your dehumidifier to the right level.

Over the years I’ve used a wide range of dehumidifiers in lots of different places and I know the best settings for different environments.

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.

Key Takeaways

  • The optimal dehumidifier settings for relative humidity should be between 30%-50% with 40% often being the sweet spot.
  • Do note that dehumidifiers can be a double-edged sword if they go past 30% relative humidity. This is because dry air can cause damage to your health and belongings just as overly humid air can.
  • The exact humidity settings you choose would depend on several factors such as the weather, ventilation, and placement e.g. bedroom, basement, laundry room, bathroom.

Understanding Humidity Levels

The humidity around you is the amount of moisture in the air.

In my area, it gets hot and sticky in the summer months, and anyone who lives near the sea has probably noticed the air getting heavier.

This isn’t just because of the relative temperature, but because there are higher humidity levels.

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.

TL;DR: Simply put, humidity is the amount of moisture in the air.

Why Does Relative Humidity Matter?

dehumidifier settings

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.

In my home, this caused black mold spots on the walls and ceilings of my basement before I took steps to manage the humidity. 

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 (this is what I try to maintain in my home)
  • 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.

TL;DR: Relative humidity is measured in percentage. It measures the percentage of vapor in the air before saturation is reached at a given temperature.


Dehumidifier Setting Options

I alter the settings on my dehumidifiers throughout the year as the humidity changes, but everyone will need to use a dehumidifier slightly differently.

Modern dehumidifiers allow you to change your settings which 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.

TL;DR: Most dehumidifiers have a built-in humidistat which can allow you to control humidity in the room.

What Impacts The Optimal Dehumidifier 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. I have very humid summers where it feels wet outside so I adjust your settings to extract more moisture. You may need to do the same where you live too. 

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

TL;DR: The initial humidity levels, the overall climate and the amount of ventilation would impact the settings you set for your dehumidifier.

Dehumidifier by the Post Beside a Window

What Should I Set My Dehumidifier To?

Your optimal dehumidifier humidity setting is almost always 30-50%.

will a dehumidifier in the basement help the whole house
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.

ACLAB Note:

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. You can keep it as dry as possible since a dry basement can help the entire house:

I primarily use my basement for storage and aim for 40-50% humidity, but anything under 60% should keep mold in check.

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%. 

In the summer months, I aim for 35-40% humidity so it’s more comfortable, but it depends on your personal preferences.

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.

ACLAB Note:

There is a debate over whether your bedroom dehumidifier should be set to 30-50% or 40-60%, but I’ve found it doesn’t make too much difference.

If you 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.

TL;DR: Depending upon the room and location, you can set your dehumidifiers settings accordingly. Generally, the more humid a room gets, the lower should be the humidity settings. 40%-50% is the ideal humidity level to aim for.

Dehumidifier Setting To Tackle Mold

will a dehumidifier kill 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.

TL;DR: To tackle mold, you can set the dehumidifier to as low as 30%.

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. 

I usually check my dehumidifier every 2 weeks over winter to check for any ice build up on the compressor.

If it gets really cold I would recommend using a heater alongside the dehumidifier to stop it from freezing. 

TL;DR: In winters, since the air is particularly dry, you can set the dehumidifier at 50-60%. 

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:

where to place dehumidifier
  1. 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. 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.
Dehumidifier Water Reservoir Plug
  1. 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.
  2. 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. I usually empty my dehumidifiers every 1-2 days and perform routine maintenance once a month. 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.

TL;DR: Other than the settings, the placement, drainage and maintenance are all important for dehumidifier's optimal performance.


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.

TL;DR: Different dehumidifier brands and models have different functions and settings for controlling humidity.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

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.

Wrapping It Up

Keeping my home comfortable is a priority for me and that’s why I spent time researching the best dehumidifier settings for different areas.

It took me a bit of time to find the optimal dehumidifier settings and program them in the right way, but now I have the exact humidity I want across my home.

Hopefully, this guide will help you to do the same and has shown you exactly what your dehumidifier should be set to so you can 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
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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