What Is Dry Mode On An AC? (Dry Vs Cool Explained)

Key Takeaways

  • Dry mode is a dedicated dehumidifier AC feature.
  • Dry mode is more energy-efficient than cooling mode.
  • You shouldn't run your AC in dry mode for over two hours.

The dry mode on air conditioners, often overshadowed by the cooling function, is essential for controlling indoor humidity.

Today, I'll explain the dry mode function, how it works, and its importance in maintaining a comfortable, moisture-balanced indoor atmosphere.

What Exactly Is Dry Mode? (How It Works)

Dry mode is a standard key feature in modern ducted and split-type air conditioners that allows you to lower the humidity in your home without a dehumidifier, making it ideal for humid climates such as Florida or Louisiana. 

When activated, the dry or dehumidifier mode reduces the moisture in the air and enhances comfort without significantly lowering the room temperature.

Dry mode works by drawing humid air inside the unit, where it passes over refrigerant-cooled evaporator coils. The evaporator coils, being cooler than the air, cause moisture to condense, resulting in drier air being recirculated back into the room. 

This process not only makes the air less heavy but also improves air quality and helps maintain a balanced indoor climate.

TL;DR: Dry mode is a feature on many ACs that acts as a dehumidifier. It helps remove excess moisture content from the air.

What Is The Difference Between Cool And Dry Mode In AC?

The key difference between 'Cool Mode' and 'Dry Mode' in air conditioners lies in their primary functions.

Cool mode actively reduces room temperature by circulating cool air, using the refrigerant to absorb and remove heat from the room and keep it at the desired level set into a programmable thermostat. 

In contrast, the dry mode focuses on reducing air humidity, which also slightly cools the air, although that isn't its primary purpose.

Other notable differences between cooling and dehumidifying would be:

  • Energy Consumption
  • Compressor Operation

In wall-mounted or portable air conditioners, the cool mode typically consumes more electricity, as the compressor works intensively to maintain low temperatures.

On the other hand, the dry mode is less energy-intensive as the compressor speed and refrigerant flow are lower.

This also results in the compressor cycling on and off less frequently, which further enhances energy efficiency.

TL;DR: Cool mode reduces air temperature. Dry mode reduce air humidity. The latter consumes less energy.

Benefits Of Dry Mode Function

The dry mode function in air conditioners offers several practical benefits, enhancing several aspects of your life and your home in the following ways:

  • Creates Fresher, Healthier Air: Dry Mode's ability to lower humidity levels helps prevent mold and mildew growth, ensuring cleaner air quality.
  • Helps Lower The Electric Bill: By using less electricity than the cool mode, the dry mode offers an energy-efficient way to manage indoor conditions while saving electricity.
  • Removes Foul Smells: Lowering the humidity levels can also reduce odors, particularly those caused by dampness and mildew.
  • Preserves Your Furniture and Valuables: Optimal humidity levels help protect furniture, electronics, and artwork from moisture-related damage, maintaining the integrity of your home's interior.

When To Use The AC Dry Mode?

You should use the air conditioner's dry mode to lower the indoor humidity levels to 30-50%, as this range is optimal for human health and comfort and for protecting home interiors and electronics from moisture damage.

Dehumidification mode is ideal in scenarios where the air feels uncomfortably damp and heavy but not excessively hot.

In addition:

  • Dry mode can significantly improve air quality during rainy seasons or in coastal areas where humidity levels often exceed 60%.
  • Dry mode can significantly enhance indoor comfort in spring or fall when temperatures are moderate, but the air feels heavy due to rain and weather conditions.
  • Dehumidifying helps in maintaining a dry, mold-free atmosphere in damp environments like basements.
  • Those with respiratory issues or allergies should use dry mode during allergy season.

TL;DR: Dry mode is great to combat myriad of issues related to high moisture content. It can prevent health diseases and protect your belonging.

How Long Should You Run The AC In Dry Mode

You should run your portable AC or mini-split in dry mode for about one to two hours at a time. 

In most cases, an hour is enough to effectively reduce indoor humidity to comfortable levels without over-dehumidifying the space, as overly dry air can be as intolerable as humid air.

AC Dry Mode vs Dehumidifier - Which One Should You Use?

You should use your air conditioner's dry mode for mild humidity issues.

However, a dedicated dehumidifier is more effective for more severe moisture problems in spaces where cooling isn't required. 

A dehumidifier is specifically designed to extract a higher volume of moisture from the air, making it a better choice for basements or during cooler, damp seasons.

At the same time, a dehumidifier lacks the versatility of an all-in-one air conditioning unit.

To make this decision even easier for you, have a look at this table:


AC with Dry Mode


Initial Cost



Running Cost



Dehumidification Performance


Very good

Overall Cooling Effect



TL;DR: You will need a dedicated humidifier if you suffer from severely high moisture content or if you need precise humidity control in certain places.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Does Dry Mode in AC Use the Compressor?

Yes, your AC still uses the compressor in dry mode, but it runs a lot slower and consumes less power.

Do All Types of AC Have a Dry Mode Function?

No, not all ACs have a dry mode. However, dry mode is a particularly common feature found in most central AC units and portable air conditioners.

Is it Good to Run the AC in Dry Mode During the Rainy Season?

Yes, running your AC during the rainy season is a good idea. Dry mode is most effective when humidity levels spike, but the air temperature isn't very high.

What is the Best Temperature for Dry Node?

The best temperature for running dry mode is around 74 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius.

Does Dry Mode on AC Bring in Outside Air?

No, dry mode on the AC does not bring in outside air. While dual-hose models intake outside air, that air is used to chill the condenser, and it does not mix with the indoor air.

Wrapping it Up

Ultimately, the dry mode in air conditioning serves as an economical and effective way to decrease humidity in your living space.

This mode represents the multifaceted nature of modern air conditioning systems, completely eliminating the need for a dedicated dehumidifier, and ensuring the air you breathe is comfortably dry regardless of where you live.

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Josh Mitchell


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.

My Favorite Home Appliance?

Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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