Mold, insects, wet walls, and musty odor are just some telltale signs of humidity levels crossing over 50% in a room, or worse, in the entire house. When this happens, a great way to solve this issue is to install a compressor dehumidifier. So, how does a compressor dehumidifier work?
A compressor dehumidifier is a device that draws in humid ambient air using its fans. It condenses and collects water content in the humid air by passing it over its cooling coils, which results in cool, dry air that the humidifier expels out.
Keep reading to learn more about this useful device.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Inside a Dehumidifier Compressor?
- 2 How Do I Know if My Dehumidifier Compressor Is Working?
- 3 How Does a Dehumidifier Work Without a Compressor?
- 4 Desiccant Dehumidifier vs Compressor
- 5 FAQs
- 6 Conclusion
What Is Inside a Dehumidifier Compressor?
Fundamentally, there are three units inside a dehumidifier compressor. These include:
There are also smaller components that make up these units. On the surface, we can name five structural components:
- Fan compressor
- Compressor cooling coils
Each of these has a specific role and significant contribution to the general functioning of a dehumidifier.
Let’s take a detailed look into these parts and check out how they make a compressor dehumidifier work.
A compressor is the most essential part of a dehumidifier. That’s because this is where the dehumidification process begins. It propels the fan, which mechanically drives in atmospheric air via an air inlet. Following this, the compressor propels the flow of refrigerant.
Note that a compressor is prone to quicker wear and tear. Hence, it may require regular maintenance if the dehumidifier is under intensive usage.
Once the air enters the system, it passes through the air filter, which improves the air quality by removing pollutants. With that said, you may have to clean the air filter now and then to keep it from becoming clogged.
Next, the humid air meets a series of metal wires known as cooling coils or cold coils. These separate air and water, reducing the humidity aspect of the drawn air.
How so? Well, as soon as humid air comes in contact with the cooling coils, condensation takes place. The water content in the air converts to drops and settles on the metal wires, while the air content is separated, becoming cooler and drier.
There’s a drip tray or a reservoir in the dehumidifier that collects the condensed water as it drips down. In some dehumidifiers, this reservoir is removable.
Next, the dry air passes over a series of coiled wires. These are the hot coils or heating coils. They reheat the cold, dry air so that it returns to room temperature. This heated air gets expelled via the same fan that drew in the air.
How Do I Know if My Dehumidifier Compressor Is Working?
Now that you know how a compressor dehumidifier works, it’s time to explore the complexities of its inner workings. First, you should know how to tell if a dehumidifier is working or not.
You can tell if a compressor dehumidifier is working by:
- Checking the indicator light
- Using a hygrometer
We’ll be covering each of these in detail. But before we do so, let us share why you need to know this.
A new dehumidifier should control the level of humidity within a room perfectly. But as this device ages, it develops problems.
It’s true you can directly take a malfunctioning dehumidifier to the manufacturer if it’s still in warranty. But educating yourself about common dehumidifier problems can help you fix the arising issues much more quickly and economically.
Below we’ve listed some identifiers which can help you determine if your dehumidifier compressor is working properly. We’ve also included potential solutions to the problems.
Case #1: If It Doesn’t Hum, It Isn’t Working
All types of dehumidifiers produce some level of noise. Some are loud enough to cause a headache, while some are appreciably quiet.
On average, a modern unit dehumidifier produces about 50-70 dB of noise, the same as a refrigerator. You’ll be able to hear it if the room is quiet or if you’re standing right next to it.
To check if your compressor dehumidifier is working, stand right next to it and listen to see if you can hear the slight hum. If you cannot, check if the power panel is in the ON position. Apart from listening for the low hum, you can check for the power indicator light.
If the dehumidifier is on and still not working, it needs attention from an electrical professional. The circuit breaker or fuse that serves the dehumidifier might have blown.
Before you take it to a technician, check all the controls to determine if they are on.
Next, switch the entire device ON/OFF and verify if the humidistat is set between 50-60% relative humidity. If everything is in place and the dehumidifier still appears unresponsive, take it to the technician.
Case #2: If the Ambient Humidity Level Doesn’t Correspond With the Hygrometer, It Isn’t Working
A hygrometer is a small and affordable sensor-based device that measures the relative humidity of the air. It costs anywhere between $10 and $50 and is easily available on Amazon.
We recommend that all compressor dehumidifier users buy one. This is because this device helps a lot in determining whether the compressor dehumidifier is working well or not.
Set the onboard humidistat of your compressor dehumidifier to about 40-70 percent, depending on your room’s needs. Let the dehumidifier work for an hour and then check the humidity level of the room on the sensor as well as on the dehumidifier. The readings should correspond on both devices. If they don’t, your dehumidifier is not working. Take it to a technician!
Case #3: If It’s Consuming More Energy Than Usual, It’s Not Working
A compressor dehumidifier will still be working even when it’s consuming more energy, but high energy consumption is a sign that it’s working at a much slower pace. Some humidifiers can get up to 3x their usual energy consumption if broken, which is also very costly.
You can tell this is the case by observing the noise and sound produced by the dehumidifier. Both of these will increase significantly. The dehumidifier will become louder and give off large amounts of heat.
If you notice this, the first thing you should do is check the air filters.
Usually, there are two filters in a compressor dehumidifier. These are:
- Intake air filter
- Exhaust air filter
If these filters, particularly the intake air filter, become clogged, they can cause the compressor to work harder. Due to this, the compressor consumes more energy and heats up faster.
The coils can also develop frost issues as a result of the low airflow rate. When a smaller amount of air makes it to the cooling coils, the coils will do less work. Their temperature will drop dramatically, causing ice build-up. Consequently, the compressor will enter defrost mode and shut off to melt the ice.
If you’re faced with this scenario, take your dehumidifier to the manufacturer or repair shop. But to avoid it in the first place, clean the air filters of your dehumidifier regularly. Experts recommend cleaning it every week, but you can also go by your dehumidifier’s filter-cleaning indicator.
With that said, know that more problems could arise in a compressor dehumidifier. But they are usually more specific and therefore require more specific solutions.
How Does a Dehumidifier Work Without a Compressor?
When a dehumidifier works without a compressor, it becomes a different type of dehumidifier: a desiccant humidifier. It still removes excess moisture from the environment, and it does so with the help of a desiccant material such as silica gel.
When the air flows inside, it passes over the desiccant material that absorbs moisture. 75 percent of this processed air is released back into the environment as dry air. 25 percent is reheated and reequipped with moisture to be released back into the environment.
What Is a Desiccant Dehumidifier?
A desiccant dehumidifier is a type of indoor dehumidifier. It’s an alternative to the compressor dehumidifier. We’ll be covering the positives and negatives of this advanced type of dehumidifier later. But for now, you should know that this type of chemical-absorbent dehumidifier works just as efficiently as a compressor dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air.
How Does a Desiccant Dehumidifier Work?
We’ve summed up the working mechanism of a desiccant dehumidifier above. But let’s go over the details of exactly what goes on inside a desiccant dehumidifier.
These dehumidifiers have a large desiccant rotary wheel installed in them. As the stream of ambient air moves in and comes in contact with the desiccant wheel, the moisture gets absorbed, leaving dry air behind. The majority of this dry air is expelled back into the environment. As this process occurs, the moisture content of the desiccant wheel rises.
To balance this rising moisture content in the desiccant wheel, it moves in constant rotary motion. And as it does this, a second reheated air stream passes through it, picks up moisture from the wheel, and gets passed out.
Note that this second stream of air is the small remaining portion of the air that entered the system in the first place. Since there’s no compressor involved, the noise produced by this system is negligible.
Desiccant Dehumidifier vs Compressor
Let’s compare the two dominating types of dehumidifiers, namely:
- Desiccant dehumidifier
- Compressor dehumidifier
According to industry experts, the desiccant dehumidifier is a quiet, energy-efficient, and long-lasting dehumidifier for indoor usage. But it is not as strong as the compressor dehumidifier in terms of capacity and capability. So, desiccant wins for providing light and delicate usage. In comparison, a compressor dehumidifier is suited for intensive indoor usage.
We understand that there isn’t a clear winner, so it can be tough to make a decision between the two. Read on to explore some technical differences between both.
Pros and Cons of a Desiccant Dehumidifier
A desiccant dehumidifier has much lower operating temperatures. It can work optimally between 33°F and 77°F. Simultaneously, it has a heating effect of about 10-15°F.
It usually weighs around 10lbs or lighter, and hence, it’s portable. It’s easier to place around. But being lighter, it’s also smaller and usually has a capacity of 10L at most.
What’s more, a desiccant hardly makes any noise (under 40 dB).
Pros and Cons of a Compress Dehumidifier
A compress dehumidifier usually operates at 66°F but hardly gives off any heat. You can expect a compressor dehumidifier to give off approximately 3°F.
In terms of weight, it’s usually heavier and best positioned in a single spot. But with a heavier weight and stronger build, you can expect a compressor dehumidifier to handle 30L or above. It is also usually noisier (50-60 dB).
How Do Small Dehumidifiers Work?
They work the same way as large dehumidifiers do!
Where Should You Place a Compressor Dehumidifier?
Ideally, you should place a compressor dehumidifier in the most humid room of your house, such as the laundry room, kitchen, or even the lounge. Make sure it is in the middle of the room or at least 6-12 inches away from the walls.
How Long Does a Dehumidifier Compressor Last?
Technically, the lifespan of a dehumidifier compressor depends on how well you maintain it. The better you maintain it, the longer the lifespan. Most users claim a lifespan of 3-5 years for household dehumidifier units, but most manufacturers promise a warranty of 10 years. Because of this, we can expect a compressor dehumidifier to last ten years if taken care of properly.
So, how does a compressor dehumidifier work? This device works simply by taking in humid air from the outside, collecting water from the air using cooling coils, and then releasing drier air back into the house. Another type of a humidifier, called a desiccant dehumidifier, uses silica gel to draw moisture out of the air. Both are great options for taking the humidity out of a room!
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