Compressor vs Desiccant Dehumidifiers: Which One Is Right For You? The Pros & Cons

Written by: Pete Luckhurst



Time to read 5 min

Compressor vs Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifiers are essential appliances that help maintain the ideal humidity levels in your home. However, when it comes to choosing the right dehumidifier for your needs, you may be torn between compressor and desiccant dehumidifiers. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of each type to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Dehumidifiers

The Role of Dehumidifiers in Your Home

Before delving into the specifics of compressor and desiccant dehumidifiers, it is important to understand their overall purpose. Dehumidifiers are designed to reduce the moisture level in the air, preventing issues like mold growth, musty odors, and damage to your belongings. By controlling humidity, dehumidifiers create a more comfortable living environment and safeguard your home.

Dehumidifiers work by drawing in moist air, passing it over cooling coils to condense the moisture, and then releasing the dried air back into the room. This process helps maintain the optimal humidity level recommended for indoor spaces, typically between 30% to 50%. In addition to improving air quality, dehumidifiers can also alleviate respiratory issues caused by mold spores and dust mites, making them essential for individuals with allergies or asthma.

Key Features of a Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers come equipped with various features that enhance their performance. These include adjustable humidity settings, automatic shut-off, built-in air filters, and drainage options. These features contribute to the efficacy and convenience of the dehumidifier, ensuring optimal moisture control in your home.

Some advanced dehumidifiers also offer smart capabilities, allowing you to monitor and control humidity levels remotely through a mobile app. Energy-efficient models use innovative technologies to minimize power consumption while effectively dehumidifying large areas. Understanding the key features of a dehumidifier can help you select the right model based on your specific needs and the size of the space you want to dehumidify.

Compressor Dehumidifiers Explained

Compressor dehumidifiers, also known as refrigerant dehumidifiers, are a popular choice for effectively reducing humidity levels in indoor spaces. These devices operate using a refrigeration cycle, which involves a compressor and a cold coil to condense moisture from the air. As humid air flows through the dehumidifier, it comes into contact with the cold coil, causing the moisture to condense into water droplets. The collected water is then drained out, leaving the air drier and more comfortable for occupants.

How Compressor Dehumidifiers Work

Compressor dehumidifiers operate by lowering the temperature of the air to the point where moisture in the air condenses into water. This process effectively removes excess humidity from the environment, helping to prevent issues such as mold growth, musty odors, and damage to furniture and electronics caused by high moisture levels.

Pros of Using Compressor Dehumidifiers

Compressor dehumidifiers offer several advantages that make them a popular choice for residential and commercial applications. One of the key benefits is their high efficiency in removing large amounts of moisture from the air, making them suitable for use in larger spaces or areas with high humidity levels.

Additionally, compressor dehumidifiers are capable of operating effectively at lower temperatures, making them ideal for use in basements, garages, or other colder rooms where moisture control is essential.

Cons of Using Compressor Dehumidifiers

While compressor dehumidifiers are highly effective at reducing humidity levels, they do come with a few drawbacks to consider. One common issue is the noise generated during operation, primarily due to the functioning of the compressor. Although modern models are designed to be quieter, individuals sensitive to noise may find it disruptive, especially if the dehumidifier is placed in a frequently used living space.

Another point to note is that compressor dehumidifiers may not be suitable for environments with very low humidity levels or extremely cold temperatures, as their efficiency can be compromised under such conditions.

Desiccant Dehumidifiers Uncovered

The Functioning of Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Desiccant dehumidifiers work on a different principle compared to compressor dehumidifiers. Instead of refrigeration, they utilize a desiccant material, such as silica gel or zeolite, to extract moisture from the air. As the air passes over the desiccant material, it absorbs the moisture, resulting in drier air. The desiccant material can be regenerated by heating it, allowing the dehumidifier to continuously operate.

One interesting aspect of desiccant dehumidifiers is their versatility in various environments. They are particularly effective in spaces with consistently low temperatures, such as basements or garages, where compressor dehumidifiers may struggle to perform optimally. The ability of desiccant dehumidifiers to maintain efficiency in colder conditions makes them a reliable choice for year-round use in regions with harsh winters.

Advantages of Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Desiccant dehumidifiers offer their own set of advantages. Firstly, they perform exceptionally well in low-temperature environments, making them suitable for colder areas or unheated spaces. They are also more effective in reducing humidity to lower levels compared to compressor dehumidifiers. Additionally, desiccant dehumidifiers tend to be quieter in operation, making them a preferred choice in noise-sensitive areas or bedrooms.

Moreover, desiccant dehumidifiers are known for their energy efficiency. While they may have a higher initial cost, their lower energy consumption over time can result in cost savings, especially in scenarios where continuous dehumidification is required. This makes them a sustainable option for those looking to reduce their environmental impact while maintaining optimal indoor air quality.

Disadvantages of Desiccant Dehumidifiers

However, desiccant dehumidifiers do have some limitations. Due to their mechanics, they are slower at removing large volumes of moisture from the air. This makes them better suited for smaller spaces or areas with moderate humidity. Desiccant dehumidifiers also tend to be more expensive, both in terms of initial cost and energy consumption. These factors should be considered when making your decision.

Comparing Compressor and Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Performance Comparison

In terms of overall performance, compressor dehumidifiers excel in removing large amounts of moisture quickly. They are ideal for high humidity areas or spacious rooms. On the other hand, desiccant dehumidifiers are more suitable for low-temperature environments and effective in reducing humidity to lower levels.

Cost Comparison

When it comes to cost, compressor dehumidifiers are generally more economical, both in terms of purchase price and energy consumption. They are more widely available and cheaper to produce. Desiccant dehumidifiers, while pricier, offer energy savings in low-temperature environments, making them more cost-effective in the long run.

Noise Level Comparison

In terms of noise, compressor dehumidifiers tend to be louder than desiccant dehumidifiers due to the operation of the compressor. If noise is a concern, desiccant dehumidifiers are the better option, especially in noise-sensitive areas or bedrooms.

Ultimately, the choice between compressor and desiccant dehumidifiers depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Consider factors such as the size of the space, humidity levels, temperature, and noise preferences. By evaluating the pros and cons outlined above, you can make an informed decision and select the dehumidifier that is right for you.

Explore Maplin's collection of Dehumidifiers and Humidifiers, or check out our full Heating and Cooling range to create the ideal conditions in your home or office.

Purpose: Dehumidifiers reduce moisture, preventing mold and improving air quality.

Key Features: Adjustable settings, smart capabilities, and energy efficiency enhance performance.

Compressor vs. Desiccant:

  • Compressor: Fast, suited for high humidity, may be noisy.
  • Desiccant: Quieter, better for low temps, slower.


  • Compressor: Quick moisture removal, louder.
  • Desiccant: Slow, quieter, better for low temps.

Considerations: Choose based on space size, humidity levels, and noise preferences.

About the author

Pete Luckhurst is a Website Manager at Maplin.

After getting an early start in the world of computing with C64 & Amiga computers, Pete now spends much of his spare time in PC VR and dabbling in game development. He also has a strong interest in film, photography and music.

Among other endeavours, he previously worked in a Maplin store, so it was a no-brainer when the opportunity arose to work on the modern incarnation of Maplin online. Besides writing for the blog, Pete works alongside the Maplin team to help keep the online store running smoothly.