Best dehumidifiers & new dryer feature

July 26, 2010 Dehumidifers

Soaking, sultry weather has driven dehumidifier sales up so Consumer Reports has tested 17 of them.

Shawn Gabor says a new dehumidifier made all the difference in her home.

"We spend a lot of family time down here in the basement. But after we got the dehumidifier, it was much less damp and much more pleasant down here."

Consumer Reports tested dehumidifiers, using an environmental chamber to measure capacity, that's how much water the machine can remove per day.

"We generally recommend large-capacity dehumidifiers, which our tests show work more efficiently and therefore cost less to operate. But it's not about the physical size of the dehumidifier. Now these two models here are the same size, but this one has a claimed capacity of 65 pints per day, while this one has a claimed capacity of 32 pints per day," said Dan DiClerico of Consumer Reports.

And you can't count on the Energy Star label to find an energy-efficient dehumidifier. These small units carry the label but cost twice as much to operate as some larger units.

More efficient is the Danby Premiere - a Consumer Reports Best Buy at $200. It can remove 60 pints of water per day and received the top score for efficiency.

Consumer Reports says you should set your dehumidifier for under 50 percent humidity. That stops mold and dust mites from thriving. And if a space has a chronic musty smell or standing water, it's important to address the source of moisture. That might involve patching your foundation, installing a sump pump, or adding bathroom exhaust fans.

Several states and utilities offer $20 to $65 rebates on Energy Star-qualified dehumidifiers. Go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy for details in your area.

New Dryer Feature

Kenneth Lakin will never forget the phone call he got in September of 2008.

"A frantic phone call from a neighbor indicating that Gena's two daughters, Kendall and Jordan, were at their house, and there was a fire."

The girls' Mom, Gena never made it out. The fire that killed her started in a dryer in which lint had built up in the vent.

Some dryers are touting a new feature to address this issue. LG calls it "Flow Sense" and on Kenmore machines it's a "Check Vent" indicator. The manufacturers say these will sense if a dryer's vent is blocked although the companies are not calling them safety features.

"We tested each dryer by blocking the vent completely, and then operating it with a full load of wet clothes," said Jim Nanni of Consumer Reports.

The results were inconsistent. Here, the four orange "flow sense" bars clearly show that the vent is blocked.

But other times, despite a completely blocked vent - there's no signal at all, and the dryer continues to run.

"These tests, though limited, show that these indicators can't be relied on to alert you to a blocked vent," said Nanni.

So no matter what dryer you have, use a metal dryer vent and clean it regularly. Also, clean the lint trap every time.

If you're in the market for a new dryer, one from LG is tops in Consumer Reports ratings. It's model DLE 2701 and costs $1100. If that's a bit much for your budget, the Kenmore 800 Series 6982 lacks some features, like custom programming, but does a great job at drying and costs far less, just about $500.

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