Portable vs. Whole House: Are Whole House Dehumidifiers Worth it?

A home with extra moisture and how to remove it

Homeowners looking to buy a dehumidifier have 2 choices. They can buy either a portable or whole house device. Both options will help control humidity but the latter does so in your entire house. Whole house units also come with a higher price tag. Which makes many ask if whole house dehumidifiers are worth it?

Yes, whole house dehumidifiers are worth the cost. Think of buying one as an investment in your home and health. Portable options are useless in homes located in high humid climate zones. They only control humidity in a specific room, leaving the rest of your home at risk of dangers of humidity. Whole house units help control the humidity in your whole house. They improve the air quality and prevent black mold and mildew growth, which can be harmful to you and your home.

We look at how whole house units work and who should buy them.

What you need to know about whole house dehumidifiers

The main purpose of the whole house dehumidifier is to control the humidity in your home. The device attaches to the HVAC system. It removes moisture from the air that travels through the home’s ducts. The air filters through the dehumidifier and then onto the HVAC system.

How it works

Whole house dehumidifiers and portable counterparts use the same process to control humidity. Both devices use condensation to extract water from the air.

The device works as follows:

  1. Air flows through your ducts and travels to the dehumidifier.
  2. Once in the unit, it travels to the evaporator coils.
  3. The coils cool the air, turning the water vapors into liquid.
  4. Water drips from the coil down to the water tank. The coils warm up the air and pass it on to the HVAC system.

Both portable and whole house devices use the same mechanism to control humidity. The main differences between the 2 are the capacity and placement of the unit. Portable options are smaller and placed in a room where you want to lower humidity. They can’t dehumidify the entire house, while whole house devices do.

The pros and cons of a whole house dehumidifier

A person holding signs displaying pros and cons

Like all appliances, whole house dehumidifiers have their pros and cons. Let’s look at them.


Improves comfort

Air in a high humid climate feels warmer because it transfers heat to your body. By removing moisture from the air, you improve comfort levels as the air won’t feel as warm.

Improves air quality

Dehumidifiers discourage the growth of mildew and mold. The device also filters out dust and pollen. This improves the air quality of your home. So, it reduces the chances of allergies and asthma attacks.

While portable dehumidifiers offer you the same benefits. The device has limited coverage. It only controls humidity in the room it’s plugged in.



A whole house dehumidifier is expensive and requires more maintenance. The unit works round the clock, controlling humidity in your home. So, maintenance checks are more frequent on hot, summer days. Which adds to the cost of the unit.

When should you consider a whole house dehumidifier?

Due to cost, most homeowners have to think twice before buying a whole house dehumidifier. But, if you live in a humid climate zone, the unit may save you money in the long run.

Humidity is damaging to both you and your home. The extra moisture in the air promotes mold and mildew growth. The walls, furniture, and floor are constantly exposed to moisture. Putting them at risk of fungal growth. It takes a lot of money and effort to ensure you maintain the integrity of your home and furniture. A whole house dehumidifier helps control fungal growth.

Many homeowners also rely on their HVAC system to dehumidify the air. While the AC unit does take moisture out of the air, it does a limited job. The HVAC system cools the air as it passes through it. So, the system removes some moisture from the air. But, the system isn’t as effective as a dehumidifier.

Final thought

A whole house dehumidifier may not be for everyone. But, those that live in a high humid climate zone should consider it. It can help you fight the dangers of humidity and keep the integrity of your home and furniture. The unit also improves your comfort and the air quality of your home. It may be costly but will serve you better than portable options. Since it dehumidifies the air throughout your home.

Have you already purchased a whole house unit? What has been your experience so far? If you haven’t, what are your considerations, and how come you are thinking of getting one?

Please let us know in the comments section below.

About the Author Belal

Belal Rizvi enjoys writing about home improvement and do-it-yourself projects. He is an avid learner of the mold removal and dehumidifiers industry and provides insightful information about it to the readers.

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