Mini Split in Dry Mode Vs. Dehumidifier: Which One Is More Efficient?

As a ductless way to cool and heat your home, the mini split is a great way to heat or cool any size home. But since it typically only focuses on certain areas, is it good to use for dehumidifying your house in dry mode? Or would a dehumidifier be a better idea?

A mini split in dry mode works just like a dehumidifier, although it has the capacity to handle more space than most dehumidifiers. However, a mini split will still be putting out a bit of cool air as it dehumidifies, so it may not be a good option for extremely cold temperatures. 

Although the mini split in dry mode puts out a bit of cool air, it can still do a better job of dehumidifying the air in your home. In fact, there are certain instances when a mini split is the absolute best idea. We are going to examine both to see what the differences are. 

How Does a Mini Split Work?

Mini splits are ductless HVAC systems that can heat and cool your home without running ductwork in the walls.

That makes them easier to install and more energy efficient since the air does not have to travel far. The only duct needed is the one running from the wall unit to the outside unit.

In order to heat or cool a larger home, you would need multiple systems. However, because the mini split is more efficient, it is still a better choice in many situations.

Because ductwork is prone to leaks and inadequate insulation, a mini split is a fantastic alternative to any home, although it is best used for smaller homes and additions. Other great places for a mini split include:

  • Efficiency apartments
  • Game or computer rooms
  • Garage apartments
  • Guest homes
  • Lofts
  • Music studios
  • Small offices

Can a Mini Split in Dry Mode Work for You?

Any air conditioning unit will dehumidify the air as it cools, but what if you do not want cool air?

When you want to get rid of the humidity but do not want to cool your home, running your mini split in dry mode is a good option. 

Unlike a typical air conditioning unit, a mini split can dry the air with a very small amount of cool air.

While it’s in air conditioning mode, the warm air from the inside of your home is pulled in over a coil filled with cold refrigerant.

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The refrigerant cools the air by absorbing the heat from the air. 

When air temperature cools, it cannot hold as much moisture as warm air. With dry mode, the mini split uses lower fan speeds to move the air over the coil.

This way, more of the moisture is removed without putting out cool air. Although it may lower your home’s temperature by a few degrees, it will certainly remove the humidity.

How Does a Dehumidifier Remove Humidity?

When the warm moist air goes into the humidifier, it crosses over condenser coils that lower the air temperature.

As before, the cooler the air, the less humidity it can hold. However, you do not want the air to come out cold.

The condensation is left inside the dehumidifier when the air comes out the other side.

The moisture collects at the bottom of the dehumidifier in a storage tank. And the drier air is heated before being released. To break it down:

  • Humid air is drawn in by a fan
  • The air is passed over cooling coils
  • The moisture condenses as the air cools
  • Water drips into the storage tank
  • A heat recovery system then reheats the air
  • The warmer, drier air is pushed back into the room

A good dehumidifier can typically remove 30% to 50% of the moisture in your home. But most dehumidifiers are portable and only work in one room at a time.

These can be moved from room to room, or you can have more than one to keep your home drier all over. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the more you have, the more electricity will be used. 

Do Whole-house DeHumidifiers Work for the Whole House?

Rather than having one or two portable dehumidifiers, you can choose to get a whole-house dehumidifier.

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Although they can cost 10x the price of a portable dehumidifier, they can save you money in the long run by dehumidifying your whole-house without as much energy. There are two types of whole-house dehumidifiers

Some dehumidifiers are installed directly into your air conditioning system and will dehumidify the air as it goes through the ducts.

Other models are just larger, portable units that are placed in a central area of your home. What works best for you depends on the size of your home and the amount of humidity in your area. 

Whole-house dehumidifiers can normally remove from 40% to 60% of the humidity from your home.

It runs through your HVAC unit, so it is more efficient and can work for the entire house at one time. You do not have to worry about emptying any kind of storage tank or bucket with a whole-house humidifier either. 

What About the Costs?

Both the mini split and whole-house humidifier are going to run in the thousands.

However, a mini split typically costs less to install because there is no ductwork needed. And the mini split is more efficient for the same reason, resulting in lower utility bills. 

Alternatively, the portable dehumidifier is the least expensive choice for getting drier air that is also warm.

A large portable humidifier can remove more of the humidity from your home than a mini split without cooling the air at all. In fact, the air will come out warmer, making it a great choice for winter.

Portable Dehumidifiers May Seem Like the Best Idea

A portable dehumidifier does not need installation and takes up very little room. Although, it does take up more room than the mini split or whole-house dehumidifier.

Your portable may leave some rooms feeling humid since it cannot cover as much space. And you will have to remember to empty the storage tank. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, regardless of whether you have a typical HVAC system or a mini split, you need a supplemental dehumidifier to reduce enough moisture to prevent mold.

The relative humidity of a home should be kept below 60% at all times to prevent mold

The Pros and Cons of Mini Splits and Dehumidifiers

There are always going to be pros and cons in every situation, and this is no different.

Some of the pros may mean more to you than others, and the same goes for the cons. But they should all be taken into account before making any major decisions. 

Pros of Mini Splits

  • A mini split is smaller and quieter than a dehumidifier.
  • They can be zoned depending on which rooms you need to dehumidify.
  • They are easier to install than a whole-house dehumidifier. 
  • There is less energy loss with no ductwork.

Cons of Mini Splits

  • The mini split costs a good deal more than a dehumidifier.
  • They do not look as nice as a whole-house dehumidifier that is connected to the HVAC.
  • They need more maintenance than a whole-house dehumidifier.

Pros of Dehumidifiers

  • A good dehumidifier will reduce the humidity in the air up to 60% so you can breathe easier. 
  • Dehumidifiers prevent mold, mildew, and dust mites in your home. 
  • They also reduce allergens and respiratory diseases by cleaning the air of moisture and mold. 
  • People with Asthma will be able to breathe easier in the drier air. 
  • The dehumidifier will even prevent rust and decay by reducing the moisture in the air. 

Cons of Dehumidifiers

  • A dehumidifier needs to run at a nearly constant rate to keep the humidity low, making it a major electricity hog.  A nine-gallon dehumidifier will run you about an extra $120 per year or $10 per month in electricity costs. 
  • Dehumidifiers seem to need a lot of maintenance as well. Cleaning, emptying the water, and changing filters can get to be tiresome.
  • They are not good if you are in a hot and humid area like Florida. This is because they heat the air before sending it back out. It will raise the temperature of your home.

Can a Mini Split Keep Up?

The dry mode of a mini split can remove about ½ gallon of moisture a day. Humans put out about one gallon of moisture a day just from breathing, cooking, showering, and doing laundry.

That means the mini split would have to run all day and night just to keep up with the moisture from you and your family, let alone the moisture from outside.

What it all means is that the answer varies depending on your needs. There are many variables to take into account, such as:

  • The size of your home
  • The number of people in your family
  • The humidity levels of your area
  • The amount of money you want to spend 

Unfortunately, mini split systems are not made to run continuously, so they cannot keep up if you live in a large home with more than two people.

That means you will have to add a portable dehumidifier to your mini split to get the air quality in your home that you need. Or just start with a whole-house dehumidifier. 

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