The Quick Summary...
If you're looking for the best garage dehumidifier, our top recommendation is the Meaco DD8L Zambezi. It's a desiccant dehumidifier with a range of useful features, including a digital display for selecting target relative humidity (this is uncommon for a desiccant). Most importantly, it's can rapidly remove moisture from cool environments, so it's great for garages.
A damp garage can be a disaster for cars, motorbikes, furniture and tools. If you're storing anything valuable in your garage, it's vital to reduce humidity to safe levels.
Fortunately, the best garage dehumidifiers can quickly remove moisture to reduce relative humidity. This prevents condensation, rust, mould and wet cardboard.
What should you look for in a dehumidifier for a cold garage though? And which are the best models? Let's find out!
What Makes a Great Dehumidifier for Garages, Workshops or Outbuildings?
Most garages aren't as well-insulated or heated as houses. This makes them more susceptible to damp, mould and condensation. While this isn't an issue for empty garages, almost any item will suffer in these conditions. Tents, paint pots, cardboard boxes...they all start to be affected by damp over time.
Before you buy a dehumidifier, however, it's worth checking the ventilation in the garage. While ventilation is vital for houses, a leaky garage roof or door can let rain water in. This increases humidity, so it's important to check the garage is sealed.
If your garage is properly sealed, the next step is to buy a dehumidifier. The average compressor dehumidifier will not be effective in a cold and unheated garage though, so it's vital to know what to look for. Here's an overview.
The most important difference between the average home and an unheated garage is the temperature. This sounds obvious, but different types of dehumidifiers function better depending on the environment.
Firstly, dehumidifiers can't function below freezing (actually around 2°C). This is because frozen components may be damaged if used. Many models have automatic defrosting to protect against this, but they can't remove moisture until the temperature rises.
Aside from this limitation, desiccant and refrigerant dehumidifiers function best at different temperature ranges.
- Refrigerant dehumidifiers are great for warmer rooms and are most effective above 20°C. Their effectiveness falls quickly at lower temperatures though. Additionally, the colder the temperature, the more time the machine will need to spend in "defrost" mode. This wastes energy and the dehumidifier can't remove moisture when in this mode.
- Desiccant dehumidifiers are less effective at higher temperatures, but their fall in effectiveness is much slower as the temperature drops. That's why I recommend choosing a desiccant dehumidifier for an unheated garage.
So, if you're buying a dehumidifier for a garage that's cold most of the time, a desiccant model is the best choice.
2. Energy Efficiency
If you're going to leave a garage dehumidifier running 24/7, it's important that it's energy efficient. You don't want to rack up a huge energy bill without realising it!
This is one of the downsides of desiccant models: they consume more energy. As an example, the Meaco Low Energy 20L is a refrigerant machine that consumes just 255W. It's common for desiccant models to use almost three times more energy.
This isn't the whole story though.
The fact that desiccant dehumidifiers are more efficient at low temperatures means they can run for less time to achieve the same results. While they might use more power, the shorter run-time makes them the more efficient choice in cooler environments. They also have a slight heating effect, which can reduce the need to heat the garage.
For these reasons, I still recommend a desiccant dehumidifier if your garage is often 10°C or below. If an outhouse or other room is usually 10-15°C, however, then an energy efficient refrigerant machine might be the more cost-effective choice.
3. Other Features
Aside from operating at the correct temperature and minimising energy usage, there are a few other features that are important for a garage dehumidifier. These include:
- Continuous Drainage Function. Most dehumidifiers come with a pipe and water output, so you don't need to empty the collected water. You'll need a drain or sink nearby to use this function, but it can be handy for unused garages. There's also the option of draining into a larger reservoir.
- Automatic Restart. Dehumidifiers with automatic restart functions continue with their previous settings after a power cut. Models without this feature usually go into standby mode, which means they need to be manually reactivated. An automatic restart function also allows you to use an external plug timer.
- Humidistat. If you own a classic car or any object made from leather, the machine mustn't over-dry the air. This can cause leather to crack. A humidistat monitors the air conditions and switches off when relative humidity is at the desired level. This also saves money on energy.
- Room Heating. Desiccant dehumidifiers provide a small heating effect. This doesn't make a huge difference, but can slightly heat a garage.
4. Reliable Construction
A dehumidifier that's running continuously in a damp environment is under a lot more strain than the average home machine. For this reason, it's vital to choose a reliable and durable model.
The best dehumidifier brands in the UK are Delonghi, EcoAir, Meaco and Ebac. While there are a few exceptions, we recommend sticking with machines that are manufactured by these companies. You should avoid generic dehumidifiers, as they don't have the durability to survive in a garage.
TOP PICK: Meaco DD8L Zambezi
If your garage is unheated and regularly at less than 10°C (which is most garages in the UK), our top pick is the Meaco DD8L Zambezi.
The Zambezi is a fantastic desiccant model that has a number of useful features. These include a digital display that allows you to set target humidity and a daily run timer (which is useful for saving energy).
Most importantly for this article, it's excellent at extracting water in cooler environments. This makes it a great choice for garages, conservatories or outhouses. It also comes with a continuous drainage hose, automatic restart function and the ability to target relative humidity between 40%-70% depending on your requirements.
There are a few downsides to this model though. The first is that it's relatively loud for a desiccant dehumidifier, although this probably isn't an issue in a garage. It's also expensive - but we still think it provides great value for money.
To summarise, the DD8L Zambezi isn't cheap, but it's an excellent dehumidifier for garages. If you want a dehumidifier that can keep your garage dry in almost any weather, it's our top pick (click here for our full review).
The DD8L Zambezi is a fantastic dehumidifier for a garage, but it's not the only option. Here are a few other models to consider:
- If the Zambezi is too expensive for your budget, the EcoAir DD1 Classic Mk5 is a great alternative. It's considerably cheaper, but is still great for drying cool winter environments. It doesn't have some of the advanced features found on the Zambezi though.
- For slightly warmer environments (10-15 degrees Celsius), such as heated outhouses, the Meaco Low Energy 20L could be an option to consider. It's a refrigerant model, but still does a passable job at lower temperatures - although it isn't as effective as desiccant in these conditions. As the temperature rises, however, the Low Energy can rapidly remove water with minimal energy cost.
Where to Place a Dehumidifier?
As long as the dehumidifier has enough space around it to work effectively (check the manual for measurements), it doesn't matter too much where you place it in a garage. It's usually a good idea to put it near a plug socket, so you don't need to worry about tripping over an extension lead, and you'll probably want a drain nearby. Make sure the most important items in the garage have plenty of air circulation around them too.
A damp garage can be disastrous for your possessions. Whether your garage stores a classic car, motorbike, photo albums, tools or just cardboard boxes filled with random items, moisture can cause considerable damage.
Fortunately, a dehumidifier can solve this problem quickly. In many cases, even the dampest environments can be brought down to a reasonable relative humidity in just a few days.
The best model for a garage isn't necessarily the same as machines for home interiors though. Garage dehumidifiers need to be effective at removing moisture at low temperatures and able to withstand harsh conditions. The best models also have continuous drainage, auto defrost and humidistat functions.
With these considerations in mind, our top recommendation for a garage dehumidifier is the excellent Meaco DD8L Zambezi. It's one of the best desiccants on the market, and can quickly dehumidify a garage or other cold environment.
We hope this article has helped you choose a dehumidifier for your garage. If you have any questions, please use the comments form below.