Refrigerant dehumidifiers use cold coils to trap moisture and extract it from the air. They are popular in the UK, as they excel in warm and humid environments - conditions that are common in British homes.
Listed below are our top picks if you're looking for a refrigerant dehumidifier. Each of these machines is also included in our list of the best dehumidifiers of 2020, as they provide excellent performance and value for money.
Before we get to the list though, here's a brief overview of how refrigerant models work.
How do Refrigerant Dehumidifiers Work?
If you've ever seen condensation form on your window, you already understand the basic principle behind a refrigerant dehumidifier. Warm air can hold more water than cold, so when it comes into contact with a cooler surface it releases moisture while cooling. This is why water collects on glass windows, as the panels are cooler than the air.
Dehumidifiers take advantage of this to remove moisture from the air. There are three essential components: a compressor, coils and a fan. A water tank to catch any collected moisture is also included.
The compressor's job is to pump refrigerant through the coils to cool them. The fan then pushes warm and humid air over the coils, cooling it and releasing water in the form of condensation. This moisture collects in the water tank or is drained via a continuous drainage system.
Most dehumidifiers also have a heating coil. Air is passed over this coil once moisture has been removed to prevent the dehumidifier cooling the room. Many also have a filter to remove dust from the air before it's passed over coils
This is a very basic explanation of how a dehumidifier works. Advanced features such as humidity selection, timers and sensors are included with modern machines, but the underlying process is still the same.
Why are they Ineffective in Cooler Conditions?
As an environment gets cooler, the dehumidifier's coils must be colder in order to create condensation. This gradually lowers efficiency as the temperature drops.
At some point, the temperature of the coils is less than zero. As water collects on the coils, it starts to freeze which requires defrosting. Most dehumidifiers have freeze-protection, but during this time the dehumidifier won't extract any water. This reduces the efficiency of the machine and may increase running costs.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Refrigerant dehumidifiers are widely available in the UK, so there are more options available
- They are great for warm and humid conditions such as those found in a typical home
- Most have a large capacity, meaning they can extract plenty of water per day (in the right conditions)
- As refrigerant models rely on a temperature difference between the air and coils, they are less effective in cooler temperatures (below 10-15 degrees Celsius)
- This makes them unsuitable for garages or unheated rooms
- They also tend to be heavy and noisy compared to desiccant dehumidifiers (although this varies depending on the product - the Meaco ABC MeacoDry is a particularly quiet example)
Top 3 Refrigerant Dehumidifiers
|Price Range||Image||Product||Type||Noise (Max)||Water Extraction (Max)||Tank Size|
|££ - Mid-Range||EcoAir DC18 Compact||Refrigerant||45dB||18 L/day||3.5 litres|
|£££ - Premium||Meaco Low Energy MEACO20LE||Refrigerant||46dB||20 L/day||6 litres|
|£££ - Premium||Ebac 3850e||Refrigerant||46dB||21 L/day||2.5 litres|
|£££ - Premium||EcoAir DC202 Hybrid||Refrigerant/Purifier||45dB||20 L/day||4 litres|
Meaco 20L Low Energy
The Meaco 20L Low Energy is a great example of a whole house refrigerant dehumidifier. It's a powerful model that can quickly remove water from the air of homes with up to 5 bedrooms. The addition of a HEPA filter (optional) is also great for allergy sufferers.
Many people are worried about electricity bills when using a dehumidifier. Energy bills are rising, so an efficient dehumidifier is essential. That's why we've been impressed with the Low Energy's ability to quickly extract huge quantities of water without using too much power.
We've also talked a lot about how refrigerant dehumidifiers struggle in cooler temperatures - but the Low Energy is something of an exception. While it can't match the low temperature performance of the best desiccant models, it does a great job of removing water from the air even below room temperature. It can also function at a minimum of 5 degrees Celsius.
Other features include a digital display of the current humidity, 24 hour timer and 2 fan speeds. There are also 12 humidity settings, allowing you greater control over your room's environment. Like other Meaco models, it includes "Control Logic" which causes the machine to automatically sleep if the target humidity is reached.
We think the Meaco 20L Low Energy is an exceptional dehumidifier. It has a large capacity, huge water tank and can cope well with a range of temperatures. If you want to dehumidify your entire home, this is the machine to buy.
- Excellent extraction rate considering its energy efficient design
- Powerful enough for homes with up to 5 bedrooms
- One of the heaviest dehumidifiers we've reviewed
- Type: Refrigerant
- Noise: 46dB
- Tank: 6 litres
- Power: 255W
- Max Extraction: 20 litres/day
- Price: £££ - Premium
EcoAir DC202 Hybrid
Another powerful dehumidifier is the DC202 Hybrid. It's an excellent dehumidifier, but also includes 5-stage filter to remove odours and allergens from the air.
The purification system is designed to produce cleaner and allergen-free air. After being passed over the refrigerant coils, air is forced through five separate stages. These include a charcoal filter, to remove unwanted odours, and an anti-allergy filter.
The high 20 litre per day capacity makes it suitable for dehumidifying large homes. It has a four litre water tank, which isn't as large as the Meaco Low Energy but still one of the biggest for domestic models. Other features include a continuous drainage option and three settings for humidity.
If you're not interested in an air purifier, we recommend buying the Meaco Low Energy as it has a bigger water tank and better performance in cooler conditions. But if you suffer from an allergy, or just want your home to have cleaner air, the DC202 is an excellent option.
- Excellent filtration system
- Powerful extraction rate
- Excels at extracting water in warmer temperatures
- Loud on its maximum fan setting
- Type: Refrigerant/Purifier
- Noise: 45dB
- Tank: 4 litres
- Power: 318W
- Max Extraction: 20 litres/day
- Price: £££ - Premium
EcoAir DC18 Compact
The EcoAir DC18 is a popular refrigerant model that provides a high extraction rate - especially considering its mid-range price tag. It also has a number of useful features, such as a laundry mode and front-loading water tank.
With its compact design, you could be forgiven for thinking the DC18 didn't have the power to match larger models. This isn't the case, however, as it's capable of quickly extracting large amounts of water in warmer environments. It also includes a relatively large 3.5 litre water tank, so you won't need to empty it often.
The DC18 has a range of sensors to manage the humidity in your home. The LED display makes it easy to control your desired humidity and there are 2 or 4 hour timer modes.
Other features of the DC18 include a laundry mode, full tank indicator and "easy glide" castor wheels. The machine also has a number of automatic features, such as an indicator when the filter needs cleaning and an automatic defrost function.
The DC18 can't quite match the extraction rate of the other two refrigerant dehumidifiers on this list. It is, however, cheaper than these models, yet is still suitable for quickly removing moisture throughout your home. The laundry drying mode and large water tank also make this a dehumidifier that can't be ignored.
Note: EcoAir also produces the EcoAir DC12. This is slightly cheaper and has many of the same features as the DC18. The biggest difference is the lower 12 litre per day capacity, making it a good option for smaller homes or flats.
- Compact design with hidden castor wheels
- Excellent water extraction
- Large water tank considering the compact design
- Not as effective in lower temperature environments
- Quite loud on its highest fan setting
- Type: Refrigerant
- Noise: 45dB
- Tank: 3.5 litres
- Power: 295W
- Max Extraction: 18 litres/day
- Price: ££ - Mid-Range
Refrigerant dehumidifiers are the most popular type in the UK. While they are often heavier than desiccant models and less effective in cooler conditions, they excel in the typical UK home environment. There are also more refrigerant models on the market, making it easier to find one that meets your requirements.
Our top pick for a refrigerant dehumidifier is the Meaco Low Energy 20L. It's a powerful model that can save money on energy bills over the course of a year. The large capacity and big water tank also mean it's great for dehumidifying your entire home.