The Pros and Cons of Portable Dehumidifiers vs. Whole-House Dehumidifier

May 2, 2023
Dehumidifier install

The Pros and Cons of Portable Dehumidifiers vs. Whole-House Dehumidifiers. Dehumidifiers are an essential tool in maintaining the comfort and health of your home. However, with so many options on the market, many St. Louis homeowners may be unsure about what’s best for them. Do I need a whole-house dehumidifier? Isn’t it cheaper just to get a portable one? That depends on you and your unique situation. SmartHouse Heating & Cooling can help you make an informed decision based on what works best for your home. Call us today at 314-648-3162 or contact us online to learn more.

Portable Dehumidifiers

Portable dehumidifiers are compact, standalone units that reduce the humidity level in a single room or enclosed space. They draw in moist air, pass it through a refrigerated coil or an adsorbent material, and then expel the drier air back into the room. The excess moisture is then collected in a tank or expelled through a drainage hose. Controlling your home’s humidity through portable dehumidifiers has its pros and cons:


  • Portability — Portable dehumidifiers are lightweight and easy to move, making them an ideal option for those who only need to dehumidify smaller, specific areas of their home.
  • Cost — Portable dehumidifiers are less expensive than whole-house dehumidifiers. They’re a cost-effective option for those on a budget, and allow homeowners who only need to dehumidify smaller spaces the ability to do so without making a major investment.
  • Easy to install — Portable dehumidifiers are typically easy to install. Those with a water reservoir typically only require a standard electrical outlet, while those without will need a hose that runs to a drain. While you may have to get strategic about placement, most homeowners can install portable dehumidifiers themselves using the manufacturer’s guide.


  • Limited Coverage — Portable dehumidifiers are only suitable for small spaces. If you’re having humidity issues in multiple areas of your home, a single portable dehumidifier won’t get you the coverage you need. If the unit you buy requires a hose and drain, you likely won’t be able to place it in certain areas of your home, for example a bedroom.
  • Increased Maintenance — Portable dehumidifiers require more interaction on the part of the homeowner. You’ll need to frequently empty the water reservoir (if it has one) or check the hose and drain for clogs, in addition to cleaning the filter, which can be time-consuming and tedious, and forgetting to do so would make the dehumidifier ineffective.
  • Noise — Portable dehumidifiers can be noisy, which may be bothersome for those who are sensitive to sound or in living rooms or other areas where people gather.
  • Introduces Heat — Portable dehumidifiers release heat as they operate. As they’re only used for single rooms, your central AC system will have no way to react to that single room and cool it. So a portable dehumidifier may remove moisture from an area, but you could still feel uncomfortable if the temperature rises too much.

Whole-House Dehumidifiers

Whole-house dehumidifiers are installed inline with your home’s HVAC system, allowing them to reduce humidity levels throughout your living space. They work by removing excess moisture from the air as it passes through the system’s ductwork, and then expelling the drier air back into the living space. Here are the pros and cons of using a whole-house dehumidifier:


  • Comprehensive Coverage — Whole-house dehumidifiers are capable of dehumidifying your entire home, making them an ideal option for those struggling with humidity levels throughout their home. Generally, a whole-house dehumidifier is best if you need to dehumidify more than one room. One whole-house unit is more efficient and cost-effective than two portable units.
  • Low Maintenance — Whole-house dehumidifiers require less direct action from the homeowner than portable units, as they drain directly into the home’s plumbing system. A whole-house dehumidifier can be serviced annually when you get your regular AC maintenance.
  • Quiet Operation — Whole-house dehumidifiers operate quietly and won’t disrupt daily activities.
  • Removes More Humidity — Whole-house dehumidifiers are more effective in removing moisture from the air. They remove many more gallons per day than their portable counterparts – even requiring an entirely different rating system than portable dehumidifiers.
  • No Clutter — Whole-house dehumidifiers are installed alongside your home’s central air conditioning system, so you don’t have to worry about where they’ll fit or how they’ll look.
  • Efficiency — While the initial costs of a whole-house dehumidifier may be more expensive, they offer much more comfort and efficiency per dollar spent.


  • Cost — Whole-house dehumidifiers are more expensive than portable units (and become a semi-permanent part of your home), making them a more significant investment.
  • Requires Professional Installation — While a portable unit is more or less ready to go out of the box, whole-house dehumidifiers need to be professionally installed to ensure your safety and correct installation.

Many of the cons of whole-house dehumidifiers can be offset by working with a reputable St. Louis HVAC contractor. With a friendly, knowledgeable staff, financing options, and personalized solutions, SmartHouse can help you achieve the cool comfort you’re looking for in humid weather.

Call SmartHouse For All Your Dehumidification Needs in St. Louis

Which type of dehumidifier is best for you depends on your home and your specific needs. Portable dehumidifiers are a cost-effective option for those who only need to dehumidify specific areas of their home. On the other hand, whole-house dehumidifiers can remove moisture from your entire home and require less maintenance, making them an ideal option for St. Louis homeowners who are looking for more comprehensive home comfort options. Our HVAC technicians are trusted throughout the St. Louis area to offer personalized recommendations based on their experience and knowledge of how a home is supposed to operate. Dealing with too much humidity in your home? Call SmartHouse today at 314-648-3162, text us at 314-310-2242, or schedule your service online.