Portable Dehumidifiers VS Whole-House Dehumidifiers

High relative humidity exceeding 50% is known to cause a myriad of problems, especially in an indoor environment. When there is high air moisture, there is a very high likelihood that mold growth will sprout. That is because the spores which are reproduced by molds are usually airborne, and their growth thrives where there is a moist or damp environment. Apart from that, there will be dust mites and allergies that result from their infestations in our homes.

It is for this reason that installing a dehumidifier in a home is essential. However, the big question is, which one should you go for between a portable dehumidifier and a whole-house dehumidifier?

Portable Dehumidifiers

Alorair Sentinel HD55 Dehumidifier


  • Their initial cost is low.
  • Can control humidity in a single large space/room.
  • Ease to change position and move it around.
  • Can be installed quickly, and an expert may not be required.
  • Recent models have digital controls which makes them more accurate in their operations.


  • Some produce noticeable noise.
  • Can only regulate humidity one room at a time.
  • They are less efficient in energy conservation.
  • Require regular maintenance, more so emptying the condensate drainage tanks.

Whole House Dehumidifiers

Alorair Sentinel SLGR 1400X Dehumidifier


  • They are much quieter while running.
  • Have high energy efficiency, some up to 4 times that of a portable dehumidifier.
  • Require minimal labor once it has been installed and is operational.
  • They are more durable since most of their components are made of steel.


  • High initial costs.
  • They are complex, and you may be forced to hire the services of an expert to install them.
  • They are non-portable. Cannot be used to remove moisture at a particular spot.
  • Learning how to operate the dehumidifier may take time.
  • It heats the rooms.

Differences between a Portable and Whole House Dehumidifier


The primary difference between these two types of dehumidifiers is their capacity. It is expected that a whole-house dehumidifier should have a higher capacity. That is because it simultaneously removes moisture from all rooms at once. However, an interesting fact to note is that there are some portable dehumidifiers whose capacities are higher than whole-house systems. In such cases, these portable appliances usually get the work done within a shorter duration.

Size and Appearance

Portable dehumidifiers are just that, portable. Often they are knee-high, though those used in basement restoration are quite larger. Apart from that, their clamshell is usually made of plastic, with a bucket where the condensate drains.

On the other hand, whole-house dehumidifiers are large, with bigger physical dimensions, some weighing as much as 180lbs. For this reason, they cannot be moved from room to room, but rather, they are placed at one location, and ducts are connected to move air from the other rooms.

CFM (Air Movement)

CFM is a measure of the amount of air that can be effectively drawn into the system. It is measured in cubic feet per minute. Since portable dehumidifiers work in single rooms, meaning the volume of air is quite low, they have a lower CFM rating.

Contrarily, whole-house dehumidifiers have a higher CFM rating, as they draw air simultaneously from several rooms.

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that CFM is only a measure of the volume of air that is drawn and moved through a system. Having a large CFM does not necessarily mean that the system is more efficient. It could be drawing large volumes, but only a small fraction of the moisture is removed.

Operating Temperature

With a decrease in temperature, there is a corresponding decrease in the rate at which any dehumidifier can extract moisture from a given air mass. There are some claims which suggest that a whole-house dehumidifier can still work efficiently at lower temperatures as compared to a portable dehumidifier, which is known to lag.

However, the postulate is highly debatable. The question you can ask yourself is, where does the difference in efficiency comes from if both systems use the same working mechanisms?

The Bottom Line

Evidently, there are many differences between a whole house and a portable dehumidifier. However, a direct comparison between the two may not give an accurate reflection of each appliance, and why you should consider one over another.

It boils down to the purpose of the device. If you want to extract moisture from a specific room, or basement alone, then you should go for a portable dehumidifier. Alorair Sentinel series dehumidifiers are very suitable for installation in basements and crawl spaces to control humidity levels, and they are very portable. On the other hand, if your intention of acquiring a dehumidifier is to regulate moisture in the entire house, then a whole-house dehumidifier would be a better choice. Alorair Storm LGR series dehumidifiers and Alorair SLGR series dehumidifiers allow you to connect to the main HVAC system of the house for whole-house dehumidification, and every corner of your house will be free of moisture.

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