Can A Dehumidifier Also Be A Humidifier?

Dehumidifiers and humidifiers are useful appliances to have around the house to help make your living environment more comfortable.

Even though these are two different appliances they aren’t too distant from each other, and it can be unclear whether a dehumidifier can also humidify a room.

Dehumidifiers and humidifiers operate according to different mechanisms. A dehumidifier can’t humidify a room, and a humidifier can’t dehumidify a room. However, there are combination units that contain both a dehumidifier and a humidifier and can perform both functions.

Dehumidifiers and humidifiers can be useful machines for helping people adjust the humidity levels in their homes.

We only use a dehumidifier and haven’t needed to use a humidifier. As a result, we bought a dedicated dehumidifier unit that doesn’t provide any form of humidifier functions.

Our dehumidifier, which doesn’t provide any ability to also be a humidifier

If we wanted a humidifier we’d now have to buy a separate appliance.

It helps homeowners to know how they work and how they differ. Read on to learn more about dehumidifiers and humidifiers and how you can have both in one appliance.

Dehumidifiers And Humidifiers Work Differently

Even though dehumidifiers and humidifiers adjust the same environmental factor, they’re different types of machines.

If you buy a dehumidifier, don’t expect it to have the ability to add humidity back to the air.

Likewise, humidifiers can make the air in a home damper, but they can’t dry it out.

The mechanisms that drive dehumidifiers and humidifiers may differ, but they’re similar in operation in that both appliances usually include air filtration systems. This filtration system allows the humidifier or dehumidifier to filter contaminants out of the air as it circulates.

These systems are popular as hypoallergenic solutions due to their air purification capabilities. See our article on whether a dehumidifier can act as an air purifier for more information.

Combo Units For Humidifiers And Dehumidifiers

While a dehumidifier can’t be a humidifier, it is possible to get an appliance that incorporates both a dehumidifier and a humidifier.

These appliances are known as combination units or combo units.

Combination units are a great way to get access to both dehumidifying and humidifying capability without doubling the footprint of the appliances in the home.

Because combination units can humidify and dehumidify, they tend to be more expensive than a device that can perform either operation alone. Many also include advanced features such as the following:

  • Humidistats: Humidistats are control apparatuses in combination units that prevent the humidity in the home environment from getting either too humid or too dry. Using sensing equipment, the combination unit detects humidity in the surrounding air and adjusts accordingly to maintain a balanced home humidity.

  • Noise reduction: Many combination units feature noise reduction technology that allows them to humidify, dehumidify, and purify the air as soundlessly as possible so that the technology is not disruptive to other activities in the house. 

  • Air purification: Many dehumidifier/humidifier combination units filter air, but some take it a step further with other air purification technology such as UV sterilization, activated carbon, or ionizing technology.
Dehumidifier HEPA Filter
The filters in our dehumidifier aid with air purification
Dehumidifier Controls
Our dehumidifier also offer UV light and Ionizer functions for increased air purification

Combination units are a good option for homeowners who have a limited amount of space.

They’re also a great choice for people who want the capabilities of both a dehumidifier and a humidifier in a single machine.

How A Dehumidifier Works

Dehumidifiers work differently on a fundamental level than humidifiers. To remove moisture from the air, a dehumidifier draws warm air from the room over a cooling unit in the dehumidifier.

This causes the heat in the air to be drawn out in the form of liquid condensation, which then gathers and pools in a storage tank.

Dehumidifier Water Tank
Moisture from the air is collected in a water tank in a dehumidifier

So why would people want to pull moisture out of the air in their home? For people who live in humid climates the high moisture levels in the air can be damaging to items inside the home. Here are some of the reasons that people would want to use a dehumidifier:

  • It protects electronics: Humidity can cause damage to electronics and anything that contains electrical components in the home.

  • It protects against mold: Mold is the result of letting humidity and humidity-based condensation build up in the home, especially if it contains a slow leak. Mold releases toxins that can be dangerous to humans and can even cause a fungal infection of the lungs in serious cases.
Window Condensation
We use our dehumidifier to help protect against mold due to condensation build up
  • It protects against allergies: A humidifier suppresses and removes many of the triggers of common household allergies such as pet dander, dust mites, and dust.

Disadvantages Of A Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is a useful device in the home, but it can also have some drawbacks.

If the dehumidifier is used in an environment where the air is not overly humid, it can lead people in the home to develop dry skin, eyes, and sinuses as a result. Lack of moisture in the air can also make bronchitis and other lung infections more serious.

Because of these issues, it’s recommended to look for a dehumidifier containing self-regulatory technology such as a humidistat that measures the humidity in the air and adjust the dehumidifier according.

This way, the lack of humidity in the home never reaches an uncomfortable level.

How A Humidifier Works

Humidifiers work based on many different mechanisms, but all of them work to introduce moisture back into the air in the form of water vapor.

Here are some of the different types of humidifiers.

  • Ultrasonic humidifiers: Ultrasonic humidifiers work by generating an ultrasonic vibration that creates a cool fogging mist. Most ultrasonic humidifiers come with fans that blow the cool water vapor out into the room.

  • Steam vaporizers: Steam vaporizers are also known as warm-air humidifiers and give off warm water vapor by boiling water inside the vaporizer into steam. Steam vaporizers are considered more dangerous than other humidifiers since they contain a heating unit full of boiling water that can burn children or pets if the unit is upset.

  • Impeller humidifiers: Impeller humidifiers use a rotating ring to throw water at a diffuser that breaks it up into water vapor. This water vapor is then propelled into the room using a fan or other circulatory components.

  • Evaporators: Humidifiers that use evaporators use a blowing fan to blow water over a water reservoir that evaporates the water into vapor.

Humidifiers are often used in arid environments where the dry air can be irritating to the eyes, nose, and throats of people in the home. Along with removing dust and other contaminants from the air, humidifiers make the air easier and more comfortable to breathe.

Dehumidifier Air Outlet
Our particular model of dehumidifier can’t also be used as a humidifier, however, there are some combo units that can

When To Use Humidifiers And Dehumidifiers

When to use a humidifier or a dehumidifier depends on what kind of climate you’re running it in and the conditions of the space where it’s being operated.

Here are some tips for learning when to use humidifiers and dehumidifiers around the house:

  • Humidifiers are often used in the winter when indoor central heating can cause the air to become dry. The air is already less humid in the winter, so this combined with windburn can make people miserably chapped. Humidifiers are a great way to help rectify that problem.

  • Dehumidifiers are a good choice for spaces such as basements or other household areas below ground level that tend to hold moisture after heavy rains. They’re also smart to keep in rooms that are naturally humid such as rooms with aquariums. This is a smart preventative to avoid mold or other water damage.

With the technology in humidifier and dehumidifiers now that allows them to keep the humidity levels of a space adjusted to a baseline, it’s easy to keep these machines at an even keel.

Can A Dehumidifier Also Be A Humidifier?

Even though they’re used in different ways, both humidifiers and dehumidifiers are wise investments for a homeowner when it comes to increasing the comfort of their home environment.

Since humidifiers and dehumidifiers come in a wide variety of sizes and options, it’s easy to find models that have the specific functions you’re looking for, as well as combination units that offer both functions in one appliance.