Does A Dehumidifier Need To Be On All The Time?

Running a dehumidifier in your home can prove to be very valuable, especially if you live in a humid climate or have a basement that gets more moisture than it should.

Knowing how long to run your dehumidifier and when it should be turned off can save you money and still keep your home feeling comfortable and clean.

A dehumidifier does not need to be on all the time; it should only run long enough each day to maintain a generally comfortable humidity level of 30%-60%.  The size of your dehumidifier, the size of your space, and the humidity levels in your climate can all affect how long your dehumidifier will need to run each day.

There’s so much variation in dehumidifiers available for purchase that understanding precisely what your situation warrants is vital.

As we live in a colder climate, we don’t need to have our own dehumidifier on all the time but it’s still on for a couple of hours each day on average.

Dehumidifier Plugged In
The dehumidifier we own and use

Read on to learn more about how dehumidifiers work and how long to leave yours on.

Should You Keep Your Dehumidifier On All The Time?

If you live in a moderate to humid climate and are trying to combat some of the effects of that humidity in your home, dehumidifiers can feel like a lifesaver.

However, running a dehumidifier 24/7 could be considered a waste of energy and money, as once relative humidity levels reach a certain low point there might be diminishing returns on what your dehumidifier can achieve.

A dehumidifier does not typically need to be kept on all the time.

More often than not, a dehumidifier can run for a few hours a day and still keep your space at a comfortable humidity level

Th Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains:

Indoor relative humidity (RH) should be kept below 60% — ideally between 30 percent and 50 percent, if possible.’


The manual to our own dehumidifier also states that above 60% is above the recommended humidity and so we try to keep it between 50 and 60% (which works in our particular situation).

It’s deemed the most comfortable for most people and that range is also optimal for keeping your home free of mold or mildew. If that’s the target range, then it is worthwhile to explore how to achieve.

Discover Your Current Humidity Level

The best way to find out your home’s current humidity requires a device called a Hygrometer (if you don’t already have a dehumidifier or one that displays it).

This is a small device that can read the percentage of humidity in the air within a specific room of your home and tell you what that is.

They are user-friendly, self-explanatory, and can be a beneficial device to have around if you intend to maintain a comfortable humidity level in your home year-round.

Measure Your Space

The size of the room that you are planning to dehumidify will play a big part in knowing how long your dehumidifier will need to run each day to reach its target levels.

If you plan to place it in a small room with little airflow, it will run much less than if you plan to place it in a large open space with lots of airflow and traffic.

There is a helpful chart located at that can help you pinpoint how large your dehumidifier should be per your approximate square footage.

A larger dehumidifier will manage the humidity much better in a larger space than a small one will.

If you already have a dehumidifier and are aware that it might not be the optimum size for your space and needs, then just be aware that the running time will be longer for it to reach comfortable levels

Automatic Humidity Threshold Or Not?

Most dehumidifiers are now equipped with an Automatic Humidity Threshold.

This is a feature that allows a user to customize their preferred humidity percentages. 

Once those are set, the device has a built-in hygrometer that will monitor the humidity in the surrounding air.  It will then turn on when the levels reach above the preferred settings, and turn off when it reaches at or below the acceptable humidity percentages.

If this is the kind of dehumidifier you have, then you can sit back and let the automated feature do its thing.  If not, you can just use your own hygrometer to periodically check the humidity levels in the room and turn off the dehumidifier once it reaches comfortable levels.

While our own dehumidifier doesn’t automatically turn off, we can set a target humidity and the appliance will bring it down and keep it at that level.

It does have a timer function however, that allows us to make sure that the dehumidifier turns off if we forget to do it manually.

Dehumidifier Timer Control

It also has a ‘Smart’ mode where it the fan speed and performance run at maximum when humidity levels are high and slows down to simply circulating indoor air when the target humidity has been reached.

Dehumidifier Mode Control

Pint Capacity and Sizing

Another factor that will play into the length of time your dehumidifier can run is the pint capacity for the water stores being collected from the air.

Once the tank is filled up, it will need to be emptied.  

Many dehumidifiers (including ours) will automatically turn off once full capacity for the water tank is reached.

There’s a light indicator and it beeps at us to let us know the tank is full.

The larger the pint capacity is, the longer it can run before it fills up. The smaller the capacity, the more often it will have to be turned off and emptied.

Save Time, Energy, And Money Optimizing Your Dehumidifying

If you are in the market for a new dehumidifier and would like to know what features to look for to optimize your experience, there are some key benefits to buying the right one for your space, and they will save you a lot of time and possibly some money too.

Buy New

Although many things that are “tried and true” can seem like the safe choice, dehumidifiers have become significantly better in recent years than they have been in the past.

They have improved in these general ways:

  • They are significantly quieter than they used to be: While they used to be as loud and annoying as a noisy dryer in the middle of a heavy cycle, they now are barely louder than your refrigerator, adding a small white-noise effect that is less noticeable. See our article on dehumidifier noise for more information.
  • They are much more energy efficient:  Many dehumidifiers of the past used to have to run day and night without a break simply because they were inefficient.  Now they are made to be energy efficient, keeping your run time low and your humidity even lower.
  • They look better:  Dehumidifiers on the market now are made with a sleek, clean, neutral design that can help them blend into the background in your home instead of being an eyesore that detracts from your home’s visual ambiance.
  • They have higher capacities:  Many new dehumidifiers have capacities large enough to maintain humidity levels in large living areas and open concept homes, as long as the windows and doors can remain mostly closed, of course.

Buying a newer model for your dehumidifier is the way to go.  There are so many innovative and effective options that will help you keep your home comfortable and free of mold, mildew and rot.

Bigger Is Usually Better

A bigger dehumidifier might seem unnecessary, but the benefits can often outweigh the space sacrificed to house it. 

For one, a bigger dehumidifier will have a much larger pint capacity, if it is not self-draining, which will allow it to run as long as it needs to without requiring it to be stopped and emptied multiple times a day. 

Larger dehumidifiers also run more efficiently.

They dehumidify a space much quicker than their smaller counterparts, which means they run for much less time during the day and will save you money on your electricity bill.

However, if your space is significantly limited and you need something compact, a smaller one can get the job done as well.  If you aren’t as limited on space, then go for the larger model.  You’re unlikely to regret it.

Should You Leave A Dehumidifier On All The Time?

Humidity is known to feel uncomfortable, make temperatures feel more extreme, and take a toll on a home.  A dehumidifier that runs efficiently and quietly in the background of a room can keep it feeling much more comfortable.

You don’t need to run a dehumidifier all the time, just long enough each day to keep your space at that optimum level between too humid and too dry.

Larger sized dehumidifiers can work more efficiently and help to keep operating times down, while buying new will give you access to the latest features available for more optimal running efficiency.