Do you feel uncomfortable inside the closed bathroom of your home? It is probably due to moisture that makes the air heavy and promotes the growth of bacteria and molds. Thankfully, you can get rid of the humidity with a dehumidifier for bathroom spaces or an exhaust fan vent.
The water vapors become trapped within a closed bathroom, due to which it becomes hot and humid inside. That is why it is recommended that you install an exhaust vent or a dehumidifier in your bathroom.
Both of these options can effectively remove all the ambient moisture from a closed bathroom space. But now you may ask – what is the better option among these two? Well, they have their respective pros and cons. While a dehumidifier is portable and easy to install, an exhaust vent is relatively cheaper and space-saving.
In this guide, we have addressed the differences between each of them so that you can decide what’s best for you. So, let’s get going then, shall we?
What Is A Bathroom Dehumidifier?
- What Is A Bathroom Dehumidifier?
- What Are Exhaust Vents?
- Bathroom Exhaust Fan Pros
- Bathroom Exhaust Fan Cons
- Bathroom Dehumidifier Vs Bathroom Vents: Which Is Better For You?
- Additional Suggestions For Keeping Your Bathroom Moisture-Free
- Dehumidifier Vs Bathroom Vents Frequently Asked Questions ?
- Dehumidifier Vs Bathroom Vents Final Words
A bathroom dehumidifier is an appliance that eliminates the excess moisture from your bathroom. When you use it, the machine pumps out the humid and stagnant air inside and replaces it with fresh air.
Most bathroom dehumidifiers operate in a manner similar to an air conditioner or a refrigerator. They suck in the air from your bathroom and remove the moisture via condensation. The condensing moisture is drained away while the dry air is cycled inside your bathroom to give you a comfortable environment.
Many dehumidifier models may also simultaneously cycle outside air to keep your bathroom fresh. If the unit uses a refrigerant, you can get cool air from the dehumidifier, which is a bonus, especially if you live in areas with a warm climate.
There are some dehumidifier models that work with the help of a desiccant. This is a specialized substance that is extremely effective at absorbing water, even in the smallest amounts. Therefore, it absorbs all the moisture from the air to give you a fresh and dry ambiance inside the bathroom.
Silica gel is the most common and well-known desiccant that is used in such dehumidifiers. You might have come across silica gel since they are used inside computer cabinets, storage areas, and wardrobes to keep them free from moisture.
The moist air of the bathroom is cycled through the desiccant to keep the moisture levels under control. And once the desiccant becomes saturated, it is reactivated by passing warm air through it.
Regardless of the type, you will find that they are extremely effective in removing moisture build-up from the bathroom, even when you are taking a shower. As such, dehumidifiers prevent mold growth inside the bathroom for a hygienic environment.
Bathroom Dehumidifier Pros
There are numerous advantages to using a bathroom dehumidifier, as we have discussed below.
1. Provides Precise Humidity Control
These electrical appliances come with a precise humidity sensor or a humidistat that can control the moisture levels with exceptional accuracy. This feature helps ensure that your bathroom is neither too humid nor too dry.
2. Can Be Used For Long Periods
Modern dehumidifier units are highly energy-efficient, which allows you to use them for extended periods without ramping up your energy bills. Because of that, they can keep your bathroom dry and fresh throughout the day.
This is even more of an advantage if you live in humid climates where the bathrooms can become exceedingly moist and uncomfortable. If you can use the dehumidifier throughout the day, it will keep all the moisture out.
3. Highly Convenient Usage
Bathroom dehumidifier units are often equipped with automatic controls, which eliminates the need for manual intervention altogether. So, all you need to do is turn it on and set a target humidity level, and the machine will do the rest.
It will automatically turn on once the humidity rises or falls below the specified levels. Conversely, once the target moisture level has been achieved, it will turn off on its own, thereby conserving electricity.
4. Easy To Install
Most dehumidifier units come with detailed installation instructions so that you can get them up and running without a hitch. Even if they don’t, manually setting them up beside the bathroom window or outlet is incredibly easy. Take the machine out of its box, plug it into the nearest power outlet, turn on the switch, and you will be good to go.
Additionally, you don’t have to worry about drilling holes or running electrical wires either, which makes it even more convenient to install.
A majority of dehumidifier models come with portable design elements, such as wheels and carry handles. Thus, you can conveniently carry the unit with you and install it elsewhere.
This is highly advantageous if you are planning to move out of your current home. Besides, it allows you to remove the dehumidifier from the bathroom in case you are planning a renovation or a periodic maintenance routine.
6. Low Maintenance
Dehumidifiers require very little maintenance, even after extended periods of usage. So, you won’t need to clean it every few months, which means that you save a lot of time and money on its upkeep.
Bathroom Dehumidifier Cons
While it is obviously a great choice to remove moisture from your bathroom, a dehumidifier does have its drawbacks, as discussed below.
1. Expensive Purchase
Dehumidifier units are relatively expensive to purchase compared to appliances, such as exhaust fans. Besides, the more features there are in the appliance, the higher the price tag becomes.
This is a major reason why many people shy away from them, as the costs for purchasing one may exceed their budget considerably. And although there are many cheap dehumidifiers available for purchase today, they may not be of good quality. Eventually, they may encounter issues that will increase long-term expenses.
2. Occupies Space
Despite being portable and easy to install, dehumidifier units take up a lot of floor space in your bathroom. This can be a major inconvenience, especially if you have got a small bathroom, as in such a case, you will be left with little room to move around.
Moreover, there is a chance that water from the shower may fall directly on the appliance, which can lead to disruptions and short circuits if it is not waterproof. So, unless you have a spacious bathroom, you might want to reconsider getting a dehumidifier.
3. Require Periodic Drainage
While most of the operations of a modern dehumidifier machine are automatic, there are some tasks that need to be done manually. One of them is emptying the drain condensate from the tank from time to time.
Unless your dehumidifier has auto-drainage features, the liquid water from the condensation process will accumulate in a storage tank below the machine. You will need to empty it manually to avoid the water from overflowing from the tank and making a mess everywhere.
Luckily, if you attach a pipe to this tank, you can bypass this process. But then, you will need to maintain the drainage pipe so that it doesn’t become blocked by debris.
What Are Exhaust Vents?
Exhaust vents are openings on the bathroom wall that serve to provide adequate ventilation to the room. Installing a vent is a tried and tested method of removing humid air from your bathroom. The system consist of an exhaust fan at the end that helps to remove humid air from the bathroom, thereby keeping it dry.
In this regard, the exhaust fan is the core component in a bathroom vent. Without it, there will be no means to channel the air through it. The fan rotation is directed in such a manner that it sucks in air from the interior and expels it outwards.
That said, the fan’s rotation can be reversed to supply fresh outdoor air inside the bathroom. Not only that, but it also helps circulate the bathroom air such that it doesn’t become stagnant. The bathroom exhaust vent always needs to be open when the fan is turned on, or else it will fail to circulate the air and reduce bathroom humidity.
In addition to moisture removal, an exhaust vent fan eliminates other materials suspended in the air, such as mold spores, dust, and smoke. Thus, a bathroom exhaust fan has a lot more uses than just humidity control. However, you might need to install multiple fans for this purpose.
Bathroom Exhaust Fan Pros
There are several advantages to using bathroom exhaust fans, and some of the major ones have been discussed below.
1. Highly Versatile
An exhaust fan installed in the bathroom vent is highly versatile since it can be used for a range of other benefits. As we have stated above, the fan removes smoke, dust, and mold spores from the air, providing a dry and hygienic environment within the bathroom.
On top of that, it removes any foul odors from the bathroom. So, a person, especially a guest, entering the bathroom will not have to withstand any foul stench.
2. Considerably Cheaper
Compared to a dehumidifier, a bathroom fan is relatively cheap, which is why it is preferred by many people. Of course, if you want to spend more money, you can get some of the pricier options that have additional features and a premium feel. But if you are looking for a standard fan with basic functionalities, you can easily get one without breaking your bank.
Even if you install multiple fans for your bathroom vent, the price that you will need to pay will be less than a typical dehumidifier.
3. Quick Action
An exhaust fan in your bathroom vent acts fairly quickly than a typical dehumidifier. It starts sucking out the moist air from the bathroom almost instantly after you switch it on.
This is a significant advantage if your bathroom is used frequently. The fast action removes the moisture and odors from the bathroom while you are using it. So, the next person in line does not need to wait long before using the bathroom.
4. Can Be Mounted On The Windows And Walls
Unlike a dehumidifier, which can only be kept on the floor, the exhaust fans can be mounted on a wall or a window. In fact, window exhaust fans are relatively easier to set up than wall fans.
Either way, you will have more space in your bathroom, which will make your life easier when using the shower. You will have plenty of room to move around. And, the fan will remain protected from water splashes since it will be at a considerably higher level than most of your bathroom fixtures.
Bathroom Exhaust Fan Cons
Despite its versatility and affordability, there are certain disadvantages to using an exhaust fan in your bathroom:
1. Difficult To Install
The installation process for an exhaust fan is fairly complicated, especially when compared to a dehumidifier. You need to put in a lot of effort in preparing the vent, wiring, and mounting the fan. In fact, adjustments to ensure the fan has been properly installed will require even more time and effort.
So, if you are not as qualified or don’t feel like putting in the effort, getting a professional to do it for you is your best bet. But be ready to shell out quite a bit of money if you decide to do that because professional installation services do not come cheap. Most of the time, the costs of installation will be almost as high as a standard dehumidifier.
Therefore, the price advantage that you get with an exhaust fan will be completely lost in this case. And because of this, many people may find it inconvenient to install a bathroom exhaust fan.
2. Blocks Your Window
If you decide to mount the exhaust fan on your bathroom window, it might be a bit cheaper than mounting it on the wall or ceiling. But it will completely block out the window, which can be considered as a disadvantage.
You won’t be able to use your window normally, especially when using the fan. Furthermore, it will prevent sunlight from entering your bathroom. This can be problematic if you use the window as the primary light source during the daytime.
3. Requires Frequent Maintenance
The blades of a bathroom exhaust fan are generally exposed, due to which dirt and grime may accumulate on them pretty easily. Over time, this will make the blades heavier, and as a result, their spinning speed will decrease. Meaning, the overall efficiency of the fan will be negatively impacted.
Besides, the accumulation of dirt may clog the blades, in which case you won’t be able to use the fan at all. To avoid such issues, you will need to clean the fan regularly, which can be a hassle.
4. Not Very Accurate
Unlike a dehumidifier, an exhaust fan does not come with a humidity sensor, so it isn’t easy to control the moisture levels. You can try using a separate humidistat in your bathroom to complement the exhaust fan, but even then, the results will not be as accurate as a standard dehumidifier.
5. Creates Negative Air Pressure
When you use an exhaust fan conventionally, it expels the air inside the bathroom outwards. As more air gets expelled, the air pressure inside your home will decrease compared to the ambient air pressure outdoors. This will create negative air pressure inside your home, which will cause unfiltered air from the outside to seep in through cracks and crevices.
In order to compensate for this, your HVAC system will need to work harder than normal. Not only will that increase your energy bills, but it will also overload the HVAC system, eventually leading to issues and breakdowns.
6. Allows The Entry Of Bugs And Other Critters
Exhaust fan vents are generally open to the outside world to allow the passage of air. But when the fan is not in use, the vent outlet allows the passage of bugs and small critters inside your bathroom. And soon enough, you will have to contend with a bug infestation in your household.
So, if you do not want to see roaches or spiders while taking a shower, we suggest that you install vent flaps. That will close off the fan outlet when it is not in use, thereby keeping most of the bugs out. However, it is not a foolproof solution since smaller bugs, such as ants and mites can still get through.
Bathroom Dehumidifier Vs Bathroom Vents: Which Is Better For You?
Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of both dehumidifiers and vents or exhaust fans, the question automatically arises – which one is a better fit for your bathroom? Well, answering this question is not as simple because it depends on a lot of factors, such as the frequency of usage, size of your bathroom, budget, and so on.
Both of these appliances are highly effective at removing moisture. But your decision to get one over the other should be based on the factors that we have mentioned above. For instance, if your bathroom is used throughout the day or you live in a humid climate, a dehumidifier is a better option.
Conversely, if you have a smaller bathroom, you will be better off with an exhaust fan. But in that case, you will need to take into account the aspects of installation and maintenance, which can be inconvenient.
Additional Suggestions For Keeping Your Bathroom Moisture-Free
In this section, we have provided some suggestions and tips that you can follow to complement these appliances and keep your bathroom free from mildew growth. So, if you are curious, keep reading below.
1. Use Cat Litter As A Dehumidifier
Yes, you read that correctly – you can use cat litter as a form of a homemade dehumidifier. Cat litter is typically made from clay and silica gel, and the latter is a powerful desiccant, as we have discussed before.
If you are now wondering how to use cat litter as a dehumidifier, it is pretty simple, actually. All you need to do is place some of the cat litter in an open container and keep it in one corner of your bathroom.
2. Use Mildew-Resistant Paint
In case you are planning to renovate your bathroom, you should consider using mildew-resistant paint on the walls. Such paints actively prevent the growth of mildew so that you can maintain a hygienic environment in your bathroom.
3. Use An Enclosure Around The Shower
If you use an enclosure for your shower, the water will not splatter all over the bathroom. Instead, most of the water will be confined to a single area, which will reduce the load on your exhaust fan or dehumidifier.
Ideally, you can use plastic curtains to enclose your shower and prevent the water from splashing all over. But if you want more sophistication and privacy, you can use sliding glass panels.
4. Fix Any Leakages
Leakages are one of the biggest reasons for excessive moisture inside your bathroom. It creates persistent humidity inside the bathroom, due to which you will need to run the dehumidifier or vent for longer. Aside from that, a leaky bathroom fixture can ramp up your water bills significantly.
So, it is in your best interests to get them fixed as soon as possible. If you sit on the problem, it might get even worse, which will cause a lot of trouble for you later on.
Dehumidifier Vs Bathroom Vents Frequently Asked Questions ?
How big of a dehumidifier do I need for my bathroom?
The sizes of dehumidifiers are usually measured in pints, and it denotes the volume of water that is removed in 24 hours. Taking that into consideration, how big of a dehumidifier you need depends on the square footage of the bathroom and the relative humidity levels.
For instance, a 20-pint dehumidifier will be sufficient for a 300 square feet bathroom with relative humidity levels of 50 to 60%. So, once you measure these variables, you can consult a suitable dehumidifier size chart to determine the most suitable option.
What is the ideal relative humidity level for your bathroom?
The humidity levels in your bathroom should preferably be maintained between 30 and 50%. That way, there will be very little moisture in the air, but it won’t feel too dry either.
Can you use an exhaust fan and dehumidifier at the same time?
Yes, you can use both of these appliances at the same time, as the combination will considerably speed up the dehumidification process. But if you have a small enough bathroom, or the relative humidity levels outside are low, running them both at the same time can be redundant.
Can you control the speed of the exhaust fan?
Most exhaust fan models typically do not come with speed controls, so you can’t control their speeds. That said, there are some brands that provide speed control mechanisms for their fans. Therefore, it would be best if you refer to the product documentation to learn more about this aspect.
Dehumidifier Vs Bathroom Vents Final Words
Now you know about the comparative differences between a bathroom dehumidifier and an exhaust fan vent. We are hoping that we have been able to satisfy your curiosity with this guide.
Keeping the bathroom fresh and dry is of utmost importance for a homeowner. And both of these options provide you with the means to do that. But if you are not as experienced in such matters, it is quite natural to feel confused.
That is why you should make a well-informed decision so that you don’t have any regrets later on. The decision should be based on objective measurements and facts, and if you have gone through our guide, you will know what these are.
Until next time!