One of the most difficult parts of your home to keep in good shape is your crawl spaces. Whether it’s the edge of your basement or your attic, crawlspaces require sufficient ventilation and conditioning.
In the summer, you have to worry about humid air causing the growth of mold spores and dampness. And in the winter? It’s even worse because the air becomes more moist and excess humidity becomes a problem.
Crawl spaces are often neglected; and because of their locations in the house, it is easier for such places to become damp.
For homeowners, there’s usually the struggle of choosing between a crawl space fan and a dehumidifier in dealing with the warm air and excess humidity in crawl spaces.
We’ll examine the differences between both appliances in relation to how they help to ventilate crawl spaces and make them better so that you can easily decide which one works better for you.
Crawl Space Fan Vs Dehumidifier
Let’s get right down to it. If you’re wondering which you should get between a crawl space fan and a dehumidifier, you need to consider how each differs in usefulness and applicability for your crawl space, as well as other factors. Let’s do a quick comparison.
1. Cost of Purchase
A fan is relatively less expensive to buy than a dehumidifier. There’s no debate here. Most standard dehumidifiers for crawl spaces start at $100, and that’s for small units.
Actual crawl space dehumidifiers go for as much as $500 and above. On the other hand, most fans are less than $100, except for dedicated crawl space and industrial fans which often go for around $100 to $150.
2. Installation Cost
This basically depends on the type of fan or dehumidifier you buy. Some dehumidifiers can be placed on the floor or on a table. However, some require that you install a drainage system.
On the other hand, most crawl space ventilation fans are wall mounted. If you go for a regular fan, no installation is required at all.
3. Running Cost
It is generally cheaper to run a fan than a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers run on a higher wattage than fans and this means higher electricity cost. You’re also likely to change its filters occasionally.
On the other hand, a fan’s low wattage means low electricity cost, and that’s pretty much all that is required to run it.
4. Maintenance Cost
Maintenance is also relative, but overall, it’s more time-consuming and expensive to maintain a dehumidifier.
Beyond cleaning and washing its reusable filter, draining the tank and cleaning it regularly are other demands of a dehumidifier. A fan will mostly require cleaning occasionally.
5. Dehumidification Capacity
Naturally, a dehumidifier will remove more humidity in your crawl space than a fan would.
You can only rely on a relatively less humid outdoor air replacing the highly humid indoor air to reduce the moisture content in your crawl space when you use a fan, whereas a dehumidifier will actually collect moisture from the air and make the room less humid.
Which Is Better? Crawl Space Fan or Dehumidifier?
This would depend on what you need the appliance for. If excess humidity and dampness are your problems, a dehumidifier is better for your crawl space.
But if you only need proper ventilation and some level of cooling, a crawl space fan is the better option. A crawl space fan will not be as effective as a dehumidifier if you need to address a flooded crawl space requiring remediation.
Once you’ve successfully drained out the flood, a dehumidifier will be your best option to gradually dry the space. The same is true if you need to reduce dampness and take care of mold spores.
On the other hand, a dehumidifier will not provide as much cooling as a fan does, except if you consider the effect that drier air will bring.
If you need an appliance that will reduce humidity, and cool and ventilate the crawl space, you may need to get a dehumidifying fan. Otherwise, if you have to choose between the two, think about your immediate needs and what will best suit them.
Do You Need a Fan with A Dehumidifier?
A fan with a dehumidifier seems like a better option, doesn’t it? Getting a combo means getting the functions of both appliances in one unit and you can take care of the heat and excess humidity all at once.
A dehumidifier with a fan is a useful appliance for crawl spaces because it’ll serve you the cost and burden of running two different appliances to take care of multiple problems of ventilation, cooling and moisture removal.
A good example is the Honeywell 11,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier and Fan.
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These dehumidifier-fan combo appliances usually have good cooling coverage, depending on the unit’s capacity, as well as the ability to remove up to 30, 50, and 70 pints of moisture per day.
Since crawl spaces are not frequently visited in a home, it is best to buy a fan-dehumidifier combo that has an automatic drain system, with a hose connected for directing collected moisture out of the house.
Otherwise, you’ll stand the risk of flooding your crawl space and causing more of the same problems you’re trying to solve in the first place.
When Should You Use a Crawl Space Fan? And When Should You Use a Dehumidifier in A Crawl Space?
A crawl space fan should be used if the only problems in the crawl space are heat and lack of ventilation, leading to a damp smell.
A crawl space fan, especially those mounted on the wall with access to outdoor air, will help to introduce fresher, cleaner air into the crawl space while taking out the stale air- keeping the space fresh and clean.
Also, it should provide some cooling effect in not-so-severe weather conditions. On the other hand, a dehumidifier becomes the most useful option if you need to deal with mold spores and excess humidity in your crawl space.
Also, it is important to note that a dehumidifier is the best option for keeping humidity levels in check.
It may not provide as much cooling, but by removing excess moisture in the air and making it drier, there’s usually a slight decrease in temperature.
In the end, you’re the only one that can determine when to use either of the appliances and what circumstances best suit them.
A crawl space fan and dehumidifier are two very useful appliances for conditioning the air in your crawl space and ensuring it is healthy and breathable.
Your decision on which to purchase can just be the difference between a healthy crawl space and a polluted one. Be certain what the actual situation is in your crawl space before making a decision.
If you’re unsure, you can invite an HVAC professional to take a look and make the right recommendation.