Do Air Conditioners Have Dehumidifiers? (Answered!)

  • Author: Irene Batres
  • Date: September 26, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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When it’s warm outside, a good AC can be a miracle worker.

But what if you live in a humid area?

Can that AC also dehumidify the air in your home?

In other words, do air conditioners have dehumidifiers?

Yes, most air conditioners do have dehumidifiers. The thing is, dehumidifying the air isn’t an air conditioner’s main function. Because of this, the dehumidifier in a typical air conditioner isn’t always as good as you need it to be. For this reason, a separate dehumidifier is the best option.

How Much Humidity Does An Air Conditioner Remove?

The bottom line is, it’s difficult to determine how much humidity any air conditioner can remove.

The number is always going to depend on the AC itself and the actual humidity level. Ideally, the relative humidity in your home should be 30% to 50%.

If it’s too high, your air conditioner can struggle to keep it at a comfortable level. If you live in an area that is particularly high in humidity, you’ll likely need a separate dehumidifier.

Otherwise, the AC unit won’t be able to keep up. 

In short, even the most efficient air conditioner can’t dehumidify the air perfectly if you have a lot of humidity. This isn’t what the air conditioner is built to do.

How To Tell If My AC Has A Dehumidifier

If your air conditioner has a separate dehumidifier in it – which some do – you’ll know immediately.

The literature included with the unit will tell you so. This applies to both central air conditioners and portable air conditioners.

The thing is, if you have a central AC unit and there’s no mention of a dehumidifier, then it isn’t there.

The only thing there will be the natural dehumidification process that occurs with all air conditioners. Again, this won’t be enough if the humidity level where you live is particularly high.

This is yet another reason to consider purchasing a whole-house dehumidifier. Or, you can purchase a portable air conditioner that has a dehumidifier built into it.

Do HVAC Systems Have Dehumidifiers?

When To Use A Dehumidifier With An Air Conditioner

The average air conditioner provides good dehumidification when the humidity level isn’t that high. If you live in an area where the humidity doesn’t get too high, this should be enough.

But if the humidity level is extra-high, you’ll need a separate dehumidifier.

This means either an AC with a built-in dehumidifier or a separate dehumidifier added to the AC. If you choose to use a portable room-sized air conditioner, many of them come with dehumidifiers already. 

The final decision should be made based on how humid it is where you live. The higher the humidity, the more likely you’ll need a separate dehumidifier.

Since regular air conditioners are built to accommodate only so much humidity, they aren’t good enough when the humidity levels are high.

How Does A Dehumidifier Work On An Air Conditioner?

With an AC unit, moisture gets sucked out of the air, but it is a side effect of the cooling process.

In many ways, ACs do more heat-removing than they do air-chilling. It is a process that involves a cold refrigerant that cools the air in your room because it removes the heat.

Excess heat is released outside in the condenser before the air flows back inside.

Then, the process starts over again. Although an air-conditioning unit removes humidity out of the air, its main purpose is to keep the room cool.

This is why the dehumidifying function of your air conditioner might not be as good as you thought.

Check Out This related Article: Can You Lay A Dehumidifier On Its Side?

Do I Need A Dehumidifier If I Have Central Air Conditioning?

If the humidity level where you live is high, you’ll need a separate dehumidifier even if you have central air conditioning. Unless your central AC unit has a separate dehumidifier, this is a must.

The truth is that even a central AC unit can’t accommodate high humidity levels. Keep in mind that the dehumidifying they do is an effect of its main duty.

Its main duty is keeping your air cool, not lowering the humidity level.

So even if you have a central air-conditioning unit, you’ll need a separate dehumidifier. This is especially important if the humidity is higher than normal where you live.

Air Conditioner Dry Mode Versus Dehumidifier

The dry mode on an air conditioner removes humidity by running the fan at a much slower speed. This results in less humidity in the air.

But a dehumidifier actually removes moisture from the air to relieve humidity. The AC dry mode does not do this. If you live in a humid area, a dehumidifier is the best option.

There are several reasons for this. First, dry modes and dehumidifiers actually do two different things.

Second, it costs a lot more in electricity to run a dry mode for long periods of time.

Not only is a dehumidifier more efficient and effective, but it’s also going to cost you a lot less as well.

Final Thoughts: Do HVAC Systems Have Dehumidifiers?

Although most air conditioners do not come with dehumidifiers, part of their natural function includes dehumidifying the air a little. When you buy either a room air conditioner or a central AC, you’ll know if it comes with a dehumidifier. For the most part, people need a separate dehumidifier because they get rid of a lot more humidity.

Even if you don’t live in an area that gets humid, you may still need a separate dehumidifier to keep the room in the 30% to 50% humidity range.

Looking For Dehumidifier Guides?

If you’re looking for more dehumidifier resources, consider checking out our other post on Dehumidifiers.

References: Wikipedia, Air conditioning

irene mills author of freshairdevices


Irene Batres is eager to help others create an indoor allergen-free home. She has years of experience testing out air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and other products designed to help with indoor air quality. Learn more about me.