Dehumidifier Setting Chart: What Should Dehumidifier Be Set At?

Having a dehumidifier with the wrong setting can be just as useless as having no dehumidifier.

What should you set your dehumidifier on?

Even before you buy a dehumidifier, it makes sense to educate yourself about relative humidity levels.

What is a good humidity level for a basement?

The basic idea is to keep indoor relative humidity between 30% and 50%. That includes the basement dehumidifier setting.

However, when it comes to the basement dehumidifier setting, we’re sometimes perplexed – should be set the dehumidifier to 30%, 40%, 50%, or even 60% relative humidity? This is especially important when figuring out the correct dehumidifier setting to prevent mold and mold growth.

Under ‘Mold Course Chapter 2’, in the 3rd Lesson – Humidity, EPA clearly states the following:

Sometimes, humidity or dampness (water vapor) in the air can supply enough moisture for mold growth. Indoor relative humidity (RH) should be kept below 60 percent — ideally between 30 percent and 50 percent, if possible. Low humidity may also discourage pests (such as cockroaches) and dust mites.

The key part that we forget when it comes to basement dehumidifier settings is the temperature. Mold, for example, grows in:
  • Damp environment. Example: Basement with 80% relative humidity.
  • Hot environment. The hotter the indoors is, the more likely it is for the mold to flourish.

That means that we have to be aware of the basement temperature and the relative humidity. In the end, you’ll find the commentary for 30%, 40%, 50%, and 60% relative humidity settings.

What Relative Humidity Dehumidifier Setting Is The Best For Mold Prevention?

Answering exactly what relative humidity percentage mold grows is not easy. Here are a few scientific sources that can help HVAC engineers:

In short, there is no clear answer.

Most HVAC engineers, however, agree that the most appropriate basement dehumidifier setting is 40%.

It might be that 50% would be enough. However, at higher temperatures such as 80°F or 90°F, the likelihood of mold growth is significantly increased. To negate this, it’s always safer to set a dehumidifier setting to 40% to prevent mold growth.

Some HVAC guides also use temperature-dependent dehumidifier settings charts like this:

Dehumidifier Settings Chart

Outdoor Temperature  Max. Indoor Humidity (At 68°F)
-20°F Or Below 15-25%
-20°F To 0°F 20-35%
0°F to 25°F 30-40%
25°F To 50°F 40% Or Below
50°F And Higher (Most Common) 50% Or Below

As we can see, the dehumidifier setting also depends on the outdoor temperature.

Obviously, the basement dehumidifier setting of 30% would be the safest but not the most energy-efficient. If the 40% basement relative air humidity can guarantee the absence of mold growth, all the electricity needed to bring relative humidity from 40% to 30% would be wasted (or would be of no consequence as far as mold growth is concerned).

Here is the full list of basement dehumidifier setting options with commentary:

  • 60%. Too high; mold might grow. Is 60 humidity too high for a basement? Most definitely.
  • 50%. Not safe enough; at high temperatures, there might be a minimal change of mold growth (usually localized to a corner).
  • 40%. Just perfect; very safe with no chance of mold growth.
  • 30%. Needlessly low, you will waste energy reducing humidity from 40% to 30% without increasing anti-mold safety.

20 thoughts on “Dehumidifier Setting Chart: What Should Dehumidifier Be Set At?”

  1. What is “Unneedlessly Low” haha. Sorry, I just felt an unneedless desire to comment, because it made me laugh. But I understood the intended meaning! Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the info! Here’s a couple of other things that may bring a chuckle or two.
    Our old dehumidifier had a bucket that needed to be emptied daily, so either my wife or I would empty it when we noticed it wasn’t running. For over a month, both of us assumed the other had emptied it when in reality, it just wasn’t working – the bucket was bone dry and probably had been for weeks!
    When I read on you site the recommendation of “most HVAC engineers,” I again had to laugh at myself. My son-in-law has been in the business for years and owns an HVAC company. I could have just asked him!

    Reply
  3. We recently purchased a dehumidifier for our basement and have been running it non-stop on the highest setting for several days now. However, for whatever reason the humidity never seems to drop below 50%. Is there a reason why this might be happening? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hello Trisha, the dehumidifier you have appears to be undersized a bit. It doesn’t seem to have enough pint capacity to handle all the moisture load in your basement.

      Reply
    • Hello Darryl, anything below 60% should be ok. You can set it to 50% in a crawl space. If the humidity rises above 60%, it makes sense to use dehumidifier in a crawl space in the winter as well.

      Reply
  4. Many dehumidifiers do not have settings below 50 percent. I live in Southern Ontario. Generally on the humid side due to the Great Lakes. I have a finished basement and set my humidifier at 50 percent. Anything higher than 60 and you begin to smell must.

    Reply
  5. I live in a condo with centralized heating and air conditioning. Typical room temperature when the heat is on is around 25 Celsius.

    I have a condensation problem in the solarium area of my living room. It builds up inside, mostly on window frames and very little on the glass.

    Temperature and humidity in that area during this time of the year are 19-20 degrees Celsius and 50%-60%, when it is windy and cold outside.

    I am thinking of buying either a dehumidifier or a portable heater. Which one would work better? If humidifier what brand and specs

    Regards,
    Michael

    Reply
    • Hello Michael, that’s a really good question. Condensation will happen is there is relative humidity and temperature difference. A space heater would increase the temperature difference and probably make the condensation work. A dehumidifier will decrease the relative humidity and at least partly limit to current levels of condensation. You need a bit of advice on which dehumidifier to get for a single room, you can check our article about the best room dehumidifiers here.

      Reply
  6. I’m trying to get damp out of a wall in a basement. but the room has a window. what would be the best setting for the dehumidifier to get the damp out of the wall.

    Reply
    • Hello Daisy, well, installing a dehumidifier, setting it to 40%, and having that window closed seems to be a good idea. If the window is open, the moisture will leak into the basement again. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  7. I live in basement apartment and use a humidifier. Have noticed that my window air conditioner isn’t cooling as well as it did but the heat has been extremely high here in Ga. My dehumidifier filled up and cut off during the night and it was at 65% humidity when I woke up but….the air conditioner is working better w/o the dehumidifier on. Why would that be?

    Reply
    • Hello Jerrie, this is quite unusual. In general, air conditioners want to hit that temperature setting; dehumidification is basically a side product of running an AC.
      Now, one option why window AC is working better without the dehumidifier is this: When AC needs to dehumidify, it will usually slow down the airflow (CFMs) in order for more air moisture to be condensated on the indoor coils. Because the air is moving slower over these cold coils, you will see that you are getting colder air from you AC (but the you are getting less airflow than you usually would).
      It might be that in older window AC units, the heat exchange is reduced, and moving the air slower over the cold coils (this happens when AC has to dehumidify) will remove more heat from indoor air. If it would operate at normal CFMs, the heat exchange would not be sufficient to adequately lower the temperature of air that is expelled back into your basement apartment.

      Hope this helps a bit. These basement apartments can be a nightmare when the humidity levels rise too much.

      Reply

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