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An air conditioner usually reduces the humidity in the space it is cooling. The unit’s evaporator coil pulls in water vapor from the air it processes and sends the condensation down a drain.

Most air conditioners are set to maintain a relative humidity (RH) between 40-60 percent. Comfort levels vary from person to person, but generally an RH above 60 percent makes most people uncomfortable. Human body temperature is regulated by the evaporation of perspiration. A lower RH level therefore promotes sweat evaporation and improves the comfort level. However, an RH below 40 percent can cause extreme thirst, dry and itchy skin, and static electricity.

Unlike in a refrigeration air conditioning unit, a dehumidifier’s condenser and evaporator coils are positioned in the same air path. The entire unit is located within the environment it is dehumidifying. The dehumidifier’s evaporator coil pulls humidity from the air exactly like an air conditioner and then passes the cooled air to the condenser coil where it is rewarmed and released back into the air.

Air conditioning is considered to be a thermodynamic system. In an air conditioner, the condenser coil is located outdoors. Therefore an AC unit’s condenser coil discharges energy from the regulated interior environment to the unregulated exterior environment.


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