Basement Dehumidifiers - Santa Fe, SaniDry or Dri-Basement

(Indiananapolis, IN)

We are looking for a dehumidifier for an unfinished basement/crawl combo. The basement is 1400 sq ft and the crawl is an additional 400 sq ft. It is partially ducted so does not get really cold, but it is cool, damp, moldy on lower walls, and pipes have condensate especially in summer.

We have a very high water table and dual sump pumps run most of the time during normal year. We are in Indiana with pretty high humidity in summer. We have been looking at Santa Fe Impact and Classic, Oscar Air Dri-Basement, and SaniDry XP. Want to plug in and walk away, have auto run to specified humidity level, prefer to pump to drain, and option to duct if we finish the basement.

Efficiency and noise level are key and I can't find a definite noise level for some of these. There is no door to the basement so we can hear everything going on down there.



Let's start by taking a look at the models you are considering.

The SaniDry XP is virtually identical to the Santa Fe Classic. This is no surprise as they are both made by Therma-Stor. If you choose the SaniDry you have to buy through an installer approved by Basement Systems. For example, "Americrawl Midwest, Inc." is the authorized Basement Systems dealer in Indianapolis.

You cannot purchase the XP "off the shelf" and no prices are published. In order to obtain one you have to seek a quotation from your local dealer which will cover the appliance, installation and any other work deemed necessary. The Classic can be bought, at a published price, from a number of suppliers such as, dehumidifier and (through third party suppliers) and you can undertake the installation yourself or select your own contractor. For this reason I suggest that, for most people, the Santa Fe is the better option. Installation in stand-alone (i.e. not ducted) mode for all these units is simply a matter of attaching the drain hose and plugging the unit into a power socket.

The Oscar Air Dri-Basement is a relative newcomer to the market and is not yet Energy Star qualified. Its status in this regard is described as "application pending" and it has been so described for a considerable time. who supply this model claim that it has an Energy Factor (EF) of 2.66 ltrs per kilowatt hour. The Classic is shown by Energy Star to have an EF of 2.65.

So far as noise in concerned claims that the Dri-Basement has a noise output of 52dB. If this is correct this model would be incredibly quiet for its power. On a comparison chart they contrast this with the Aprilaire 1710A and its noise output of 68.5dB, a difference of 16.5dB which they state is a difference of 31.7%. 16.5 is indeed 31.7% of 52 but the comparison is incorrect since the decibel scale is logarithmic (like the Richter Scale) not linear. This means that a noise 10dB louder than another, say 60dB compared to 50dB, is twice as loud not, as their equation would have it in this example, 20% louder.

Since in the same table they quote the SaniDry basement dehumidifier (i.e. the XP) as having a noise output of 54dB and the Santa Fe Classic (correctly) at 62dB when the two units are effectively identical I am not inclined to accept their table as wholly reliable. Their error in representing the Decibel scale merely reinforces my doubts. I am not reassured either by the inclusion of the Danby Silhouette in the table. This model is out of production and is a portable, not a basement model.

The table can be found here, near to the bottom of this very long page:

Basement dehumidifiers are powerful; therefore they are noisier than large portables, period. I will leave you to decide between the Dri-Basement and the Classic but I know which I would go for.

I cannot confirm the noise level produced by the Santa Fe Impact but I would expect it to be similar to that of the Classic or a little louder. The Impact is by far the most energy efficient of the models on your short-list with an Energy Factor of 4.2. It is also the most expensive to buy at approaching $1900 compared with around $1600 for the Classic and $1200 or so for the Dri-Basement. The two Santa Fe models are made in the USA. I have not yet been able to identify the origin of the Dri-Basement although its much lower price suggests that it is not made in the USA.

All three models have the capacity to deal with the total area of your basement/crawl space. I would not encourage you to decide on the basis of noise output. The information on this point is insufficiently definite and there are ways of minimizing the noise nuisance.

First, I would suggest that the entrance between the house and the basement be closed if at all possible. If this is not done the moisture from the house will enter the basement as the dehumidifier dries the air. Water vapor behaves like air and will move to equalize its pressure, moving from damper to drier areas. Even a temporary door would be sufficient. This will help with the noise also.

Second, if the unit is ducted it can be enclosed. Such an enclosure could be an existing closet or an enclosure could be constructed for the unit. Both Santa Fe units are suitable for ducting. I cannot say definitely that the Dri-Basement is not although there is nothing on the web site to indicate this and I have had no opportunity to inspect an example and, therefore, I have not reviewed it on this site. The interior surfaces of any enclosure may be clad in sound-deadening insulation which would significantly reduce the noise nuisance.

The main issues, as I see them, are purchase price and energy efficiency. The Impact requires a larger investment, particularly when compared with the Dri-Basement. Its energy efficiency is so much better than the other two that it may, nevertheless, turn out to be the least expensive of the three measured in total life-time cost. As an added bonus it is the smallest of the three which provides more options for locating the unit, particularly if it is ducted.

All three units have adjustable humidistats to ensure that they operate automatically to maintain a programmed humidity level. All drain continuously by gravity feed. You will need a separate condensate pump unless the unit is sited within three or four feet of a floor level drainage outlet.

One final point. Ducting the dehumidifier improves its effectiveness if the ducting is so arranged as to maximise air flow throughout a large space. Depending on the configuration of your basement/crawl this may be an additional reason for going for a ducted installation.

I hope my reflections have been helpful.

Tom (Webmaster)

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