Crawl Space Dehumidifier - Oscar Air or Santa Fe

by Scott
(Richmond, Virginia)

Have a 1500 sqft x 2-3' tall crawl space. Live near Richmond. Have vapor barrier down.

Did lots of research and seem to be stuck between the Santa Fe Advance and the Oscar Air Plus. Can't find any reviews or feedback on the Oscar Air products. Web site almost seems too good.

Your thoughts on their product. They claim the Santa Fe ices up and does not perform well in cold crawl space. Given cost is $1000 for the Oscar Air and $1270 for the Santa Fe, what would you recommend.

Thank you.




Hi Scott and thank you for your question.

The Oscar Air dehumidifier range is a recent arrival in the market and is not stocked by many of the leading suppliers of basement/crawl space dehumidifiers such as sylvane.com and dehumidifierexperts.com. The lack of reviews for this brand reflects these two factors.

When you mention "the web site" I assume you are referring to crawlspacedehumidifiers.com, specifically to this page:

http://www.crawlspacedehumidifiers.com/blog/choosing-a-crawlspace-dehumidifier/

This page certainly includes a statement, in the comparison table, which reads "(the Santa Fe Advance) freezes over and shuts down in colder conditions experienced in crawlspaces".

In the same comparison table, immediately below the entry for the Advance, the Santa Fe HC is also compared with Oscar Air dehumidifiers. The Santa Fe HC has long been discontinued, a fact which is confirmed if you follow the link in this entry to BPA, the parent company of crawlspace dehumidifiers.com.

The comparison table does not include the Santa Fe Compact dehumidifier. The omission puzzles me because the Compact is the nearest equivalent to the Dri-CrawlSpace PLUS in water removal capacity. At 70 pints per day the Compact removes 40% more water than the PLUS and currently retails at around $1100.

It is also smaller and lighter than the PLUS (12 x 21 x 12 inches and 55lbs compared with 16.5 x 13.8 x 23 inches and 62lbs.) This is relevant in view of the disparaging comments made about the Advance "very large cabinet, nearly 3 feet long, requires 2 people to install in a crawlspace". The Advance is, after all, nearly twice as powerful as the PLUS!

I will make no further comment. You must judge for yourself whether the web site is "too good".

Regarding low temperature performance let me make the following observations:

  • No refrigerant dehumidifier will operate at or below the freezing point of water. Neither Oscar Air nor Santa Fe dehumidifiers are advertised as having this capability.


  • All refrigerant dehumidifiers generate ice formation on the evaporator coils in lower temperatures. All have to "shut down" (the compressor) while the dehumidifier shifts to "defrost mode". This will apply equally to both Santa Fe and Oscar Air models.


  • For really low temperatures a refrigerant dehumidifier needs help with the defrosting process, using warm air leaving the condenser coils for accelerated melting. This process is usually described using phrases such as "hot gas defrost" or "hot gas bypass". Of the dehumidifiers listed in the comparison table only the two Ebac models have this feature. This provides efficient dehumidification down to 33deg F.


  • Richmond, your home town, does not typically experience really severe temperatures in winter although average levels are a tad below freezing during the December to February quarter. If these temperatures are replicated in your crawl space the dehumidifier should not be in use at these times. This applies to all refrigerant dehumidifiers.


  • During the remaining nine months of the year I would expect both Oscar Air and Santa Fe models to perform effectively.


The cost of your dehumidifier is in two parts; first, purchase price, second, running costs. The running costs are almost certain to exceed the purchase price over the life time of the unit.

The Oscar Air Plus has a claimed Energy Factor of 2.04. That means it will extract 2.04 litres of water for every kilowatt hour of electricity consumed. The Santa Fe Advance has an Energy Factor of 2.65. In other words it will remove 30% more water for every energy dollar you spend.

Please note that the Energy Factor I have quoted for the PLUS is taken from the crawlspacedehumidifiers.com web site as Energy Star has not yet listed this model. The figure for the Advance is taken from the latest Energy Star list which is updated every two weeks.

The Santa Fe Compact has an Energy Factor of 2.37. Although much larger than you need, and much more expensive at around $1850, the brand new Santa Fe Impact has an astonishingly high Energy Factor of 4.2!

I hope that the information I have provided will help you make a decision. You asked for my recommendation. I have long believed that Santa Fe dehumidifiers are the best on the market for basements and crawl spaces. This is not a belief born of faith but a judgement based on evidence. If new evidence emerges I will weigh it and am open to changing my opinion. As of today I can say only that I would buy a Santa Fe model in preference to any other brand for a crawl space or a basement.

Tom (Webmaster)

Comments for Crawl Space Dehumidifier - Oscar Air or Santa Fe

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Dec 06, 2013
Working great
by: Anonymous

I live in NC with 1500 sq ft crawl space. Purchased the OscarAir Plus and installed June 2013. Works great! I received timely and very helpful service. Not sure why the comment posted here about poor customer service.
I recommend this company and product

Nov 25, 2013
Oscar Air
by: R.L. From DE

I have had my OA basement De-humidifier for 2yrs now. First one had a refrigerant leak. They replaced the unit. Now the compressor has broken on the replacement. Trying to sort this issue out now. I would NOT recommend this unit. It also frosted up once in a while (and didn't defrost properly, I always had to unplug) even though the temp. is never below 60 deg. in my finished basement.
I've had enough! If I don't get another one for free I'm done.
Sante Fe Made in the USA is what I'm getting next.

Jul 30, 2013
No Oscarair Rep Available
by: Loyd

I have called Oscar Air umpteen times and can never get anyone on the phone. I leave a message but have not received a call back.

I also have a Santa Fe. I called them and received a return call within five minutes. The rep was helpful and gave me the information I needed plus followed up by email.

Needless to say, Oscar Air service is nonexistent. My advice is stay away from this company.

Jul 19, 2013
Oscar Ait Plus
by: Joe

I have an Oscar Air Plus running for 15 months
(since April 2012) and it running and doing it's job perfectly (so far!).

I have a lakefront house in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The crawl space is about 800 square feet and about four and a half feet high,
with a plastic covered dirt floor.

I used to keep the air vents open and was always
troubled with high condensation in the crawl space. The water level is high being lakefront. A sump pump is needed and runs occasionally.

After doing some online research, I sealed off the
crawl space myself: 1" foam boards all around the walls. I then installed the Oscar Air Plus.

The project works great. All last year, and so far this year, the crawl space for the first time is completely dry and condensation free.

I recommend the Oscar Air Plus and the sealing
technique very highly.

Jul 13, 2013
Oscar Air Review
by: Anonymous in NE. Pa

I purchased an Oscar Air compact, and have been runing it for 4 years.
It's everything its advertised to be. Built like a tank, almost Zero maintenance.Very effective.
I have it in a 6 foot high sealed crawlspace with dirt floor.Water seeps in to the crawlspace durring heavy rains, but the Oscar dries it right out. After 4 years it still runs like new.
The cabinet has no rust or damage after 4 years. my opinion is its a great buy.

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