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Refrigerant-Based vs. Desiccant Dehumidification Systems

Updated: Apr 9

Which on is right for you?

In the world of commercial and industrial dehumidification, two primary technologies stand out: refrigerant-based and desiccant dehumidifiers. Both methods aim to remove excess moisture from the air, but they do so in fundamentally different ways, each with its own set of pros and cons. As a leading manufacturer of solid desiccant dehumidifiers, Innovative Air Technologies is well-versed in the nuances of these systems and their applications. Let's delve into the key differences and advantages of each approach.

Refrigerant-Based Dehumidification:

Refrigerant-based dehumidifiers, also known as cold-coil systems, operate by passing moist air over cold coils. These coils quickly absorb the heat and moisture from the air, causing the moisture to condense and collect as water. The cooled, dehumidified air may then need to be reheated (with new energy) before being supplied to the space. Additionally, as the coil’s surface temperature is reduced to further dehumidify the air, any water being condensed may frost or freeze, blocking airflow and shutting down the system.

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1. Energy Efficiency: Refrigerant-based systems are generally efficient at removing moisture from the air, particularly in moderate humidity conditions above a 50°F indoor dew-point temperature.

2. Cost-Effectiveness: These systems may be slightly less expensive to install and require about the same maintenance when compared to solid desiccant dehumidifiers.

3. Smaller Footprint: Refrigerant-based units are typically smaller, lighter, and require less space for installation, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.


1. Limited Dehumidification Capacity: Refrigerant-based systems may struggle to achieve low humidity levels in more stringent conditions.

2. Energy Intensive: To achieve lower humidity levels, refrigerant-based systems may need to overcool the air, then reheat it back up to comfortable conditions, leading to potential coil freezing and increased energy consumption.

3. Not Suitable for All Environments: These systems are not ideal for applications requiring reduced humidity levels and those with colder indoor ambient temperatures.

Solid Desiccant Dehumidification:

Solid Desiccant dehumidifiers, on the other hand, employ a different process to remove moisture from the air. Instead of cooling the air, desiccant systems use hygroscopic materials, such as silica gel or molecular sieves, to adsorb moisture from the air. The air is passed through the desiccant material, which removes the moisture, leaving behind dry air.

Infographic of desiccant dehumidification vs. cold coil or refrigerant-based dehumification


1. Effective in Environments Requiring Low Humidity Conditions: Solid desiccant dehumidifiers excel in environments where low humidity levels are required, even in extreme conditions. Solid desiccants dehumidifiers may be best applied in spaces trying to achieve a 50°F or lower dew-point temperature.

2. Energy-Efficient Dehumidification: Unlike refrigerant-based systems, solid desiccant dehumidifiers do not require overcooling of the air, leading to lower energy consumption. Additionally, the moisture removed from the air never wets the wheel surface, so no frosting or freezing will occur.

3. Flexible Applications: Solid Desiccant systems are suitable for a wide range of applications, including hospitals, industrial processes, manufacturing facilities, freezer storage, archival buildings, and much more.

4. Free Energy-Recovery: Solid desiccant systems can recover and reuse the latent heat of adsorption, reducing or eliminating reheat requirements while substantially improving overall energy efficiency and sustainability.


1. Slightly Higher Initial Cost: Solid desiccant dehumidifiers may have a higher upfront cost compared to refrigerant-based systems, although the long-term energy savings can offset this initial investment. A “hybrid-system” approach can make solid desiccants the more affordable option.

2. Maintenance Requirements: Solid desiccant dehumidification systems require very similar maintenance when compared to its traditional refrigerant- based counterpart.   

3. Space Requirements: Some desiccant dehumidifiers may require more space for installation compared to refrigerant-based units, particularly in larger capacity applications.

In conclusion, both refrigerant-based and solid desiccant dehumidification systems have their advantages and limitations. While refrigerant-based systems offer more compact solutions for moderate humidity control, solid desiccant dehumidifiers shine in applications requiring low humidity levels and energy efficiency. For commercial and industries facilities looking to achieve precise humidity control while improving system sustainability and minimizing energy consumption, solid desiccant dehumidification presents a compelling solution. At Innovative Air Technologies, we specialize in designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art solid desiccant dehumidifiers tailored to the unique needs of our customers.

AI Disclaimer for Innovative Air Technologies Blog

At Innovative Air Technologies, we strive to provide informative and engaging content through our blog. It's important to note that while our blogs may involve assistance from artificial intelligence (AI), they are not fully written by AI systems. Our team of experts actively contributes to the creation, curation, and editing of the content to ensure accuracy, relevance, and a human touch.

The integration of AI technology is used to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our content creation process. It assists in generating ideas, optimizing language, and improving overall readability. However, the final output reflects a collaborative effort between our knowledgeable professionals and advanced AI tools.

We value transparency and authenticity in our communication, and this disclaimer is intended to provide clarity regarding the role of AI in our blog creation. If you have any questions or require further clarification, please feel free to reach out to us. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.

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May 06

Comparing refrigerant-based and desiccant dehumidification systems is essential for making informed decisions. This insightful article sheds light on their differences, aiding in choosing the ideal solution for varied humidity control needs. You can visit our website to check more products:

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