The Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 is the best all-around package we found in a home dehumidifier. It brought a basement measuring 850 square feet (plus some crawlspace) from 70 percent humidity down to 45 percent humidity after one overnight session on its medium fan setting; on its low setting, it steadily held the air between 50 and 55 percent humidity. Experts consider this range to be ideal for indoor humidity—more on why in How to use and maintain a dehumidifier—but all our picks share that ability.
The thing that set the Frigidaire apart was its interface, which was the easiest to understand and use among all the dehumidifiers we tried. It was the quietest machine we tested, too, with the most manageable reservoir, and it was easy to move around with its handle and wheels—welcome graces no other model in the test group offered. It’s also easier to find in stock, with more reliable customer support, than models from some of the lesser-known brands.
Compared with the other models in our test group, the Frigidaire FFAD7033R1 made setting up the unit and knowing what it is doing the simplest by far. It has a power button, a fan-speed button to toggle through three speeds, two buttons to raise or lower the humidity level or set a timer, and a button to tell the unit that, yes, you have cleaned the air filter. If the bucket is full or inserted improperly, a clear LED strip on the front of the unit blinks. That’s it, and that’s all most people need. Other dehumidifiers have smaller buttons arrayed in a tight cluster, lights that indicate things you don’t need to know about (“auto defrost”), and options that don’t make sense until you read the manual. With the Frigidaire, we were always certain what was going on, and we were never concerned that we were putting the machine on the wrong setting unknowingly.
The dehumidifiers we tested generated between 51 and 60 decibels on all their fan settings, with and without their condenser coils active, a level of noise just below the typical “human conversation” in loudness. That might seem okay on paper, but we found that different dehumidifiers, running in the same spot in our basement, were more noticeable while we were trying to read, watch TV, or quietly make dinner on our test home’s first floor. The Frigidaire ran within the quietest range, 51.2 to 52.1 decibels, when we measured it from 6 feet away on its lowest fan setting, and it operated at about 55 and 58 decibels, respectively, on the medium and high fan settings. More important, the Frigidaire did not rattle, hum, whine, or create other sounds that made that “conversation”-level noise more noticeable, like the cyclical whine of our Honeywell unit, or the rattle we could never quite fix on our Keystone.
Draining your unit automatically through a hose is far, far easier than manually emptying a reservoir, because a house can create 6 to 16 pints of moisture per day, and a damp basement, up to 100 pints (PDF). Some people may not have the option of a drain, however, especially in apartments or if the unit is in a central closet. The bucket on the Frigidaire was the easiest to pull out, pick up (by its handle), empty into a sink, and then replace. Other dehumidifiers required more little shifts and pushes to reinsert the bucket smoothly into the unit. The circular water-level indicator on the Frigidaire can also be easier to read than the small vertical notches on other models, assuming you have some light (more on that in Flaws but not dealbreakers).
The Frigidaire alerts you and turns on a red light when it’s time to clean out the metal-mesh air filter. As with most other dehumidifiers, for the Frigidaire, air-filter cleaning is simple (just run some water over it in a sink) and less of a dire need than with most appliances. The Frigidaire’s filter could be easier to remove and reinstall, but it’s only 10 seconds of extra effort.
If you have to move the dehumidifier around to find its optimum spot, the handle on the Frigidaire is thick and sturdy, and the appliance rolls smoothly on its wheels. It has a handy cord-wrapping feature, too, minimizing mess if you have to store it for part of the year. The Frigidaire also looks more modern and inviting to use than any other dehumidifier we’ve seen; it’s the EVE to a lot of WALL-Es. If you keep your dehumidifier running in a dark basement that you don’t show people, this is a very minor point, but if you need to empty the bucket every day, or if it’s visible in a bathroom, the design might matter a bit more to you.
The older version of this dehumidifier (with the same internals) is Consumer Reports’s top-rated 70-pint dehumidifier, with a Recommended stamp and an overall rating of 83. Consumer Reports testers gave the Frigidaire a rating of Excellent in water removal and energy efficiency, a Very Good in noise, and a Good in humidistat (humidity reading) accuracy, but only a Fair in cool-room performance, a metric that measured water removal and energy usage when the temperature was at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. For most people, the time of winter when any room is at 50 degrees is a fairly dry one. Note, too, that in this regard no large-capacity dehumidifier received any better than a Good (one step above Fair) in the Consumer Reports ratings.
At about $230 as of this writing, the FFAD7033R1 is $10 to $40 more than most other 70-pint-capacity dehumidifiers. Given that it offers a better noise profile, a simple and visitor-friendly interface, and a brand that’s easy to find and reach for warranty or troubleshooting needs, we think it’s worth the relatively small price bump. If you have an enclosed space less than 650 square feet to keep dry, you can buy the 50-pint model and save $40 to $50. Or you could buy an older 50- or 70-pint version, the FAD704DWD, with the same internals, but then you must run its serial number to ensure that it isn’t on the recall list.