Originally, we hadn't thought of purchasing a dehumidifier for our condo here, figuring we'd just use the air-conditioning when the humidity became too oppressive. We'd never needed a dehumidifier in other places we lived and just hadn't given the possibility any thought. But a very smart neighbor who had been living in San Pedro for a couple of years recommended we bring one, so we took note. After some research, Barry realized that we wouldn't be able to keep the A/C cycling on frequently enough to get the humidity to a reasonable level without living in a very frigid condo -- and busting our budget in the process, since electricity (called "current" here) is a lot pricier than back in North Carolina. Since we don't even like overly air-conditioned spaces and didn't want to live in the cold even if the budget allowed, a portable dehumidifier started looking like a very smart option.
When doing our research, the main negatives of using a dehumidifier mentioned by reviewers were the heat and noise the unit generates in use. We figured the noise wouldn't bother us too much, as we've always preferred to sleep with a white-noise machine rather than hear the various things that go bump in the night, including our first Boston Terrier, Pepper, who snored like a truck driver due to her little squashed face, bless her heart. Paisley has more of a snout and is much quieter, but the white-noise habit has persisted. We always turn on the A/C or fan when we stay in hotels to keep the noise from the hall and surrounding rooms down as well.
As for excess heat put off by the unit, that could certainly be a problem since Belize isn't really known for cold temperatures (!!), but we figured we'd give it a try and could certainly switch to air conditioning when it was unbearable. And we didn't plan to use the dehumidifier during the heat of the day anyway, only in the evenings. Since we live oceanfront where there is typically a nice breeze, we prefer to open our windows and let the sea breeze blow through all day long, then close up at night for security reasons. This would be a perfect time to suck the water out of the air and dry the place out. So, it was decided; we'd give a dehumidifier a try.
We determined that a 50-pint unit would be appropriate for our approximately 1000 square foot condo and purchased a portable Energy Star-certified Frigidaire model for $200 in North Carolina last summer. We kept it in the original box and included it in our shipment (on a pallet) to Belize. We figured that wasn't a huge amount to spend if it would keep our clothes, wood, and other items from molding, and keep us feeling a bit drier and more comfortable in our island home.
The unit includes a built-in collection bin for water, or you can attach a hose and run it to any drain. It has wheels for easily moving it around on the tile floor. We have a floor drain in our shower and another in our bathroom, but neither had an electrical outlet close without running the cord in front of the sinks; not very convenient. And having the unit in the bathroom would not have been a good location for it anyway as it needs to be centrally located. Alternatively, we could have put it on the kitchen counter and let it drain into the sink, but it's a fairly heavy unit to lift up and down twice a day, and Barry's back didn't need the extra strain.
So, we chose to put it in the middle of the great room each night, then wheel it over to the wall, out of the way, during the day. And for months, we used only the built-in collection bin and didn't attach a hose. This worked okay; but the bin would often fill up before we were ready to get up in the morning and wake us up with an annoying series of five beeps to alert us of the full bucket. Barry got really tired of this.
Finally, his "MacGyver" side came out, as it always does, given long enough. He'd found a five-gallon utility bucket that washed up in the sea (very well seasoned!) and cut a hole in it. He then cut a short length of hose and attached it to the dehumidifier unit, then through the hole into the bucket, to hold it in place. This worked much better, and we weren't awakened by the annoying alarm beeps, which could not be deactivated.
But it still wasn't perfect. There was a "drip drip drip" sound as the unit ran and water dripped from the hose into the bucket. We could just hear the dripping from our bedroom, and it was annoying. "MacGyver" came to the rescue once again. A plastic ruler inside the bucket allowed the water to run down into the bucket without dripping. Brilliant, right?!
As for the noise issue, that is just as we thought, not a problem at all. The white noise helps to drown out any other noise coming from the condo units around us. The unit does put out some heat and raises the temperature in the great room a degree or two, but our bedroom stays pleasant with just a ceiling fan for now, especially since the humidity gradually falls through the night as we sleep, offsetting any small increase in temperature. As you often hear, "It's not the heat; it's the humidity" (that makes a person feel miserable), and we've found that to be true. Thanks to our dehumidifier, we have not had to use the air-conditioning since October. Then again, we are more heat-tolerant than folks from cooler areas in the US or from Canada. And living here since August has only served to increase this heat tolerance. Typically, the dehumidifier drops the humidity in our condo from the 70-79% range to 50-55%, depending on how we set it. This makes a huge difference in our comfort level as well and also prevents mold.
The only thing we may need to work on is finding a more attractive bucket, since it tends to sit around our condo during the day -- and it definitely doesn't add to the ambiance! Other than that, we're very happy with our decision to buy a dehumidifier and ship it down. It really has been worth every penny we spent.