Does Air Conditioning Remove Humidity? And How Much?

Excess moisture in your home can lead to health problems and encourage mold growth. So, does your air conditioner remove humidity from the air? 

An air conditioner doesn’t just eliminate the warmth. It takes away moisture from the air.

Refrigerant, the cooling agent in your AC, absorbs humidity and allows excess condensation to drain out. However, it can only remove a limited amount.

Ideally, the humidity in your air should fall between 30 and 50% for optimal health and comfort.

If the air in your home feels dry or too humid, read on below to find more about how much humidity is removed from air conditioning.

Does Air Conditioning Remove Humidity?

Your air conditioning works by allowing air to travel through the vents and to an evaporation coil.

The coil utilizes refrigerant, the agent responsible for absorbing warmth and moisture.

Refrigerant alternates between liquid and gas forms to allow cold air to enter your home after removing heat and humidity. 

How Much Humidity Does an Air Conditioner Remove?

Though air conditioners extract moisture from the air, they don’t remove all of it.

People often think their air conditioner is the same as a dehumidifier.

While they operate in similar ways, air conditioners aren’t as efficient as dehumidifiers when it comes to removing humidity from your home.

The type of air conditioning you have, its size, and how clean the evaporation coil is all impact how well your air conditioner removes humidity.

The amount of humidity your AC removes will depend on how long you leave it running. 

If your home has relatively low humidity levels, your AC will remove it.

If you tend to have higher humidity levels in the air, however, even running your AC for a long time may not be enough.

Consider that the better you maintain your AC, the better it will be at removing humidity. 

Should I Purchase a Dehumidifier If I Have an AC?

If you’re worried about health effects from excess humidity, it’s best to purchase a dehumidifier even if you have an AC.

Because your AC’s dehumidifying effects are limited, the moisture will still pose a threat when you’re dealing with high levels. 

Types of Humidity

Understanding humidity is key to learning about its effects.

Humidity is water in its gas form, which we call vapor. There are two types of humidity: absolute and relative. 

Absolute Humidity

Regardless of whether the air is cold or warm, it will contain some level of water vapor or humidity.

Absolute humidity refers to the total content of water vapor in the air. 

Relative Humidity

Relative humidity measures the percentage of water vapor the air contains at any given time (as opposed to how much it is capable of holding at that temperature). 

Effects of High Humidity

So what happens when you have excess humidity? There are a few issues it can cause, including the following:

  • Damage to paint, walls, and furniture
  • Condensation on windows
  • Musty odors
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Asthma and allergies

In addition to being a health hazard, excess moisture in the air is very uncomfortable. Buying a dehumidifier is thus a practical solution. 

Humidifier Types

You can choose from either a refrigerating dehumidifier or an absorption (compressor) type. Each of these works in distinct ways. 

Refrigeration Dehumidifiers

Refrigeration dehumidifiers work similarly to your AC but on a larger scale.

They contain a coil that absorbs air and removes its moisture before blowing it back into the room.

Essentially, a dehumidifier takes the water vapor and turns it back into liquid, and travels through the pipes. 

The difference between a dehumidifier and an AC is that the air a dehumidifier releases the air back into your room while an AC exhausts the hot air outside.

Absorption Dehumidifiers

Absorption dehumidifiers work a little differently. Instead of using refrigeration as an AC unit does, it absorbs water from the air using unique materials and soaks it up.

These absorption humidifiers thus act more like mops or sponges, whereas refrigeration humidifiers are more like vacuums. 

What Should I Do When My AC Can’t Keep Up With the Outside Humidity?

Unfortunately, you can’t control the weather.

If you find that your humidity is unchanged by your AC alone, chances are it isn’t your AC’s fault.

Most AC systems can’t handle extreme temperatures or humidity levels, so you’ll have to find other ways to cope with a heatwave. 

Some things you can do are:

  • Set the thermostat to a higher temperature
  • Use appliances such as dishwashers after the temperature outside starts going down
  • If needed, trim vegetation and shrubs around your home
  • Cook outdoors on a grill instead of indoors on a stove
  • Keep your indoors shaded with curtains or blinds
  • Switch out your air filter

If your humidity levels are severe, it’s time to consider a dehumidifier.

Do some research on different kinds before investing. Make sure not to neglect maintenance for your AC as well. 

Final Thoughts

Air conditioners remove humidity from the air, but only so much.

Because excess moisture can be just as harmful as low humidity, it’s crucial to understand what your options are. 

AC systems can be enough when you have a mild humidity issue, but extreme cases may warrant extra attention and the help of a dehumidifier. 

You can also find out what the right amount of humidity should be in your home with air conditioning with our in-depth guide.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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