A Guide to Dehumidifiers in Japan

Japan, dehumidifier, how to find, Japanese, compressor, desiccant, humidity

I don't know about you, but the last few days in Shizuoka have been on the drier side of things, for Japan at least. Still humid, but hovering around 60% during the day instead of 70-80% or so.

But that aside, we all know the humidity rises during Japan's summer season. And though you might use an air conditioner (either the air conditioning or dehumidifying function) if you have one, a dehumidifier 除湿機 (じょしつき, joshitsuki) can be a useful little machine, either to help take moisture out of the room for whatever reason (or the bathroom, closets, etc.) or to dry clothes, especially if you can't or don't hang your garments outside to dry or the weather is just, drowning your balcony.

If you can't read Japanese, going to the electronics store might be slightly overwhelming when trying to figure out exactly what you want (more so if the salesperson is trying super hard to convince help you pick something out in a mix of English and Japanese). So here's what you should know about these handy machines, including the types, advantages and disadvantages to each, and various important specifications, such as how much space it can effectively dehumidify or the wattage used.

Types of Dehumidifiers

dehumidifier, Japan, Compressor type
Example of a compressor type
dehumidifier. Linked to Amazon.

Compressor type  コンプレッサー方式

Why it's good:
  • Good for the rainy season and summer as it doesn't raise the room temperature much (1-2 degrees Celsius, usually)
  • Cheap to run in comparison to the desiccant type
  • Uses less electricity
Why it's not so good:
  • Loud, because of the compressor
  • Usually bigger, heavier machines, though there are some relatively small ones now
  • Doesn't work well in low temperatures (so not good to use during the winter)
  • Potentially harmful to the environment with the use of refrigerants, although some models say they use refrigerants that don't deplete the ozone layer

Average Cost: 12,000 to 24,000 yen

Desiccant (or Zeolite) デシカント(ゼオライト)方式

dehumidifier, Japanese, Japan, desiccant
Example of a desiccant type
dehumidifier. Linked to Amazon.

Why it's good:
  • Quiet (unless you have it on a high function, as sometimes the fan is a bit loud depending on the model)
  • Usually compact and portable, can move them around the house
  • Doesn't use refrigerants
  • Can work in a range of temperatures, so it's fine all year
Why it's not so good:
  • More expensive to run
  • Tends to heat up the room about 3-8 degrees Celsius
  • Not as eco-friendly as they use a lot more electricity than compressor models, but newer models have so-called "eco modes" that might save a bit

Average Cost: 12,000 to 24,000 yen

Not sure what exactly a compressor or desiccant type dehumidifier is? I had no idea either, but you can find plenty of information about both and how they work, online.

hybrid, dehumidifier, Japan, Japanese
Example of a hybrid model.
Linked to Amazon.

Hybrid type  ハイブリットタイプ (Panasonic only)

Best of both worlds. These also tend to be fairly expensive compared to the compressor or desiccant models individually, at least over 30,000 yen.

It's also possible to get all-in-ones -- dehumidifier plus air purifier (空気清浄) plus humidifier (加湿), or different combinations of two of those.

Specs You Might Want to Look For

There are of course, many different specs, which vary by make and model to some degree, but the following are some of the most important that might affect your decision.

Spec Japanese Breaking it DownNotes
So you know how much electricity it uses.
Tank Size タンク容量 タンクようりょう
If you dry your clothes indoors and are gone all day, you'll want a big enough tank so that it won't stop while you're gone.
Dehumidifying Ability 除湿能力じょしつのうりょく
Usually depends on if the place you live in is made of wood (木造) or concrete (鉄筋), and if it's a Japanese or Western-style room (Japanese rooms have tatami). Generally, dehumidifiers can handle more area space in western rooms in concrete apartment buildings. You'll see the area marked with a number and 畳, i.e. 6畳 means a 6 tatami-sized room.
Time it Takes to Dry Clothes衣類乾燥時間 mmmmmmmmいるいかんそうじかん
Clothes Drying Setting Auto-Stop            自動ストップじどうストップ
jidou sutoppu
Will turn off automatically once it senses the clothes are dry. 
"Spot" dryスポット乾燥 スポットかんそう
supotto kansou
For closets, bathroom, shoe cupboards, and similar small areas. You can aim the fan part to blow in a certain spot.
Internal Mold Filterカビブロック kabi burokkuSelf-explanatory. Some machines can  might have a function to dry out their insides automatically to prevent mold growth.

Hopefully now you're armed with a bit more knowledge to help you choose a dehumidifier, but if you're having trouble, you might consider trying out my new online ordering service.

If you already own a dehumidifier, what type do have, and do you like it?

Not sure how to work the dehumidifier you have or bought? Check out how to use your dehumidifier for what you need to know.

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