The desirability of dehumidification has been known for many thousands of years and the methods employed to that end continue to evolve.
To get a better understanding of the history of dehumidifiers, it is important to understand not only how and where they were used in years past but also important individuals who may have helped bring them into existence as we know them today.
History of Dehumidifiers
The process of dehumidification begins with the evaporation of water vapor from a liquid to a gas, usually by heating it. This is contrary to the process of condensation in which a gas changes directly to a liquid, generally by cooling.
Evaporating water requires energy and so it was not long before humans began the practice of using fire to heat water for dehumidification.
Dehumidifiers have been known as far back as Ancient Greece and Rome, where they were used to protect textiles from mildew during storage.
The first dehumidifier was created by American inventor Wills Carrier in 1902 to dehumidify a Brooklyn printing plant by increasing air circulation which reduced the possibility of rusting of the printing presses.
Today, there are several manufacturers whose products can be found in many hotels and homes throughout the world.
In the 1950s
In the 1950s, the military was actively involved in the development of a cooling technology aimed at reducing air conditioning equipment needed to cool buildings.
This resulted in an absorption chiller which, in turn, is largely responsible for today’s desiccant dehumidification process technology.
The first mechanical dehumidifier was developed by a Dutch company and made its debut at the London Exhibition.
In the 1960s
In the 1960s, dehumidifiers became commercially available to the public and have since become a fixture in a home.
The first compressor-type mechanical refrigeration system using Freon as a coolant was first developed by Stuart Cramer of Charlotte, N.C. The invention won him a $25,000 prize from General Electric in 1953.
A Canadian, John F. Cowell, patented the first desiccant air conditioner and dehumidifier in 1960. The device was used for both purposes until 1962 when relative humidity control became its primary function.
The M100 has formally introduced the world’s most popular dehumidifier. Munters have been established in 1964 and are headquartered in the United States. MCS was founded as a separate business in 1968 and is now located in Fort Myers, Florida USA.
In the 1970s
In the 1970s, dehumidifiers became even more common for household appliances. This led to an increased demand for dehumidifiers in a home and a business alike, as these devices use up less electricity than air conditioning units.
Also in the 1970s, a low-temperature absorption chiller was developed by General Electric that was far less costly to operate than mechanical chillers.
General Electric first introduced its desiccant dehumidification product for use in residential air conditioning and dehumidification applications in 1979.
In the 1980s
In the 1980s, using a dehumidifier in food processing and packaging operations became commonplace.
In 1987, GE introduced its high-capacity desiccant dehumidifier designed for extreme applications such as data processing centers and manufacturing plants.
Also in the 1980s, a microprocessor was used to control relative humidity levels and dust mites inside a building and a home using a rudimentary vacuum pump.
The first practical vapor compression refrigeration system using Freon as a coolant was first developed by Stuart Cramer of Charlotte, N.C.
In the 1990s
In the 1990s, the introduction of new technologies and reduced prices for certain dehumidifier models helped expand the use of basements, crawl spaces, garages, boats, and recreational vehicles.
In 1991, the EPA reported that the average home in the U.S. had 20 dehumidifiers (not including refrigerant dehumidifiers) and many homes used more than one dehumidifier.
In 1996, GE introduced its QuietCool line of desiccant dehumidification air conditioners and heat pumps. The QuietCool line features variable-speed compressor technology that provides precise, quiet climate control and maximum energy savings.
In the 2000s, dehumidifiers are more efficient than ever. Compact dehumidifiers that can be easily wheeled from one room to another are popular.
Also in the 2000s, EPA studies showed that run time for dehumidification is reduced by using an air conditioner because of the associated increase in indoor humidity.
Newair became one of the first companies to use evaporative cooling in its product. The company began selling desiccant dehumidifiers using R-410A refrigerant in 2002. Newair was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Corona, CA.
Residential dehumidifiers were introduced equipped with remote controls, increasing the accessibility and convenience of dehumidifiers for consumers.
In the same year, Danby introduced its Danby Designer Series with three dehumidifier models that combine fashion and function in one sleek unit with a cotton-textured cabinet.
The first residential dehumidifier using R-134a refrigerant was introduced in 2004. The GE introduced its QuietComfort line of dehumidifiers with a compressor-based refrigeration system.
Also in 2004, Guangdong Sworst Industry Co., Ltd became China’s first manufacturer of commercial dehumidifiers. This also marked the start of Westpointe Technologies’ entry into the Chinese market.
In 2005, portable dehumidifiers became the fastest-growing type of residential dehumidifier.
Also in 2005, General Electric rebranded its desiccant dehumidification product under the GE brand and released its new models in a line of dehumidifier products called ENERGY STAR Qualified All-Purpose Dehumidifiers.
Daikin Company Limited introduced in 2005 its ultra-low temperature dehumidification system that used high-efficiency refrigeration technology to reduce the moisture from the air and the relative humidity of industrial processes and living spaces.
In 2006, GE launched two new air conditioner and dehumidifier product lines designed for residential use, the GE Smart Choice and GE Energy Smart.
In the same year, Westpointe Technologies introduced a new series of residential ducted dehumidifiers that were an alternative to window-mounted units. This marked the launch of Westpointe’s “multisystem” product line, which brought together multiple indoor air quality products in one unit.
In 2007, Danby introduced its first top-loading dehumidifier. This was the first design change for 30 years for Danby as a manufacturer of dehumidifiers.
Westpointe introduced the first ductless mini-split air conditioner and heat pump system specifically designed for residential use. The new product line included an 18-inch super quiet lightweight wall-mounted mini split indoor unit that was compact enough to be installed in tight spaces.
Fedders introduced in 2008 its high-capacity desiccant dehumidifier designed for extreme applications such as data centers. This product was the first to use Fedders’ patented “dual-dehumidification” technology that enabled the unit to operate at both room temperature and below freezing temperatures.
Energy Star gave its approval to 99% of all residential dehumidifiers sold in the U.S. Also in 2008, many manufacturers began adding “built-in” models to their product lines that are designed to be built into walls or cabinetry.
In 2009, Westpointe Technologies introduced its Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) and Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). During the same year, GE began offering portable dehumidifiers with R-410A refrigerant.
GE launched its line of ENERGY STAR Qualified All-in-One Dehumidifiers with electronic controls in 2009. It also has its highest capacity dehumidifier due to market size that is designed to remove up to 60 pints of water from the air per day using a dual-stage compressor.
The Consortium for Energy Efficiency merged with Appliance Standards Awareness Project and introduced new testing standards designed to simplify consumer comparisons of a room air conditioner and a dehumidifier.
A low-temperature cooling/dehumidification system that used ammonia as the refrigerant was introduced by Panasonic Industry Co., Ltd in the year 2011.
Haier Company Limited became China’s first manufacturer of dehumidifiers and air conditioners. Also in 2012, Carrier Corporation introduced the Comfort Zone dehumidifier, which was the first model to receive ENERGY STAR Certification in both cooling and dehumidification modes.
Gree Electric Appliances Incorporated introduced its smallest ductless split-type heat pump dehumidifier with a capacity of 12,000 BTUs/h.
Another Japanese company, Panasonic Corporation introduced in 2014 its first consumer dehumidifiers that used an inverter and R410A refrigerant.
The history of dehumidification is very interesting. It now has come a long way since people were using the evaporation method of dehumidification to keep their homes and other buildings dry during the summer months.
Dehumidifiers have evolved from large units that had to be wheeled about, to smaller and more efficient ones that are easy to move from room to room in your house.
History of Munters (in Dehumidification)
Since 1955, Munters has been a leader in temperature control. Carl Munters filed over 1,500 patent applications throughout his life, nearly all of which pertained to dehumidification and evaporative cooling.
Munters has been dehumidifying since the late 1960s in Europe, but it also acquired two smaller firms in the United States as part of its expansion. One of these was situated in Minneapolis, Minnesota (MN), and began offering dehumidifiers for commercial applications.
The name of both companies was Munters-Minnesota. However, Munters-Minnesota became an important part of the dehumidification business in North America and was also known as M-I or Munters-International.
Around 1990, Munters took over its competitor Alnor. Since then, both companies have been operating under the same name – Alnor Dehumidifiers.
When the two companies merged in 1990, they agreed upon a unique pricing policy where they would maintain Alnor’s existing prices for three years. From that moment on, both Munters-Minnesota and Alnor sold dehumidifiers under the Munters name.
However, it wasn’t until 1999 that all activities were moved to Florida, USA and since then all Alnor dehumidifiers have been produced at the Munters plant in Naples.
In 1997, Alnor had about 100 employees and sales of $50 million. After the merger with Munters-Minnesota, the number of employees rose to 300 and sales were about $100 million.
Today, it’s hard to find and understand why the companies did not merge completely at some point, but maybe it had something to do with a different culture between Europe and the USA.
The company has always been active in developing its technology for dehumidification, which is evident from its existence.
History of Dehumidifiers FAQ
Do Dehumidifiers Have a Lifespan?
Yes. In general, a dehumidifier can last from 3-5 years. Replacing clogged air filters or other components could potentially extend the lifespan of a given machine.
Are Old Dehumidifiers Still Good?
This would depend on the age and type of dehumidifier, as well as how it was treated. For example, you might still be able to use older dehumidifiers that were not damaged and were taken care of.
Is the Water Collected by My Dehumidifier Is Useful for Anything?
It’s useful for many things, but you can’t drink it and you can’t use it to heal wound like saline water. Its water is from the air and not from the local water supply.
You can use it to water your plants, clean surfaces, or in-car cleaning.
The history of dehumidifiers is quite an interesting one. It has gone through various changes and improvements over the years.
From large units that had to be wheeled about, to smaller and more efficient ones that are easy to move from room to room in a house.
Nowadays, dehumidifiers are more advanced than ever before and can be found virtually anywhere people want to keep their homes and offices dry.