Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Fine Replacement That Works As It Should; Whirlpool Sets To Dehumidifying In The Cold!

The Good: Energy efficient, Very quiet, Easy to use, Intuitive controls
The Bad: Less precise than my prior model, Bucket never quite fills
The Basics: Despite an annoying lack of controls that are informative, precise or even explicit, the Gold 50 dehumidifies with decent energy efficiency even in very cold environments.

One of the things that amused me some as a reviewer who primarily takes on media and the arts is that when checking out my public profile on the old site I used to write for, it notes that one of my most popular reviews was one I did years ago for my trusty Maytag dehumidifier. I suppose the only thing that amuses me more than the fact that that is one of my highest rated reviews is that it apparently inspired someone from Maytag (or BPA Air Quality Solutions) to form an account simply to try to make their product look better (bravo, by the way; if you're marketing a product for home use, don't turn around after people have bought it and tell them they need an industrial one!) or to sell me on a different one. Regardless, a few years back, I had a fire and when the courageous firefighters extinguished the blaze using many, many gallons of water, said water seeped into my basement, flooding the dehumidifier and shorting my baby Maytag out. This sent me back into the marketplace for a new dehumidifier as that style was no longer available.

So I purchased the Whirlpool Gold 50 Pint Ultra Low Temp Dehumidifier. I picked mine up at Lowe's for $148.99 and the model number (AD50US) may or may not be the Lowe's branding for the same product that is nationally available elsewhere. After two years with my little droid, er, dehumidifier, I finally am prepared to write about it.

The Whirlpool Gold 50 is a discrete dehumidifier that fits quite nicely into my crawlspace and allows me to keep the basement and empty area beneath my livingroom dehumidified. This is nice because it makes me believe that the wooden crossbeams holding up the floor in my living room and the rest of the house might not rot and collapse the entire house. This is a good thing. The crawlspace is an empty area approximately thirty feet wide by thirty feet long by three feet high. The Gold 50 sits in this area fine as it measures thirteen inches wide by fifteen inches deep (at the base, its widest point; it tapers at the top for the fan and control panel) by 24 inches tall.

The Gold 50 was sold to me on two key points: it was Energy Star rated and it was designed for use in cold temperatures. It gets very cold under the floor, so this seemed like a good fit for me. I'm very energy conscious and saving money is a good thing because no matter what anyone tries to tell you, a dehumidifier (like an air conditioner) is always going to have an effect on your electric bill. They are energy intensive devices and the Gold 50 is no exception.

On these two key points, I am overwhelmingly satisfied. The Gold 50 does seem remarkably energy efficient. In decent conditions (summer and autumn), the dehumidifier runs approximately six hours a day (or night) and seems to have an operating cost around $15.00 a month. The last year, I logged my energy usage and the dehumidifier was perhaps the greatest variable, but when it runs for about six hours a day in conditions that are not terribly taxing, the Gold 50 uses about $15.00 worth of energy and keeps the crawlspace dehumidified with a dryness almost bone dry (more on my lack of specificity in a moment).

In winter and spring, the Gold 50 is taxed quite a bit more. Sure, it works in ultra cold temperatures (down around zero, it was still going and still adequately dehumidifying the crawlspace!), but that comes with a price. And in spring when the ice is melting outside and humidity rises, the Gold 50 works overtime (at least twelve hours some days) to keep the humidity level constant and controlled. This caused the electric bill to hike some and my estimates put the Gold 50 using up to $30 of electricity under the most difficult conditions the machine faced. For the security of having my house not mold, I decided the cost was well worth it.

Either way, the Gold 50 did what it promised; it dehumidified in very low temperatures and it had energy saving capabilities that seem to be above the curve for the industry. More than that, the Gold 50 is very easy to use. I read the owners manual, but I did that after I was all connected and had the Gold 50 up and running. The control panel is well-engineered as it is completely intuitive; anyone can operate this dehumidifier. You simply plug it in, make sure the water-collecting bucket is in, and you turn the power on by hitting the "Power" button. Humidity control is easy to adjust from controls that allow the user to control the environment along a five-point scale from "Moist" to "Dry."

Therein lies my first real beef with the Gold 50. I was spoiled, I suppose, on my first dehumidifier, which had controls with two very nice readouts. I was able to control the humidity and program exactly what percentage of humidity I wanted and the other read-out had a reading of exactly what the humidity in the crawlspace was. With the Gold 50 there is nothing so precise. I suppose it is dehumidifying enough, but I do not have the precise amounts of humidity the settings allow or work toward. As it is, the most dry setting causes the Gold 50 to run almost continuously and the most moist setting leaves the air heavy and . . . you guessed it, moist.

The Gold 50 came in white only when I bought it. I would have preferred the options of either my usual black or stainless steel, but because it was being tucked away where no one in the world would see it, it honestly was not a big deal to me. No, my dehumidifier is not much of a status symbol for me.

The final (legitimate and real) gripe I have about the Gold 50 is that the bucket never gets really full. Before anyone bothers to comment with the idea that there's a way to adjust the amount of water retained in the bucket by adjusting the "bobber" let me tell you, I've already tried that, done that, no significant change. At best, the bucket gets about three quarters full so while it might have 50 pint capacity, it only gets about 38 pints full before I have to empty the bucket. Why is this a problem? Those extra pints represent about two days worth of water when the dehumidifier is running regularly. That's the difference between having to empty it every five days and only once a week. This is an issue as the dehumidifier is in a crawlspace and a pain in the butt to get to.

And yes, there is a wonderful extension that would allow me to hook a hose up to the Gold 50 so I never have to empty it. Alas, as many people who dehumidify basements will note; there's nowhere lower for the water to go, thus making this convenience feature less of a feature for me.

All in all, though, this is a quality device. After two years, it shows no signs of slowing down or kicking out on me, which is nice. If it has an air filter, I've never found it nor had to change it to alter the efficiency with which the Gold 50 operates. Instead, this has been a decent dehumidifier and I look forward to keeping it around to see how long it lasts.

For other Whirlpool product reviews, please check out my takes on:
Whirlpool WED9400S Electric Clothes Dryer
Whirlpool WFW9400S Washer
Whirlpool WGD5200 Gas Dryer


For other home and garden product reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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