Get an alert when the dehumidifier needs to empty

The word “moist” immediately triggers a strong aversion. Its slithering sound, disgusting connotation, and unhygienic nature grosses out the listener. Moist environments form thriving conditions for mold growth and bug infestation. As such, make sure you don’t have a high humidity habitat for bugs and bacteria. 

Dehumidifiers eliminate moisture and odor from muggy places. You probably have at least one dehumidifier in the basement, bathroom, bedroom, or crawlspace. In the wet seasons, especially dehumidifiers help you maintain the ideal air quality, bringing the relative humidity down to a range of 45-55%. 

However, if you don’t have the plumbing skills or perfectly pre-configured drainage, you cannot set up an auto-drain. When manually draining, as soon as the dehumidifier tank fills up, the moisture and all problems related to high humidity creep back up. That takes you back to square one with a damp dwelling for mold to mature.

Setup steps

Now imagine if your dehumidifier, tucked far away in a remote corner of your home could send you an email and a mobile notification when the humidity was on the rise. That’s exactly what we were able to do with this simple and practical project. 

You can set this up too. All you need is a free Zentser app, some really cheap hardware (ESP8266 and DHT22), and a little time to put everything together.

The steps are well described already. There’s a detailed blog article with clear instructions: Setup Sensors with Arduino to Send Mobile and Email Alerts

The only thing you have to change is at the end of Step 1. Browse and use the following file for your code: File > Examples > Zentser ESP SDK > 002-DHT-Humidity-Arduino

Then follow the remaining steps to configure the certificates and IDs on your Zentser powered device.

Configuring Dehumidifier and Zentser Monitoring

Once the technical device reports to the Zentser app, it’s time to adjust that sweet spot for your home. 

Set up your dehumidifier to a comfortable level. Mine is set to 50% relative humidity. That means it kicks off at around 55% humidity in the environment and brings the humidity down to 50%. 

To err on the side of minimizing alerts, I’ve set Zentser notifications to trigger when the measured humidity goes above 60%. That minimized extra sensitive readings, especially during heavy rains. 

This way my phone buzzed with email and mobile notifications every ten minutes while the humidity was above 60%. That gave me a near exact time for when to empty the dehumidifier. Going through the app’s historical graphs, I can safely say that my basement humidity never exceeded 62%.

Interesting findings

Periodically, I got false alarms from a washing machine. Turns out a wash cycle rapidly increases the humidity. 

With a functioning dehumidifier, this humidity spike went below 60% within a few minutes. As Zentser notification let me know that humidity normalized, I never really wasted a trip to the basement. As a bonus, I am now much more aware of how much laundry we do as a household.

You may also find some unexpected humidity spikes. The causes for you may differ. It could be your basement appliances, unexpected leaks, extra sweaty concrete slabs, poor ventilation, or something else entirely. But at least you will know there is a problem to diagnose it.  

In Conclusion

This straightforward setup streamlined my routine to empty the dehumidifier, improved the air quality in my basement, and mitigated mold growth. That’s just with a simple humidity sensor. 

Just imagine the possibilities of streamlined automation with sensors that detect smells, proximity, light, soil moisture, and more. It’s an exciting frontier that remains untapped. The possibilities of sensors to improve our quality of life and help us with our work routines are limitless. 

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