The best dehumidifiers to keep your model railway safe (and keeping your trains run smoothly)

If your man cave is in a shed or log cabin in your garden or spare room and you have humidity problems, your railways and models are at risk. After a bit of testing, I’m now using a dehumidifier and it’s made a huge difference.

Why humidity is a problem for model railways, trains and models

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. When the humidity is high, the air is holding a lot of water vapor. This can be a problem for model trains because the materials that make up the trains, such as wood for the baseboards, can absorb moisture.

It can be problematic for smooth running too. If the humidity is high, condensation, can build up on the rails and even inside the motors of locomotives and cause all manner of electrical problems.

In addition to damaging the trains and track, high humidity can also create a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can grow on the trains, track, and scenery, and this can make them unsightly and unhealthy. It can also damage the paintwork and scenery.

For all these reasons, I keep a close eye on the humidity in my man cave. Typically, I try to keep it at around 50-60 percent. Any more than this and there’s too much moisture in the atmosphere and problems creep in.

Humidity sensor showing 71% humidity and a temperature of 24 degrees celcius

71% Humidity in my man-cave where I keep my railway. It’s way too high, even next to a model river 🙂

Being a bit of a geek, I measure things including humidity, and know that in my little corner of Great Britain, Surrey for those interested, the humidity does creep above this. In the spring, summer, and autumn, the higher temperatures lead to more evaporation of water, so there’s more moisture in the air and hence higher humidity.

On average it’s usually around 60 percent but with climate change, which seems to be bringing more rain to England during the summer periods interspaced with excessive hot periods, the humidity has been reaching 65+ percent. Several times recently, it’s even got to 70% percent. That’s above the safety zone for my modeling.

How to protect from high humidity

A little research showed that the most common solution to tackling humidity is to open windows. While I can do that when I’m in my shed man cave, it’s not something I can do when not around, E.G. at night or a lot of the working week. I have a spare room too but again, I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving it open and unattended for security reasons.

The best dehumidifier

Instead, I looked into dehumidifiers.

Dehumidifier for model railways

The humidifier bringing humidity levels down to something healthier for my layouts and models.

For my layouts, both in the shed and indoors and after a few false starts,  I now use this Dehumidifier. It’s compact but is meaty enough to handle an area up to 500 Sq.ft, that’s more than enough for most layouts. It also works best at between 15°C~40°C – which is the typical range for the UK and in particular England where I’m based.

I particularly like the three operating modes. It has a strong mode when it’s working at full pelt and which I use if notice humidity is excessive highly, often in the warmer summer months when I am in Surrey with lots of greenery, rivers and lakes around but most of the time, I leave it in Auto-mode where it monitors the environments and kicks in to keep the room at 50 relative humidity – which is helpfully what’s needed for a layout. There’s also a sleep mode

It also has an auto shutdown when it’s 78oz tank fills up. The thought of water overflowing around my tools or even layout isn’t something I want to consider so this is something I particularly looked for.

The controls take some getting used to, the buttons at the top of the unit seem very temperamental as to when they work and when they don’t but I’ve got on top of it now.


Since using this dehumidifier measurements have shown a marked drop in humidity where my layouts and model work is done. That shouldn’t be a surprise.

But what I didn’t expect was how much of a difference it’s made to the model railway and model painting. Maybe it’s my imagination but the track doesn’t seem to get as dirty (although that may be the graphite pencil I’m also now using). But equally important is that the paint on my models is going on better and drying faster.

Overall, it’s a solid little performer that’s improved the environment my layouts and model-making take place in and produces tangible results I can see and feel.

Buy now.

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