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dryer buying guide: how to buy a dryer to fit your needs
Though washers seem to steal the show when it comes to laundry, dryers fulfill an important role as few of us enjoy trudging around in wet clothing. The best washer in the world can’t live up to its promise of time-saving and convenience if every load required a trip outside to the clothes line.
Dryers come in a variety of styles and colors and offer many options for capacity and installation. In the last few years, many innovative enhancements and features have been added for convenience. Our dryer buying guide will point out key features that can help influence your purchasing decision and fit your needs.
To begin, use the following questions to help navigate through the key components of buying a dryer. Find in-depth information on the topics listed below by simply clicking on any of the following links:
- What performs better – gas dryer or electric dryer?
- How much capacity do I need in a clothes dryer?
- How do dryers vary in size?
- What installation considerations should be made when comparing dryers?
- What design & color options are available?
- How does steam affect drying performance?
- What are some new and unique features available on today’s dryers?
- What is a drying cabinet and how does it work?
- How can I further protect my investment?
A commonly asked question is: what’s better – gas dryers or electric dryers? To best understand the answer, it’s good to know a little about the basic drying process. Drying is made of four components: heat, airflow, tumbling, and time. Based on average installation settings, gas fuel and electric power (220 volt) can attain matching heat levels. All other factors being constant, there is no difference in performance between gas and electric.
Regarding cost differences, gas dryers cost $50-$70 more than their electric counterparts. Though fuel costs vary by region, it costs approximately $25 less per year to run a gas dryer versus an electric dryer, based on national averages.
The cost of conversion (from gas to electric or vice versa) can be expensive. Hiring a licensed plumber or electrician for conversion could cost up to $500 or more, depending on the layout of your home and the work required. For this reason, most consumers who are purchasing replacement dryers choose the fuel type based on their existing facilities. return to top
Dryer capacities range from 5.8 cu. ft. to 7.3 cu. ft. large. As a rule of thumb, a dryer should have twice the capacity (non IEC.) of its corresponding washer. The average capacity of a wash tub is between 2.5 cu. ft. and 3.5 cu. ft. large.
In any case, purchasing a matching washer and dryer pair ensures that the dryer will be large enough to accommodate the washer’s maximum load size. In a single dryer purchase, one should consider having proper capacity to accommodate the existing washer, as well as any future washer, if the existing one will soon be replaced.
Another factor to consider is space restrictions. Bigger dryer capacity means deeper dryer. 6 cu. ft. dryers are generally 25″-26″ deep, while 7 cu. ft. models range from 29″-32″ inches deep. If the dryer is installed near a walkway or in a closet, depth will influence the buying decision. A 3″-5″ clearance between the back of dryer and wall is recommended for venting materials. return to top
Standard dryers are 27″ wide and 36″ high (excluding rear control board). 6 cu. ft. dryers are generally 25″-26″ deep, while 7 cu. ft. models range from 29″-32″ deep. A small number of dryers have a 29″ width.
Compact dryers are available in limited selection. On average, a compact dryer is 34″ high, 24″ wide, and 24″-27″ deep. Compact dryers are electric only, no gas options are available. They can be ordered as vented or non-vented and are usually stack-able. return to top
Length of Duct Run
Standard dryers require an exhaust vent to release heat and moisture to the outside of the house. For optimal performance, ductwork from the dryer to the house exterior should be kept under 60 feet with minimal elbows (turns). If the duct run is too long or has too many turns, the dryer cannot properly exhaust, affecting drying times and performance.
Standard Vented Dryers
Most dryers vent from the rear (centered on bottom). Some dryers can be vented from the side or bottom. To achieve this, a knock out is made on the side or bottom and the rear vent is sealed. Side venting is useful in closets or other areas where space is restricted. It could also enhance drying performance by potentially eliminating elbows and shortening duct runs. Not all dryers can be side or bottom vented, so it’s best to check prior to purchase.
Non-Vented /Condensation Dryers
In some cases, venting to the outside is impossible (ex: condominiums, apartments and townhomes). For these settings, a condensation dryer may be appropriate. Condensation dryers do not require exterior venting. Heat and moisture are routed into a chamber, condensed into water, and deposited into a container which must be routinely drained. Overall, standard dryers are preferred to non-vented models for 2 reasons: condensation dryers are more expensive and drying times are significantly longer.
Dryer doors are reversible. In most cases, it’s convenient to have the dryer door swing away from the clothes washer to accommodate quick clothes transfer. Another option is to consider a top load dryer, which provides a unique ergonomic alternative.
Stacking laundry can save space for additional cabinetry or folding tables in the laundry room. They can be a perfect fit for areas where space is a concern, such as a closet.
For many years, stacked laundry units were offered as 2-in-1 models. The washer and dryer were connected & shared the same control panel. This style is still available but in very limited selection. Now, washers and dryers are designed with the ability to stack with the aid of stack kit (purchased separately). This allows for flexible install options.
Stackable, front load washers & dryers have controls on the front and are flat on top. This allows for installation beneath a folding counter, or inside cabinetry to create built-in appearance and make room for more work space and storage.
Some manufacturers, such as ASKO and Miele, offer models that accept a custom door front. In this application, a cabinet-maker builds panels to the required specification, which match the room decor. This allows the washer and dryer to be installed and integrated into existing cabinetry for a flush, seamless appearance.
For someone who wants easier access to a front load washer or dryer, the addition of a pedestal is ideal. Pedestals are designed to raise the washer or dryer 7″-15″ from the ground. A pedestal can also serve as a storage drawer. return to top
Options in laundry designs & color have increased greatly in the past few years. Though white is still the most popular color for washers & dryers, colors like red, blue, gray, champagne and stainless are becoming more popular.
In addition to providing more color choices, dryers are designed with increasingly sophisticated control panels and door designs. For example, some deluxe models feature touchless control panels, LED readout screens, chrome door rings, shiny knobs and silver accents as opposed to less-expensive models with push-button controls and painted finished knobs and door trim. return to top
Steam drying helps to reduce wrinkles and freshen-up stale smelling clothes.
Unlike steam washers which are directly connected to an incoming waterline, steam dryers must have water added to them. Some models have a “Y” connection which attaches to the washer fill hoses and routes water into the dryer’s steam chamber. Other models have water chamber (accessible from the front) which must be manually filled. In both cases, water is routed into a steam chamber, which when activated, superheats the water into steam and injects it into the dryer drum. return to top
- Moisture Sensor – Sensors on the dryer drum are used to detect moisture levels in clothing as it tumbles by. Once moisture levels are completely reduced, the sensors send a signal which stops the drying cycle. The primary benefit of sensor drying is to protect clothes from being damaged from overheating. Sensor drying also helps to reduce waste of energy.
- Stainless Steel Drum – An increasing number of dryers feature a stainless steel drum. Stainless steel is more resistant to odors and discoloration. It also is less likely to warp or suffer physical damage. Stainless steel absorbs less static electricity than plastic or porcelain, thereby reducing the amount of static in your clothes.
- Temperature Settings – At a minimum, dryers offer three temperature settings. Some have as many as five temperature settings. All dryers feature a no heat or “air fluff” cycle for delicate loads or wrinkle releasing.
- Extended Tumble – To best prevent wrinkles, clothes should be removed from the dryer and folded immediately after cycle. Extended tumble (also called extra care or wrinkle guard) intermittently tumbles without heat for 20-30 minutes after a cycle is complete, allowing more time after each cycle to retrieve clothes.
- Drying Rack – Some dryers include a drying rack, which is designed to rest horizontally inside the tub. The rack prevents tumbling during the dry cycle and can be used to dry delicate clothes – such as angora sweaters – heavy shoes & boots, or small items like hats. return to top
Some articles of clothing can’t handle the heat and tumbling of a dryer. For example, fine sweaters that will wear with too much tumbling still retain lots of moisture, and require long amounts of time for line-drying.
A drying cabinet can eliminate traditional line-drying. With the use of a small blower and minimal heat, the drying cabinet dries clothing in 1/3 of the time required by traditional line-dry methods. Hanging rods on the inside of the cabinet accommodate many items.
The drying cabinet is generally 24″ wide and fits in most laundry rooms and closets without difficulty. For installation purposes, a basic 120 volt outlet is required and most models are non-vented. return to top
Most manufacturers offer a one year limited warranty on their product. For as little as $50 Warners’ Stellian offers a Product Protection Guarantee designed to keep your new dryer performing as well as the day you bought it. Our Product Protection Guarantee covers all functional parts and labor on your new appliance for up to two, three or five years. return to top
We hope you have found this buying guide to be useful and informative and we appreciate the time you took to read through it. If you have questions that were not answered by this guide, please feel free to contact us.