If you are in the market for one of the many new dryers available, it is helpful to inform yourself fully of the options. For instance, ventless dryers are available for use in apartments or areas where venting is impossible. And here are two-in-one washer/dryer combos for those with limited space.
Electric dryers and gas-fueled units are readily available in sizes ranging from ultra-portable to extra-large. There are also plenty of branded features used to help differentiate new dryers in advertisements. And then there is price. You can spend anywhere from $300 to $2,000 so be sure you see through the marketing and understand the features of the unit.
Specifications and Features
Household dryers are one of the most basic appliances, and they all incorporate the same basic parts. Still, differences abound between the many models. Certain specifications, though, are almost standard on all dryers.
For instance, the dryer drum is made of stainless steel, painted steel or a coated alloy. Dryers feature leveling legs, either manual or automatic, to adapt to uneven floors. Multi-way vents let you vent in any direction, while the lint screen is in place to prevent clogging of the ducting. Some units have self-cleaning lint screens and an internal lint bucket. Controls may be entirely electronic or electro-mechanical. More advanced units feature an LED or LCD display with fully digital indicators and controls.
Features of dryers include everything from multiple dry programs, options and temperatures to brand-specific technologies that aid in the performance of the appliance. To give you an example, Maytag dryers feature the Quiet Series sound package for noise reduction, the GentleBreeze drying system with the Intellidry sensor and SmoothBalance suspension.
Some LG dryers come with TrueSteam technology that features several steam options. LG also has LoDecibel technology for quiet operation. Nearly every brand incorporates special features such as these in their products.
Gas vs. Electric
One of the biggest choices you will make is whether to install a gas or electric unit. Both types feature an electric motor to power the rotation of the drum, but whereas electric dryers use an internal heating element to generate heat to dry clothes, gas dryers have a combustion burner. Consequently, gas dryers must have an additional vent to expel carbon monoxide. In general, for the same model in a gas variety you might pay $100 more.
Electric dryers are also slightly more efficient than gas units. However, natural gas tends to cost less than electricity, so an electric dryer will have a higher long-term price. If you can afford the extra money for the purchase and have a natural gas line to your home, strongly consider using gas for the savings. Every major brand essentially doubles its product line by offering a gas model for just about every electric model, so opting for gas does not limit your selection.
Stackable vs. Side-by-Side
Another aspect to consider is space. Dryers usually end up in the utility or laundry room. Some kitchens are large enough to integrate them into the layout, while in other homes, you find them in closets. There are two basic dryer designs available: stackable and side-by-side. Side-by-side dryers are the traditional design. They are front loading, but their control panel is mounted on the top of the unit and set to the back.
Stackable dryers, on the contrary, feature a smooth top. They, too, are front loading, but the control panel is located directly on the front of the dryer. Not only does this design bring the controls closer to you, but it also enables you to stack the dryer atop a matching washer. Instead of having two appliances side-by-side, you can arrange stackable units vertically, cutting the footprint in half and putting the dryer at eye level. This setup is ideal for smaller laundry rooms or for homeowners who use laundry closets. Brands that offer stackable dryers produce optional stacking kits to install between the washer and dryer.
The capacity of your gas or electric dryer helps to determine how big a load you can dry at once. The larger the capacity, the fewer loads you have to dry. Not everyone has the same laundry needs, and for this reason, dryers come in numerous sizes. The basic types are portable, compact and full size.
Portable dryers are much smaller than full-size units. They typically run on 120-volt electricity and can weigh as little as 44 pounds when empty. The capacity of a portable dryer ranges from about 2.5 to 3.6 cubic feet and can dry, at most, 11 pounds of clothing at once.Compact dryers have bigger capacities, usually between 4 and 5 cubic feet, and are typically 24 inches wide. Full-size dryers are 27 to 29 inches wide and have capacities of anywhere from 5.0 to 8.0 cubic feet.
Manufacturers tack on labels such as "large," "super" and "ultra" when describing the capacity of their units. A dryer with 7.0 cubic feet or more of space can be considered super capacity. The 8.0-cubic-foot dryer from Electrolux is one of the biggest residential dryers available.
While you should make your selection based upon the features the dryer offers, being somewhat familiar with the brand names helps to sort out your options. Some of the most well-known manufacturers include Maytag, GE, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Kenmore and Hotpoint. Makers of high-end dryers include LG, Bosch, Samsung, Miele, ASKO and Electrolux. Haier, Avanti and Summit also produces dryers for residential application.
When looking at dryers, you might also consider ventless units that use condensing dryer technology. These units work well in apartments or anywhere that a vent cannot reach. Instead of expelling hot, moist air through a vent, ventless units condense the moisture and drain it.
Additionally, washer/dryer combos give you two appliances in one. While they may cost more, you need to make only a single purchase and make room for a single unit.
Even the most basic dryers are easy to use, but technological advancements have made dryers more user friendly than ever. Depending upon what you need for your home, there is a suitable dryer. Instead of wading through the options blindly, understand the different types of dryers available to you and make the most informed purchase you can.