Different types of clothes dryers explained

Did you know Aussie households spend an average of $582 on a new clothes dryer and keep the same model for seven years? That’s exactly what we found in our 2021 survey, proving that buying a new dryer means making a big commitment and inevitably spending big bucks.

Fortunately, as with any other whitegoods such as refrigerators and washing machines, there’s a bit of variety to be found. Whether it’s size and drying capacity, or features and running cost, there are plenty of factors to consider to make sure you’re buying the best clothes dryer for your home. So, here’s a guide to the various types of clothes dryers you’ll find in store as well as the differences you might find between models. This is what we’ll take a look at below:

  • Dryer capacity
  • Power options – Electric vs Gas
  • Dryer types
  • Dryer features

Dryer capacity

The first thing you’ve got to figure out when it comes to a clothes dryer is how large you need it to be. Are you living by yourself in a little flat, or part of a big family? How much clothing do you and your family wear (and subsequently wash) on a weekly basis? The answers to those questions should give you a reasonably good idea of what size you need your clothes dryer to be. Capacity tends to range from 4kg to 10kg, but if you’ve got no clue about your capacity needs, consider these two tips:

  • The capacity of a dryer is measured in kilograms and refers to the weight of the clothes once dry, not while they’re sopping wet and straight out of the washing machine.
  • There’s a rule of thumb that states the capacity of your dryer should be double that of your washing machine. While you don’t need to aim for exactly double, just remember that your dryer capacity should generally be larger than the capacity of your front loader or top load washing machine.

As a rough guide to sizing, consider the following:

Power options ─ Electric vs Gas

Right! Onto your options for how your dryer is powered. It’s worth noting that your clothes dryer may be the single most power-hungry appliance in your house, with the possible exception of your fridge. So, the way your dryer is powered could have a significant impact on your electricity bill, for better or worse. Your two options are electricity and natural gas, with the differences being:

  • A gas dryer will be slightly more expensive than its electric counterpart.
  • However, that same gas dryer will pay for itself several times over by being more energy efficient and cheaper to operate.

Keep in mind that clothes dryers can be rather inefficient beasts, to the point where most budget-friendly dryers under $600 are usually rated two stars or less for energy efficiency. Models with at least a six-star rating typically cost $800 and up.

Dryer types

If you’re looking at an electric dryer, it’s important you know that there are three different kinds – vented, condenser, and heat pump condenser. Alternatively, you can opt for a gas dryer. Here are the key differences between gas dryers and the members of the electric trio:

Gas dryers

What is a gas clothes dryer?

Gas dryers use gas to heat the tumbler and in turn, uses less electricity to fuel the appliance compared to standard dryers. In terms of wet weight capacity, expect 4kg to 9kg.

  • Generally cheaper to run
  • Often heats up clothes faster than electric dryers
  • Require a vent to the outside, thus not ideal for small apartments

Buying a gas clothes dryer in Australia will usually set you back between $1,600 and $4,000, which is a sizeable investment. Some brands offering gas dryers include Rinnai and Speed Queen.

Vented dryers

What is a vented dryer?

Vented dryers heat up air and pass it into the drum. Once the hot air has become too moist to dry any further, it’s vented out of the drum and replaced with new, dry air. Most vented dryers range from 3kg to 9kg of capacity. Here are a few facts to keep in mind:

  • Cheaper to buy than other types of clothes dryers
  • Must be used in well-ventilated rooms, not tight and enclosed spaces
  • Excess moisture can cause mold to grow on walls and around the vented clothes dryer
  • Can cause a potential fire hazard, especially if inside an enclosed space
  • Can be mounted on a wall

Prices start from as little as $350 and max out at around $3,700.

Condenser dryers

What is a condenser dryer?

Condenser clothes dryers recycle hot air by extracting the water vapour from it and sending it back through the clothes in the dryer, rather than simply expelling the moist air as a vented dryer would do. While this method of dealing with moist air means no humidity in your laundry room, it doesn’t do anything for the heat itself, meaning your laundry will be just as warm as if you were using a vented dryer. Some things to keep in mind when choosing which clothes dryer to buy:

  • Condenser dryers don’t require as much ventilation as tumble dryers, thus you’re not restricted to where you position the dryer, which is ideal for apartment living
  • Too heavy to be wall-mounted but can be stacked on a front load washing machine

A condenser clothes dryer can cost between $600 and $1,700, although the majority of models are under the $1,000 mark.

Heat pump dryers

What is a heat pump condenser dryer?

Heat pump dryers are a type of condenser dryers that recycle heat in the process of extracting moisture. It’s an old form of dryer that appears to be making a comeback due to a desire for more energy-efficient appliances.

  • Typically more expensive than vented or condenser dryers
  • Makes up for the higher purchase price by being comparably more energy efficient in some cases, but it’s worth noting that it can take years for that cheaper running cost to offset the higher price tag
  • Doesn’t vent heated air or water vapour, so no heat and no humidity for your laundry room

Expect to fork out between $1,500 and $4,000, although you can find heat pump dryers for cheaper from brands like Esatto. On the other end, there are even models from high-end brands such as V-Zug that reach up to $29,000.

Dryer Features

When it comes to features, the introduction of smart technology in smart dryers and other smart appliances has somewhat evened the playing field and allowed consumers to find a model with advanced functionalities without having to sacrifice price too much.

Common features across models and most price points include stainless steel drums, extended tumbling cycles, multiple choices for temperature, cycle options for different kinds of clothing, safety locks, no-wrinkle functions, etc. Some key features to look out for in any type of dryer include:

  • Energy ratings: look for energy-efficient dryers – the more stars the better! While an energy-efficient dryer might cost you more upfront, it can help you save in the long run with cheaper energy bills
  • Size: apart from load capacity, it’s also important to measure the space where you want to fit one in as not all dryers are the same size
  • Programs: while the basic program might suffice, you might want to look out for models that feature additional programs such as anti-crease or eco-mode
  • Lint filter: typically needs to be cleaned regularly (especially if you have a vented dryer), so look out for dryers with easy to access lint filters
  • Auto-sensing: is a particularly helpful feature that automatically stops the drying process once it senses that the load is dry, which helps to keep your clothes from over-drying as well as save you on electricity bills
  • Electronic display: the more advanced the dryer is, the more high-tech the front panel will be. Electronic displays allow you to see at a glance how much time is remaining and when systems such as the lint filter or water container need to be emptied

Obviously, some of the more expensive dryers will have a few extra features and some of the cheaper dryers might come up short, but as with many appliances, the hard and fast rule is that you get what you pay for. Also if you live in a smaller space, try to find a dryer that’s either stackable or wall-mountable to save on space.

The bottom line on clothes dryers

So there you have it! Every possible thing there is to know about the differences between various kinds of clothes dryers, with the exception of the various nuts, bolts, and circuit boards that make the things work. While there are certainly pros and cons to each type of dryer, it might ultimately come down to your budget in terms of which one you will settle on. Nevertheless, we hope you found this guide helpful! To offer an extra hand in regards to which brand to buy, why not check out our customer ratings for clothes dryers, which can be found via the link below:

Clothes Dryer Reviews & Ratings

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