What Dryer To Buy
There are several factors to take into consideration while shopping for a new dryer. How much do you want to pay up front? How much do you want to pay the power company each month? How much space do you have available? How important is the dryer's appearance to you? What sort of features do you want your dryer to have?
what dryer to buy
This guide will cover all of these angles, but first, you need to determine which type of dryer is best for your home. Fortunately, there are only two options, and in many cases, the decision will be a fairly easy one.
With the exception of your refrigerator, the odds are good that nothing in your home will use more energy than your dryer, and this is true for both electric and gas models. However, there are differences between the way each type of dryer uses energy that can have a big impact on the true cost of owning and operating one over the other. Understanding these differences is the key to making an informed decision.
All dryers use electricity to spin the central chamber, or drum, and keep your clothing in motion throughout the cycle. Electric dryers also use electricity to power the heater and fan that continually blows hot air through the machine. Gas dryers power these components using natural gas or propane. They tend to cost a little more up front (typically about $100 more than comparable electric dryers), but since they warm up faster, they also tend to cost a little less to operate. Of course, this depends on the energy rates in your area, as well as the time of year, so be sure and do a little research before you commit one way or the other.
Electric dryers require a dedicated 240-volt circuit, which almost every laundry room will have. Gas dryers, on the other hand, require a separate gas hookup, which are less common in American households. If you decide to buy a gas dryer, you may need to factor in the cost of having a gas line professionally installed. Be aware that this can cost upward of several hundred dollars -- in many cases, this can outweigh the long-term energy bill savings, or at least render them negligible. And even if you already have a gas line ready to go, you still might be wise to have your new gas dryer installed by a trusted professional. The consequences of a faulty installation can include fire, carbon-monoxide poisoning or even an explosion.
If you're looking for an affordable dryer that you can simply plug into an existing laundry room in your house or rental, then an electric dryer is probably what you want. Even if you have a gas line already set up, you may still want to consider an electric dryer if you think there's a chance you might be moving in the next couple of years.
However, if you're comfortable in your home and you have a gas line ready to go (or can afford to install one), then go for the gas dryer. You'll enjoy the slightly faster cycles, and the chances are good that you'll save at least a little bit of money over the long haul.
If you're buying a matching washer-dryer set, then this is a rather painless process. No matter what size set you go with, you'll be able to use your new machines together without any trouble. The confusing part comes when you're buying a stand-alone dryer to complement an existing washer. Go too small, and you won't be able to dry a full washer load in one cycle. Go too big, and you'll burn away your money with every cycle.
Your standard "full-size" dryers typically range from about 7.3 cubic feet (cu. ft.) to 8.3 cu. ft., although there are compact units available as small as 3.4 cu. ft., as well as "mega-capacity" offerings as large as 9.2 cu. ft. Appliance brands such as Kenmore, Whirlpool, LG, and Maytag offer regular-size dryers, plus ones with massive capacities.
Which size is right for you? For one to two people only washing light garments and no heavy bedding, a compact unit is probably sufficient. Most people, however, will want a full-size dryer capable of drying heavier items and larger loads, and since the load size is determined by the size of your washer, you'll want to start there. One easy rule of thumb is that the capacity of your dryer should be about twice the capacity of your washer. If your washer has a 3.5 cu. ft. capacity, for instance, then look for a dryer with 7.0 cu. ft. This 1:2 ratio is the sweet spot, giving a full load of wet laundry enough room to dry efficiently without wasting energy.
One caution: don't get distracted with sales terminology. Words like "extra-large," "king-size," and "ultra-capacity" are not fixed, standardized definitions, especially between different brands. Just because the store lists your new dryer as "extra-large" doesn't mean that it'll be a good fit with the "extra-large" washing machine that you bought four years ago. Stick to the numbers!
When buying your dryer, don't just think about the capacity of the washer you have right now. Think about the capacity of your next washer, especially if your current one is already more than six or seven years old. The last thing you want is to have to replace your dryer yet again when the new washer gets installed.
Settled on a size? Good. Now it's time to make sure that it'll fit in your laundry room. Measure your space, making sure to add at least three inches on each side for heat clearance and pipes/wiring in the back. Most full-size dryers are less than 30 inches wide, somewhere between 25 to 35 inches deep, and anywhere from 35 to 45 inches tall. If you can comfortably accommodate those margins, then you're in good shape.
While you've got that measuring tape out, it'd be a good idea to check your vent distance. Measure a path along the wall from the dryer's location to the spot where hot air will be vented outside of the house. Add eight feet for every turn you have to make. Ideally, you want a total distance of less than 60 feet. Anything longer than that, and the heat won't be able to make it to the outside of your home -- a major safety hazard that could ultimately cause a fire. As a matter of fact, cleaning your dryer vent regularly is always a shrewd precaution.
If space is a concern, you might look into a laundry center. These are the tall, narrow units you'll find tucked away in apartment closets, usually with a top-loading washer on the bottom and a front-loading dryer on top. Units like these can be found in either gas or electric models, and will run you anywhere from $1,400 to $1,700.
There are also stand-alone washers and dryers that can be stacked on top of one another with the help of a "stacking kit," which is typically just a pair of small metal plates that you'll screw into the back of the stacked washer and dryer, bracketing them together. Stacking kits cost anywhere from $50 to over $200, and considering that they're made out of about a dollar's worth of metal, they're a bit of a rip-off at any price. They're a necessity, though -- stacked washer dryers that are left unbracketed won't stay stacked for long once things start spinning around inside.
Additionally, you may be able to create the necessary space for your new dryer by getting rid of cabinet or shelving space that's in the way and replacing it with a dryer pedestal. These accessories sit beneath the dryer, elevating it to a height that's perhaps more manageable while also creating additional storage space in the form of a built-in drawer. The LG Twin Wash takes this concept to next level. The washer sits on a platform that's actually a special washing chamber separate from the machine's main drum.
For decades, dryers have been good at one thing: drying. But these days, with consumers demanding more and more from their home appliances, manufacturers have been hard at work designing clever ways to make their dryers a little more well-rounded. As a result, today's shopper will find a wide variety of surprisingly multidimensional dryers available for sale. Here's what to keep an eye out for:
Most dryers still use a dial of some sort to select the cycle, along with a start/stop button. The number of preset cycles will vary from unit to unit, but the chances are good that you'll have a few options to choose from, along with more precise timed drying settings. More and more units these days are boasting some sort of digital display. These often make for a fancy, space-age looking dryer, but if they don't offer any additional functionality, they can also just serve as an easy excuse for the seller to charge a little more.
Many dryers also come with a delayed start mode, which will allow you to load the machine, set a timer, and delay the start of the cycle until the timer reaches zero. This can be a great way of running the machine late at night or early in the morning, when power rates are often significantly lower. It can also be a great way of ensuring that you have toasty, fresh-from-the-dryer clothing to wear on frigid winter mornings.
One other basic feature to think about is the hinge. Do you want your dryer door to open on the left or on the right? Almost all models will allow you to choose. We recommend placing the hinge on the side opposite your washer. That way, the door won't be in your way when transferring damp clothing from the washer into the dryer.
One of the most popular recent developments in dryer technology has been the addition of steam cleaning cycles. Using nothing more than the power of evaporated water, these brief cycles can remove light stains and odors from clothing. Some steam cleaning cycles will even allow you to sanitize formerly nonwashable items like throw pillows and children's toys. They do a decent job of removing wrinkles, too, but don't expect to retire your ironing board completely.
Though the steam cycle was initially a feature found only in the most high-end models, its popularity has helped it to quickly spread throughout more affordable mid-level units, as well. As such, dryers featuring steam cycles can be a perfect fit for shoppers looking for an affordable but distinct upgrade over their current hardware.
Another feature aimed at improving the functionality of your dryer is the drying rack. These detachable racks are designed to rest horizontally within the drum, allowing you to dry delicate or clunky items with having them tumble about. You might also find units with enhanced storage capabilities, including models compatible with shelving towers that fit in between the washer and the dryer, or models with an adjustable, built-in folding table on top. And if you wash a lot of large, bulky bedsheets and comforters, keep an eye out for detangling features that finish the cycle by pausing and slowly spinning backwards, leaving your bedding neat and wrinkle-free. 041b061a72