Help & advice

A comprehensive guide to choosing a tumble dryer

When planning a home renovation project, whether it's your kitchen, utility or bathroom, you may well find yourself needing a new tumble dryer.

Tumble dryers can be a significant investment and if you get a good one it will likely serve you for 7 years or more, so it's important to choose one that is suitable for the needs of your household.

This guide walks you through the important factors to consider when choosing a tumble dryer, helping you to make an informed decision.

The best way to reduce the environmental impact when buying a tumble dryer is to purchase a reconditioned / refurbished machine. Many reputable suppliers now offer refurbished models in full working order and with the same consumer protection as brand new products. If you choose wisely you can snag a great brand and high spec machine at a bargain price!

Capacity

The capacity of a dryer, like washing machines, is measured in kilograms (kg) and indicates the maximum weight of dry clothes it can handle in one cycle. Matching the dryer's capacity with your washing machine ensures efficiency.

  • Small households (1-2 people) - 4-6 kg should be adequate
  • Medium households (3-4 people) - a 7-8 kg capacity is usually sufficient
  • Large households (5+ people) - consider a dryer with a capacity of 9 kg or more

Choosing the right capacity ensures you can dry large loads or bulky items like bedding without hassle.

When deciding what capacity to go for, factor in your family's lifestyle and interests as well as size. Very sporty or outdoorsy families can create significantly more dirty laundry so may be better off going for a larger machine.

The same could be said for a family with small children using reusable nappies, or a family that is still growing, you might want to opt for the larger capacity to be prepared for future.

Size / Dimensions

Whether you are just planning your room layout now, or already have the space and need a machine to fit, it is important to ensure the machine will fit the space available.

Measure the space you intend to place the tumble dryer, remembering to include the height, width, and depth of the appliance and ensure you leave some extra space for ventilation and easy access. A least 25 mm (2.5cm) of clearance on both sides, 150 mm (15cm) at the back to accommodate the power cord.

Dimensions can vary so you should always check the product details, but standard dryers are typically:

  • Width - 60 cm
  • Height - 85 cm
  • Depth - 60 cm

Compact / slimline models are available for tighter spaces, and stackable options can save floor space if you have a front-loading washer.

Vented vs. Ventless

There are two main types of tumble dryer, vented or ventless, and the choice depends on your home's setup.

Vented dryers expel moist air through a vent to the outside. They require a venting duct (normally a wide plastic and wire tube that runs from the dryer to a hole in the wall) but are generally more affordable and dry clothes faster.

Ventless dryers come in the form of condenser or heat pump models that do not need external venting. They are more energy-efficient and flexible in terms of where you can place them and are easier to install, but tend to be more expensive to buy and are slower at drying.

Evaluate your installation options and energy preferences when choosing between vented and ventless dryers.

Access / Door Opening

The direction the door opens can hugely impact the suitability of a dryer to where you place it in your home and how you use it.

Far too many people get caught out by missing this factor. Some tumble dryers come with adjustable doors that you can unscrew and switch over to optimise for your space, but many are fixed so it's important to know whether the door opens left to right or right to left and whether that works for your space. This is most important when you are planning to have your machine in a corner, if the door opens the wrong way it can make access tricky.

Consider your laundry room layout and the ergonomics of the door opening when choosing your tumble dryer.

Drying Features

Modern dryers offer various drying features to enhance performance and protect your clothes. Consider the following features:

  • Sensor Drying - adjusts drying time based on moisture levels, preventing over-drying
  • Timed Drying - allows you to set specific drying durations
  • Delicate/Low Heat - protects sensitive fabrics from high temperatures
  • Wrinkle Prevention - periodically tumbles clothes after the cycle ends to reduce wrinkles

They also tend to come with various safety features to prevent accidents and ensure safe operation:

  • Overheat Protection - shuts down the dryer if it overheats
  • Child Lock - prevents children from tampering with the settings
  • Cool Down Cycle - lowers the temperature at the end of the cycle to prevent burns

Assess your typical laundry needs to prioritise the features that will be most beneficial, baring in mind that the more advanced features often come at a premium.

Energy Efficiency & Environmental Impact

Energy efficiency is crucial for reducing utility bills and environmental impact. Dryers are rated from A+++ (most efficient) to D (least efficient). Look for:

  • Energy Star Ratings - indicates high energy efficiency
  • Heat Pump Technology - uses lower temperatures and recycles hot air, making it the most energy-efficient option

Investing in an energy-efficient model may have a higher upfront cost but will save money in the long run by reducing utility bills.

As well as energy efficiency, consider the wider impact of the dryer. As well as reducing utility bills, energy-efficient models also have a lower carbon footprint. Look for:

  • Eco-Friendly Certifications - labels indicating compliance with environmental standards
  • Recyclability - models made from recyclable materials or with programs for responsible disposal

Many reputable suppliers also offer refurbished / reconditioned models in full working order and with the same consumer protection as brand new products.

Noise

The noise level of a dryer, measured in decibels (dB), is important, especially if your laundry area is near living spaces or bedrooms.

  • Quiet Models - typically range between 60-70 dB
  • Standard Models - can be louder, especially during spinning

For a quieter home environment, look for dryers with noise reduction technology. If you are planning your space for a renovation, as well as a quieter machine, you can also look for opportunities to locate your machine as far away from living areas as possible and ideally behind closed doors to reduce noise.

Smart features

Many modern dryers come with connected extra features that enhance convenience:

  • Smart Connectivity - allows you to control and monitor the dryer from an app on your mobile phone
  • Voice Control - integration with virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant
  • Automatic Cycle Adjustment - uses sensors to adjust drying time and temperature

These features can make laundry day more efficient and less time-consuming, if you actually use them! They also tend to come at a higher price point.

Budget

Understanding your budget is crucial when selecting a dryer. Dryers come in a wide price range, from basic models to high-end versions with advanced features.

Determine how much you're willing to spend and prioritize the features that fit within your budget. Remember, investing in a more energy-efficient model can lead to long-term savings.

When deciding your budget, make sure you factor in installation costs, including any venting installation, electrical setup, or stacking kits.

Brand Reputation

Brand reputation can indicate the reliability and quality of the dryer. Research customer reviews, ratings, and expert opinions to gauge the performance and durability of different brands. Opt for brands known for their quality products and good customer service.

Warranty and After-Sales Service

Consider the warranty and after-sales service offered by the manufacturer. A good warranty can provide peace of mind and protect your investment in case of defects or issues. Look for:

  • Standard Warranty - typically 1-2 years for parts and labor
  • Extended Warranty - optional coverage for additional years
  • Customer Service - availability of reliable support and service centers

Maintenance

Once you have purchased your dryer, make sure to read the instructions and keep on top of the maintenance of your machine i.e. regular cleaning of lint filters, condenser units, and other parts, to ensure efficient operation, energy efficiency and to prolong the overall lifespan of the machine.

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