Buying Guide - Tumble Dryers

How to choose

Modern life doesn't leave much time for amiably sitting around waiting for your clothes to dry. A tumble dryer has therefore become a must-have item for the majority of households. Today there are a variety of products on the market with many features incorporated, with the aim of making the process of tumble-drying your clothes as efficient, fast and energy saving as possible. As with any household appliance, there are a variety of factors to consider when making your choice as to which dryer to purchase. Factors include budget, household space and size of tumble dryer required.

tumble dryerFirstly, you need to consider whether you are going to opt for a vented or condenser tumble dryer. This decision will be partly based on cost and partly based on space. Condenser dryers take up less space but do cost slightly more than their vented colleagues.


Secondly, you need to think about your budget. There are dryers on the market ranging in price from £100 up to nearly £1000. In addition, there are the various costs of running your tumble dryer to consider. Dryers that run off electricity will cost more than those running off a gas supply.

A third factor to debate is whether you opt for the traditional tumble dryer controlled by a timer or instead plump for a sensor dryer which automatically determines how wet your clothes are and adjusts the drying time accordingly.

Choosing the correct dryer for you can be a tricky process but by considering the points above and balancing them with your needs, you should be able to reach a decision without too much hassle.

Vented or condenser?

The first choice you have to make is between a vented and a condenser tumble dryer. As mentioned briefly in the previous section, a condenser dryer will cost you slightly more than a vented one.

The difference between them is fairly simple. A vented tumble dryer expels moisture via a hose connected to the back of it - it therefore needs appropriate ventilation in the room to remove the moisture. Practically, this requires it to be placed close to a window, door or specific ventilation hole. This could be an important issue if you live in an apartment.

A condenser tumble dryer, on the other hand, keeps the moisture within the dryer and collects it all in a water reservoir. The reservoir is then simply emptied when it becomes full to capacity. The benefit of this type of dryer is that it removes the need for adequate ventilation and the need to expel the moisture via a hose.

There is an on-going consumer debate as to the competing merits of these two types of tumble dryer. It has been argued by some that the quality and speed of drying is actually superior with a vented dryer. However, in reality there is very little difference between the two and often the decision comes down to issues of price and space.

Useful features

washingThere are a wide variety of features available throughout the tumble dryer market. This can make your choice on which model to buy quite difficult but by researching and understanding different features you should be able to find the right tumble dryer for your needs. A brief outline of different features is provided below.


As an absolute minimum, all tumble dryers will come with at least two settings - one for cottons and one for synthetics. A lot of dryers will also come equipped with a 'delicates' setting. If, however, you are looking for something slightly more than a basic tumble dryer, there are a number of other features available on models at the higher end of the scale.

Features on more expensive models include 'cupboard dry' for clothes that can then be immediately folded and stored away, 'iron dry' which leaves garments slightly damp for best possible ironing results and 'anti crease' to leave your clothes ready to wear as soon as they are dry. The latter feature is only available with a sensor dryer.

If you are looking to vastly reduce the amount of money you spend on your tumble dryer then you could opt for a gas dryer instead of an electric one. Gas dryers work in exactly the same way as electric ones. In terms of cost, the average electric dryer will cost you around £95 a year to run versus £38 a year for a gas dryer.

Going green?

Tumble dryers have long had a reputation for having huge levels of energy consumption. This makes them both very expensive to run and not particularly environmentally friendly. If, however, you are keen to do your bit for the environment you can choose to buy a dryer which has a very good energy rating. All tumble dryers on the market are rated between A and G, with A the most energy efficient and G the least. The majority of dryers for fall into the C category but if you have a shop around it is possible to find a good selection in both the A and B categories.

If you are looking to further your green credentials even more, then you might decide to buy a tumble dryer with a larger capacity. It is possible to purchase dryers with enough space to handle a 10 kg cotton load. It is best to try and balance the capacity of your dryer with that of your washing machine, thus maximising the efficiency of both appliances. The average washing machine is able to cope with a load of around 6 or 7 kg.  Therefore it would be sensible to consider a dryer with similar amounts of space.

Timer v sensor?

Thanks to the innovation of sensor-controlled tumble dryers, the age of constantly having to judge how long it will take to dry your clothes, and getting it wrong, is over. Sensor dryers automatically detect how long it will take to dry your load based on exactly how dry you want it to be. You have the option of settings such as those mentioned earlier, including cupboard dry, iron dry and extra dry. The accuracy and efficiency of sensor dryers should mean that they consume less energy than the traditional timer-controlled products. In addition, because the sensors detect as soon as the clothes are dry there is little risk of damaging fabrics through too much heat. Timer-controlled tumble dryers do still require you to have a decent knowledge of roughly how long it takes to dry each sort of fabric and material.

The luxury of a sensor dryer does come at a premium and you will pay more for one than you would for a traditional model. However with the undoubted savings that will come from increased energy efficiency, it might just be worth that extra initial investment. If you do opt for a sensor dryer please be aware that you will need to look after the sensors in the drum to maintain their effectiveness over time. The advice is to wipe them down and give them a clean every few months to prolong the life of the tumble dryer.