If you're shopping for a dryer, there are a few things to consider, like what the must-have features are and what dryer convenience options you may also want to have. Be prepared before you head out, know what you want in a dryer, and your dryer shopping time will be greatly reduced. We have put together this guide to help you on your journey of discovering the different types of dryers and some bells and whistles to consider when purchasing one for your home.
Before Replacing Your Dryer
Dryers can last for 10 to 14 years, and as they age, you should be aware that you will likely be looking at repairing or replacing your dryer sooner rather than later. If your dryer is not very old (under four to five years), and needs to be fixed, then depending on the cost to repair it, it might be more cost-effective to have it repaired. But if it is older, you might want to consider replacing it with a newer model, which will use less energy, saving you money in the long run.
You might also just want to upgrade your dryer and get extra features or need a larger capacity one because the family is growing. Whatever the reason, starting your search and having an idea of what you want ahead of purchasing one is a good idea.
Buying Considerations for a Dryer
Gas or Electric
Should you go with a gas or electric dryer? A gas dryer does save on electricity costs but requires an installed gas line to the home and special installation. If gas is available for a dryer, the outlay for a gas dryer model may be a good option if your dryer usage is high. An electric dryer costs less but requires installation, and energy costs for a dryer vary with usage. Both types of dryers require proper venting to the outside. Always follow the dryer manufacturer's installation recommendations.
Capacity: Full Size or Compact Models
There are two dryer capacity styles—25" to 29" wide full, regular or oversize size dryers with around 7 cu.ft. drums, and 24" compact models with around 3 cu.ft. of drying capacity. Two things influence which style is best for you—space to install the dryer, and your drying needs. For a large family with sufficient laundry room space, choose an oversize dryer to dry large loads quickly. For a couple in a small home, a compact washer dryer set may be sufficient.
Dryer performance deals with how well and how quickly the dryer will dry your clothes. Dryer efficiency is measured by a great performance at a low operating cost. Choose a high-performance and efficient dryer by selecting a dryer with moisture or dryness sensors, wrinkle-free options for less ironing, temperature options, and the lowest possible dryer Energy Star rating.
Dryer moisture or dryness sensors that adjust the drying time required or allow you to custom select regular, more or less dry, have similar benefits—reducing drying time and energy use. Temperature controls can allow for high quick dry for some fabrics, and low or fluff for delicates. A permanent press or press care dryer setting provides a cool-down period at the end of the cycle—this reduces wrinkles, saving you ironing time. A dryer drum light is also a must and is not always a standard feature.
Convenience Features That Are Nice to Have
Dryer lint filter position: on the top or inside the door? Choose by a preference for easy maintenance. How important is a dryer quiet package to you? This will depend on where the dryer will be located. Extra options and dryer cycles like preset, speed dry, more dry time, and less dry time, are nice to have. A dryer rack is handy if you layout items to dry, like sweaters or sneakers. When you’re choosing between a porcelain or stainless steel dryer drum, there's no difference in performance, but stainless eliminates the risk of rust and looks very stylish.
Types of Dryers
Besides deciding on whether to get a gas or an electric dryer, there are other options to choose from. Typically, when buying a dryer, most prefer to have one that matches the washer. Different types of dryers include front-loading, top-loading, ventless, or a combination washer and dryer.
This type of dryer has a door that opens in front of the machine. Keep in mind that this means you will be bending over or squatting down to put the clothes in and take the clothes out once they're dry. Some of these dryers might have a window in them so you can see the clothes tumbling about, while others will not. These dryers can be stackable or not. If they have a back panel on them, you can't stack them. There can be budget-friendly options available in front-loading dryers.
A top-loading dryer has an opening at the top of the machine. Taking clothes out will mean that you will be reaching in to grab the dried clothes out of the drum. These dryers are usually placed side by side with the washer and have a back panel on them. Like the front-loading, you can find less expensive models when shopping.
These dryers do not need to have a vent going to the outside to allow moisture, heat, and lint to be pushed out of the dryer. A ventless dryer is a good option for apartments or if there isn't a way to put a vent in. These models will tend to be more expensive and will either use a heat pump or condenser to run them. They use less energy, and, in the long run, the higher purchase price can be offset by the energy savings.
The washer and dryer are together and cannot be separated. As stated, they are all-in-one, and this machine compiles the washing and drying of clothes. Not always the most efficient, but these combos are great for small spaces, condos, or apartment living.
Dryers range from $300 to over $1500, and one with only the must-have features will generally cost around $400-$600. High tech stylish dryer models with glass doors, stainless steel drums, enhanced control panel and additional cycles will be in the highest range. If dryer cost is a consideration, choose features based on what matters to you and then add more dryer features to fit your budget.
How to Choose a Dryer
A dryer is a convenient appliance. It gets your clothes dried faster and mostly wrinkle-free, unlike hanging them out on a clothesline to let the air and sunshine dry them. Selecting the right one for you all comes down to personal preference and what you can afford. Ask yourself some questions as you start shopping for a dryer that fits your wants and needs.
What Do You Need in a Dryer?
A basic one that offers must-haves will get the job done for you but will only have a few temperature settings, like low, medium, and high, and a timed dry setting. While a more expensive one will likely have a touch screen, multiple drying features, including a delicate cycle, or wrinkle-free capability that will touch up the dried clothes while waiting for you to pull them out to fold. It might also have moisture sensors that sense that the clothes are dry and automatically shuts off, a noise reduction to help cut down the sound of the dryer running, or an inside light to help you find those errant pieces of clothing that are famous for getting lost (like socks!).
How Often Will You Be Using Your Dryer?
Determining the kind of usage your dryer will be getting can help you select what you need. Will it be used for a couple loads a week? Or will it be used for multiple loads weekly or even daily? Do you want to be able to dry your delicates in it? One that is going to get a lot of use or be drying certain clothing materials will require a higher-end dryer offering a number of those bells and whistles.
How Long Will You Be Staying Where You Are?
Where you're living and the length of time you're staying might affect the decision you make on the type of dryer you get and how much you spend on one. If it's only a temporary situation, you conceivably could choose to get a less expensive one that you won't mind leaving behind and reselling to the next tenants or donating it when you move.
Innovations in dryer features have driven the appliance cost considerably, but warranties have generally stayed the same at one to two years, depending on the manufacturer. If you are buying a higher-priced model, you may want to consider an extended warranty from the dealer for your new dryer. However, you should ensure that dryer servicing will be available in your area and that technicians are qualified for your particular dryer's make and model.
Where to Shop
There are many places you can go when shopping for a dryer. From home improvement stores, appliance stores, retail stores, and wholesale clubs to online retailers, you are sure to find what you're looking for in a dryer. Buying a dryer (and possibly a washer to make a matching set) is a large purchase and it can be nice to be able to see the different options in person to get a better idea on the look, features, and options available. While you're at a store, you can also spend time with a salesperson and ask any questions you might have. Take your time, browse, and see what dryers are out there, which ones you can afford, and which fits best for you.
After looking around in the stores, go online and compare prices and see if the same models or similar ones are available. Whichever way you go, whether purchasing at a store or online, make sure you know the available options for delivery, return policy, and the warranty.
When is the best time of year to buy a dryer?
Holidays such as Labor Day, Memorial Day, Presidents Day, and Black Friday typically will bring sales of many appliances including dryers. September and October manufacturers will put the current year's models on sale to get ready for the upcoming new year. Discounts on the remaining last years models can be found in January, also.
Should you buy a new washer and dryer at the same time?
If you want to have a matching set, then you might prefer to purchase both appliances at the same time. This way they will have the same design, look plus be the same age.
Does a dryer require a special outlet?
Dryers require a 240-volt electrical outlet to work. They will not operate if plugged into a standard outlet.