A well-chosen clothes dryer will help you get the laundry done faster with wrinkle-free results and minimal hassle. Clothes dryers use heated air and tumbling action to evaporate water from garments and linens, then exhaust the humid air through a lint filter.
Basic budget-friendly dryers come with white exteriors, mechanical controls, and only a few temperature settings (low, medium, and high). Cycles likely include only timed-dry (you pick the amount of time) and air-dry (no heat). As prices increase, the dryers add more sophisticated timers and settings. High-end dryers likely include touch pad or touch screen controls and dozens of choices for heat temperature and cycles that you might be interested in. Expensive dryers are also more likely to come in fashion colors with matching washers -- a boon if you're locating a laundry room near high-traffic living areas such as the kitchen or family room.
Here are some basic choices, styles, and features to consider as you pick a new clothes dryer.
Clothes dryers need to create heat to dry clothes efficiently. There are only two options: natural gas or electricity. Your house or apartment hookup will likely dictate which energy source you can use.
Gas dryers require a gas hookup and a dedicated 120-volt outlet. Gas dryers have a higher price tag than electric dryers but are less expensive to operate on a day-to-day basis. A gas dryer might be the right choice for you if you want to save money over time and have an existing gas connection or are willing to pay to have one installed by a professional.
Electric dryers require a dedicated 240-volt outlet, which is twice the strength of ordinary household current. Although initially cheaper than gas dryers, electric dryers cost more to run. An electric dryer might be the right choice if you want to spend less for the initial purchase and can plug the dryer into an existing setup.
Editor's Tip: Because there is little difference in how much energy different dryers use, the Department of Energy's Energy Star program does not label this type of appliance. If you are concerned about energy consumption, you might want to choose a dryer with a moisture-sensor cycle, or choose one with a high spin cycle. Both choices reduce how much drying time is needed and save energy as a result.
Clothes dryers feature a wide range of settings to regulate drying time and temperature. High-end models come with electronic touch pad or touch screen controls. Basic dryers use mechanical dial controls. Whether a dryer features electronic controls or dials, the mechanism to choose cycles and functions should be easy to read and operate. The basic functions include dryness control and temperature control.
Depending primarily on price, clothes dryers offer three ways to set the cycle to dry clothing. Each uses a different method to determine when clothes are dry, and each provides a different level of control.
Each load of laundry requires you to choose a temperature based on fabric content. In general, the more expensive the dryer, the more choices you will have for temperature control. The basic selections:
The larger the dryer's capacity, the more you can dry in a single load, which translates into saving time and money. Also, when clothes have more tumbling room, they end up less wrinkled at the end of a cycle. Most full-size dryers can hold a typical load of washed clothes.
Today's clothes dryers offer a variety of cycles and features that save time or steps, and increase safety. Evaluate your household and the way you do laundry to decide which combination of features fits your life best.