Tumble Dryer Buying Guide
Choosing a new tumble dryer? With several different sorts on offer, even just picking the right type of dryer for your needs can be a head-scratching exercise. Make your search that bit simpler with our buying guide. Along the way, weíll cover all of the key questions like which type, size, energy rating and features to go for.
- What is a tumble dryer?
- Types of tumble dryer
- Tumble dryer sizes and capacities
- How to measure for a new tumble dryer
- Energy ratings for tumble dryers
- Additional features to look out for
- Choosing your colour
- Tumble dryer brands
- Tumble dryer FAQs
What is a tumble dryer?
Tumble dryers remove moisture from clothes and other household textiles. A useful addition to any household, these appliances leave your laundry soft, warm and dry after it has been washed.
There are several types to choose from, including vented, condenser, heat pump and integrated tumble dryers (more on these below). Each different kind of tumble dryer relies on a slightly different mechanism, although they all use warm air and a spinning drum to dry your clothes.
Types of tumble dryer
As you decide which type of tumble dryer to buy, the first point to think about is where you want to position it. Looking to keep your new appliance neatly concealed behind a cupboard door? Then an integrated tumble dryers is your best option. Freestanding tumble dryers, on the other hand, can either sit on their own or fit underneath a counter.
Integrated models are much less common. Generally speaking, they can only use a condenser or heat pump mechanism (read on to learn more about these). If you opt for a freestanding tumble dryer, then you have a choice of three different types:
- Vented tumble dryers
- Condenser tumble dryers
- Heat pump tumble dryers
Vented tumble dryers
Vented tumble dryers are the most common type. Generally speaking, theyíre the cheapest but least environmentally friendly. They work by drawing in air from the room, heating it and then blowing the hot air around the drum, which passes over your clothes to dry them as they spin. The hot, damp air inside is then vented out via a hose.
As the air has to escape through the hose, youíll need to position your vented tumble dryer next to an external wall or a window. The hose usually passes straight through your wall to the outside, so you may also have to get the help of a professional for the installation. You can temporarily hang the hose out of a window when the appliance is in use, but this is really only a short-term solution thatís not ideal when itís cold or rainy.
Despite the initial hassle of installation, vented tumble dryers have their perks:
- The upfront cost of the appliance is typically lower than with other types;
- Once installed, vented models require the least maintenance;
- They dry your clothes faster than a condenser tumble dryer dryer.
Condenser tumble dryers
If thereís nowhere to position your appliance against an external wall, then a condenser tumble dryer is the perfect choice. These dryers donít need a hose to carry away damp air. Instead, they work by condensing the steam generated by drying clothes into water. The water collects in a container, which can then be removed and emptied.
Thanks to this mechanism, condenser tumble dryers are a flexible option and can be positioned anywhere in your house thatís well ventilated. This convenience does come with some drawbacks by comparison to vented dryers, though, as the upfront cost of a condenser model is typically higher and the drying process takes a little longer. Youíll also have to remember to empty the water reservoir each time you use it.
Despite this, many of our customers decide to go for a condenser tumble dryer for a number of reasons:
- They can be positioned anywhere in your home that has ventilation and even moved to a new place if required;
- Thereís no initial installation work required and you donít need to make any holes in your outside wall;
- Condenser tumble dryers cost less than the heat pump variety (although theyíre usually more expensive than vented dryers).
Heat pump tumble dryers
Heat pump tumble dryers are the most modern, eco-friendly type. Like condenser dryers, these appliances collect water in a reservoir so they donít need a hose. This means they can be placed anywhere in your home that has an electricity supply. The difference is that heat pump dryers recycle the warmth in the air, making them more energy efficient.
As they recycle warmth and use less energy, heat pump tumble dryers cost the least to run. That said, the upfront cost of the appliance will usually be higher and a typical drying cycle takes longer than with other types. With this trade-off in mind, a heat pump dryer is a great choice if you dry clothes regularly and are looking to invest in a long-term solution.
To summarise, you may want to consider a heat pump tumble dryer if:
- Thereís no place for your appliance to sit next to an external wall;
- You like the idea of a condenser tumble dryer but would prefer an appliance thatís more environmentally friendly, with lower running costs;
- Youíre keen to buy a tumble dryer with sophisticated new features such as Wi-Fi connectivity and sensor drying technology (more on these below!)
Tumble dryer sizes and capacities
Whether you go for a vented, condenser or heat pump model, the majority of tumble dryers come in roughly the same height and width at around 850mm x 600mm (although compact dryers are available if space is at a premium). The depth can vary a bit more widely depending on the applianceís drum size Ė usually between 580mm and 655mm.
So, whilst you need to choose an appliance thatíll fit where youíd like to position it, the main point to consider is your new dryerís capacity. Similar to washing machines, tumble dryers have capacities ranging from 5kg right up to 13kg, giving you options depending on how much laundry you usually do:
- 5-7kg Ė suitable for households of one or two
- 8-9kg Ė ideal for an average family of four
- 10kg+ Ė designed for larger households that frequently dry bulky laundry loads
Whichever capacity suits your lifestyle, youíll find a perfectly sized appliance in our selection. Click on the different drying loads below to find your ideal tumble dryer:
How to measure for a new tumble dryer
Before purchasing your new tumble dryer, check that itíll fit into the space you have planned for it. Regardless of where youíre going to position your new appliance, youíll want to measure the dimensions of this area first.
Measuring for a freestanding tumble dryer
Follow these steps to measure for a freestanding tumble dryer:
- Choose where your new tumble dryer will live.
- Use a tape measure to check the height, width and depth of the available space, then compare these dimensions with appliances as you browse.
- If you opt for a top-load dryer, make sure to leave at least 15 to 20 inches above the appliance so that thereís enough room to open the door and load your clothes.
- Planning to raise your dryer up with a laundry pedestal? Remember to take this into account when measuring the available space, bearing in mind that pedestals usually add around 14 inches in height.
- As you measure the width of your space, be sure to leave at least an inch of room either side of the appliance to allow for ventilation.
- Your dryer will need ventilation space behind it too, so allow for at least four inches of additional room when checking the depth. This also gives you enough space for the hose if you choose a vented tumble dryer.
- Once you know where your dryer will sit (allowing for ventilation space), check that youíll be able to open the doors fully in this position.
- Finally, make sure that the doorways and halls in your home have enough room for you to carry your tumble dryer into position when itís delivered.
Measuring for an integrated tumble dryer
Itís much easier to measure for a built-in tumble dryer. These appliances come in a standard height and width to fit into a conventional-size integrated cabinet. In this case, youíll just need to measure the depth, allowing at least four inches for ventilation or a hose at the back of the appliance.
Remember, youíll still need to make sure the doorways and halls in your home have enough room for you to carry the appliance into position when itís delivered.
Energy ratings for tumble dryers
Choosing a tumble dryer with a good energy rating wonít just save you money on running costs Ė itíll help to save the planet, too!
All dryers have an energy rating from A+++ to D, with A+++ being the most energy efficient. Typically, appliances with A+ ratings or above will make use of some kind of energy-saving feature such as heat pump technology. These dryers are the most environmentally friendly and will help you to cut down on your energy bills.
As you browse tumble dryers at Marks Electrical, youíll find the energy ratings indicated on all of our product pages.
Additional features to look out for
New tumble dryer technologies are emerging all the time. These developments help to make the appliances more eco-friendly whilst also offering new functions that make them more convenient to use. Here, weíve covered some of the additional features to look out for when shopping for a tumble dryer.
Available on many new models, tumble dryers with delay start enable you to set a time for your appliance to begin its drying cycle. This can be used to time drying for when your electricity tariff is cheapest Ė or to fit it in around your schedule.
Some dryers have a drum light (an LED light fitted inside the drum). The light comes on when you load or remove your laundry so youíve got full visibility whatever the time of day. Stop yourself from leaving smaller items in the drum and say goodbye to odd socks!
Smart tumble dryers
Smart tumble dryers come with Wi-Fi connectivity. These can be controlled from a smartphone app, enabling you to start, stop and pause a drying cycle remotely. Some of these apps also give you alerts to let you know when your cycle is finished. Smart features like these are ideal for fitting the laundry in around your busy schedule.
Certain appliances have a sensor drying feature. Using sensors positioned in the drum, these dryers detect the level of moisture inside and adjust the programme and length of cycle accordingly. Once your laundry is dry the cycle stops automatically, saving time whilst also ensuring that youíre not paying to run your dryer unnecessarily.
Heat pump technology
All heat pump dryers are fitted with this energy-saving technology. Rather than releasing hot air like conventional dryers, heat pump technology enables the appliance to retain and reuse heated air to continue drying your clothes. Heat pump dryers are the most environmentally friendly option and save you money on your energy bills too.
Specialised drying programmes
You may come across dryers with specialised programmes for different types of clothes. Tumble dryers with a sportswear programme dry microfiber clothing at a lower temperature to remove sweat and stains without damaging the material. Youíll also find wool programme dryers that use low temperatures and spin speeds to protect wool-based clothes.
Choosing your colour
All set on the type, capacity and features of your new tumble dryer? With the practical decisions taken care of, you might want to think about the colour of your new appliance and how itíll fit in with your dťcor. Here are our thoughts on the colours you could choose from:
Black tumble dryers blend seamlessly into kitchens and utility rooms that incorporate darker colours elsewhere. Stylish and modern, black is a great choice if youíre looking to make a statement.
White tumble dryers are the classic choice, pairing perfectly with any colour scheme whilst brightening up a room. Some see white as quite a calming colour, too, which could explain why it's such a timeless option.
Grey tumble dryers are on-trend and also complement a wide variety of different interior design styles. Grey is just as at home in a minimalist setting as it is in more traditional spaces.
Silver tumble dryers help to create a contemporary look. Less common than other colour choices, a touch of silver can help to elevate a room and give it some personality.
Tumble dryer brands
Whether youíd like to buy from a brand you trust or youíre completing the set with an appliance from the same make, you have plenty of choice when it comes to tumble dryers. We stock dryers from a huge variety of different brands, including:
Tumble dryer FAQs
When it comes to buying a tumble dryer, there are probably a lot of questions on your mind. Below, weíve included answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from our customers. Canít find the answer youíre looking for? Donít worry, just get in touch.
What is a vented tumble dryer?
Vented tumble dryers are the most common type and the cheapest Ė though they also tend to be the least eco-friendly. They work by drawing in air from the room, heating it and then blowing the hot air around the drum, which passes over your clothes to dry them as they spin. The hot, damp air inside is then vented out via a hose that passes straight to the outside through your wall.
Where can I put a vented tumble dryer?
As the hot, damp air has to escape through a hose, youíll need to position your vented tumble dryer next to an external wall or a window. The hose usually passes straight through your wall to the outside, so you may also have to get the help of a professional for the installation. You can temporarily hang the hose out of a window when the appliance is in use, but this is really only a short-term solution thatís not ideal when itís cold or rainy.
What is a condenser tumble dryer?
Condenser tumble dryers donít need a hose to carry away damp air. Instead, they work by condensing the steam generated by drying clothes into water. The water collects in a container, which can then be removed and emptied.
Where can I put a condenser tumble dryer?
Condenser tumble dryers are a flexible option and can be positioned anywhere in your house thatís well ventilated.
How often should I empty a condenser tumble dryer?
We recommend emptying the water container in your condenser tumble dryer every time you use it. This process is quick and easy, particularly if you have a sink nearby.
What is a heat pump tumble dryer?
Heat pump tumble dryers are similar to condenser models. They pass hot air over your clothes to dry them as they spin, condensing moisture from the air into water thatís collected in a removable tray. The difference is that heat pump dryers recycle warm air rather than letting it leave, making them more energy efficient.
Where can I put a heat pump tumble dryer?
Heat pump tumble dryers should avoid been placed in constantly low temperatures such as an unheated room or outhouse/garage.
How long do tumble dryers last?
You can typically expect a tumble dryer to last around 10 years. That said, this is only a rough estimate. The actual lifespan of your tumble dryer will depend on how often you use it.
Even if your tumble dryer lasts longer than this, purchasing an upgrade after 10 years or so is a good idea. Itís likely that energy-saving technology will have come a long way during this time, so upgrading and recycling your old appliance will help to reduce your energy bills and protect the planet.
How much does a tumble dryer cost to run?
The cost of running a tumble drying depends on the type and energy rating of your appliance. Ideal Home has worked out the following figures based on the typical usage of around 118 drying cycles per year:
- An average 9kg vented tumble dryer costs £1.07 per cycle to run and £127.20 per year.
- An average 9kg condenser tumble dryer costs £1.04 per cycle (£123.40 a year).
- An average 9kg heat pump tumble dryer costs just 43p per cycle, amounting to just £51.80 over the course of the year.
How do I measure for an integrated tumble dryer?
Built-in tumble dryers come in a standard height and width to fit into a conventional-size integrated cabinet. Youíll just need to measure the depth, allowing at least four inches for ventilation or a hose at the back of the appliance.
Finally, ensure that the doorways and halls in your home have enough room for you to carry the appliance into position when itís delivered.
Why are there fewer integrated tumble dryers than freestanding ones?
Compared to freestanding tumble dryers, integrated models are a far less common choice. This is partly just down to preference. Equally, not as many people have a row of cupboards where a built-in dryer could go, so manufacturers donít tend to produce as many of them.
Do you sell small tumble dryers?
Yes, we stock a range of compact tumble dryers that are ideal if space is at a premium.