What Are My Clothes Dryer Options?

ByMarc Silberberg


Most people buy their new dryer under duress when their old one breaks, and the repairman announces the bad news that the old dryer is no longer fixable. Under so-called normal use, clothes dryers commonly last about ten years. This ballpark estimate is dependent on several factors, namely, how often it is used, how large of a family contributes to each week’s laundry load, and how often the dryer vent is professionally cleaned. In other words, how well is the dryer taken care of by the owners especially when there are teens or outside help who utilize the dryer as well? Some new model dryers will have a beeper or light that will remind the user to clean out the dryer vent but if your washer is older these features will not be present.

Interestingly, according to Consumer Reports it is crucial that the washing machine used in conjunction with the dryer has an effective spinning element so that the clothes coming out of the washer are ready to be put in the dryer and not to overwork that machine. The washer’s spinning cycle’s purpose is to remove as much water as possible so that the dryer cycle will not be prolonged. Sometimes people blame the dryer for not drying the clothes in a timely fashion when the bigger issue is the fact that the clothes are coming out too wet from the washing machine.

When a clothes dryer fails unexpectedly, there isn’t much time to research different options. Some of us are familiar with the adage from an age-old compilation of the ethical teachings, “Who is wise, he who sees the future”. No this is not emphasizing any prophetic talents but more of the practical side of life which in our subject translates into, if your dryer is ten years old or more you can expect it to break.

A ten-year-old dryer is living on borrowed time for a typical family with kids. Of course, if you are a couple with no family who travels extensively and don’t use your dryer regularly you should expect your dryer to exceed the life expectancy of other similar models. In either scenario, eventually there will come a time in most everyone’s life when they will be on the lookout for a new clothes dryer.

Have you ever been tempted to buy a new dryer before your old one retires? This really is a good idea if you see a model that has all the features you are looking for in a dryer with advantages that your present dryer does not have. Appliance and department stores sometimes run great sales that can save you a few hundred dollars on the model you like except that your old dryer is still working. However, it might not be working at full capacity and not drying the clothes properly, yet you are not ready to remove it and throw it away. If you have some space in your garage like some smart people who told me recently that they purchased a new dryer and put it in their garage to store until needed, it certainly pays to take advantage of a good legitimate sale.

The smart couple written about above did just that, they purchased a new dryer on sale and kept it in their garage until there was no life left in their old model. Instead of panicking when your trusted repairman gives you the bad news of the demise of your dryer, you can call him with the good news that it is time for him to disconnect the old make room for the new one. This peace of mind is a good example of a wise couple who saw the future. They knew it was only a matter of time that they would have to say goodbye to their old dryer and why should they have to settle for a new model that happens to be available the next day? Maybe the one they really wanted wouldn’t be available for another four weeks especially with the logistics shipping problems prevalent today.

Let’s zero in on a few types of dryers that are popular and readily available today whether you are a futuristic consumer (who plans for the surrender of their old drying appliance) or the frantic one who has loads of wet laundry waiting to be dried.

The size of the room in which the dryer will be standing will be the first determinant whether you will be purchasing full size appliances or compact ones. If you are fortunate to be able to hook your clothes dryer to a gas line you may opt for this type of model.

Full-Sized Dryers vs. Compact Dryers

If you are purchasing a washer and dryer simultaneously there are many brands that have dryers that are paired with washers. A typical full- sized dryer is twenty-seven inches wide and there are some newer ones that go a couple of inches wider. There should be at least six inches of space behind the dryer for proper venting and most of these models come with a one-year guarantee. (Speed Queen actually has a longer guarantee.) A gas model costs more initially than its electric counterpart but ultimately the cost for operation becomes more for an electric model.

The capacity of a full-size dryer is about nine cubic feet while a compact dryer is about four cubic feet. If you only have room for a compact dryer, you will not have the option of gas power as they only come in the electric model requiring a 240-volt hookup outlet.

If you are an apartment or condo dweller you may not have a choice and you will have to go the compact dryer way. Without a separate laundry room, you will need to make sure that wherever the faucets and outlets are that there is sufficient room for the dryer to fit into tight spaces such as the bathroom or under a counter. Make sure you note the machine’s height before buying and compare it to the measurement under the counter.

There is a very nice model of a duo washer and dryer that are attached one on top of the other. These types of combos are great for small places, but their height will come into question so make sure you have enough headroom for them. It’s similar to buying a refrigerator which might have the right measurements from width to depth, but the height might not fit into your kitchen.

Voltage Use for Full Sized Dryers

A gas dryer uses a regular 120 Volt outlet and should dry approximately fourteen to twenty-eight pounds of laundry in one hour. (Keep in mind that the accompanying washer must wring out the clothes efficiently because it will not be the dryer’s fault if the clothes come into it dripping wet from the washer.)

Moisture Sensors

Moisture sensors are a popular requested option in full size dryers. If the washer is at full capacity, a moisture sensor will add to the efficiency of the dryer. When putting the dryer on a timed cycle, you risk either underestimating or overestimating the amount of time needed to dry the load. Moisture sensors work well for full loads only, otherwise you cannot be sure that the laundry will actually touch the sensor.

Prices of Full-Size Models

When shopping for a full-sized clothes dryer, keep in mind what the capacity of the washer is. The capacity of the dryer’s drum is larger than the capacity of a matching washer because as the wet laundry dries it expands so make sure that the washer and dryer are compatible. Prices vary with different makes and models where prices range from about four hundred to two thousand dollars. Some folks prefer the old-fashioned dials, and some prefer the newer push button models. Personally, from prior experience I opt for the old-fashioned dials simply because they tend to last longer. It’s a pity to throw out a perfectly good dryer because the electric panel has burned out. Like dishwashers which offer the choice of both, the last dishwasher I purchased has a push button pad. As it has already surpassed the ten-year mark, my repairman advised that it would not pay to put in a new panel since it would be too costly. My regular cycle button does not work, and I must always use the heavy load one since that’s the one that is still operative. I think it all depends on how meticulous you are with electronic panels. If you are the type that likes to wipe the panels or buttons often, I would advise against an electric touch pad since once these pads get too wet they begin to malfunction. You could buy or design a clear plastic cover to put over the panel to prevent moisture from getting in.

Final Words

A typical dryer purchase is usually done under duress when several wet loads are waiting impatiently for the next step in the cleaning process unless the purchase is being made by recent home purchasers. When buying a dryer under stress, folks will opt for the one that is most readily available and with the quickest delivery. Wise consumers who are aware that their dryer is on its last leg will begin looking for good buys before the dryer dies giving them much more options in pricing and models. Always make sure that your vents are clean to keep your dryer in good standing.

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