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How to choose a tumble dryer: vented or condenser?

Posted by Ross Lammas on 11 May 2012 at 9:21 am

OK, we know the most energy efficient way to dry our clothes is outdoors, but modern lifestyles don’t always allow for this, and a tumble dryer, for a busy family, is often seen as a necessity. But should you choose a vented or a condenser tumble dryer? And what else should you look for?

Vented machines have those wiggly hoses that take the damp air produced by the drying process outside, so you are restricted where you can put them. You either have to put a large hole in an outside wall, or dangle the hose attractively out of an open window. Vented machines are often cheaper to buy than condenser models and sometimes cost less to run. Not all machines come with a venting kit, so check this out before you buy.

The bonus of a condenser tumble dryer, is that they don’t need venting so can be put in almost any well-ventilated spot. They work by converting the moist air into water, diverting it to a tank, which is then emptied. However, a full water reservoir can weigh up to 6kg! They have improved in energy efficiency in recent years and now condenser models rank top on sust-it. But that doesn’t mean all models cost less to run, and you may need to pay a bit more for a decent appliance.

Energy efficiency

A tumble dryer can be one of the most energy-guzzling appliances in our homes, with some appliances having an average running cost of over £150 per year. All machines are given an energy and drying performance grading of A-G, A being the most efficient.

You can help cut down on energy use by not overloading and drying similar fabrics together. Also look for appliances that have a sensor that turns off the heater when clothes are dry.

About the author: Ross Lamas is founder of sust-it.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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2 comments - read them below or add one


Sust-itComment left on: 9 July 2012 at 1:32 pm

Heat pump tumble dryers are a lot more efficient and do top our energy efficiency charts.  However, they still have to do many of the functions of tumble dryers that don't have heat pumps, eg spinning the drum and powering the electronics, so savings as mentioned would be difficult to achieve

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nigeldoddComment left on: 16 May 2012 at 9:34 am

A properly designed condensing tumble drier should use the heat from the heat pump to heat up the incoming dry air and so should be more efficient.

The thermodynamic limit of performance of 0 deg C for condensation and 40 dec C for drying is approx 1/7 of the energy that would be used for direct heating of the air but the practical design limitations would make that 1/3 to 1/4. Is there any good reason why this cannot be obtained?

Do you have any actual figures for comparison?

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