Tumble Dryer Buying Guide

Tumble Dryer Buying Guide

Consider where the tumble dryer will be situated in your home, as when you have gone through the types of dryer available, it may help to you to make up your mind.  Whether you will be looking for the best deal available on the internet, it is always a good idea to go to a local showroom and actually check out your top choices first before you buy.  

Don’t forget to check into online and customer reviews on the particular models available, as these may well change your mind from the model you were going to select.

The types of tumble dryers currently on the market are:

Vented Tumble Dryers

These are the most common type of dryer around, and have a proven track record over a number of years.  You will have come across this type of dryer before, they are the ones with the plastic hose that is vented to the outside to expel the heat, either through a wall, a cat-flap (as long as the cat doesn’t mind of course) or through an open window.  

They are very simple in design and contain only a few parts that could possibly need replacing over a period of time.  All these parts are fairly simple to replace and, because they are so common, are relatively cheap

.A couple of things you need to be aware of before deciding on this type of dryer, you must ensure that the vent hose is kept clear, as condensed water can be trapped in hoses that need to bend around other items in order to reach the outside air.  Condensed water can cause blockages but left unattended they can start to smell, which is not pleasant, especially if your tumble dryer will be living in your kitchen. If you are in a position where you have to vent the hose out of a window, bear in mind this can be a problem in the winter, as the last thing you need is for your expensive heating to be lost out of the window.  This may not be a major problem but it still worth thinking about.

The main benefits of this type of tumble dryer are:

  • Reliable and durable
  • Ease of repair
  • Not overpriced at point of sale
  • Simple to use
  • Little or no heat or moisture expelled into the room
  • Can be installed in a colder environment, such as a garage or outbuilding without concern

The downsides:

  • Must be vented to the outside air
  • Choice of models can be limited

Condenser Tumble Dryers

This type of dryer does not need to have a vent hose and, therefore, you can install them virtually wherever you want.

The difference is that the condenser dryers have to have either a tank or bottle which stores the water extracted from the clothes during the drying process. You will generally have a light or sound to attract your attention when the tank or bottle needs emptying.  This can be tricky and you may need to be good at balancing to ensure you don’t spill the contents all over the floor.  You may also find that the dryer will not work until the tank has been emptied.

There is an option to have a hose with this type of dryer, but this must be fixed close to a drainage point, which would restrict your choices of where the dryer should be fitted.

You need to be aware that these types of dryer do get hot, and if you are locating your dryer in a cold room you will notice condensation when the dryer is in use.

These dryers are probably not as efficient as the vented dryer, and can also be prone to requiring repairs.  They have a far more complex design, and you may well need to call on the services of a professional engineer to carry out the necessary repairs, as they can be quite awkward for the amateur.  They are also more prone to blockages and leaks, as fluff can build up on the inside, very often in the condensing chamber which will cause the dryer not to dry, although it will still heat up and tumble.

You must expect to pay at least £500 for a condenser dryer to ensure you have a good model that not only performs well, but will last.  There are some dryers on the market that are less than half this cost, but they will not be made as well, will probably give you far more problems and will inevitably need replacing much earlier.

The good points are:

  • Can go anywhere in your home that has a supply of fresh air that it can draw in when in use
  • Good range of choices
  • Fairly simple to use, especially if the water hose is plumbed in

The downsides include:

  • Does not work well in cold environments under 5 Deg C, such as a garage in the winter
  • Does not work well in hot environments over 30 Deg C
  • Expels heat and moisture into the roomMore expensive than a vented dryer

Heat  Pump Tumble Dryers

These are more commonly used in commercial premises, but a few models are available for domestic use.  In a commercial environment they will be very energy efficient, but the amount of usage in a normal home will not provide you with that amount of energy saving.

The heat pump dryer requires a compressor, much as you would find in your refrigerator, as well as a condensing unit made from aluminium, plus a lot of tubing.

They are much more expensive to purchase but, as yet, are relatively uncommon in domestic situations and, therefore, the pros and cons are not yet available but expected to be along the lines of purchasing a condenser dryer.

Sensor Tumble Dryers

How this type of dryer works is that sensors are fitted either on the drum or on the vent, which measures the humidity in the air being expelled and effectively controls the drying process.  Instead of selecting the time you think your laundry will take to dry, you just load it in and the sensors do the rest, depending on the finish you have selected.  This not only can reduce the amount of time drying your clothes and saving electricity, but also avoids the need to open the door during the drying process to see if your clothes are dry, which is not something you should be doing as it can cause major problems with your dryer.

This type of dryer is available on some vented and some condenser dryers.


As you can see from the above, there are a few different types of dryer available, and you should spend some time on research before you decide which is the best for you and your family needs.

The best recommendation really is to buy the best you can afford, as this should mean that you have a durable dryer that will last you a very long time, and give you the service you require.


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Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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