If you’re considering buying a dryer, it’s essential to know how vented, condenser, and heat pump dryers work.
You want an option that meets your energy and drying efficiency needs.
Therefore, the best way to narrow down your choices is to compare the three and learn about their pros and cons.
Vented dryers dry clothes by blowing air into the tumble drum while expelling hot air through a vented pipe. Condenser dryers work similarly, the only difference being that they don’t vent air. Finally, heat pump dryers use a refrigerant in a closed-loop heat exchange to dry clothes.
In the rest of this article, I’ll compare vented vs. condenser vs. heat pump dryers, illustrating differences in energy use, installations, and costs.
I’ll also cover the pros and cons of each type so you can determine which one fits your needs best.
Keep reading to learn more!
Are you considering going all-electric in your home? If so, you should read our article about which appliances to switch out.
Vented dryers are the most common option on the market. Many people use them because they’re easily accessible.
Vented dryers work by drawing air from the room in which they are located and heating it.
The heated air is then passed through a rotating drum containing the clothes. While in the drum, the hot air dries the clothes then the moisture is vented out of the dryer through a pipe.
Vented dryers are generally less expensive than their condenser and heat pump counterparts.
Pros of Vented Dryers
- They are cheap: Vented dryers are the most affordable option on the market. You can get a vented dryer for as low as $150. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are more expensive vented dryers. These are advanced vented dryers with intelligent sensors and extra programming to make drying easier.
- Quicker drying: Vented dryers are the fastest for drying clothes, taking between 45 to 50 minutes. Such a quick turnaround makes these dryers a better option for those in a hurry or who handle guests regularly.
- They are wall mountable: Vented dryers have an advantage over other types since they can be mounted on the wall. This great space-saving solution is perfect for small laundry rooms or apartments.
- Does not need draining: Vented dryers do not need to be drained like condenser dryers. Thus, you don’t have to worry about the water getting into the laundry room and damaging your floor or furniture.
Cons of Vented Dryers
- Can’t be installed just anywhere: Vented dryers need to be placed near an exterior wall so that the venting hose has a place to expel moisture. According to North Dakota State University, venting the dryer inside the house creates a conducive environment for mold and condensation. Indoor condensation exposes your home to water damage.
- Can pull in dust and other allergens: Vented dryers can pull in outside air that contains dust and other allergens. This can be a problem for people with allergies or asthma.
- Lower energy efficiency: Vented dryers are not as energy-efficient as heat pump dryers because they expel hot air, which is wasted energy. Apart from hot air expulsion, these dryers use more energy to heat the element to generate warm air. However, CDA says that vented dryers use about a fifth less energy than a condenser dryer to dry a given load.
- Exposes clothes to wear and tear: Vented dryers can get as hot as 185°F (85°C). According to Science Daily, such a temperature weakens fabrics, exposing them to wear and tear.
Vented dryers are easy to maintain, and their repairs are usually affordable. These dryers vent their moisture outside, meaning they don’t involve the constant removal and installation of water tanks.
Additionally, most of their parts are located outside, so you won’t have to open up the dryer for maintenance.
Cleaning a vented dryer is as simple as cleaning the lint trap after every load. To ensure proper airflow, you should vacuum around the exterior venting hose monthly.
Cleaning a vented dryer ranges from $52.14 to $144. This cost varies based on:
- The number of vents.
- The state of the vents, whether clean or clogged.
- How often do you use the dryer.
- The frequency of cleaning required.
Like any other appliance, vented dryers break down and will need repairs from time to time. Fortunately, these repairs are relatively affordable and can be done by a professional or yourself.
The most common vented dryer repair is replacing the lint screen. This repair costs an average of $50 to $70.
Other common vented dryer repairs include:
- Replacing the heating element: $100-$200.
- Fixing the thermostat: $100-$150.
- Repairing the door seal: $50-$70.
Installation quality is essential, as it determines how effectively your dryer will operate.
Ventilation is the most crucial factor to consider when installing a vented dryer for the following reasons:
- To expel lint, moisture, and heat: Without proper ventilation, the dryer will not be efficient in drying the clothes. This problem can arise when the dryer is too close to the wall.
- To avoid wear and tear: Proper ventilation prevents your dryer from working too hard and wearing out quickly. The ideal spot for a vented dryer is on an exterior wall with sufficient space for air circulation.
Proper installation also includes:
- Checking the gas line connection.
- Inspecting the venting system for cracks or holes.
- Making sure the dryer is level.
The installation process is not complex; you only need to connect the venting hose from the dryer through an exterior wall.
Condenser dryers work by utilizing the condensation process to dry your clothes.
They blow air over a heating coil which is then directed into the tumble drum to dry the spinning clothes.
The damp air extracted from the clothes is cooled by the condenser, which causes the water to condense into the reservoir.
These dryers have a water tank that collects the moisture from your clothes as they dry. You should drain the accumulated moisture through a hose after every cleaning cycle.
Pros of Condenser Dryers
- Do not need exterior venting: Condenser dryers don’t need an external vent as they expel the moisture through a hose into a tank. This means you can place the dryer anywhere in your home, including on an interior wall.
- They dry clothes faster: Condenser dryers heat the air to between 70 and 75°C (158 and 167°F). High temperatures help dry clothes quickly, which is great if you’re often in a hurry.
- Are affordable: Condenser dryers are cheap compared to their heat pump counterparts. Their prices range between $236 and $470.
Cons of Condenser Dryers
- You must empty the water tank: The collected moisture must be manually drained after every drying cycle through a hose. The dryer will not work correctly if you forget to drain it, and it could overflow.
- The water tank can collect mold: If it is not emptied and cleaned regularly, it can be a breeding ground for mold, which can then be transferred to your clothes.
- Are not energy-efficient: Like their vented counterparts, condenser dryers must blow air through a heating element. This makes them less energy-efficient than heat pump dryers, using approximately 5.2 kWh for a full load.
The main difference in terms of installation between a condenser dryer and its vented counterpart is that the former doesn’t require venting.
However, you still must install the hose that drains the collected moisture into a tank or empty the reservoir regularly.
You can connect the hose directly to a sink or a floor drain. You’ll need an adapter if you connect it to a sink.
The installation process is not complex and can be done by following these steps:
- Check the manual: Every condenser dryer is different, so it’s essential first to read the instruction manual that came with your model.
- Assemble the hose: Once you have read the manual, assemble the hose according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Connect the hose: The next step is to connect one end to the dryer and the other to a sink or a floor drain. Don’t forget to use an adapter if you’re connecting it to a sink.
- Turn on the dryer: The last step is to turn it on and start using it.
The primary maintenance and repair services you may need to invest in include:
- Cleaning the water tank: The tank must be cleaned regularly to prevent mold growth.
- Emptying the water tank: The collected moisture must be manually drained through a hose after every drying cycle to prevent reverse tumbling.
- Fixing a leaking hose: You may need to fix the hose that drains the collected moisture If it’s not working correctly or leaking.
You’ll need between $100 and $200 to repair and maintain your dryer. This amount will solve issues such as:
- Blown fuses
- Defective motors
- Broken belts
- General repair
Heat pump dryers use a heat pump to recycle the hot air inside the tumble drum. This hot air is then used to evaporate the moisture from your clothes.
A refrigerant (R-134a) circulates inside the heat pump, absorbing the heat from the air that has left the tumble drum. The refrigerant is then compressed to raise its temperature.
The hot refrigerant is then directed into a condenser, which transfers its heat to the air passing through it.
This heated air is then passed over your clothes to evaporate the moisture. Finally, the damp air from the clothes is passed through a condenser to extract moisture. The extracted vapor is stored in the reservoir as water.
Pros of Heat Pump Dryers
- Are energy-efficient: Heat pump dryers are more energy-efficient than vented and condenser dryers because they recycle the hot air inside the tumble drum. According to Energy Star, the closed-loop heat exchange cycle in heat pump dryers saves between 40 and 50 percent of power compared to its condenser and vented counterparts. As a result, they use approximately 2.16 kWh for a full load.
- Have a longer lifespan: Heat pump dryers have a longer lifespan than their vented and condenser counterparts. This is because they don’t feature a heating element, which is the part that breaks most often in dryers.
- They come in a variety of sizes: Whether you want a dryer for a small or large family, heat pump dryers are your go-to option. With tank sizes ranging from 7 kilograms (15.43 pounds), you can get a perfect dryer size for your family.
- They are safe for all clothes: Heat pump dryers can only heat to a maximum of 50°C (122°F). Such a temperature is safer for all clothes and will not weaken the fabrics.
Cons of Heat Pump Dryers
- Are more expensive: The initial cost of heat pump dryers is higher than that of the condenser and vented dryers. These dryers cost between $350 and $1,050. However, their longer lifespan and increased energy efficiency make them a more cost-effective option in the long run.
- Takes longer to dry clothes: Heat pump dryers take longer to dry clothes than vented and condenser dryers because they operate at lower temperatures. A heat pump dryer can take up to three times as long as a vented or condenser dryer to completely dry your clothes.
- They need draining: Like condenser dryers, heat pump dryers require draining after each use. The water reservoir must be emptied manually, or the hose that drains the collected moisture should be connected to a sink or floor drain.
Heat pump dryers are the most low-maintenance of the bunch. The maintenance cost averages $58.8 per annum if the machine is operated once weekly.
Based on this, it’s evident that although purchasing a heat pump dryer is a costly affair, it’s cheaper to maintain in the long run.
The most common repair you may have to do on your heat pump dryer is unclogging the lint screen. You should also regularly clean the condenser coils and check for any duct blockages.
Heat pump and condenser dryers are installed in the same way. The only concern is to ensure you can drain the dryer’s tank.
Thus, you must install the dryer near a floor drain or sink. You can connect the dryer to a laundry tub using an adequately installed hose if you don’t have either.
Vented vs. Condenser vs. Heat Pump Dryers: What’s the Best?
Each of these types of dryers has its own set of weaknesses and strengths. Therefore, the best dryer depends on your needs and budget.
A vented dryer is your best bet if you’re looking for an affordable dryer with a short drying time.
However, if you’re willing to spend more on an energy-efficient and long-lasting dryer, a heat pump dryer is the way to go.
Vented, condenser, and heat pump dryers are currently dominating the market.
Whichever you choose, ensure it meets your needs in terms of energy and drying efficiency.
You should also consider the cost to get the best value for your money.
If you are interested in finding out about all-in-one washer dryers, you can learn about them by reading our detailed article on the subject here.