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Dryers Buying Guide

Purchasing a dryer for your home is a big investment. Most models will last between five and 15 years, or more depending on if they are maintained properly. Models range widely in terms of features, capacity, as well as efficiency. Buyers should first consider how frequently they need to use the dryer and what features are ideal for their needs. However, there are many makes and models available. The key is to look at individual features and reviews of specific models before making a buying decision.

What to Expect

When buying a dryer for your specific needs, cost is secondary to the capabilities of the machine. Both gas and electric models are available. According to some research reports, gas dryers will cost more to operate than similar electric models, sometimes by as much as $150 annually. However, electric dryers require more time to dry clothing than gas does. If you are making the switch from gas to electric, you will need a 120-volt outlet available. If you are making the switch from electric to gas, you will need a gas hookup available or professionally installed.

Types of Dryers to Consider

The various types of dryers on the market offer enough flexibility for most homeowners. The following are the most common types available.

Full size

The most common purchase option is the full-sized dryer. These range in size from 27 inches up to 29 inches wide. When selecting, note that most manufacturers advertise dryers based on the capacity. This provides only a fraction of information related to the system, though. Words like "super capacity" "extra large capacity" or "extra large capacity" are not necessarily regulated and can mean anything. it is more important, then, to look at the number of cubic feet in each model. Most full-sized models offer between 6 and 7 cubic feet. Some are larger and that makes them excellent for super-sized loads such as washing a comforter. Most homeowners will find that full-sized models are the most practical option.

Space Savers

Some models are smaller and that makes them ideal for apartments or smaller families. Smaller units often fit behind closet doors or will stack on top of the washing for even further space saving. Keep in mind that these are best for those with smaller needs. Most have only about 3 to 3 cubic feet of space making them ideal for only a small load. More so, most have a smaller opening, which makes them a bit harder to manage for some people. Most run on electric because they are smaller and they are easier to move, but some gas models are available.


Another space-saving option ideal for smaller families is called the washer and dryer center. These laundry centers combine the washer and dryer into one model, with one sitting on top of the other. Some of these are full- sized, though most are significantly smaller. Both gas and electric models are available. Keep in mind that full-sized models of laundry centers are typically smaller than larger capacity dryers. This may slow down the process significantly.

Key Features to Look For

There are some features of dryers that add value and can improve overall results. The key here is to focus on selecting a dryer right for your sized family and then to look for features that will enhance its functionality to you, specifically.

Moisture Sensing Technology

One of the best features for dryers is a moisture sensor. This allows the dryer to determine just how much moisture (ie how wet) the clothing in the dryer is. When the load is dry, it can turn off automatically rather than running for a set amount of time that may be unnecessary. This can also benefit the fabrics since exposure to prolonged heat can end up creating more wear and tear than is necessary. This is a nice energy efficiency benefit, too.

Auto Drying Cycles

Another key feature that most full-size dryers offer is the auto dry cycle. Though many units have dozens of cycle options, this one's most likely to be important to you. It will shut off the dryer as soon as the clothing reaches the level of dryness you desire. If you want the clothing slightly damp, perhaps to iron it afterwards, you can set it to that level as well.


Filters on dryers are a very important component. You need a simple and effective way of removing any debris and lint from the clothing because you do not want the dryer to vent this into the home or out into the yard. Look for a top-mounted lint filter only because it is easier to get to and clean. Keep in mind that if you allow the filter to clog and do not clear it prior to using it again, this will reduce efficiency significantly.

Steam Settings

Something that is somewhat new to the dryer features is a steam setting. This allows you to dry your clothing in a different matter. However, it is a new feature and not fully integrated and with mixed results. It promises to help reduce wrinkles and odors, but not all models hold up to tests.

Key Brands

There are many makes and models of dryers. Some of the most common brands include Simpson, Fisher & Paykel, Bosch, Haier, and Electrolux, but other versions may be worthwhile to invest in as well. GE models tend to be moderate to higher priced and some do have a permanent rack in the dryer to hang clothing to dry. They also feature reverse tumble features. The Kenmore models tend to be reliable as well. Some do include the steam cycle. Maytag is not as reliable but the company does offer both gas and electric models including stackable varieties. Whirlpool is perhaps the most advanced with its features. However, prices are still highly competitive.


Overall dryers can be a long-term, reliable investment. Make it one time and use it for years without having to worry about efficiency or wear and tear.

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