There’s been a lot of talk recently about which kind of tumble dryer is best.
It was much easier to answer this question a while ago because the heat pump tumble dryers were a LOT more expensive to the point where it wasn’t really worth it.
Now, though, the price of these dryers has dropped so much that they’re pretty comparable and this makes the decision tricky.
Both varieties of tumble dryer work by generating heat to dry the clothes. Condenser dryers generate a lot more heat than heat pump dryers, meaning they can become expensive to run. The lower heat generated by heat pump dryers causes less damage to your clothes.
This guide will go through the differences between the two varieties of tumble dryer and look at the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you in your decision making!
What’s the Difference?
So first thing’s first, what is the difference between these tumble dryers?
A condenser tumble dryer, which is what the majority of people will own, uses a heating element to generate a large amount of heat to dry the clothes.
The heat generated produces moisture saturated air inside the dryer as the water is removed from the clothes.
This hot air is moved into a condensing chamber (hence condenser dryer) where the water is condensed out. This water is collected and stored in a chamber underneath the machine.
Some models have pumps which pull the water out of the washer if needed, but not all of them have this.
Heat pump dryers work differently. There is no heating element that generates heat in these dryers.
Instead, they use a heat pump to generate warm air (not as high temperature as condensers) from the dryer itself.
The warm air here is then fed back into the drum to dry your clothes, making this a good environmental option.
These also feature a condenser chamber that pulls the moisture out from the air and stores all the water in a separate tank.
There is also a third kind of dryer called a vented tumble dryer. These are not used much in the UK anymore as they need places to exhaust safely out the back through their vents.
These are the main differences in tumble dryer. They may all seem very different, though operationally they’re pretty much the same: load your clothes up and let them dry!
As for which type of dryer is better, let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Pros and Cons of Each Dryer
Due to the differences in the way that each dryer generates heat, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Condenser Dryer Pros
Condenser dryers generate much higher temperatures with the heating element than heat pump dryers.
This means that the drying cycles are often much quicker than other varieties of tumble dryer.
The average drying time for a n 8 kg load is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, which is about half an hour faster than a heat pump dryer.
They don’t require any ventilation so these can be placed anywhere in your home, which gives you some flexibility (though if you have a model that extracts the water automatically, then they need to be plumbed in).
Condenser dryers are the cheapest up front cost of the various types of tumble dryer (though the heat pump dryer price has been falling constantly).
Condenser dryers are not very energy efficient, because of the high temperatures that they use.
These dryers tend to have an energy rating of B and will generally cost a lot more to run because of this consumption.
While the high temperatures used reduce the cycle time, it also means that your clothes will get worn down much faster.
This reduces the lifespan of your favourite clothes by a fair bit due to heat damage or even shrinking if you’re really unlucky.
Some models of condenser dryer do not remove the water automatically, which means you have to manually take the water out of the storage chamber beneath the machine every so often.
This can be a big drawback if you like to leave the dryer running a lot.
Even the ones that do this automatically need to be plumbed in properly, so installation can be a pain.
These are all the points for the condenser dryers, so let’s look at the heat pump dryers now.
Heat Pump Dryer Pros
Unlike the condenser dryer, the heat pump dryer uses much lower temperatures, making its energy cost a lot lower.
Not only does it use less heat, but the heat it does use is recycled through the machine itself, further reducing its energy footprint, as no energy is being used specifically for producing heat.
This is great for the environment and will also end up saving you a lot of money in running costs in the long run.
Some heat pump dryers are rated A+++ and this can add up to a lot of money saved.
Again, because of the lower temperature, a heat pump dryer is much gentler on your laundry, meaning your clothes won’t suffer heat damage as they might with the condenser dryers.
Your clothes then will last longer and won’t get faded so much.
As mentioned before, the heat pump dryers are still quite a bit more expensive in terms of up front price than condenser dryers.
This cost, however, is offset quite quickly by the lowered running costs from their energy efficiency and you can usually make your money back through energy savings.
The price of these dryers is also constantly dropping, meaning that soon they will be much closer to condenser dryers and this won’t be such an issue anymore.
The spin cycles are a bit longer than condenser dryers as well, as they do not reach such high temperatures, taking longer to dry clothes fully.
The difference isn’t too drastic, however, usually amounting to a different of half an hour. So unless you’re on a really big time crunch, this isn’t really a huge deal, especially if you tend to put the dryer on whilst you’re out anyway.
That covers all the points for heat pump dryers!
So, it looks as though heat pump dryers are probably the way to go. They are much better for the environment and the higher up front cost is very quickly offset by the much lower running costs.
Combine that with a gentler touch on your laundry while only being a short amount of time longer and you’re onto a winner with one of these!