Recently I wrote a piece comparing the good and bad points of condenser tumble dryers and heat pump tumble dryers.
It was pretty clear that the heat pump dryer came out on top for its low energy usage.
In that piece I did also briefly mention the third type of tumble dryer commonly available, the vented tumble dryer.
Vented tumble dryers dry your laundry in a completely different way to condenser dryers. The vented variety are able to immediately expel any moisture removed from the clothes as steam, unlike condenser dryers. They do not collect the moisture as water in a reservoir underneath the machine.
In this guide we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of dryer.
What’s the Difference?
As normal, we’ll start off by looking at the general differences between the two dryers.
Condenser Tumble Dryer
A condenser tumble dryer generates a lot of heat by use of a heating element built into the machine.
As the heat dries the clothes, moisture saturated air is produced inside the dryer drum.
The hot air produced from this is pulled into a separate chamber, where the water is condensed out. The water from here is then pulled into another chamber (reservoir) where it is collected and stored underneath the machine.
Some models have automatic pumps which remove this water for you, but others are manual emptying only.
Vented Tumble Dryer
Vented dryers will also produce heat, but much lower temperatures than condenser dryers.
This again generates moisture saturated air inside the drum of the dryer.
The main difference, though, is what happens next.
While a condenser dryer takes this air and converts it to water for storage, a vented dryer can immediately get rid of this air.
Vented dryers have a hose attached to the back of the machine through which the steam generated is removed.
Because of this hose, these dryers generally need to be placed somewhere where it is possible to exhaust the steam.
Operationally these machines are not massively different, the main differences are in the costs and pros/cons.
Let’s find out which (if either) is better!
Pros and Cons of Each Dryer
Just like with the condenser vs heat pump comparison, there are good and bad points about how each dryer works.
Condenser Dryer Pros
Condenser dryers use the heating element to generate heat at very high temperatures.
The fact that these dryers circulate the hot air around inside the machine and it never leaves means that there are fewer issues with damp air sitting in the room.
This is good for two reasons.
Condenser dryers can already be placed basically anywhere because they don’t have any hoses at the back (restricting the placement to somewhere where venting is possible).
They can then be placed in an airing cupboard because there’s no risk of moisture build up in the area.
Condenser dryers tend to have a lot more features (because they’re newer) and settings for drying cycles and speeds to suit different fabrics.
Against vented dryers, the biggest disadvantage for condenser dryers is cycle time. They generally have much longer spin cycles, due to their inability to instantly remove the moisture and instead collect it.
In terms of energy efficiency, condenser dryers aren’t as good as vented dryers. They will tend to have an energy rating of B, indicating pretty high energy usage.
The high temperatures they use increase their energy usage.
Moreover, they have to spend time and energy removing the hot air and condensing it in a separate chamber.
Coupling this with the longer cycle times can mean a relatively high running cost.
As well as this higher running cost, their upfront cost is also higher!
If you happen to have a condenser dryer that does not remove the water automatically then you’ll need to get into the habit of removing the water reservoir from beneath and emptying it yourself.
That’s it for condenser dryers, so let’s look at vented dryers.
Vented Tumble Dryer
These dryers are much older in general than condenser dryers (think big laundromats in older sitcoms, these are all vented ones) but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re worse!
The biggest advantage for vented dryers over condenser dryers is the cycle time.
They dry much faster than the condenser counterparts, meaning less running time, which can equate to lower running costs.
They remove all the moisture to the exterior of the property, which massively reduces the risk of damp or mildew building up inside the dryer drum, which can really ruin your clothes.
The fact that they remove the moisture as they go also reduces their energy consumption, lowering running costs.
I mentioned that condenser dryers have more special features. The vented dryers do not have any of these, typically, but this means that they are just simpler to use with less room for error.
Accompanying the lower running costs is a lower up front cost, which is very appealing.
This applies to pretty much any model, except heat pump dryers, which are still a bit more expensive (see my other article comparing them).
Vented tumble dryers are typically much older, which can mean they are more susceptible to breaking than their newer counterparts.
The biggest drawback, however, is that now you are limited to where the dryer can go.
The hose at the back has to go somewhere, be it an opening in the wall to the outside world or through a window.
This can be a huge issue if you’re a renter, as most landlords probably wouldn’t be cool with you making a large hole in the external wall.
Also, whilst the simplicity of fewer cycle options is pretty nice, you actually do end up on missing out on some other cool features which can help in the drying process.
That covers all the points for vented tumble dryers.
So, once again, it looks as though, if you can, it would be better to get a vented tumble dryer rather than a condenser one.
You will be paying less up front and end up paying much less in running costs due to their lower energetic foot print, which is also great for the environment.
If you’re renting your place, however, a condenser dryer is probably the only choice you can really go for, unless your place is already equipped for a vented dryer.