Buyers guide to tumble dryers
When it comes to finding the best tumble dryer, most of us won’t really know where to start. It’s the kind of purchase you make on just a few occasions in a life time and we can’t be experts at everything.
Just as with any other technology, the world of dryers is moving forward all the time. Even if you bought, say, a condensing tumble dryer a few years ago, you’d be surprised at how the standards have gone up since. That’s why we’ve put this buyers’ guide together to help get you underway and get you to the best tumble dryer.
We won’t be talking about individual brands or models here. The likes of Zanussi, White Knight Hoover, Beko and Indesit are well established brands that can all make a great clothes dryer; we’re here to give you the tools to take to our comparison tables so that you can find the exact model you need at the right price point.
The different types of tumble dryer
When you’re looking for tumble dryers, the first decision you need to make is which type you’re going for. There are two common options: vented, or condenser dryers:
- Vented tumble dryer – The vented dryer tends to be the cheaper of the two options, but it uses a plastic hose to expel the moisture from the tumble dryer, either through a hole in the wall or a window. The window version is unsightly and annoying at best, or in some cases impossible – don’t buy a vented dryer if you won’t be able to get the pipe to a window or a drill a hole in the wall! However, the cheapest tumble dryers tend to be vented ones.
- Condenser dryer – In more recent times the more expensive condensing tumble dryer has become more popular. A tumble dryer’s condenser collects moisture in a water reservoir which you will need to empty. As well as costing more they will also use a little more electricity. But if you want to lose that plastic hose, it is condenser tumble dryers all the way.
If you want to see how the insides of a tumble dryer really work, check out this video from eSpares:
While researching which tumble dryer to go for, you may also see these phrases cropping up:
- Spin dryers – Something of a blast from the past, these top-loaders can be a cheap and effective alternative to tumble dryers which use little electricity. However, the flip side is that they are noisy, time consuming to use and usually have a small capacity – plus they don’t actually dry your clothes. Instead they draw the main body out via super-fast spinning, leaving your clothes damp and still in need of some hanging time.
- Integrated tumble dryer – Instead of being a particular type of dryer, the integrated tumble dryer is simply a machine built and designed to be built-in to your kitchen. They are made with cupboard space in mind, with points on the front to add hinges for doors so they fit seamlessly into your current design.
- Washer dryer – Another option is to go for an all-in-one unit that both washes and then dries your clothes. These are very popular as they save you space, as well as only having to buy one machine. If this is what you’re after, head to Crowdstorm’s best washer dryer section.
How to compare cheap tumble dryers
If you look to the left of our list of tumble dryers, you’ll see you can refine your search by specifying certain criteria that you do or don’t want for your dryer. This will drastically reduce the amount of products on the list, making it much simpler (and quicker) for you to find your ideal tumble dryer.
The simplest way to do this is of course by price; if you’re on a strict budget, just type in your minimum and/or maximum spend. Also, if you’re looking for a specific make or model you can also type in specific keywords to narrow down your search.
You’ll also see settings for ‘drying system’ and ‘washing load’. The system will either be vented or condenser tumble dryer, as described above. Washing load is about capacity; tumble dryers can go up to about 10Kg, but to keep life simple just get one that has the same capacity as your washing machine (most of which are 6 or 7Kg).
Beyond this is just choosing front or top loading (see spin dryers above for top-loaders, all the rest are front loaders), plus the colour and width of your prospective tumble dryer (the later is of course vital in a fitted kitchen where you’re putting an integrated tumble dryer).
Tumble dryer ratings
As green issues become more and more important in our everyday lives, both for environmental and cost reasons, energy efficiency is high on many people’s agendas. We’ve taken that into consideration with our vented and condenser tumble dryer comparison tables.
In our refine search options section you’ll see a section where you can choose to list only Energy Saving Trust (EST) recommended models, as well as a table where you can choose the ‘Energy efficiency class’ you wish you tumble dryer to fall into.
- Energy efficiency class – This is a European wide ranking which is applied to everything from light bulbs to houses. You will find that most tumble dryer models are rated ‘C’, but you can find ‘B’ and ‘A’ rated models too.
- EST Recommended – While the government backed EST stamp of approval includes a strong mark for a dryer’s energy rating, it also has to meet high levels in spin quality (check out the full details on the official website).
Why might a cheap tumble dryer be so, well, cheap?
Apart from the reasons we’ve already mentioned (poor energy efficiency; a vented rather than condenser dryer; small capacity etc) another factor can be how tumble dryers are controlled. You have two main categories of tumble dryer controller:
- Timer – At the basic end of cheap tumble dryers, these models simple dry your clothes for a certain amount of time. These are cheaper and easier dryers but they are also less accurate, which means less energy efficient.
- Sensor – Usually found in the better condenser tumble dryer models, these have sensors inside the drum that monitor the moisture left inside the dryer, drying at the intensity level required until the clothes are dry. This makes them much more energy efficient.
What do I do next?
Armed with this information and with your settings refined down the left hand side of our tumble dryer comparison page, you should be ready to find that perfect dryer. You’ll see the majority of the products will be available from multiple retailers, so take your time to shop around and find the best price, or retailer you’re happy with.
As well as price, plus delivery options and other possible perks of choosing one store or another, be sure to check out some tumble dryer reviews. There’s no better way to make up your mind than by seeing how other consumers have gotten on with the model you’ve set your heart on. It’s then simply a case of clicking through and ordering – good luck!