It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time buyer or a long-time owner, everyone needs a clothes dryer. Even if you think you don’t need one, and would rather dry your clothes the old fashioned way, there will eventually come a rainy day when you need that particular shirt dry in time. And that’s what a dryer is for.
Clothes dryers can be one of the most difficult appliances to buy. They are a constantly evolving technology, and the new features being added to them regularly can make the process confusing. This is especially true if your household has expanded since the last time you bought a dryer, as your current dryer capacity may no longer be suitable for you and your family. On top of this, dryers are among the biggest users of energy out there, so they can be particularly difficult to buy on a budget.
If you are looking to buy a new dryer, or upgrade your existing one, then it might be worth your while to consult our clothes dryer buying guide. Every person will have different needs when it comes to clothes dryers, so hopefully this guide can help you pick out the best clothes dryer for you. When buying clothes dryer, you need to consider the following things:
- The capacity of the clothes dryer
- The size of the clothes dryer
- The features of each dryer
- The different types of clothes dryers
- The energy efficiency and long-term reliability of the clothes dryer
- The price of your dryer
- And where to buy your clothes dryer from
Clothes dryer capacity
First of all, probably the most important thing to consider is the capacity of the dryer needed. The capacity refers to the number of people in your household that are likely to use the dryer at any given time. For example, if you live by yourself or with just one other person, then you will only need a smaller dryer, whereas you’ll need a much larger one if you live in a household with your kids. Clothes dryers come in a wide range of weight capacities, and the general guide to clothes dryer sizes and weights is as follows:
5kg or smaller
7kg or greater
Based on this guide, you will need a dryer that can carry 7kg worth of clothes if you live in a house with 4 or more people. Before you just go out and blindly buy a dryer based on how much you think your laundry weighs, do the following things:
- Weigh your laundry basket without anything in it and record the weight
- Fill the same basket with a week’s worth of laundry and record that weight
- Calculate the difference between the two weights to determine how much your laundry weighs
This is the best way to get an accurate measure of how much laundry you have, and what capacity dryer you’ll need as a result. When the time comes to go to the store and actually purchase one, don’t get distracted by sales terminology; words like ‘extra-large’ or ‘king-sized’ mean nothing, and could end in you being sold the wrong dryer. What matters most is the numbers, and just to be safe, it might be a good idea to purchase one slightly above your capacity requirements, just to be on the safe side.
Clothes dryer size
Before you consider any of the other things in this buying guide, you need to consider the size first. After all, what’s the point in buying your perfect dryer, only to take it home and find out it doesn’t fit anywhere? Crack out some measuring tape and measure the space that you want to put your dream-dryer in, and then compare this with the measurements of the dryer you’re after.
Just to be on the safe side, take the measuring tape with you when the time comes to make a purchase, just to make sure that the size displayed is accurate. Even though it is unlikely that the dryer will display inaccurate sizes, there is always the possibility that someone has made a mistake. Measuring the appliance yourself before buying can eliminate that possibility. From a safety perspective, you also need to add 3 inches on each side to account for heat clearance and the pipes in the back.
Know the different types of clothes dryers
Now that you’ve worked out the size and capacity of the dryer you need, it’s time to think about the different types of dryers, and which one is best for you. While on a first (and second) glance, it seems that almost all clothes dryers look the same. While this is mostly true, there are several different types of clothes dryers that are far from the same in terms of how they function.
Here is a rundown of the 5 most common types that you’ll see:
Vented dryers are the most common form of clothes dryers, and are also the most basic. Usually mounted to a wall above the washing machine, they work by blowing hot air into the drum holding your clothes until they’re dry. Once this hot air has become too moist to do any more drying, it is replaced with new dry air.
These dryers are popular because they’re:
While they are generally cheaper than other models, they are less energy efficiency than other models, meaning that they are more expensive in the long-term.
Best suited for any laundry that has an exhaust fan or window.
Condenser dryers are very similar to vented dryers, but are much more energy efficient. Instead of blowing hot air onto the clothes, condenser dryers extract moisture before draining it away as condensed water.
They don’t require any ducts of vents, which makes them easy to install, and also means that they don’t turn your laundry into a swamp by releasing humid air.
As said before, they are more energy efficient than vented dryers, but are more expensive upfront.
Heat-pump dryers are types of condenser dryers that use a heat pump to heat the water, and then extracts the water once cooled to reheat it for further use. They are extraordinarily energy efficient due to recycling heat, and use approximately half of the energy that the first two use.
So if you are willing to splash out a bit more for the sake of energy efficiency, then definitely consider a heat-pump dryer.
These dryers use gas to heat air, and need to be connected to a gas supply as a result. Therefore they may not be available depending on whether or not you can hook them up to a gas outlet.
Like heat-pump dryers, they are more expensive upfront but are much more energy efficient, saving you money long-term.
You can learn more about gas-powered dryers on our Australian website.
These machines are a front loader washing machine and a condenser clothes dryer rolled into money. They are perfect for people looking to save space, like in apartments, since they both take up the space of just 1 machine.
This convenience comes at the cost of energy efficiency and productivity, since having to perform both functions requires much more effort on the machine’s part. However, as technology develops, washer/dryer combos should start to improve.
Clothes dryers features
In addition to choosing the correct type of dryer, you should also take a look at some of these features that some washing machines have. Unless you want the cheapest possible model that can only perform basic functions, these features could make your life a lot easier, and could also save you some money down the line.
- Delayed start: Depending on your provider, the electricity necessary to run your appliance can be more expensive at different points during the day due to tariff’s and ‘off-peak’ times. While this feature may seem pointless, setting your dryer to run during off-peak times could save you a lot of money on your energy bills for almost no effort at all.
- Steam drying: This recent innovation offers a number of advantages over regular hot-air drying. Steam drying can sterilize your clothes, which makes them a lot easier to iron once they’re done. It can also get rid of and smells that were lingering on your clothes. Definitely worth it if you iron your clothes regularly.
- Moisture sensor: This feature will enable your drier to sense when your clothes are dry, and can therefore cut the cycle short accordingly. For example, only putting an item or 2 in the dryer will not take a whole cycle to dry, but unless you turn it off manually or have the moisture sensor feature, the cycle will keep running until finished, using up unnecessary energy. A dryer with the moisture sensor feature can save up to 15% in energy expenditure!
- Smart maintenance: Like most appliances, dryers require semi-regular maintenance to ensure that they keep running smoothly. A recent innovation in dryers is ‘smart maintenance’ features that allow a dryer to offer self-diagnosis capabilities to warn you if there is a problem that will soon require your attention. One of the most common problems with dryers is lint build-up, which if left untreated can be a major fire hazard. Smart maintenance programs will allow you to deal with these problems before you have to spend hours on the phone with a technician, and we all know how annoying that can be!
- Different programs: While this isn’t the case every time, it is likely that the more expensive your dryer is, the more programs it’ll have. Quick cycles and dedicated programs for light and heavy garments are some of the more basic programs you’ll find on dryers, but there’s many more to be found on higher-end models. You may not need every single program that a dryer has to offer, but bear in mind they are there for efficiency purposes. You never know when a certain program will come in handy, so why not go for a dryer that has the most features possible?
Other important things to consider
You’re almost ready to purchase a dryer now, just a few more things to check off before making a decision. Before we get to price and where to buy your dryer, you should consider each dryer’s energy efficiency and reliability.
We’ve already talked about energy efficiency a lot in this article, but we really can’t stress enough how important it is. With the cost of living increasing more and more every year, it is crucial to try and get every appliance to be as efficient as possible, not just your clothes dryer. Still aren’t convinced? Canstar Blue research shows that about a quarter of households considered energy efficiency the number one decision factor when they last bought a new clothes dryer.
The initial outlay of a clothes dryer can be significant, but it’s the running costs that you’ll continue to pay on a daily or weekly basis, and will eventually determine the long-term cost of your clothes dryer. Canstar Blue research shows that the average lifespan for a household dryer is 7 ½ years, and since dryers use a lot of your household’s energy (about 6% according to The Good Guys), that’s a lot of power being used. Look for the model with the highest energy efficiency rating, which in New Zealand, looks like this:
Energy efficiency rating label, Australia and New Zealand
To learn more about energy efficiency for clothes dryers in New Zealand and Australia, visit http://www.energyrating.gov.au/products/clothes-dryers
Long term reliability
Continuing on from energy efficiency, you won’t save any money over the long-term if your machine doesn’t last. Reliability is an incredibly valuable thing for an appliance to have. If you’re going to be spending hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on an appliance then you’ll want it to last you as long as possible, while causing you few maintenance problems if possible. In our review of NZ clothes dryer brands, we found that LG and Fisher & Paykel brands both scored 5 stars for performance and reliability.
So if you can, look around to find a brand of dryer that will last longer and perform stronger, to maximize your savings on energy and maintenance costs.
How much do they cost?
Clothes dryers in NZ can range from relatively cheap to ridiculously expensive. According to priceme.co.nz, the cheapest dryer available will cost just $299, while the most expensive model available, the Maytag MDG24MN, will set you back a whopping $5,139. But models that are this expensive are rare, with their website showing that the vast majority of dryers fall under the $2,000 price range.
It is important that you spend a fair amount of time looking around different websites and stores, to see if you can get your desired model for cheaper.
Where to buy from
- LG: LG has topped Canstar Blue’s ratings chart for the past two years, winning in 2014 and 2015 respectively. They scored 5 stars for overall satisfaction, with high scores in reliability, drying time, warranty and the feel of the clothes when dry, while also receiving 4 stars for quietness and value for money. Their most expensive model goes for $2,600, while the cheapest costs about $1,200. So their machines are not the cheapest, but as the ratings suggest, Canstar customers feel that they are worth it.
- Fisher & Paykel: at 4 stars for overall satisfaction, they scored 5 stars for reliability and drying time, with 4 stars for every other category. At their most expensive, Fisher & Paykel models can cost up to $2,500, and $600 at their cheapest.
- Haier: Haier achieved modest results in the latest consumer survey, scoring 3-4 stars in all categories except value for money and the feel of clothes, for which they scored 5 stars. Their dryers are very cheap, costing $1,100 at most and just $350 at their cheapest. Haier could be an ideal brand for those shopping on a budget.
- Simpson: Last in our ratings table is Simpson, a member of the Electrolux group. Simpson dryers achieved 3 stars out of 5 for overall satisfaction, while scoring 4 stars for value for money, reliability and drying time. Like Haier, they mostly offer budget options, with their most expensive setting you back a relatively modest $1,300. In the budget range, they have some models which cost about $400.
In addition buying directly from each of these providers, you can also find their stock in common appliance outlets, such as Appliance Shed and Betta Electrical. These places will also stock brands not covered in our consumer survey, so by all means look around to see if you can find the right one for you. Hopefully this guide has served as a good starting point for you to buy that perfect dryer!