Typically we don’t give much thought to clothes dryers, but it’s time we do. While a clothesline is free, many of our damp Vancouver days require us to have a reliable dryer inside our homes.  As we design and build laundry rooms in our customer built homes, many of our clients are unaware of the different options in regards to dryers.

Clothes dryers work by blowing heated air through your clothes to remove moisture, but there are several different types of dryers available which utilize different technologies and features. Vented, condensed and heat pump dryers are all available and worth getting to know.

Vented tumble dryers are the traditional North American style of dryer and is generally the least expensive to purchase. Vented dryers pull room-temperature air in from your laundry room, heat it up, tumble your clothes in it, and then blow the exhaust outside. It’s a process that consumes and wastes a lot of energy.  In Vancouver, your vented dryer is likely taking in climate-controlled air from your home and pumping it outdoors. In winter, that means your furnace has to work harder to make up for that air. The waste is even worse in summer, where your dryer has to heat up air that’s been cooled by your air conditioner, and then just blow it outside. Worldwide vented dryers are becoming obsolete. As we look to the future we will see fewer vented dryers in homes.

Not only are vented dryers unpopular in Europe, but in some places they’re actually illegal. Switzerland has outlawed them since 2012.

While condenser dryers migClothes Dryers: More Than Just a Tumble Dry

ht seem unusual to most Canadians they’ve been the choice for Europeans for generations. In Europe, smaller homes in old world buildings mean large, vented dryers are not possible.  Condenser dryers work by condensing the damp air from your laundry into water then pump it into a water tank or out through a hose to the drain. Condenser dryers can be plugged into the wall anywhere in your house (typically 240V) and you don’t need to connect the exhaust hose to a vent or window.  

Condenser dryers that have a heat pump are called heat pump condenser dryers or just heat pump dryers. They are more expensive to buy than normal condenser dryers, but they’re much more efficient that running costs will save overall compared to other electric dryers.   A heat pump tumble dryer uses hot air to absorb moisture from your clothes in order to get them dry after a wash. After air passes through the drum, it goes through the evaporator removing the moisture, which is collected as condensation and stored into a tank. The remaining air is re-heated and sent back to the drum to start the cycle again and continue drying your clothes.

Sensor dryers can automatically sense that clothes are dry and switch off. This means over-drying is not as frequent. Most of the European market sells sensor dryers now, and they are normally available in condenser and vented dryers.

 

Gas dryers work in the same way as electric vented tumble dryers, but the air is warmed using gas rather than electricity.  Gas dryers can run on either natural gas or liquid propane gas and use a gas burner to create heat, but otherwise, they operate the same as an electric dryer. If you have both gas and 240-volt electrical connections in your laundry room, you have a choice in what type of dryer to purchase. If you do not already have a gas connection, it can be quite expensive to install the necessary line.

Dryers are second only to refrigerators and freezers as the largest residential electrical energy consumers in Canada.  While you plan your upcoming renovation or new build, start to think about the best option for you, your family and your budget.