Let’s be honest, doing the laundry can be a bit of a hassle. But, with the right home appliances, you can take a lot of the time and effort out of the job. For many, a good washing machine is all they feel they need and are happy to hang out the washing to dry. More and more people however now see a tumble dryer as an essential addition to todays smart homes in order to make the process as painless as possible.
Buying a tumble dryer can undoubtedly make drying your clothes easier, but which is the best tumble dryer to buy? You have numerous models to choose from, and performance (and cost) can vary greatly.
In this post, we are going to cover some of the issues that are important when it comes to finding the right tumble dryer, and we’re going to recommend a few of our favourites.
For further information please check out our tumble dryer buying guide here.
The benefits of having a tumble dryer
You’ll still find many people that prefer hanging their clothes out to dry. If that is your preference, that’s fine. Hanging your clothes will save on energy, and for some, it is just what they are used to. That said, there is no denying that there are plenty of ways that a person can benefit from having a tumble dryer in the home.
For starters, it’s just easier than hanging the clothes to dry. Loading all of the wash into a basket and taking it to an outside line takes time and effort. Simply placing it in a machine (that most likely sits next to the washing machine) and turning it on will be much easier.
As an additional point, a tumble dryer often provides better drying results. Many fabrics come out of the dryer and softer than they would from being hung on a rack or a line. Further, if you have to hang your clothes indoors, they can often often end up smelling musty if there is not enough warmth and ventilation to dry them quickly.
Additional concerns are the obviously the weather and the available space for hanging up washing. You might not have a good location for a line, and even if you do, the English weather is not always going to cooperate with your drying needs. Both of these issues can be eliminated by having a dryer. You can of course hang up washing indoors, but you’ll struggle to dry it easily in colder months, unless you cover your radiators with washing (and if you do that your radiators will be far less effective at heating your home meaning you’ll spend more on gas or electricity). Although there is no denying tumble dryers do consume a fair amount of electricity they are far more energy efficient than they used to be (with heat pump tumble dryers being the most energy efficient) and all good online retailer’s websites should state roughly how much energy they will consume, assuming average use, and how much the machine will add to your electricity bill per year. See the example from ao.com’s website shown below for the Bosch WTE84106GB which has an energy rating of B which is pretty average. You can find out more about average running costs in our buying guide.
Using a dryer will also dry your clothes faster. Depending on the conditions, clothes that are hung out to dry can take many hours before they are ready (and may also need turning to make sure they are dry on both sides). Even the slowest dryer will have a load of laundry dry in a fraction of the time it takes on a line, and that is even under the best of conditions. Not to mention, a dryer can be great for when you need a few items ready in a hurry. Just put the pieces that you need in, adjust the heat setting (if required), and they could be ready for you in less than an hour.
Things to consider
When you shop for a tumble dryer, you are going find that, like most home appliances, there are a vast array of different models available. Many peoples’ primary concern will be budget, but there are numerous other factors that you’ll need to consider
Vented vs Condenser
Firstly, you are going to need to decide between getting a vented or a condenser model. The main practical difference between these types of machines is what they do with the moisture that they extract from the laundry. A vented machine has a hose that vents the moist air outside of the home. A condenser model collects the moisture from the hot air in a reservoir that will need periodic emptying. This is a concern on two fronts. Condenser models tend to cost more than vented models, but condenser models also tend to be easier to install. A vented machine will need to be close to wall (so the external hot air vent can be installed) whereas a condenser model can basically go anywhere in the home, be it a kitchen, utility room, even a cupboard as the water in the moist air is ‘condensed’ rather than being expelled. If however you’d looking to site your new dryer in a shed or a garage you’d probably opt for a vented model as it should be relatively easy to fit a new external vent to outbuildings. The models below are a mix of vented and condenser models but if you know you’re specifically looking for the best condenser tumble dryer you can see our top 5 here.
Capacity is another important point to consider. A dryer’s capacity can be measured in both volume and weight. The volume tells you the actual size of the drum, but weight is more important because this tells you how much laundry the machine can handle. In selecting the right capacity for a dryer, there are two basic points that you want to take into account. First, you want ensure that you get a machine that can handle your needs. For just two or three people, a smaller drum size will work well (5-7kg), but if the machine is going to be used for a large family, it will be more advantageous to go with a larger machine (8kg drum or maybe even 9kg). This is especially true if you want to use the machine to dry sheets and bed linen. Beyond that, you also want the capacity of the dryer to be equal to or greater than the capacity of the drum in your washing machine. It is much more convenient if you can just take the entire load of laundry from the washing machine and stick it all in the dryer without having to remove items.
Features & Programs
Finally, you want to look into what the machine has to offer in regard to features and programmes. Consider whether the machine has special programmes to handle different types of fabric. Look for features like a sensor drying program and options that prevent the creasing of clothes (not something you’d care about with sports clothes but makes a huge difference with shirts, blouses etc which you’ll need to iron). Check also whether the model has an LED display of control panel showing the selected programme and drying time remaining etc. Please bear in mind if you use ‘sensor’ drying cycles then times are only estimates as the machine has no way of knowing exactly how long it will take for the load to reach the desired level of dryness (cupboard dry, iron dry, bone dry etc).
Washer Dryers vs Tumble Dryers
If you’re short on space (as many of us are these days due to the ridiculous house prices) you way be considering a washer dryer as an alternative to a tumble dryer. Washer dryers have come a long way in recent years and you can now find some highly recommended models (both freestanding and integrated). You can find a selection of our top picks for freestanding washer dryers here and integrated washer dryers here. Without going into too much detail our recommendation would always be to get two separate machines if you possibly can, but if you can’t then a good Washer Dryer would certainly be an workable (although not as energy efficient) alternative. You can find out more by reading our washer dryer buying guide here which explains the pros and cons of washer dryers including (energy efficiency, differing washing and drying capacities etc).
If you’ve had a tumble dryer in the past you are probably aware that they can be quite noisy. Not all are, but some definitely make quite a racket. We will always try to highlight this info as part of our reviews but you can also find this information on any good retailer’s website. Domestic appliance noise levels are quoted in decibels (dB) and range between about 40 and 80dB for tumble dryers with an average around 60dB. For comparison purpose 30dB is said to be the level of a whisper, conversational speech would be about 60dB and 90dB would be similar to a lawnmower. If noise is a big issue for you you should look for a model in the 40-50dB range but bear in mind, as with everything you’ll probably pay at least a small premium as these machines tend to be higher-end.
Heat Pump Technology
You may have heard of or read about heat pump tumble dryers but not be 100% sure what they are, or whether you should look to get one. Put simply, heat pump tumble dryers use an advanced drying process to re-use the hot moist air that has passed through your clothes after the excess water has been condensed into the reservoir. The hot air is then re-heated rather than allowed to escape. This means the amount of energy used by heat pump models during the drying process is significantly lower than traditional dryers. Sounds good right? Well it is good, but as always there’s a catch. Heat pump tumble dryers tend to cost quite a bit more than regular models. You can expect to pay £300 – £500 for a decent one although prices are coming down as the technology becomes more mainstream. The good news is you’ll save on your electricity bill – probably to the tune of 50% compared to a regular dryer. So you could be looking at spending £30 – 40 per year rather than £70 – 80. There is another catch though, and that is that heat pump dryers tend to be slower that regular dryers – not good if you’re in a hurry, but fine if you’re not.
So the bottom line is, buying a heat pump condensing dryer will not necessarily be a money saving option as you’ll pay more up front but less in running costs – but you will be doing the planet a favour so, if your budget stretches, why not take a look at some of new heat pump condensing models on the market.
To get a more detailed look at selecting the right tumble dryer, and how the different features work, you can read our buying guide for tumble dryers.
Below you’ll find our top 5 picks for the best tumble dryer 2017. You’ll notice under each listing there is a price comparison table which allows you to see which retailers are currently offering the best deals on each machine. Currently we compare prices at John Lewis, ao.com, Currys, Appliances Direct, Very, Argos, B&Q, Co-op Electrical Shop, Electrical Discount UK, Hughes and Boots Kitchen Appliances (if you’ve not heard of them this is actually a white-label offering by ao.com but they set their own prices and are often the cheapest in the market so well worth a look – service is by ao.com so is excellent). These prices are updated every morning at 5am so you can be sure the deals are up-to-date but it’s always worth clicking through the top few as some retailers periodically offer additional discounts or run promotions which could save you even more.
Also, bear in mind that the cheapest price, isn’t always the cheapest price! With white goods like washing machines, tumble dryers etc you also need to bear in mind any additional delivery charges, installation costs or fees for removing and recycling old units. Some retailers make these really obvious and some don’t. You can often save on the delivery cost if you’re happy to wait a few days (rather than opting for next-day delivery) and companies like ao.com also offer an environmentally-friendly option to pick a date when they are delivering nearby to reduce fuel costs which is a great idea. You may well be happy to install the kit yourself but if you don’t fancy that most firms will install new units for approx £20. Please note though that they won’t install integrated appliances as these need a skilled carpenter to attach the fascia door. If you have an existing appliance that you need to dispose of we would generally say opting for this service is advisable for two reasons. One, have you tried lifting a heavy appliance into the back of your car recently and then spending ages waiting in the queue at the local dump to dispose of the pesky thing? Not a great way to spend a day of your weekend. Number two, these retailers dispose of a lot of domestic appliances so yours will (hopefully) be recycled rather than put into landfill as there are govt rules covering the safe disposal of large electrical items. And finally some retailers offer added incentives (extended warranties, cashback etc) to buy from them, with John Lewis being a good example. If you buy a large domestic appliance from John Lewis they will automatically upgrade the warranty to 2 years even if the manufacturer is only offering a one year guarantee. This is well worth bearing in mind if you’re deciding between two similarly-priced retailers.