Vented or Ventless Dryer: Which Should I Buy?
The purchase of a major appliance should be a well considered decision. When thinking about buying a dryer for your home, there are two basic designs: vented and ventless (condenser and heat pump). Before delving into the pros and cons of each, let’s gain a basic understanding of how they work.
All dryers work by transferring the moisture in the laundry into the air in the drum. Then the moisture in that saturated air has to go somewhere else. In vented dryers, it simply goes outside as water vapor, either through a vent built into an exterior wall or through a hose connected to the dryer and passed out a window. In a condenser dryer, that air goes into a separate chamber in the dryer unit where it is cooled to convert the moisture back into water that then collects in a reservoir, usually under the machine. The newest kind of condenser dryers use a heat pump that draws air from its surroundings like its counterparts but uses a different method to complete the drying process. It is sent through a heat pump where the cold side condenses the vapor into a drain pipe or tank and the hot side reheats the remaining air for further use.
The first (and perhaps only) consideration needs to be the set-up already in place in your house. If your home does not have a vent, or the prospective placement of your laundry isn’t near an exterior wall or window, you will need to look at ventless dryers. Their placement is more flexible, though regular condenser dryers still need to have plenty of air flow around them in order to function properly. If you already have a dryer vent in an exterior wall, then a conventional vented dryer may be your best choice. Or not. There are other factors to weigh.
Because vented dryers are so common, they are also the least expensive to purchase. You can get a vented dryer for approximately $300 to $1500. A condenser dryer can be anywhere from $600 to $2000. Heat pump dryers were only introduced to the U.S. market in 2015, and are the most expensive. They can cost $1300 and up. These are just initial costs, however. Over time, condenser dryers can save you money, especially the heat pump dryers. When there’s no vent to the outdoors, the energy efficiency of your home naturally increases. Also, the ventless dryer recycles the air it uses, thereby creating a potential savings (especially during Milwaukee winters).
The vented dryer has the shortest drying time, with typical loads going through a 60 minute cycle. Condenser dryers usually have dry times of around 75 minutes, and heat pump dryers take 105 minutes and longer. The reason that vented dryers work so quickly is the temperature of the air in the drying drum. It is extremely hot and blown vigorously. With the ventless dryers, the temperature can be lower, thereby increasing drying time. And also decreasing the wear and tear on your clothes.
Because of the differences described, ventless dryers are kinder to clothes. You may even find that you can dry some items that you needed to hang dry before. With condenser dryers, your clothes can last longer.
Heat pump clothes dryers use 40% to 50% as much electricity as a traditional electric dryer. In fact, some sources claim that they are five times more efficient than vented dryers, and double condenser
efficiency. Whatever the specific figures for your household, there is no doubt that they are the most energy efficient option.
With all of these factors at play, only you can decide which type of dryer suits your needs best.