Thanks for taking your time to read our detailed and extensive tumble dryer buying guide, that is written specifically for readers in the United Kingdom. This is a long and detailed guide, but we believe that if you have all the knowledge, then you can make a much better buying decision.
Not every home in the UK feels the need to have a tumble dryer. Large appliances such as fridges, cookers and washing machines you will find in every home.
However, when it comes to drying clothes, many people are happy with a washing machine rinse and spin, and then hanging them out on a washing line, or some form of clothes airer.
For some people though, they prefer to use a tumble dryer, which is a faster way of drying clothes.
In the UK, two main types of tumble dryer are bought and used. These are the vented tumble dryer and the condenser tumble dryer. There are other considerations to take into account, but it is important from the outset, that you know that there are major differences in these two main types.
We will explain all in this useful buyer's guide, so as you have all the knowledge to help you make the best buying decision.
We have broken this guide into easy to read sections to make your reading experience a little bit easier.
Which Brands Make Tumble Dryers?
The main household names make most of the tumble dryers that are currently available on the UK marketplace. These include:
There are s a few lesser known brands such as:
All of the major brands have various models of tumble dryers of different sizes and ratings. The better ones will offer 2 year warranties such as Hotpoint and Whirlpool. They will also have a UK based customer service team who can be reached using a local UK telephone number. Spare parts are also easier to get.
Various Types of Tumble Dryers
Vented Dryers vs Condenser Dryers vs Heat Pump vs Washer Dryers
We mentioned in the introduction that there are two main types the vented and the condenser. Your own circumstances will determine which one of these types you decide to buy. At our website, we do like to fully inform you of all the options. To that end, we have included some additional information below.
There are four distinct model of tumble dryers that you can buy in the United Kingdom. You can buy a vented dryer, a condenser dryer or a heat pump condenser tumble dryer.
The alternative option to these three dryers is a washer/dryer which is the combination in a single machine of a washing machine and a tumble dryer.
Just below we have explained each type so as you know the differences.
A vented tumble dryer is the best option if you can fit a permanent vent through an outside wall. The alternative to doing that is to be willing to hang the tumble dryer hose out of an open door or window.
These vented dryers work by removing the damp air during the drying process, and then sending this damp air out through the vent.
Vented dryers are usually cheaper than a condenser model. They are still the most popular choice, but many people are moving to condenser models with heated pumps.
Condenser Tumble Dryer
These are a more popular choice as they don't use a hose, but you will need to be able to locate your tumble dryer in a well ventilated room.
This condenser type separates water from the moist air into a container, and then you empty this container after drying.
They cost more than the vented dryer explained above, but they can be used anywhere in your home or in a garage or outside closed in space.
The annoying thing about condenser dryers is that you do have to manually empty a tray. Some models though can be fitted to your home drainage system. That way the water goes straight down the drain without you having to worry about emptying the tray.
Heat Pump Tumble Dryer
The heat pump dryer is a condenser type of dryer. The key difference is that it has a heat pump added. These are the most environmentally friendly option for tumble dryers.
The heat pump gathers the water in a tank, just like the condenser model explained above.
However, the hot air is not allowed to escape and is re-used.
These are the most expensive type to buy, but also have the cheapest running costs.
Some UK buyers prefer the idea of a washer and dryer combination. These are more expensive than a standard washing machine or a standard tumble dryer. They are however cheaper than buying a separate washing machine and tumble dryer.
These are a good choice for anyone with limited space. They are also a good choice for smaller households where there are not large amounts of laundry. You do not need to fit a hose with this option.
This type of machine uses a a wet condenser system that uses cold water for the drying process. They also come equipped with timers or sensors. Some brands also feature a heat pump, which recycles heat.
Advantages of Each Type of Dryer
- These are the most affordable
- You don't need to empty a water container
- They dry faster than condenser types
- These have more features than a vented option
- There are no unsightly hoses
- They can be installed in any location
- These have the lowest running costs
- There are no unsightly hoses
- They use much less energy so better for the environment
- These combine both washing and drying
- There are no unsightly hoses
- They can be installed anywhere and good for those with restricted space
Disadvantages of Each Type of Dryer
- The hoses can be unsightly
- They have limited drying program options
- The vent hoses and fixtures are prone to damage
- You do need to empty the bucket
- More complicated machines so more can go wrong
- Take longer to dry clothes
- These have more complex parts and can be expensive to repair
- They do take longer to dry the clothes
- These are very expensive to buy initially
- There are no unsightly hoses
- They can be installed anywhere
Both vented or condenser are viable options, but we would recommend the condenser style, and if you have the budget then a heated pump condenser option is the best.
Vented dryers are still perfectly usable but the improvements and extra-features available on condenser tumble dryers make them our preferred choice.
How do Tumble Dryers Work?
Tumble dryers all work on the same principle. Air is drawn into the dryer and heated, and is then passed through a rotating drum which is filled with your clothes. The next logical step is that this warm air has to somehow leave the machine. This is known as the extraction process.
It is the differences in this process that gives the name to the type of tumble dryer. With vented dryers this air is removed using a hose which can go out through a hole in the wall, or pushed out through a window.
With condenser dryers, the hot air passes over a cold condenser and turns it into water. You then need to regularly empty the water container.
How Much do Tumble Dryers Cost?
Vented dryers cost around £180-200 on average though you can get these for as low as £140 and all the way up to £500 depending for one with a larger number of drying programs that give you more choices
Condenser dryers cost around £220-300 on average though you can get these for as low as £190 and all the way up to £500.
Condenser heat pump dryers cost from around £300 and go all the way up to £1,200 depending on the features that you want.
The more expensive versions of the condenser machines also have many programs and features and they use heat pump technology, and they are more cost effective to run.
Washer/dryers have an average price of around £360. That makes them more expensive than most tumble dryers. This washer/dryer combination though is still cheaper than buying a washing machine and a tumble dryer.
You can find washer/dryers as low as £280 and all the way up to around £750.
Key Features of Tumble Dryers
Many of the brands advertise their dryers in certain ways which can lead to some confusion. Just below we have identified those key features that you should pay attention to.
Tumble Dryer Capacity
Full-sized tumble dryers usually have a capacity of between 3 to 9 kg. Larger drum sizes will be more efficient, but only if you have enough clothes to make use of the larger capacity.
The science is that the larger the drum, the better the efficiency of hot air flow through the machine, and the faster the drying time will be.
It is also worth noting that if the fabrics have plenty of room to tumble there will also be less creasing.
The higher end machines will have stainless steel drums, and provide a smooth finish so clothes don't catch.
Timers and Sensors
Most dryers work by setting the time you want your clothes to dry on a simple dial. When the timer reaches the end then the machine stops. More advanced models will have dry sensors. These decide when your clothes are dry and will automatically stop the dryer.
You can still adjust these sensors to figure out what you consider to be dry enough. This is the most efficient method and several dryness programs can be selected such as cupboard dry, hanger dry etc.
Running costs will depend on how much time the machine is drying for and how hard it has to work.
If you want to save energy, and reduce running costs then an A-rated heat pump condenser model or one with sensor drying will help you use less energy.
The important thing to understand that the average cost of drying a load of clothes is around 35p. So if you are doing a couple of loads per week, then the monthly cost will be around £3.00 a month of £36 a year.
Heat Pumps and Why they Matter
The heat pump addition to the condenser dryer is a fairly recent upgrade. It gives the dryer an A energy rating.
That is because it reuses the hot and humid air which helps conserve energy and heat. By this type of conservation of energy this type of dry can use up to 50% less energy. Some washer dryer brands also feature this technology.
Crease Care, Anti-Crease or Extra Care Feature
This feature gets called different names by different manufacturers. The feature however is pretty much the same.
When the tumble dryer stops, the clothes remain there until you remove them. Depending on the model, you may find a feature that uses terms such as crease care, anti-crease or extra care.
If you select that feature, the drum will move from time to time, and this helps stop your clothes from getting creases, as they are not sitting in one position.
This feature is usually only available on the higher end and more expensive models.
Final Cool Tumble
During the last 10 minutes or so of the cycle, the heating element is turned off and the fabrics tumble in cooling air back to ambient room temperature.
The drum rotates both ways, pausing in between. This keeps laundry separated and dries it more evenly and quickly. It also means less creasing of the clothes.
Setting Up and Installing a Tumble Dryer
By now you will know that there are two main types, vented and condenser. Setting up and installing a condenser model is a great deal easier than a vented one. However let's start with some general advice before looking at each one in more detail.
General Installation rules
Before you buy any dryer, then you need to figure out where it is going to be located. You should never install a tumble dryer in any of the following locations:
- Upstairs - Dryers are heavy and hard to move around and trying to get them up a flight of stairs is a huge task. Aside from that, they will shake the flooring, and if anything goes wrong, could leak down into the floorboards. We would avoid doing this at all costs.
- Next to a Freezer - Dryers expel cold air. If located beside a freezer this would force the freezer to work a lot harder. The freezer is also putting out warm air and taking in cold air, and that would result in a loss of efficiency.
- Inside a cupboard or closet - Dryers need to be able to breathe and have air around them, especially the condenser models. Dryers take in air that is cooler than the air within the dryer. They then expel air that’s warmer and moist. So any type of confined space is not suitable for a tumble dryer. It needs to be in a wide space with a supply of fresh air.
- In a Garage - Many people do this and they really should not. This is because a dryer needs the ambient temperature of a room. Garages can be cold and damp. If the temperature is cold, the water condenses on any available cold service, and that will make the dryer functionally unable to remove moisture from the air.
Ideally you should install a tumble dryer in a utility room. You can also stack it on top of a washing machine. If you have an under the counter washing machine, then clearly this is not possible. Sometimes it can be hard to find a place to locate a tumble dryer, and that is another reason why many people don't have one in their home.
Location - Once you figure out a location, then measure the space carefully and be certain that you have enough space to accommodate whichever model you want to own.
Please remember that dryers by default will raise the humidity in whichever location they are placed. Make sure that wherever it is going to go is a well ventilated area, otherwise you will have a condensation issue, which can lead to mould and damp problems.
Finally the dryer worls of electricity so you need to have a socket nearby where the machine can plug into.
Installing a Condenser Tumble Dryer
Plug the dryer into the socket and make sure there is a space between the dryer and the socket to avoid any risk of condenstaion.
- Read the instruction details carefully, and just test everything and make sure it is working.
- We also recommend cleaning the inside of the drum as there can be dust on it if it has been sitting around for a while.
- Then do a full test, ideally with something you don’t mind getting damaged. If the items come out properly dried,your machine is pretty much good to go.
- Finally check that the the condenser tray has collected the water.
- If you want at this stage you can connect the drain pipe if your model has that continuous drain feature (Most do) If you are not sure how to do this, then get a plumber to do this, and it will not be an expensive job.
How to Plumb in a Condenser Tumble Dryer into a Drain
As we mentioned earlier with any types of condenser dryer you do have to empty the water out of the tray on a regular basis. However, most good condenser dryers have an option, where you can plumb in the dryer so as the water goes straight into the drain.
The good news is that means no more water trays to empty, and lots of time saved.
Installing a Vented Tumble Dryer
We would highly recommend getting this installation completed by a professional plumber. Many builders can also do this job for you as well. The main part of the job is drilling a hole through your outside wall to accomodate the pipe that vents your dryer.
It is an easy enough job if you have the right tools, as essentially drilling a 100 mm hole is the hard part of the job. You do need to able to drill through an internal wall, then the cavity and eventually out through the brick. Putting everything together after that is pretty straightforward.
We asked various plumbers what they would charge for something like this and the quotes that we got varied from £75-150, but all of them said it depended on exactly what was required, as each job can be different.
Fpr those who are good at DIY, we found an excellent video, where Cliff Poluter from "Thumbs Up DIY" gives an excellent step by step video of how to do this. It is an excellent video, and also very easy to follow.
Venting is crucial, as without this vent going outside, the heat can build up within the dryer and cause a fire. So be sure that this job is done properly.
Anyone who is good at DIY should be able to complete this in around an hour or so.
Summary of Tumble Dryers
Hopefully you have found our tumble dryer guide useful, and have helped point you in the right direction if you are considering purchasing one.
Not every home will want or indeed need a dryer, but many people do like to have one of these, especially in the winter time when drying clothes outside is virtually impossible. They can certainly be very useful.
As we have explained you can buy a washer/dryer which acts as both a washing machine and a tumble dryer, but they are expensive.
That leaves you the choice of a vented type or a condenser type. The vented dryer dries clothes faster, is cheaper to buy but more difficult to fit and install.
The condenser has more features, can be fitted easier and is becoming the most popular choice. When a heated pump is added to that, the running costs drop significantly, and they are more environmentally friendly.
So those are your choices folks, so happy shopping.