Your Tumble Dryer Buying Guide

A tumble dryer is a useful household appliance and one you’ll find in many homes. But what should you look for when shopping for a tumble dryer? Should you focus on the size of the appliance, the make and model, and what are the differences between each type?

Well to help you find out what the best type of tumble dryer is for your needs below I’ve compiled my own helpful guide. We’ll look at all the important aspects so you will know exactly what to look out for when it comes to buying a tumble dryer.

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The Type of Dryer

Tumble dryer types can be sorted into three main categories there is condenser, vented and heat-pump. Each type of tumble dryer comes with its own benefits and drawbacks but knowing which type is best for you isn’t always easy. Below I’ve outlined the main details of each type of tumble dryer.


Condenser tumble dryers operate by taking the warm damp air that is generated in the tumble dryer’s drum and then removing the water vapour thus drying the clothes. This water vapour is then deposited inside the tumble dryers waste water tank.

Condenser Tumble Dryer

Condenser tumble dryers because of the way they operate can be installed in almost any home and location. Condenser tumble dryers are also reasonably inexpensive with an average cost of around £300. One of the drawbacks to condenser tumble dryers is that you will have to usually empty the waste water container yourself.

This adds another job that other types of tumble dryer won’t have to bother with. However some models of condenser tumble dryers come with a hose that drains the water away. Condenser tumble dryers are available in numerous different sizes and there are some smaller models as well which can make them a good option for smaller households.

Condenser tumble dryers are very much the middle ground of appliances. They are more expensive than vented models (on average) but not as expensive as the average heat-pump appliance although they aren’t as energy efficient either.


Vented tumble dryers work in a very different way to condenser models they take the warm damp air from the drum of the dryer and then pump it out using a hose. Because of this, you will need sufficient ventilation to ensure the hot air as somewhere to escape to.

Vented tumble dryer

A wall vent or a door to the outside is usually essential for this type of dryer so they can usually only be installed in certain locations and might not be suitable for your house at all. Vented tumble dryers are the most affordable of the three models though which has made them very popular.

Some cheaper models of vented tumble dryers are available for as little as £100 and their yearly cost is quite reasonable as well although if you are the type of person who uses their dryer a lot then you might be hit by some very high bills.

So, if you are thinking of a vented dryer you might need to ration yourself a little. Vented tumble dryers are probably the most common type of dryer due to their inexpensive entry price but finding more energy efficient models can be very difficult.

Overall vented tumble dryers are certainly a good place to start if you’re looking to get your first dryer and have a limited budget. However, make sure you pay careful attention to the energy efficiency of the appliance and ensure you have space to probably accommodate it.


Heat-pump tumble dryers aren’t as commonly seen as many other types of dryer. They come with a higher price tag with an average starting price of around £450 but this high price tag isn’t down to simply cosmetics.

Heat-pump tumble dryers will give you great long-term savings and are the most energy efficient type of tumble dryer available. Heat-pump tumble dryers as the name likely tells you use the heated air that has left the drum to aid in the drying process.

All the heat-pump tumble dryers you will find available will have an A energy efficiency as a minimum but they will usually be much higher at around A+++. Justifying that high initial price might be difficult but those long-term savings are certainly very appealing aren’t they?

Heat-pump tumble dryers are more of a long-term investment their expensive price tag is offset by their greater potential for long-term savings. They aren’t the best choice for every household but certainly have their own unique benefits.

Model Differences

So, that is a look at the three main types of tumble dryer. But there are some further complications to consider which we will look at now. While these are the main three types of tumble dryer you also need to consider some of the different model options available. Let’s take a closer look at these in more detail below.

Gas Tumble Dryers

Gas tumble dryers aren’t as common as electric models but they are still around and do have some great benefits. They work in the same manner in most respects but the hot air needed to dry clothes is generated using gas instead of electricity.

One of the best benefits of gas tumble dryers is that they are cheaper to run than their electric counterparts. However, the installation is much more complicated and needs to be carried out by a registered gas safe engineer. This installation can be costly and gas dryers are much less common so finding an engineer could be difficult.

Integrated Tumble Dryers

This model of tumble dryer is mainly focused on the cosmetic side of things, an integrated tumble dryer (sometimes called built-in dryers) are designed to be hidden from view. They are covered by a kitchen unit like shell which keeps them hidden from view.

Integrated tumble dryers will usually be condenser models or possibly heat-pump, because of the hose and ventilation needed for vented models integrated dryers aren’t really a suitable choice which means if you want an integrated tumble dryer you will have to pay more.

Integrated tumble dryers are great from a design perspective but they do limit your options in regards to space. So, before buying an integrated tumble dryer make sure you can actually accommodate it.

Automatic Sensor Tumble Dryers

This isn’t really a model difference it’s more of a feature that you won’t find on all tumble dryers. More modern tumble dryers will have an automatic sensor inside the drum which will monitor the clothes being dried. When the sensor detects that the clothing is dry it will shut off, therefore, providing you with a more energy efficient service.

It also means households with automatic sensor tumble dryers won’t have to worry about program times. You can quite literally just put the clothing in and then leave the sensor to do the work. Sensors aren’t infallible though and they can still make mistakes so you might still want to carry out a regular check-up when you can. Automatic sensors might not always work 100% of the time but they are still a handy feature to have.

Other Features To Consider

So, now you know about all the different types of tumble dryer available and have a lowdown on many of the extra features and model differences, what else do you need to think about when buying a tumble dryer?

The Size

Tumble dryers come in many sizes, they might all look like the same size but there is actually a lot of variation available when it comes to the sizes available. Smaller tumble dryers have a drum of around 3KG which is usually suitable for single occupants.

The largest tumble dryer available have drums of around 10KG which can hold a lot more clothes and they are suitable for larger families. You’ll find plenty of variants between the minimum of 3KG and the maximum of 10KG so think carefully about what size is best for you.

Tumble dryer sizes can be sorted into three main categories there is large tumble dryers, average capacity and finally compact machines. Think carefully before choosing a tumble dryer because if you get one that is too big it could end up being very wasteful to use while a smaller more compact machine might not be able to handle your daily drying.

The size of your tumble dryer will also have a big impact on the price, smaller more compact tumble dryers will be much more affordable. However, some small tumble dryers are only available for certain types, for example, you will usually only find small vented tumbler dryers so if you want a specific type like a heat-pump appliance then you might struggle to find one for the right size.

Running Costs

Before we move on to the final part of my tumble dryer buying guide let’s look at one last important area namely the running costs. Tumble dryers have a bad reputation when it comes to their energy efficiency but is this deserved?

While drying your clothes outside on a washing line will always be the most energy efficient option using a tumble dryer gives you greater flexibility, isn’t bound by issues with the weather and is generally much faster. And your tumbler dryer might not be a big drain on your electricity either.

Smaller more compact tumble dryers will have a smaller impact on your energy bills and heat-pump models as mentioned previously are the most energy efficient type of tumble dryer available. Some models of tumble dryer can have very small costs with an average of only around £30 a year if used infrequently.

Some tumble dryers can be expensive to run but there is a lot of choice available and these days many tumble dryers are more energy efficient than you likely think. So, pay close attention to the energy ratings of any tumble dryer you’re thinking of buying.

Your Tumble Dryer Checklist

Now that you are armed with the knowledge of our tumble dryer guide you’ll be much better informed when it comes to making a decision about which tumble dryer to buy. But as one final way to help I’ve closed out our guide with an important checklist of things to check and ask about when it comes to buying a tumble dryer.

Control Panel

The control panel for a tumble dryer can come in many forms although in most appliances today it will usually be a digital display. Your tumble dryer’s control panel should be easy to read and the display should be easy to understand. If you have back problems then you might also want to think about its position as you don’t want to be bending down to read it all the time.

The Door

A tumble dryer’s door comes in many different forms but before buying any tumble dryer you should inspect the door carefully. Make sure the door is easy to open and not too stiff, having a door that is flat against the machine will also usually be the better option as well.

The Lint Filter

The lint filter is an essential part in any tumble dryer and must be emptied every so often so before buying any tumble dryer inspect the lint filter carefully. Make sure the lint filter is easy to remove and clean and then easy to re-install.

Water Container

Only condenser tumble dryers will have a water container so if you’re buying one make sure it is easy to remove and re-install. Also, check out its location carefully some condenser tumble dryers will have the water container in very unusual positions so make sure you check out the tumble dryer carefully.

That’s it for your checklist of essentials but if you’re looking for any particular features like an automatic sensor or specific drying modes make sure to ask about them. So, that concludes our tumble dryer guide, these handy appliances might all look similar on the surface but there are some big differences when you look carefully.

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