Vented vs Condenser Tumble Dryers – Which Is Best?
In the world of tumble dryers, there is often confusion about condenser and vented tumble dryers. What are they? And what is the difference?
With so many models on the market (all with varying technology and specifications), figuring out what type of tumble dryer is best for your particular circumstances can be a bit of a minefield.
This post will explain the difference between a vented and a condenser tumble dryer. It will also outline the pros and cons of each. Finally, I will recommend the best tumble dryers to buy in each category.
What Is A Vented Tumble Dryer?
A vented tumble dryer is a dryer that physically vents out the water/moisture from the machine to the outside of a property.
The machines do this by using a long, flexible hose that connects to the tumble dryer and vents the moisture to the outside of your home. This usually happens through a small vent or grill. Think of it like the extractor fan in your kitchen or bathroom, with moisture being pumped outside.
Since a vented tumble dryer removes water and moisture via a hose, it will need to be installed close enough to an external wall or window for the hose to reach outside.
What Is A Condenser Tumble Dryer?
A condenser tumble dryer collects the water/moisture from your wet clothes in a water tank (sometimes called a reservoir), which is located within the machine itself.
Rather than venting the moisture/water to the outside, the tank simply collects the water. It operates much like a dehumidifier in that regard.
When the tank is full, you just have to empty it. Most current condenser tumble dryer models will alert you when the tank is full and needs emptying. Best practice dictates that you empty it after every wash.
Although there is the task of emptying the water tank, condenser tumble dryers can be beneficial for many people as it means you have more freedom to place the machine wherever you like – it doesn’t have to be placed by an external wall or window.
Top Tip: Use the water from your reservoir to water your plants and save on water waste!
Advantages Of Vented Tumble Dryers
Vented tumble dryers have been around longer than condenser dryers and are sometimes seen to be a little old fashion. However, they still have their benefits.
The biggest pro for vented tumble dryers is that they will dry your clothes quicker than a condenser dryer.
Also, as the name suggests, vented tumble dryers will remove all the water/moisture out of the room to the outside of a property. This means there is no damp buildup or moisture trapped inside the machine, which can cause smells and mildew.
Vented tumble dryers are also often simpler machines in terms of their settings and how they are built. This means that (usually) there is less that can go wrong, so any repair work is typically quicker and easier.
Vented tumble dryers are also usually much cheaper and more economical to run than standard condenser tumble dryers. But as with every rule, there is an exception – in this case, it’s the heat pump condenser dryer. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Disadvantages Of Vented Tumble Dryers
There are a few drawbacks to take into account with vented tumble dryers, however. Firstly, vented tumble dryers are typically more susceptible to breaking. This is not necessarily the machine itself, but things like the vent hose and fixtures are very delicate and can easily be damaged or come loose.
You are also limited as to where you can situate a vented tumble dryer. It has to be on or near an outside wall or window for the venting hose to reach the outside.
Finally, although their simplicity does have its benefits, it also means you are missing out on some useful features and functions that the newer condenser models may have.
Advantages Of Condenser Tumble Dryers
Condenser tumble dryers are the newer of the two machines, but they still have their pros and cons.
Firstly, the benefits. The biggest and most obvious pro is that condenser tumble dryers can be placed anywhere. They do not need to be situated next to an outside wall or window, which allows for greater design flexibility and location options within a home.
Also, because of how condenser tumble dryers circulate hot air around inside the machine, there is much less condensation to worry about. This means it’s safe to put condenser dryers inside airing cupboards or cabinetry. That’s not necessarily the case with vented tumble dryers.
Condenser tumble dryers also come with more features and settings, like special drying modes for different fabric types or variable drying speeds. Manufacturers are focusing on developing them more than vented dryers, as this is the latest technology.
Disadvantages Of Condenser Tumble Dryers
The biggest drawback to condenser dryers is time. Simply put, they take longer to dry your clothes than vented tumble dryers.
Condenser tumble dryers are also less energy efficient to run. This means it costs you more money and takes a longer time to get your clothes dry.
On top of this, because condenser dryers are more modern machines with more technology inside, they are usually the more expensive option.
Dries clothes quicker
No need to empty a water tank
Recommended Vented Tumble Dryers
Recommended Condenser Tumble Dryers
What Is A Heat Pump Tumble Dryer?
A heat pump tumble dryer is a type of condenser tumble dryer. This dryer has the added feature of a heat pump, which recycles lost heat for more energy-efficient performance. This heat warms and dries the clothes in the machine, rather than using electricity.
Heat pump technology is more energy-efficient to run than an electric system, so can save you more on your running costs. However, these machines usually cost more to buy, so will cost more upfront.
Heat pump dryers are also slightly slower to dry a load of clothes when compared to electric tumble dryers. However, they dry your clothes with greater care, so waiting a bit longer is worth it. Your clothes may last longer as they will be dried more gently.
As well as a gentle, energy-efficient performance, heat pump dryers have all the additional benefits (and most of the drawbacks) of condenser tumble dryers.
One thing to consider, however, is that because of how heat pumps work it is often advised that they are located in a cooler environment. This might mean you need to put your dryer in the garage or another outer building.
How does a heat pump tumble dryer work?
A heat pump tumble dryer works by firstly passing warm air over the wet clothes. It then has a condenser inside the machine that separates the water/moisture in the air from the wet clothes and collects it in a water tank. The dry, warm air that’s left after this separation from the condenser is then recycled and pumped back through the drum to help the clothes dry faster and more efficiently.
For a more detailed explanation watch the video below:
Recommended Heat Pump Tumble Dryers
There is more choice now than ever before when it comes to tumble dryers. So, picking the right one can seem a little daunting.
However, if you narrow your choice down by looking at the pros and cons of each type, you will soon be able to figure out which tumble dryer will be right for you and your family.
Once you’ve figured out the type you need, you can then look at which machine best fits your budget and specification.
If you are also looking at buying a washing machine be sure to check out my post on the pros and cons of integrated and freestanding washing machines.
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.