Best advanced dryer?

halgreeneAugust 8, 2014

Hi,

I have to replace my 6-yr old LG Tromm gas dryer (it was just okay) with a new electric. I've read a lot about the new "steam dryers" with mixed reviews. Some people on this site also seem to like Speed Queens a lot.

Q: What's the best overall dryer and why?

Thanks!

Hal

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laundryvet

Hal,

Lots of elements to best.
-features
-color options
-capacity
-drying time
-drying efficiency (how well does it convert electricity and/or gas)
-cylinder finish (stainless vs galvanized vs painted steel)
-cycles options
-moisture sensing vs thermostat
-location of vents
-durability
-ability to get service parts
-ease of service

Questions to ask youself:
-will you really use more than 4 cycles (auto dry, timed dry, delicate, no heat)?
-do you run a lot of small loads (moisture sensing might help)?
-are visual aesthetics important?
-do you care if it only lasts a couple years?
-how big is the matching washer?

Durability, ease of service, part availability: Speed Queen (it dominates college dorms, apartments, laundromats). Not low cost, white is only color option, no flashy styling, large capacity (not mega), thermostat control.

My SQ works fine, I'm on a second set, gave up a flawlessly functioning one to my Mom about 8 years ago that still runs from 1991 for her second home I did put a new belt, rollers, and glide pads at the time, not because they failed, but it was easy to do for about $60, and I knew it would add more life to it.

Most others: mixed reviews, but probably still OK as dryers are about the simplest appliances there are. Just not that much to them.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 7:46AM
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hvtech42

I have different views for other appliances, like washers, but for dryers, the best in my opinion are the simplest. You do not need all these features and electronics. All you need is a timer and a thermostat.

Speed Queens are good but very expensive and I'm not so sure they're worth a price premium just for the dryer.

Check out the Whirlpool 29" with the lint filter on top. Excellent performers, reliable design, easy to work on.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 9:27

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 9:26AM
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georgect

Like hvtech42 says...Whirlpool.
Very simple, very reliable, easy to work on, great performance.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 9:37AM
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larsi_gw

I can honestly say my Electrolux Wave Touch (70 Series) Electric Dryer is amazing!! While I loved, loved my Miele T9802 Electric Dryer.....it is great being able to actually select an exact temperature, and there are so many amazing cycles & you can select the exact dryness level you choose!! It has reverse tumble, wrinkle prevent and you can even select up to 3 hours of extra tumble in case you will not be home or able to remove the laundry when it is done!
I have tried the steam function in both the washer and the dryer...and honestly I do not notice much difference!!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 10:29AM
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hvtech42

Wait... Why are you replacing a gas dryer with electric? That makes no sense. Gas will almost always have a much lower cost of operation.

~$1600 for a dryer like the Elux wavetouch only makes sense if you're stacking and/or need to match the washer. I am hard pressed to think of a situation where the 3 basic temp settings of delicate, perm press, and regular aren't enough. Extended tumble is not anything special or new, dryers under $500 have it. Agreed steam is useless.

Laundry has gotten out of control. I'm sure the manufacturers get much more profit out of the stupid pedestals and overpriced dryers than the washers themselves! They're selling these dryers for the same price as the washers even though they are much cheaper to build and despite a few gimmicks added on, they work exactly the same way as dryers did 40 years ago! There have been no real improvements in functionality or efficiency.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 11:04AM
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suburbanmd

Couple of years ago, I bought a Whirlpool dryer that was several hundred dollars more than the least expensive ones. Undoubtedly, part of the price was for the Cabrio styling, not important to me since I don't have a matching Cabrio washer. But it's my understanding that it also has improved "cycle termination logic", meaning it's better at knowing when to shut the dryer off. In addition to the usual moisture sensing contacts, it measures both incoming and outgoing air temperatures to figure out how much moisture is evaporating. We've been very satisfied with its performance. So even though it heats the air the same way as a 40-year-old electric dryer, it is improved in functionality and efficiency.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:00PM
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hvtech42

^You have it backwards. Many more dryers sense temperature than sense moisture. However, neither system is new. I have seen both temperature and moisture sensing dryers from as long ago as the 70s. The moisture sensing ones were usually more expensive thus, less of them in the field than the temperature sensing ones. I actually like temperature sensing dryers better than ones with moisture sensing contacts because they are a simpler design, therefore less likely to fail andI feel they do better on smaller loads than moisture sensing dryers.

Anyhow to the OP if you get a Whirlpool get the 29" model. The 27" is nowhere near as good. "Advanced dryer" is an oxymoron. No dryer on the market today is advanced. Some are utilitarian, simple, get the job done. Others are flashy and packed to the brim with useless crap. Despite all their features, they won't do a better job drying your clothes or use significantly less energy than your previous dryer.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 13:49

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:46PM
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whirlpool_trainee

Well, there are heat-pump dryers - but, while they are popular in Europe, only LG and Whirlpool will have them available in the US later this year.

My vote also goes to Speed Queen or a 29" with the lint filter on top.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:55PM
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hvtech42

Yeah my bad I shouldn't have said "No dryer on the market today." I wasn't considering heat pump or condenser dryers at all.

I would like to learn a little bit more about the operation costs of heat pump dryers. I hear over and over again about the lower cost of operation compared to electric dryers (duh), but what about gas dryers? I don't think there are many of those in Europe. I don't think a heat pump dryer would make sense for me, because I air dry my clothes most of the time. The few times I do use my dryer it's because I need something FAST and my impression is that heat pump dryers are quite slow relative to vented ones.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:53PM
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dadoes

I believe the premise of Whirlpool's Senseon system is that the temperature response curve is incorporated into the moisture sensing algorithms. A thermistor is used for temp control which is more accurate than a bi-metal thermostat, and allows the control board to regulate the temp within a narrower range for faster drying performance.

Be interesting to know what's the model number of SuburbanMD's unit to check how many temp sensors are shown on the parts diagram.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:17PM
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suburbanmd

Whirlpool describes their Advanced Moisture Sensing System as follows: "Three built-in sensors read incoming air temperature and outgoing air temperature while monitoring moisture levels inside the dryer. This helps the drying cycle end when everything is perfectly dry, saving time and energy and helping to prevent overdrying." hvtech42, I doubt that you remember dryers like this from the 1970's. The next level down, their AccuDry™ Sensor Drying System, "measures moisture and temperature levels to help prevent overdrying and automatically stop the cycle when the load is dry." So that one uses both moisture and temperature, instead of having to choose one or the other. Makes sense because small loads may not contact the moisture sensing strips consistently enough to get a good reading. My dryer, a now-discontinued model, is described as having "Intuitive, built-in sensors enabled by 6th Sense™ technology [which] automatically sense when your laundry is dry and stop the cycle so you don’t have to." Not a lot of detail there. Dadoes, the model number is WED5700XW.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:54PM
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dadoes

All dryers have an air temperature thermostat, that's not unique to Whirlpool's systems.

Moisture sensors have been featured since the 1960s, those aren't new.

Per the diagrams for model WED5700XW0, there is only one operating temperature sensor, a thermistor on the blower outlet housing. A thermal safety fuse is also there which kills the power to the entire machine if the exhaust airflow gets too hot (196°F). The heating element housing has the usual high-limit thermostat (295°F) to cycle the element from getting overheated if airflow is obstructed, and a thermal fuse on the element housing (325°F) as a safety for the high-limit and protection against an element shorted to ground. That is all. Nothing shown that would read the incoming air temp.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:30PM
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laundryvet

I could see how on a small load a combo moisture sensing and thermistor could be better. But for the average large load, I don't think it does anything.

How does a thermostat dryer work? Most advance the timer only when the heat is not on. Most dryers add heat non-stop until just before the cycle is done, then "cycles" the gas valve on and off via thermostat, which is opening and closing the electric circuit.

If you have electronic controls, one of the following is happening during the time count down:
- it is making an estimate based on your last few loads
- it is predicting a finish time based on the rate of increase at the thermistor over a given time

While not perfect, the latter is not a bad concept. It is possible a quick reacting thermistor could respond quicker, cycling the gas valve circuit faster, but of course all of those hot/cold cycles will tend to wear the valve/igniter etc out faster. They can only cycle so fast before it will have a negative impact on the product functional life.

Efficiency
Since the heat is on almost all the way to the end, I see little value to the concept a thermistor and moisture sensor save energy, except for really small loads. The only exception would be a two stage gas valve which would add heat at lower rates at the end. Two stage gas valves have been used on commercial gas dryers since the late 1980s, or as long as I was in the industry.

The net change in entropy
For those that haven't had to suffer through a class in thermodynamics, this would be the change in state for a compound or element with regard to its net energy. From a few tables in a thermo book you can calculate the net BTU or calorie change for say a pound of liquid water at 60 F (cold rinse) to 140F totally evaporated (in the gas state). I did a calculation back in the late 1980s and I'm pretty certain that the drying efficiency of a small dryer was around 40%, that is for each BTU of energy added (caloric content of your heat input) to the net change of state, the evaporation of the water from the clothes. Again, I would be very surprised if it has changed significantly over the past two decades, no matter what smoke screen a Marketing guy tries to spin on it. Adding heat faster at the start of the cycle would help, but it would need to be added with the right mix of airflow, or it may scorch your clothing. Some of the more industrial dryers in a laundrymat, which have a hotter HIGH temp setting are in fact more efficient and dry faster, but they could be harsher on your clothing. MEDIUM heat is a prudent setting in those machines for a setting closer to your home machine HIGH setting.

Gas vs electric
Technically, an electric dryer is more efficient than a gas dryer strictly from a BTU standpoint. One of the by products of combustion is water whereas an electric heat is a "dry" heat. That said, the operating cost of a gas dryer will be significantly less than an electric, at least in the current environment of cheap natural gas vs generally more expensive electrical costs.

Bottom line: old style thermostats deliver fine value for a well loaded unit.

Probably more than you want to know, but we should all be educated consumers when selecting equipment for our homes.

Laundry vet

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 6:42PM
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hvtech42

Bottom line: these $1000 plus front load/HE top load match dryers may have a slightly more sophisticated way of calculating dry time, but is it going to make a real world performance difference? No. Trust me, I own one of these dryers myself because I had to stack on top of a front loader. It does fine, but no better than the $400 Whirlpools in my rentals, and it cost twice as much. If it breaks, parts will be expensive and it will be more difficult to work on.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 8:10PM
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GaryFx

One feature omitted from the short list of features is noise level, which will be important to many but not all people. I have no idea if there's any general correlation between price and noise level (hopefully a reverse correlation), but I do know that our new fancy Electrolux is incredibly quiet compared to either the low-end Maytag it replaced, or the electric Kenmore in our old home.

The only reason we went with this dryer is because of the reversing tumble feature. Whether it actually works or not remains to be seen, though there are certainly many other posts with people swearing by it. But you don't need to get this model just to stack. As indicated in responses to a thread I started several days ago, you can mix and match the washer and dryer for stacking, at least with Electrolux.

As for the moisture sensor versus thermostat - all I can say is that with the moisture sensor in the Kenmore at our old house (dating back to the mid-80s), at least it was predictable on all but the smallest loads. You set it to normal dry, and you could generally count on it being dry. Not so with the temperature-based Maytag that we just replaced (dating to late 90s at the oldest). It just didn't work predictably, and we had to learn that heavier loads (e.g. jeans), particularly with cold water rinsing in winter, meant setting it significantly beyond the normal dry setting.

I've never heard of moisture sensors being a common source of service calls, so I think that reliability issue may be a red herring. We had to replace the washing machine during the 20-odd years we lived in the old home, but the only thing the dryer ever needed was a new drive belt.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 10:35PM
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dadoes

True moisture sensors, as compared to thermostatic sensing, are more accurate when the dryer is installed in a non-heated/cooled space, such as a porch or garage.

Thermostatic sensing is affected when the dryer is run in a very cold or hot environment. Cold ambient can cause overdrying with the machine running the heat longer to reach the target temp so the timer can advance. Likewise, I recall using a 1976 Whirlpool dryer with moisture-sensing auto-dry that was installed in a garage in Texas. Summer temps of 100°F+, particularly if the dryer was run on the lowest temp for delicates (which reached only 125°F and cycled the heat back on at approx 110°F) sometimes resulted in a damp load at the same dryness setting that gave overdrying in the winter season.

A true moisture-sensing system is much less affected by temperature, with the machine monitoring moisture "hits" of the clothes on the sensor bars. Most 240v electric dryers can be wired to run on 120v, with the heating capacity reduced to 25%. A thermostatic-sensing machine would possibly never be able to reach the target temp to advance the timer, but a moisture-sensing machine would be usable.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:25AM
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fordtech

I believe in keeping it simple. The more complex the more expensive to maintain. 6 yrs is way to early to replace a dryer IMHO. I consider a dryer at least as long lasting as a child in your home, 18 years and time to move out.
A good quality gas dryer with electronic dryness control should last a long time and perform quite adequately and economically.

Maybe Im too old fashioned but I still like to pay less to do laundry at home than if I did it at the laundry mat or having it cleaned for me.
If I paid a grand or two 6 every years or so that would kill all the savings

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:49PM
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whirlpool_trainee

"I would like to learn a little bit more about the operation costs of heat pump dryers."

The most efficient heat pump dryer I found dries one kilo of laundry using 0.16 kWh (full load of cotton fabric with a residual moisture content of 60%). A regular condenser dryer from the same manufacturer takes 0.59 kWh. A vented one slightly less at 0.55 kWh.

Not sure what the values for US dryers are, though. It really comes down to how much you pay per kWh or (unit?) of gas. Besides, the more efficient dryers get, the longer they take.

Alex

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 5:46PM
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dab07

I was talking to a Miele tech guy about something unrelated today, and heat pump dryers came up. He said there was a part on them (the compresser? condensor? I don't remember the name of the part) that usually only lasts about 5 years. I don't know if he was motivated to say that b/c Miele doesn't make them, or if it's true.

I'd asked about them because I'm always interested in taking the next step in energy efficiency. But I'm wary of buying one since they have no track record in the US. And I'm tired of buying expensive appliances that don't last, with hopes that their quality will match their features. (Bosch washer/dryer with great features when they worked, but too many repairs. Getting rid of them after only 12 years. I think that's much too short a lifespan, especially given their cost.)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 11:03PM
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practigal

Whirlpool put out a press release on their new heat pump dryer, model WED99HED. The first units should be available in the US in 4Q2014.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to press release

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:37AM
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