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Our buying guide takes you through a simple, step-by-step process to help you make the best decision when buying a tumble dryer. We'll cover all the important factors you should consider when making your purchase.

  • Different Types of Tumble Dryer - Free Standing or Integrated
  • Different Methods of drying garments - Vented, Condenser & Heat Pump
  • Other Features
  • Tumble Dryer sizes and Drying capacities
  • Choosing your colour
  • How to measure up for your appliance
  • What Energy-ratings for tumble dryers
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Different types of Tumble Dryer

Deciding on the right tumble dryer for your home starts with choosing between a freestanding or integrated model. Are you planning to fit the appliance underneath a kitchen countertop or hide it behind a cupboard door? Or would you prefer more flexibility and place the tumble dryer in a utility room along with the washing machine? Let us help you make the best choice for your home.

Freestanding

A freestanding tumble dryer is perfect for any kitchen or utility room as it can be placed anywhere and look self-contained. It does, however, need to be near an electricity supply and a waste water sink/drain for disposing of the water drawn from the clothes. Vented tumble dryers will also require access to an external wall for the excess moisture to escape outside. Freestanding tumble dryers are exactly the right size to fit underneath a worktop or countertop, but they can also sit alone in the room. The only disadvantage is that they will be visible all the time.

Integrated

Integrated tumble dryers are the perfect choice for those who want a contemporary, seamless finish for their kitchen units. These models are designed to fit underneath worktops and countertops, and are hidden behind a door panel. Generally, integrated tumble dryers are available with condenser or heat pump drying methods and have smaller dimensions than freestanding models, which may mean less choice of programs and features, as well as reduced capacity. For a flawless finish, we recommend using professional tradesmen for installation.

Find out more about the different methods of drying garments below.

Discover the various ways to dry your clothes with our overview of the three main types of tumble dryer: vented, condenser and heat pump. Learn more about the benefits of each type and how to choose the right one for your home.

Vented tumble dryers


Vented tumble dryers are generally the cheapest type to purchase however they are the least environmentally friendly and most difficult to install initially. They work by drawing in air from the room, heating it up, then blowing the hot air around the drum, which passes over and through your clothes to dry them as they spin around. The hot, damp air inside the drum is then vented outside via a dedicated pipe to an external vent. As the air has to escape via the pipe/hose, a vented tumble dryer needs to be located next to an external wall or by a window. The hose then usually passes straight through your wall to the outside, therefore you will likely need the help of a professional tradesperson for the installation. Some customers use their dryer by temporarily hanging a flexible hose out of a nearby window when it’s in use, but this is really only a temporary short-term solution as it is impractical when it is cold or raining. The advantages of vented tumble dryers are as follows:

  • The initial cost of the dryer is typically lower than the other methods.
  • Once installed, vented models require the least ongoing attention and maintenance
  • Depositing moisture directly outside eliminates condensation which is a good advantage for homes where damp may be an issue. 
  • They are the fastest method of drying your clothes
  • Average yearly running costs are approximately £127 depending on the drum size and frequency of use.


Condenser tumble dryers


If there is no opportunity to position your appliance against an external wall, or you do not want a vented type dryer due to its installation difficulties, then a condenser tumble dryer is the perfect choice. These dryers don’t need any pipework to carry away the damp air. As a result there is no special initial installation work required as you don’t need to make any holes in your outside wall. All you need is a nearby electrical power socket. Instead of venting the moisture away, they condense the steam generated by drying the clothes back into water. This water then collects in a container, which is removed and emptied when full. Thanks to this methodology, condenser tumble dryers are very flexible and can be positioned anywhere in your house that’s well ventilated. This method does however come with some setbacks compared with vented dryers, as the initial cost of a condenser model is typically higher and the drying process takes a little longer. Perhaps the biggest drawback however is that you have to remember to keep emptying the water collection vessel each time you use it. Condenser dryers cost much less to run than heat pump tumble dryers and average slightly less to run than a vented tumble dryer coming in at around £123 a year.

Heat pump tumble dryers


Heat pump tumble dryers are the most modern, eco-friendly type dryer available. Essentially, they are the top-end of the condenser dryers but use a different drying technology. This type of dryer collects water in a reservoir that needs emptying so they don’t need any pipework when installed. This means that they can be placed anywhere in your home that has an electricity supply. The difference is that heat pump dryers recycle the warmth in the air, making them much more energy efficient. As they recycle warmth and use less energy, heat pump tumble dryers cost the least to run of any dryer type. Annual running costs average just £52 per year however the upfront cost of the appliance will usually be higher and a typical drying cycle takes longer than with other types of machine (up to twice as long in some cases). With this trade-off in mind, a heat pump dryer is a great choice if you dry clothes regularly and are looking to invest in a long-term economical solution.

In summary, you may wish to consider a heat pump tumble dryer if:

  • There’s no place for your appliance to sit next to an external wall;.
  • You like the idea of a condenser tumble dryer but would prefer an appliance that’s more environmentally friendly, with lower running costs

Other Features

As technology advances, there are numerous features being developed and improved to enhance both efficiency and convenience. Our goal is to help you choose the ideal product for your needs. Here is a summary of the features you may encounter when selecting a new product:

Sensor Drying

Sensor drying is a great energy-saving feature found in some dryers that utilizes sensors in the drum to weigh and measure the moisture level of each load. When the load is dry, the drying cycle is automatically stopped, saving you time and energy.

Delay start

The Delay Start function on your tumble dryer allows you to pre-set the cycle to begin at a specific time, which can help you make the most of electricity tariffs or schedule your laundry around your work commitments.

Child Lock

Many lower end brands of tumble dryers lack a child lock feature. However, some brands offer a control panel lock to prevent curious little ones from making changes to the drying program. With this added feature, parents can remain worry-free about their children tampering with the dryer.

Smart Machines

Smart tumble dryers with Wi-Fi connectivity make remote laundry scheduling easier! Connect your smartphone or other electronic device to your tumble dryer via an app and you can start, stop, and pause loads remotely, as well as receive alerts and assistance. Make your busy life simpler with smart tumble dryers and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Steam Function

The recent introduction of a steam function in home tumble dryers is revolutionising the way clothes are dried. This useful feature steams clothes as they dry, which relaxes the creases and makes ironing easier and faster. Moreover, using steam is more hygienic as it kills off allergens, microscopic bacteria and eliminates odours.

Sound Level

When searching for an appliance for your flat or apartment, it's important to consider the noise level. Look for models that have a low decibel level, achieved by inverter motors, anti-vibration technology, and brushless motors. This way, you can ensure that your appliance is quiet and peaceful in your home.

Drum light

The internal LED light in the drum of some washing machines make it easier for you to maximize the load and avoid leaving items behind when unloading. This LED light is activated when the door is open, allowing you to clearly see the inside of the drum for loading and unloading your clothes.

Heat Pump Technology

Heat pump dryers are the most energy-efficient and cost-effective option, thanks to their energy-saving technology. Unlike conventional dryers, they don't release hot air, but instead retain and reuse the heated air to dry clothes. All models of heat pump dryers are fitted with this eco-friendly technology, making them the ideal choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Reverse Action Drum

Reverse action drum dryers are an ideal solution for those who dislike ironing. Thanks to the alternating clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation of the drum, clothes come out less creased, untangled and more evenly dried, significantly reducing the amount of ironing required after drying.

 Special drying programmes

Tumble dryers with special programmes are ideal for ensuring your clothing is treated with care. Programmes such as sportswear, cottons, synthetics, delicates and woollens can help reduce odours, protect the garments and prevent shrinkage. All these programmes are available at a very low temperature, making it perfect for all your garments.

Tumble Dryer sizes and drying capacities

No matter what drying method you opt for, most tumble dryers have an approximate width and height (850mm x 600mm). However, the depth can vary between 580-655mm, depending on the drum size of the appliance and the volume of laundry you need to dry. Tumble dryers come in a range of capacities from 5kg onwards, so you can choose one that suits your needs.

Choosing your colour

Once you have decided upon the type, capacity and features of your new tumble dryer, one final thing to consider is its colour.  It is important that your chosen model fits in stylishly in its new surroundings and colour-scheme.The most popular colours are listed below:

Shop range
Shop range
Shop range

How to measure up for your appliance

Before purchasing your new appliance, it is vital to check that it will fit into the space you have planned for it. Regardless of where you’re going to position your new appliance, you’ll want to accurately measure the dimensions of this space.

  • Choose where your new tumble dryer will be positioned.
  • Use a tape measure to check the height, width and depth of the available space, then compare these dimensions with appliances as you browse.
  • If you opt for a top-loading dryer, ensure to leave at least 300-400mm above the appliance so that there’s enough room to open the door fully and load your clothes.
  • If you plan to raise your dryer up with a laundry pedestal, remember to account for this as pedestals usually add around 300mm to overall height.
  • As you measure the width of your space, ideally leave at least 25mm of space either side of the appliance to allow for ventilation and manoeuvring the appliance into place.
  • Any dryer needs ventilation space for safety, so allow for at least 100mm of available depth. This also gives you enough space for the pipework too if you select a vented dryer.
  • Once you know the position of your dryer, think about door orientation to ensure that it can be fully opened to access.
  • Lastly, please ensure that the doors and corridors in your home have enough width to carry the appliance through to its position.

  • Measuring for an integrated dryer


    Unlike a freestanding appliance, it is far easier to measure up for a built-in tumble dryer as these come in a standard height and width to fit into a standard-size integrated kitchen cabinet. In this case, you’ll just need to check the depth, allowing 100mm for ventilation at the rear of the space. Remember, you’ll still need to make sure the doorways and halls in your home have enough room for you to carry the appliance into position when it’s delivered. Before ordering, compare your dimensions with each dryer you are considering to ensure that it will be suitable once it arrives.

    Energy ratings for tumble dryers


    All dryers have an energy rating from A+++ to D, with A+++ being the most energy efficient. Typically, appliances with A+ ratings or above will make use of some kind of energy-saving features. These dryers are the most environmentally friendly and will help you reduce energy usage. Explore tumble dryers with an A+++ rating

Tumble Dryers FAQ's

We recommend emptying the water container in your condenser tumble dryer every time you use it. This process is quick and easy, particularly if you have a sink nearby.  You should also ensure that all the lint collectors are regularly checked and cleared as necessary. 

Heat pump tumble dryers pass hot air over your clothes to dry them as they spin, condensing moisture from the air into water that’s collected in a removable tray. Heat pump dryers recycle warm air rather than letting it leave, making them more energy efficient.

Heat pump tumble dryers should avoid being placed in permanently low operating  temperatures such as an unheated room or outhouse/garage.

You can typically expect a tumble dryer to last around 10 years however the actual lifespan of your tumble dryer will depend on how often you use it.Even if your tumble dryer is 10 years old, it is a good idea to replace it as it is likely that energy-saving technology will have come a long way during this time, so upgrading and recycling your old appliance will help to reduce your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Given the current escalating energy costs in the UK, in order to accurately assess how much it would cost to run a tumble dryer, you first need to know how much you pay for your energy. As of October 1st, 2022, the average price per kWh of electricity will be 34p. This is the average unit price for dual fuel customers who pay by direct debit. Before the energy price freeze announcement in early September, it was anticipated that it was going to be 52p.  This was a result of the rise in the energy price cap, announced by Ofgem. For context, in November 2021, the price per kWh was 20p, which went up to 28p in April when there was a previous price cap rise. So by October, the price of a unit of electricity will have jumped from 20p to 34p.

The cost of running a tumble drying depends of course on the type and energy rating of your appliance. As per the rates quoted above Ideal Home calculated the following figures based on the typical usage of around 118 drying cycles per year (approx. one cycle every 3 days)An average 9kg vented tumble dryer costs £1.07 per cycle to run and £127.20 per year.  An average 9kg condenser tumble dryer costs £1.04 per cycle and £123.40 a year. An average 9kg heat pump tumble dryer costs just 43p per cycle, amounting to just £51.80 over the course of the year.

Compared to freestanding tumble dryers, integrated models are a far less popular with consumers. This is partly just down to preference but also not as many people have enough space to accommodate a built-in dryer hence there is less demand. 

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