Choosing the right clothes dryer pays off in the long run.
We’ve tested heat-pump, condenser and vented clothes dryers to find the most efficient, easiest to use and fastest.
Sensor-and-timer models tend to be more expensive than timer-only. Think about how often you'll use the sensor: there's no point paying for sensor drying if you use it only occasionally.
Vented dryers are simple beasts, so they’re easy to repair. Internal components such as the drive belt, thermal fuse and even the drive motor can be swapped out. You should also be able to order external components such as door catches, controls and lint filters from the manufacturer or a service centre.
Our life expectancy estimate:
Tip: If you do decide to replace your old faithful, look for a dryer with a sensor. Sensors can prevent you from over-drying clothes and wasting energy.
Is your sensor clothes dryer stopping short of drying your clothes? A sensor clothes dryer should detect when a load is dry and stop running. This prevents over-drying, which can damage your clothes. Because it’s not running any longer than it needs to, you’ll save money on your power bill too. But what if your clothes dryer stops and you open the door to a still-damp load?
If you’re having trouble getting your sensor dryer to fully dry a load, try these tips:
Clean the moisture sensors: These are 2 metal strips that are usually inside the drum underneath the door. Over time, residue from washing powder and fabric softener can accumulate on the sensors, which reduces sensitivity. To clean them, switch the dryer off at the wall and wipe with a soft cloth and mild soap.
Sort your load: Mixed loads – for example, lightweight T-shirts and heavyweight jeans – can be challenging for a sensor dryer. For even results, dry similar-weight items together.
Use the right setting: Clothes dryers are becoming more sophisticated, with settings for different fabrics and items such as sheets and sportswear. It pays to read the user guide to check you’re using the most suitable setting for the type of items you throw in your dryer. For example, if your dryer has a “sheets” setting, use it as it will alternate the tumbling direction to prevent sheets tangling into a damp-centred ball.
According to the Australia New Zealand Standard our test is based on, clothes dryers must be capable of drying a full load to a moisture level of 6% or less. However, not all settings achieve this. While the setting stated on the dryer’s energy rating label must be able to dry clothes to this required moisture level, some settings are programmed to leave items damp so they’re easier to iron.
If you’re using the energy rating label setting and haven’t overloaded your dryer and you’re still getting damp clothes, then your dryer isn’t doing its job properly.
Our clothes dryers test uses a standard load of cotton bed sheets, small towels and pillow cases. This allows us to compare clothes dryers fairly and repeat the test year after year. We test using a 3.5kg (dry weight) load, which gets a lot heavier when wet at a 90% moisture level. This is the same size load we use when testing washing machines – it’s about the average amount a consumer washes at one time.
A load with a moisture level of 6% will meet the Australia New Zealand Standard but we look for better than that in our testing. So when we test clothes dryers, we’re looking for a moisture level closer to 2-3% by the end of the drying time. It’s not often that we find a clothes dryer that can’t achieve a moisture level of less than 3%. When we do, we apply a penalty to the overall score. This is because we think any dryer should be capable of drying your clothes to the point where you can hang them in your wardrobe or put them in a drawer straightaway.
The Energy Rating Label has a scale of stars to show how energy efficient a model is, compared to other models the same size/capacity. More stars = more energy efficient.
The energy consumption figure is in kWh and can be used to compare with any other clothes dryer. You can use this figure and the kWh cost from your latest power bill to calculate how much this model will cost to run. The average cost of a kWh in New Zealand is 25¢. Lower kWh = cheaper to run.
The product’s annual energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh) is based on standards testing. Check the key assumptions used in this testing to make sure they match how you will use the product. Annual energy consumption for clothes dryers assumes 52 uses a year. You should only compare star ratings of clothes dryers with the same or similar capacities.
For information on energy ratings and how to use them, see our Energy Rating Labels explained article.