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.
Mechanically, vented dryers are simple beasts.
They suck in air and heat it before blowing it through the clothes. Water in the clothes evaporates – and this hot humid air is blown out of the dryer, preferably through a duct to the outside of your house.
Condenser dryers use a heat exchanger to remove heat and water from air that has passed through your clothes.
The water is collected in a reservoir or funnelled down a drain.
Heat pump dryers use a small heat pump to heat the air that dries your clothes. The warm, damp air is then cooled to remove the water, which is collected in a reservoir or funnelled down a drain. The cooled air is then reheated and recycled within the dryer. This “closed loop” system means there’s very little hot air or moisture released into the room. They’re ideal for places where external venting isn’t possible, like apartments.
A washer-dryer does the job of a washing machine and clothes dryer in a single appliance. Is one right for you?
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.
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.
That’s why we calculate life-cycle costs, which show the real cost of a dryer over 10 years. Inflation and interest rates mean each dollar spent on a dryer now is worth more than a dollar saved through reduced running costs in the future. We also factored in a yearly power price hike of 1%.
We plotted the average life-cycle cost over 10 years for the top-performing models in each category. The result’s a bit grim for heat pump dryers, with 383 loads required every year to make them a better option than condenser models.
The numbers are even more daunting if your house is suitable for a vented dryer. You’ll need to dry 549 loads a year to make heat pump dryers cheaper to buy and run than vented models.
This means heat pump dryers will only offer true savings if you’re running at least one load every day. While this could suit some large families or workplaces, it’s not viable for most of us. For the typical family, vented dryers will be the cheapest option to buy and run. However, if your home isn’t suitable for ducting, or you don’t have a well-ventilated space for a vented dryer, then a condenser model won’t cost you too much more.
GUIDE TO THE FIGURE We’ve charted the average 10-year life-cycle costs for the models in each category which perform well enough to earn our recommended tick. The intersection of the lines is the number of loads per year required to make heat pump dryers economic with respect to condenser or vented models. Results are shown for a 3.5kg load.