Tumble Dryers: Types, Benefits And Finding The Best

A tumble dryer is essential for some households, because with a pile of nice clean washing comes a struggle trying to get it all dry.

In winter, you can’t hang it out because of the bad weather. In summer, it becomes full of insects and allergens such as pollens and dust. Drying it naturally in the house takes up so much room and makes the air damp, not to mention it can take over a day to get the job done. And the damp smell is less than pleasant.

So you have decided to buy a tumble dryer. But which type is best for you? What even is the difference? This is all you need to know about tumble dryers.

The Difference Between Tumble Dryer Types

What Is A Condenser Tumble Dryer?

The most popular type of dryer in the UK, according to data. It collects the moisture from your clothes and collects it in a container at the base of the machine. Also known as a reservoir, it simply needs emptying when full. Most machines will warn you when this is the case.

It uses a heater element to generate heat which then dries the clothing. As there is no pipe or tube, placement is very flexible. Some may even be able to be plumbed in like a washing machine, which can carry the dirty drained water away into the mains

What Is A Vented Tumble Dryer?

Vented machines have an external pipe which removes the water from the unit. This pipe needs to go outside to get rid of waste. It can either go through a hole in the wall or out of the window, which means that there are more restrictions in terms of placement but also means less maintenance

What Is A Heat Pump Tumble Dryer?

These work in the same way as a condenser dryer, in that they collect moisture in a tank. It is how they generate this heat which separates them.

Heat pump dryers recirculate the air which is already in the unit, rather than creating new heat. This means that they use a lower temperature to dry the clothes, and while this can mean it takes longer, it is more energy efficient. Buy a recent model however, and there may be no time difference at all

Pros & Cons Of Tumble Dryers

Why Buy A Condenser Model?

  • Placement – As there is no waste pipe, you can position it pretty much anywhere
  • Style – No pipe also means it is all a bit tidier and modern-looking which you may prefer if it is on show
  • Price – Relatively inexpensive, and cheaper than heat pump models


  • They’re pricier than some vented models
  • Condensing process uses a lot of energy (and therefore money)
  • Need an ambient temperature to work, above 5°C but below 30°C, so not great for garages etc

Why Buy A Vented Model?

  • Price – Generally the cheapest option to buy as they are less complicated
  • Maintenance – There is no tub to empty, so you can leave it to do the job


  • There may be issues with the pipe occasionally, meaning you need to repair or replace it
  • You are restricted with positioning as the pipe needs to go outside

Why Buy A Heat Pump Model?

  • Energy Efficient – All rated from A to A+++
  • Running Costs – The lowest of all reviewed, and can be half of that from other types
  • Placement – The freedom benefit of condenser machines, with no pipes or tubes


  • They can take longer to dry the clothes
  • They are the most expensive option

Which Is The Best Tumble Dryer For You?

This all depends on the main things you want:


If you always need clothes dried ASAP, a condenser or vented option will be best


This depends on whether you’d rather pay more and see the benefits in future, or save money when buying but have slightly higher running costs.

Heat pump dryers are generally the priciest to buy, but running costs can be half of those of other types, around £30 per year. Vent dryers are usually the cheapest, but can cost around £80 to run per year, and condenser models are usually the mid-priced option but cost about £77.

Energy Use

Heat pumps are the best, as they recycle the same air over and over again, so it doesn’t use much electricity to produce new energy

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