Gas vs. Electric Dryers
The average American family will do almost 400 loads of laundry a year. While there are all types of dryers, there are two main power options. Choosing the best clothes dryer for your needs will help you complete the daunting task of laundry day. This guide will teach you the difference in gas vs. electric dryers as well installation and maintenance tips.
Narrowing down the best dryers starts with first determining your space, desired style, features and budget. Some dryers feature special fabric care options that make clothes look newer for longer. Energy-efficient dryers will have a smaller electric bill and positive environmental impact.
- Standard dryer dimensions are 27 inches wide x 36 inches high.
- Dryer depths range from 25 inches to 32 inches, depending on their cubic footage. Add six or more inches to the dryer's depth measurement to accommodate door swing.
- Compact dryers measure 34 inches high x 24 inches wide x 24 inches to 27 inches in diameter.
- All dryers must have at least 1 inch of clearance on all sides for air circulation.
- Leave 3 to 5 inches of clearance at the back of the washer for venting materials.
Decide on Style
- Top-down dryer doors require less bending and keep wet items from falling on the floor.
- Some models have dual-opening doors allowing for side-swing or top-load usage.
- Certain dryer models are available in assorted colors.
- Side-mount doors can be installed on the right or left.
- Dryers can cost from $400 for a basic model to over $2,000 for a high-tech model.
Tip: Speed up laundry transfer from washer to dryer by installing side-mount doors so they swing away from the washer.
Electric dryers run off heating coils and typically operate on a 240-volt current, which is twice the strength of a household current. This is why you will find larger electrical outlets in your laundry room.
Electric dryer benefits:
- Most electric dryers come in a wide range of models and have a lower upfront cost.
- Most homes already have appropriate wiring in place.
- Easier to install than gas and can be installed by a homeowner.
- Typically more cost-effective than gas dryers.
- They are relatively low-mantainence and have budget-friendly repair costs.
Gas dryers use a gas burner fueled by either natural or propane gas to generate heat.
Gas dryer benefits:
- Gas can be a cost-effective, with more affordable fuel over the long run.
- Gas dryers dry loads in about half the time of electric dryers, and produce less static cling.
- They can keep clothes from wrinking because a gas dryer dissipates heat more quickly after the end of the cycle.
- Professional installation is recommended.
It's important to keep in mind that all clothes dryers work the same way. Electricity turns the internal drum while an electric fan distributes heated air, so that the clothes can dry. It is, however, the cost and efficiency that set electric and gas dryers apart.
When making the choice between gas vs. electric dyers for your home, you will want to consider things like energy usage, existing hookups in your laundry room and your overall household budget. If your home is older and only equipped for electric, the answer is pretty clear. However, a newly constructed home, or a home equipped with both options, can make the question harder.
Hiring someone to install a gas line or install a gas dryer will add to your cost; however, gas dryers use almost half the amount of electricity when compared to an electric dryer. So, in terms of which may be more energy-efficient, gas appears to win out here. Gas dryers will cost more upfront, but they also dry clothes quicker and are said to be more gentle on clothing.
As noted before, electric dryers are relatively easy to install, meaning, as long as you have the proper electrical outlets in your laundry room, your dryer can be purchased and installed relatively quickly. Gas dryer installs may require a professional.
The real answer to this question will come down to your family's needs, so be sure to weigh all the pros and cons.
Aside from gas vs. electric, today's clothes dryers often have high-tech, useful features. Some of these features come standard on both budget-friendly and high-end models. Knowing about them ahead of time can make it easier when shopping for the best gas dryer or the best electric dryer for your home.
- Stainless Steel Drum. Stainless steel drums resist odors, discoloration and damage from warping. The smooth interior won't snag fabrics and reduces static.
- Moisture Sensors. This feature detects moisture levels inside the drum to determine how dry clothes are. When optimal levels are reached, it stops the cycle, preventing damage to clothes and saving energy.
- Extended Tumble. Some people consider the best tumble dryer to be one with an extended tumble option that allows clothes to tumble for up to 30 minutes without heat. When clothes can't be removed and folded right away, an extended tumble feature can help prevent wrinkles.
- Drying Rack. Some dryer models include a drying rack which rests inside the drum. This allows air to circulate without tumbling delicate clothing items.
- Stackable Dryers. Not all laundry models are stackable washers and dryers, so check the compatibility of the washer to be sure it can be stacked with the dryer in question.
- Vented dryers are the more common type of dryer. They require less upfront investment, have a larger capacity and dry items faster. However, they require a proper ventilation system, which may not be available in some apartments or condos.
- Ventless dryers are easy to install, require no venting to the outside and produce greater energy savings over time. They are the most common with compact dryers. They require a larger upfront investment and take longer to dry clothes than vented models.
Tip: An average load costs around a dollar to dry in a vented dryer.
Even the best dryers will not function well if not maintained properly.
- Clean lint filter after each load.
- Clean lint filter compartment 2 to 3 times a year with a vacuum or brush.
- Have the dryer venting tube professionally cleaned at least once a year.
Before delivery and installation of your new dryer, make sure the room or space has everything the machine needs to be supported and hooked up.
- You will need a dryer vent. See our How to Install a Dryer Vent guide to do it yourself.
- Electric dryers need a dedicated 220-volt circuit to plug into. Gas dryers plug into a dedicated 120-volt outlet. If your laundry room needs a new electrical outlet, hire a licensed electrician.
- Gas dryers need a gas line in the laundry space. You must hire a licensed plumber to complete this installation.
- Steam dryers must have water added to them. If your model requires a “Y” connection to route water from the washer to the dryer’s steam chamber, the installer will typically make the connection. In some cases, you must have a plumber complete that part of the installation separately.
Consider the following when shopping for new appliances:
- 3-prong plugs are used for homes built before the year 2000.
- 4-prong plugs are used for homes built after the year 2000.
When you add professional installation to your new appliance purchase from The Home Depot, a compatible cord is required. The delivery agent carries both types of cords to make sure your home is covered.
When you purchase a new appliance from The Home Depot without professional installation, a 4-prong cord is sent by default. If your home is equipped with a 3-prong outlet, you will need to purchase a 3-prong cord or connector adapter separately.