While there are many types of clothes dryers, there are two main power options. Choose a gas vs. electric dryer by considering your laundry needs and budget, and use this guide to learn about their different features and benefits.
How Do I Choose a Clothes Dryer?
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 new longer. Energy-efficient dryers will have a smaller electric bill and more positive environmental impact.
- For an average washer and dryer placed side-by-side, you'll need a space 40 inches high by 56 inches wide and 31 to 34 inches deep. Compact dryers vary in height, width and depth. Measure the dryer before you buy to be sure it will fit your space.
- Also, consider whether the dryer door opens from the side or the top. Your space should have room for the door to completely open.
- All dryers must have at least one inch of clearance on all sides for air circulation.
- Leave three to five inches of clearance at the back of the dryer for venting materials.
- 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.
Set a Budget:
- Dryers can cost from $200 for a basic model to around $2,000 for a model with more features and advanced technology. Basic, portable dryers can start around $140.
Tip: Speed up laundry transfer from washer to dryer by installing side-mount doors so they swing away from the washer.
What Are the Features of an Electric Clothes Dryer?
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.
- They're easier to install than gas dryers and can be installed by a homeowner.
- They are relatively low-maintenance and have budget-friendly repair costs.
- Some electric dryers have a steam dry function. This type of function can help reduce wrinkles and static.
- Some dryer doors are also reversible. If that is a functionality you want, look into reversible dryer doors prior to purchase.
What Are the Features of a Gas Clothes Dryer?
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, 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 wrinkling because gas dryers dissipate heat faster after the end of the cycle.
- Professional installation is recommended.
What Are Other Gas vs. Electric Considerations?
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 the clothes can dry. The difference in electric vs. gas dryers is the cost and efficiency of each type.
When making the choice between gas vs. electric dryers 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 electric dryers. So, in terms of which may be more energy-efficient, gas typically wins out. 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 the question, which is better, a gas vs. electric dryer, will come down to your family's needs, so be sure to weigh all the pros and cons.
What Are Some of the Best Clothes Dryer Features?
Today's clothes dryers often have useful, high-tech features. Some of these come standard on both budget-friendly and high-end models. Knowing about them ahead of time can make it easier to shop 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. A compatible stacking kit may also be required.
What Is the Difference Between a Vented vs. Ventless Dryer?
- 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.
What Are the Steps for Dryer Maintenance?
Even the best dryers will not function well if not maintained properly.
- Clean the lint filter after each load.
- Clean the lint filter compartment two or three times a year with a vacuum or brush.
- Have the dryer venting tube professionally cleaned at least once a year.
- If you have an accordion-style duct, replace it with a rigid meteal duct that prevents lint build-up and allows for better air flow.
What Are Some New Dryer Pre-Installation Tips?
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.
- 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.
- Also check the dryer's prong amount before purchase as well. Some dryers are still made for 3-prong outlets to accommodate older homes.
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 us without professional installation, a 4-prong cord is sent by default. If your home is equipped with a 3-prong outlet, you'll need to purchase a 3-prong cord or connector adapter separately.
Gas vs. Electric Dryer FAQS
Find the best clothes dryer for your need by considering your laundry habits and your budget for the appliance and utility costs. The difference between electric and gas dryers comes down to your preference. Need more help? Ask a Home Depot appliance department associate. They'll be glad to share their expertise. If you're looking for gas or electric washers and dryers or more, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.