Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Do you have mountains of laundry, hate ironing, love soft laundry or simply have no possibility to dry your laundry outside? Then there's no way around a dryer. It dries your laundry in no time and can be used regardless of the weather.

Our dryer test 2021 will help you find the dryer that best suits you and your needs. We have compared different types of dryers, from condenser dryers to heat pump and exhaust air dryers to washer dryers, and listed their advantages and disadvantages for you. We also show you what criteria you should look for when buying a dryer.




The most important facts

  • Dryers allow you to dry your clothes quickly and softly, regardless of the weather. Although you have to reckon with a higher purchase price and electricity costs, which are not incurred when drying in the open air, it is still worth buying one, especially for households with a high volume of laundry.
  • Basically, there are three different types of dryers that work differently: Condenser dryers, heat pump dryers and exhaust air dryers. In addition, there are so-called washer-dryers, which are a combination of washing machine and dryer.
  • Because of their low energy efficiency, exhaust air dryers are more suitable for infrequent use. Condenser dryers and heat pump dryers are more efficient, with heat pump dryers being particularly energy-saving. They are particularly worthwhile for larger families. A washer-dryer is only recommended for single households with little space.

The Best Dryer: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for dryers

In the following, we will explain various features of dryers that you can take into account when making your purchase decision.

The central criteria that help you compare dryers with each other include:

In the following, we will explain the above criteria in more detail and show you what is important.

Type

First of all, there are different types of dryers. Most manufacturers offer the following main types:

  • Condense dryers
  • Heat pump dryer
  • Exhaust-air dryer

Furthermore, there are so-called washer-dryers, which combine a washing machine and dryer in one appliance.

In the decision section of this article we will explain in more detail what distinguishes the different types of dryers and what advantages and disadvantages they each offer.

Size / dimensions

Standard dryers have dimensions of W 60 cm, D 60 cm, H 85 cm and are loaded from the front via a porthole. They are therefore so-called front loaders. Despite these standard dimensions, they can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. You should therefore always check the description of the respective appliance.

Of course, you should also measure how much space you have before buying. If there is not enough space for a dryer with standard dimensions, you can also look for less common top-loading models, which are loaded from the top and are therefore much narrower.

Dryers with a small capacity can also be narrower. Narrow front loaders or top loaders can even fit in niches with a width of only 45 cm.

You can find details of both designs in the buying and evaluation criteria of this article.

Capacity

As with washing machines, the capacity required for dryers depends on the number of people living in the household. You should also consider the capacity of your washing machine when buying a dryer.

Since the laundry is wet after washing in the washing machine and therefore much heavier, you should not choose the same capacity 1:1.

Ideally, the dryer should have a capacity of about 2 kg more than your washing machine.

So if your washing machine holds 6 kg of dry laundry, your dryer should be suitable for at least 8 kg of wet laundry. The following guidelines apply for the suitable capacity per person per household:

people in household recommended capacity
1-2 people 3 to 6 kg
3-4 people 7 to 8 kg
5 or more people at least 9 kg

Basically, the size should be chosen so that the dryer is always fully loaded. Anything else would be inefficient. The capacity should also not be exceeded, otherwise the laundry will not be dried sufficiently.

Energy efficiency class

As with other electronic appliances, many people pay attention to the energy efficiency class. It can be found on the EU energy label next to information on power consumption or volume.

This energy label allows you to compare different appliances with each other.

The energy efficiency classes of dryers range from D to A+++, with D being the most inefficient and A+++ the most efficient.

If you want to use your dryer regularly and still keep your electricity consumption as low as possible, we advise you to buy a tumble dryer with the highest energy efficiency class. For example, a class B dryer already uses up to 70% more energy than a class A+++ dryer.

The higher purchase price of a more efficient A+++ appliance will pay for itself within a few years, as you will save a lot on electricity costs.

Electricity consumption

The energy efficiency class is accompanied by the power consumption of the appliance. This value indicates how many kilowatts of electricity are consumed per hour or per year with a fully loaded machine.

While exhaust-air dryers usually consume between 3.25 and 3.9 kWh per drying cycle, most condensation dryers consume between 3.5 and 4.4 kWh per drying cycle. Heat pump dryers work much more efficiently and consume about 1.5 to 2.5 kWh per drying cycle.

The energy consumption of the dryer also depends on the spin speed of your washing machine. The drier the laundry comes out of the washing machine, the less energy the dryer needs to dry it.

Other factors, such as load, temperature setting or programme, can cause the actual power consumption to differ from that stated.

Construction (front loader vs. top loader)

As already mentioned, dryers are also differentiated in terms of their construction.

Just as with washing machines, you can choose between a front loader and a top loader.

Top-loading models are loaded from the top, whereas front-loading models are loaded through a porthole at the front.

Front loaders are the most common. Because they are loaded from the front, it is possible to install the appliance in a cupboard or place it on top of a washing machine.

Less common are top-loaders, which can be loaded standing up because their opening flap is on the top. With a width of only 40 cm in some cases, they are considerably narrower than front loaders. However, because of this design, they are not suitable for built-in or underfloor installation and the dryer does not offer any storage space.

Suitability for under- or built-in installation

If you don't want your dryer to be free-standing, it is important that it is suitable for under- or built-in installation. The design of the dryer will determine whether it can be built in or flush-mounted. A top loader that is filled from above is not suitable in either case. In the case of front loaders, you should look out for a corresponding label.

If a dryer can be built in, it can be placed under a kitchen worktop, for example. In this case, a cover plate is fitted instead of the machine lid to protect the furniture from moisture and heat.

In addition to installation in the kitchen or in a shelving system, a built-in dryer offers the option of attaching a front panel. This way, your dryer disappears completely into a cupboard.

If you want to save space, you can also place the dryer and washing machine on top of each other as a column.

Practically all front-loading models are suitable for this. All you need is a connecting plate to fix the whole thing in place. The washing machine is always placed under the dryer because of its heavier weight and the spinning movement.

Decision: What types of dryers are there and which one is right for you?

If you want to buy a dryer, there are four main types with different functionalities to choose from:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Condenser dryer flexible to set up, relatively low initial cost, hot air is recycled high energy consumption, regular emptying of condensation tank and lint filter necessary
Heat pump dryer low power consumption, most economical type of dryer in the long term, very good drying performance longer drying time, high purchase price, regular cleaning of lint filter and heat pump filter necessary
Exhaust-air dryer low purchase costs, inexpensive spare parts high energy consumption, exhaust-air hose requires a window, a wall may have to be built in for the exhaust-air hose. a wall must be broken through for the exhaust hose
Washer-dryer space-saving, laundry does not have to be transferred high energy consumption, limited capacity when drying compared to washing

In the following, we will explain the different types of dryers in more detail and go into their advantages and disadvantages.

Kondenstrockner

Condensation dryer

A condensation dryer, also called a condensation dryer, heats the air inside the drum, which removes the moisture from the laundry. The heated, moist air is then cooled by the condenser rather than being discharged to the outside. The resulting condensation water is collected in a container.

This method of operation means that a condensation dryer can be set up flexibly, as no window or access to the water or exhaust air system is needed to remove the humid air. All you need is a power socket. Another advantage is the relatively low purchase price of such a device.

Since the air inside the drum is not discharged but reheated and cooled, it is recycled again and again. The air is thus in a kind of cycle. However, this process also entails high energy consumption. In addition, the condensation water tank and lint filter must be emptied regularly.

Advantages
  • flexible installation, as no connection is required
  • relatively low purchase costs
  • warm air is recycled
Disadvantages
  • high energy consumption
  • regular emptying of the condensation water tank and lint filter necessary

Basically, a condensation dryer is therefore suitable for anyone who does not want to invest too much and does not use the dryer too often, as well as for windowless rooms.

Wärmepumpentrockner

Heat pump dryer

The mode of operation of a heat pump dryer is essentially the same as that of a condensation dryer. The difference is that a heat pump is used. The ambient air is heated on one side of the heat pump. The warm, moist air condenses on the other side and is then fed back into the drum.

Hardly any heat is lost during this process, which is why you can save up to 50% energy with this technology compared to a condensation dryer. A heat pump dryer therefore scores above all with its low power consumption.

Although it is the most expensive to buy, it is the most economical type of dryer in the long term. The significantly lower operating costs compensate for the high purchase price after a short time. The only disadvantages are a longer drying time than with other dryers and the regular cleaning of the lint filter and heat pump filter.

Advantages
  • low electricity consumption
  • most economical dryer type in the long term, as very low operating costs compensate for the high purchase price
  • very good drying performance
Disadvantages
  • longer drying time
  • high purchase price
  • regular cleaning of lint filter and heat pump filter necessary

A heat pump dryer is therefore recommended above all for those who want to dry huge mountains of laundry. For larger families, the purchase usually pays off after a short time due to the energy cost savings.

Ablufttrockner

Exhaust air dryer

The operation of an exhaust air dryer is very simple. The air inside the drum is heated, which removes the moisture from the laundry. This heated, moist air is then led outside via an exhaust hose. Therefore, new air must be constantly heated to replace the exhaust air.

Accordingly, a window or exhaust air system is absolutely necessary. It may be necessary to break through a wall for the exhaust air hose. In addition, heat and energy is always lost, which leads to high energy consumption. Nevertheless, this is somewhat lower than with a condensation dryer.

However, this dryer costs the least to buy, so it is unbeatable in price compared to other types of dryers. In addition, spare parts are available at a very low price, should something (e.g. exhaust hose) need to be replaced.

Advantages
  • low purchase costs
  • inexpensive spare parts
Disadvantages
  • high energy consumption
  • exhaust air hose requires a window, which causes heat and energy to be lost
  • a wall may have to be broken through for the exhaust air hose

Due to the low energy efficiency and high operating costs, an exhaust air dryer is only recommended if drying is done very rarely.

Waschtrockner

Washer-dryer

A washer-dryer combines a washing machine and dryer in one appliance. This means that the laundry can be washed and then dried without reloading. The washing cycle is the same as with a normal washing machine. The drying cycle starts as soon as the washing machine has finished its work.

The biggest advantage is therefore that no space is needed for a second appliance. In addition, you do not have to transfer the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer to dry it.

Be careful not to overload the washer-dryer for the wash cycle, as the drying function cannot handle a full load. If you use the full capacity of the washer-dryer, your laundry will not be completely dry in the drying cycle. For example, with a capacity of 6 – 8 kg when dry, only 4 – 5 kg can be dried when wet.

The energy consumption of a washer-dryer is correspondingly high. In addition, such appliances are usually expensive to buy. As a result, you often don’t save as much money as you might think when you buy two appliances. The possibility of washing and drying at the same time is also eliminated.

Advantages
  • space-saving
  • laundry does not have to be transferred
Disadvantages
  • high energy consumption
  • limited capacity when drying compared to washing

As a rule, a washer-dryer is only worthwhile for single households. If, despite space problems, the possibility of a column of washing machine and dryer exists, this solution can be considered.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about dryers answered in detail

In the following guide, we would like to answer all your important questions about dryers. It provides you with all the background information you need to know before buying a dryer. It also contains facts and tips on how to use a dryer properly after you have bought it.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a dryer?

Even though it is not absolutely necessary to buy a dryer, it does offer some advantages over drying clothes on a clothes horse. For one thing, the drying time is usually shorter, unless you hang the laundry directly in the sun. In addition, there is little or no need for ironing afterwards.

A dryer is especially helpful in winter or when it rains, as you can use it regardless of the weather. In this case, you have to place a clothes horse indoors, where it takes up a lot of space and there is a risk of mould. Even if you don't have a garden or balcony to set up a line or rack, a dryer can be useful.

Advantages
  • short drying time
  • little to no ironing required
  • can be used regardless of weather
  • soft laundry
Disadvantages
  • purchase price
  • energy consumption

Because your laundry dries in a tumble dryer under agitation, it becomes particularly soft and you can save on fabric softener when washing it. In addition, a dryer effectively kills bacteria and germs, which can be important if you suffer from allergies, for example.

On the downside, there is the energy consumption and purchase price, because the most environmentally friendly and cheapest way to dry clothes is on a clothesline or drying rack.

For whom does it make sense to buy a dryer?

Of course, anyone can buy a dryer, but is it worth it for everyone?

Trockner-1

According to the advantages and disadvantages listed, buying a dryer makes sense primarily for households with a high volume of laundry.
(Image source: Steve Buissinne / Pixabay)

In many cases, a dryer can make household chores much easier. You should think about buying one especially if...

... you have a lot of laundry in your household.
... there is no possibility of hanging the laundry outdoors or indoors.
... soft laundry is particularly important to you.

What does a dryer cost?

Depending on the type of dryer, capacity and energy efficiency class, the cost of a dryer can vary greatly. To give you an overview, we have created a table with approximate price ranges:

type price range
condenser dryer €250 - €3,500
heat pump dryer €350 - €4,500
vented dryer €180 - €3,000
washer dryer €350 - €3,500

As you can see, exhaust air dryers are the cheapest, followed by condensation dryers and washer-dryers. Heat pump dryers cost the most, but are worth it in the long run.

The price also depends on the desired range of functions. The more basic the tumble dryer, the cheaper it is. The brand you choose also plays a big role. Similar to washing machines, dryers from high-end brands like Miele, for example, are much more expensive than models from other manufacturers.

What are the alternatives to a dryer?

Below we have listed some dryer alternatives for you to consider:

Alternative Description
Clotheshorse, rotary dryer In summer and provided it does not rain, outdoor drying is possible. This is without doubt the most energy-saving and cost-effective alternative to the dryer. In winter and when it rains, the laundry must be hung indoors, where regular airing must be ensured, otherwise mould can form.
Dehumidifiers Dehumidifiers offer a good way to help dry laundry indoors where there is no window. They extract excess moisture from the air and collect it in a container. As a rule, such devices are mobile and can be used flexibly in different rooms.

Depending on how much laundry you do and how much space you have available, a dryer may be useful or unnecessary.

How do I connect a dryer?

Since the connection depends on the type of dryer, be sure to read the operating instructions of your dryer first to see if there are certain things you should pay attention to when connecting it. When setting up the dryer, make sure there is enough space between it and the wall and level it using a spirit level. Then you can remove the transport lock.

In general, all dryer models require a power connection. Make sure that the power cable does not pose a tripping hazard. In addition, you should not use an extension cable or a multiple socket.

With an exhaust air dryer, the exhaust air hose must also be attached. This is routed outside and can be fastened with a cable tie, for example.

Condensation dryers and heat pump dryers do not require any connections, provided the condensation water is collected in a container. If it is to be led directly into the drain, the dryer must be connected accordingly.

A washer-dryer is connected in the same way as a normal washing machine. The exact procedure can be seen in the following video:

If you are not sure you can do the installation yourself, you should contact a professional. When you buy a new appliance, installation and connection is often included in the purchase price.

How do I clean and maintain my dryer?

To keep your dryer drying effectively, you should clean and maintain it regularly. We advise you to familiarise yourself with the operating instructions for your tumble dryer. Depending on the type of dryer and the model, there are certain things that need to be observed.

Trockner-2

Unlike in a laundromat, you have to clean your dryer yourself at home to ensure that it lasts as long as possible and dries effectively.
(Image source: Ryan McGuire / Pixabay)
Basically, you should clean the lint filter of all types of dryers after each drying cycle.

With condensation dryers, the container with the condensation water must be emptied after each drying cycle. Otherwise, your dryer may stop the next drying cycle. Once a quarter, it is also advisable to remove lint from the condenser fins. This can be done with water or a hoover.

The same applies to heat pump dryers. In the case of an exhaust air dryer, the exhaust air hose should be checked for dirt once a quarter and cleaned if necessary.

To remove limescale and other dirt, you can use a vinegar cleaner from time to time. Wipe the inside of the drum and all rubber seals with it.

What are the most common dryer problems and how do I solve them?

Often, dryer problems are caused by insufficient cleaning and can be solved by yourself. In other cases, a repair by a professional may be necessary. Below we have listed common problems and tips on how to solve them:

  1. Dryer no longer dries / laundry will not dry
    First, you should check all crucial parts (lint filter, condenser, water drain, exhaust hose, etc.) for lint and dirt and clean them if necessary. In the case of condensation dryers, empty the condensation water tank. If this does not help, broken thermostats may be the cause of the problem and must be replaced. You can find a summary of all the steps in the video at the end of this section.
  2. Drum no longer turns
    In this case you will notice that the drum is either much harder or easier to turn. This is usually caused by a broken drive belt, which then needs to be replaced. More rarely, it is due to a motor defect. However, the motor should be replaced by a specialist, although such a repair is usually not financially worthwhile.
  3. Dryer makes noises
    If you have already made sure that there are no foreign objects (e.g. coins) in the appliance that cause noises, in most cases the drum bearing is defective and must be replaced. Another reason could be a worn drive belt.

Which textiles are suitable for tumble drying and which programme do I use for what?

In general, you should look at the washing label sewn into your garments to answer this question. The sign with the crossed-out dryer (circle in a square) symbolises that the clothes are not suitable for tumble drying. However, the following textiles, which can also be washed at 60 degrees, can be put in the dryer at any time without any problems:

  • Towels
  • Dishcloths and cleaning cloths
  • Cotton underwear
  • Socks
  • Bed linen, blankets and pillows

If the dryer symbol is not crossed out, the garment is suitable for tumble drying. Sometimes the dryer symbol on the washing label has one or two dots in the middle. Two dots mean that drying at a high temperature is possible. This means that you can use fast programmes without hesitation. One dot indicates that you should only dry at a low temperature. It is therefore best to use a gentle programme.

Trockner-3

Not all textiles can be dried in the dryer without hesitation. Be sure to follow the instructions on the washing label.
(Image source: Zui Hoang / unsplash)

Textiles that should be dried at a low temperature include, for example, jeans, fleece clothing or clothing made of cotton and synthetic fibres (T-shirts, pullovers, etc.).

How and where can I dispose of an old dryer?

If you want to dispose of your old dryer due to a defect, you can often use an exchange service that retailers offer. This means that when the new dryer is delivered, the old one is taken away and disposed of. In some cases, this service is even free as long as you buy a new appliance. However, it can also cost extra. Look out for corresponding offers.

If you want to dispose of the dryer yourself, recycling centres or scrap dealers are the right place to go. This type of disposal can also be free of charge, but fees may also apply. So find out more to avoid costs.

If your old dryer is still in working order, you can either give it away or sell it second-hand. For example, you can use portals such as eBay classifieds or newspaper ads.

Picture source: Orsillo/ 123rf.com

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