Dryers are relatively simple appliances. They consist of a rotating perforated basket that holds damp clothes, a fan to blow air through the load, and a heater to keep the air stream at the desired temperature. All dryers do an acceptable job of drying clothes; it's the cost of operation and selection of features that differentiates one model from another.
Dryers are available in either gas- or electric-powered models. The choice is usually dictated by the available power supply in the home. Gas dryers are cheaper to operate, but typically cost about $50 more than electric ones. If you have an option, select gas, as it will cost you less over the life of the machine. Dryers can use one of a number of methods to determine when to stop drying clothes. Most use either a sensor, which judges the amount of moisture remaining in clothing, or a thermostat, which measures the temperature of the escaping air. The sensor is typically more costly to purchase, but generally considered more efficient and therefore cheaper to operate in the long run. Look for a dryer with this feature. Dryers start around $250. Those costing $250-$350 most likely operate by thermostatic control and offer the most basic features. A sensor control will likely add $30-$50 to the cost of the dryer. Moderately priced machines will cost approximately $350-$600 and offer convenience features such as cool down cycles, permanent press cycles, tumble only (no heat), express drying and temperature options. Models selling for in excess of $600 are more likely to offer special features such as electronic or computerized touch controls.
Definition of features:
Buzzer- Machines with a wrinkle-prevention cycle usually have a buzzer that signals that the dry cycle is complete and then sounds periodically during the cool-down cycle. A control that allows you to change the loudness of that buzzer, or to turn it off completely, is often handy.
Cycles- Dryers typically offer a choice between a timed cycle, which lets you select how long you want the dryer to run, and automatic cycles, which can be set for how dry you want the clothes to be. The two basic automatic cycles are regular and permanent press. The permanent-press cycle introduces a cool-down period of about five minutes, during which the clothes are tumbled with no heat to minimize wrinkling. To these cycles a delicate cycle is often added; this cycle runs on reduced heat.
Drying Sensors: There are two ways of controlling an automatic-dry cycle: Either the machine can measure the temperature of the air leaving the clothes, or a humidistat (a device that directly measures the moisture in the clothes) can be used. Both methods work, but humidistats give more precise control.
Efficiency: The efficiency of a dryer depends on how good the washer's spin-dry cycle is and how fully the dryer is loaded. If you normally dry small loads, you're better off with a smaller-capacity dryer. Using automatic instead of timed-dry cycles also helps.
- Allow at least 4 inches of clearance to vent out the back of the dryer. This will allow for the offset of the venting elbow. If you vent off the top of your dryer, cut out the vent hole by drilling a hole with a drill and cutting it to the proper size with tin snips.
- The method you choose to exhaust your dryer depends on many different factors. Choose the most efficient route from your dryer to the outside.
- Use a hinged damper weather hood to prevent backdraft and place it at least 12 inches off the ground. Be sure the placement of this vent will not exhaust dryer air to a window well, gas vent, chimney or any other unventilated area (such as attic or crawl space). The accumulation of lint can be a fire hazard so check your local safety code* on this issue.
- Connect the exhaust system with rigid aluminum pipe and wrap joints with duct tape. Avoid using sheet metal screws. Hang the aluminum pipe from appropriate hangers on horizontal lines at the critical distances determined by your local building code*.
Dryers work by heating and aerating clothes. The efficiency of a clothes dryer is measured by a term called the energy factor. It is somewhat similar to the miles per gallon for a car, but in this case the measure is pounds of clothing per kilowatt-hour of electricity. The minimum rating for a standard capacity electric dryer is 3.01. For gas dryers the minimum energy factor is 2.67. The rating for gas dryers is provided in kilowatt-hours though the primary source of fuel is natural gas.
Unlike most other types of appliances, energy consumption does not vary significantly among comparable models of clothes dryers. Clothes dryers are not required to display EnergyGuide labels.
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