Ventless Heat Pump Dryers:
Thinking Outside the (Hot) Box

Thinking Outside the Hot Box - Girl Reaching Inside Drying Machine

We take dryers for granted, but it wasn’t all that long ago that we hung our clothes on the clothesline. The first electric clothes dryers offered to the public were in 1938. While their popularity grew in the 1950s, dryers didn’t really come into their own until around 1960. Between that decade and into the 90s, new features and improvements were introduced.

The most efficient vented dryers appeared around 2014 with energy star ratings.  They are about 20% more energy efficient than older models but, compared to heat pump dryers, they are still behind the curve in efficiency ratings.

Heat pump dryers were first developed in Europe in the late 1990’s.  Since 2007, heat pump dryers have been widely used in Switzerland and Germany, partly due to the high cost of energy there.  The majority of clothes dryers used in America are traditional hot boxes—the kind that use heat to dry clothes and pump exhaust outside through a vent.  But what about homes that lack space for a laundry room, or where a landlord or condo association forbids punching a hole in the wall for a dryer vent? 

What is a Vented versus Ventless Dryer?

Vented dryers act like hot air vacuums. They pull room-temperature air in from your laundry room, heat it up, tumble your clothes in it, and then blow the exhaust outside. A vented dryer taking in the climate-controlled air from your home and pumping it outdoors means that in winter your furnace in winter has to work harder and in summer your dryer has to heat up air that’s been cooled by your air conditioner.

Ventless heat pump dryers use what is known as air-to-air condensation drying technologies. The heat pump is designed to recycle and reheat the air within the dryer rather than blowing the heated air outside. By recycling the heated air within the dryer itself, it cuts down on energy usage and is more energy-efficient. A heat pump dryer extracts moisture and converts it into water, which is pumped out of the dryer and removed either down the discharge drain or into a built-in catch basin that collects water (the catch basin needs to be emptied regularly).  There is a filter at the front of the drum which traps lint etc. from clothes and a base filter for finer residues.  The filters will need to be cleaned per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Heat pump dryers use as much as 60 percent less energy than a standard vented dryer. 

Is a Ventless Dryer Better Than a Vented Dryer?

The Upside:

  • Ventless dryers are much easier to install, and can be installed in almost any room. 
  • Ventless dryers are more energy efficient than vented dryers, significantly lowering operating costs. 
  • Statistics show that they are at least 20% more energy efficient than the newest star rated vented dryers and up to 60% more efficient than the older vented dryers.
  • Most models score the maximum energy star rating.
  • A ventless dryer may be the only option in apartments or other areas where venting is not possible.
  • Ventless dryers are much easier on delicate clothing. They feature multiple sensors to detect moisture, so your clothes are dried more consistently and treated with better care. 
  • They are better for the environment. 
  • A few companies are making hybrid heat pump dryers. You can choose between conventional heat technology to dry clothes quickly or the heat pump to use energy efficiency.

The Downside:

  • They tend to take longer than a vented dryer to get everything dry but newer models only take up to an extra 5-15 minutes at most. 
  • They tend to be smaller than the average dryer, but more and more companies are now making regular sized heat pump dryers.
  • It’s important not to open the dryer door before the cycle has ended. If you do, the heated air escapes and the heat pump has to reset, making the drying time much longer.
  • Heat pump dryers tend to slightly heat up the room as they dry a load.
  • Most heat pump dryers emit a slightly metallic sound as they dry a load.
  • Perhaps the biggest impediment though is price. Heat pump dryers tend to have a significantly higher upfront cost.  

Heat pump dryer technology in North America has been steadily improving in performance since its introduction here. It could be the wave of the future due to its light environmental footprint, its operating cost savings, and its ability to be used in almost any room in your home. 

Whatever type of dryer you choose, you can count on C&W Appliance Service to provide the very best in repair and maintenance to it and all your major appliances.  Call us at (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form for prompt service.

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