Condensation dryer recommendations
December 8, 2012 8:02 AM   Subscribe

What is the best condensation (ventless) dryer on the market in the US?

I need a condensation dryer (ventless) for my condo. I am currently using a regular electric dryer, that vents into my unit and I am concerned about the combination of lint and humidity being dumped into my unit. I have mitigated the risk by using the water and bucket solution, but I am not happy with it.

I want to get a condensation dryer so the humidity and lint are no longer an issue. However, from my research, none of these dryers are reviewed well. I'm going crazy trying to decide which one to purchase. The unit will be stacked with the matching washing machine (I don't want a combination unit that both washes and dries).

I'm expecting to spend less than $2500 for the pair, so the Miele pair is out, but I saw offerings from Bosch, GE, and LG in my price range. However, $2500 is still a lot of money to me and I want appliances that will stand the test of time. I do about 3 large loads of laundry a week. I live in Chicago and line drying is not an option in my condo.

Do you have any recommendations or products to avoid? Have you used a ventless dryer yourself? Have you gone from the bucket system to a ventless system and were you happy with the result? Lastly, am I overreacting and would I be less happy with the condensation dryer than with the bucket system?
posted by parakeetdog to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As a person who works for the company that produces this product, and as someone who sell it to apartment management companies, I can tell you the following:

The fundamental way that clothes dryers do their job is by gently beating the moisture from the clothes. A dryer sucks in air through openings on the outside of the machine, past the heating element and into the tumbler. The warm air and the tumbling action force the moisture out of the clothes and into the air, then the fan(s) force the steam and moist air out the back duct, as quick and far from the clothes as possible.

The most effective dryers vent to the outside with the straightest and shortest duct length possible. If you have to go ventless, you have to reconcile yourself to the fact that you're just not going to see the same performance as you would with a vented dryer--it will take longer to dry the clothes, and you may have a little more moisture left in them.

(Bear in mind that having a bit of moisture left in the clothes is better for the fabric when you're ironing them--it helps the fabric last longer and enables getting rid of wrinkles better. We joke at work about how a lot of customers look for a "deep fat fry" setting on their clothes dryer; certainly it's their choice to dry their clothes until they're parched, but it's really hard on the fabric.)

Two options are available to drain the water out of our condensation dryer:
- Pump to a removable water tank in the dryer.
- Drain directly out of unit into a standpipe or washstand through the included drain hose.

We've had this ventless dryer out for about three years. In talking to my apartment managers (most of whom are along the West Coast and the Mountain States), they've been happy with both the performance and the quality. Our model doesn't take quite as long as the competition to dry clothes. Our service call rate--how often we receive reports of a servicer being called out to repair the product--has been very low, and most "repair" appointments have actually wound up being "customer education" appointments (usually along the lines of "It's not broken; your apartment manager should've told you it would take about an extra half-hour or so to dry a load this size").

This is anecdotal, as data is still being compiled for this year, but the majority of our apartment management customers install these using a standpipe to drain. In discussion with me, my customers report better performance (in term of cutting down the time needed to dry clothes) than using the bucket option, which our engineers figured would be the case.

Anyway, that's the perspective from my workplace.
posted by magstheaxe at 8:41 AM on December 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have the LG compact condensing ventless dryer (model#DLEC855W here in Canada). I also have the matching compact washer, both purchased through Sears for about $2000 if I recall. I have been using them for about a year and a half and have no complaints whatsoever. I bought them based on a recommendation from a friend who has the same set in her condo and has been using them for probably three years now with no problems.

Apparently, you can set it up so the condensate drains directly into the washer drain. I haven't done that yet and have been emptying the reservoir every load or two instead. No big deal. I also like the idea of the dehumidified exhaust air staying in the house for additional heating during winter months.

If you are used to doing big loads in standard sized machines, you may have to change that habit. The capacity is smaller (4.2 cu ft) than the standard sized machines (7.3 cu ft) , but I haven't felt hampered (!) by it. I can still get five or six pairs of jeans in one load. They are mostly dry after a 48 minute cycle.

They look great, work well, and play a lovely little song when they are finished.
posted by recess at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2012

My parents have the Miele one and a Miele washer, despite being working class people who are very careful with money and barely spend that much on a new-to-them car. They'd tell you (like they tell me all the time!) that if it's at all possible you should stretch your budget for it.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:33 AM on December 8, 2012

We loved our combo LG ventless washer/dryer. Small capacity but it was GREAT on clothes, but the downside was it took forever to dry, but that's the trade off. Other than the time it took to dry it was the best washer/drier we have ever used.

I totally recommend one of them for 2 people, people maybe. Above that you just can't get that much clothing through them due to the dry time and the smaller capacity.
posted by iamabot at 10:07 AM on December 8, 2012

Thirding LG as a reliable brand. I've purchased several combined units for use in historic (i.e. difficult to retrofit) apartments, and gotten largely good reviews from tenants. That being said, there's three disadvantages you should take into consideration:

1. A full-sized load dry cycle will take about 2 hours, plus 5-10 minutes of air drying.

2. There's some contention about their energy efficiency. Might be an issue depending on utility prices in your area.

3. In a conventional set up (direct or manual draining) there's about five gallons of perfectly good water wasted per full load (though easily re-purposed with the right setup for grey water and/or landscaping). Again, added utility cost depending on your area.
posted by givennamesurname at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2012

Don't overlook Asko as an option. A set will probably be right around your price limit, but totally worth it.
posted by misterbrandt at 12:06 PM on December 8, 2012

We loved our combo LG ventless washer/dryer. Small capacity but it was GREAT on clothes, but the downside was it took forever to dry, but that's the trade off. Other than the time it took to dry it was the best washer/drier we have ever used.


Thirding LG as a reliable brand. I've purchased several combined units for use in historic (i.e. difficult to retrofit) apartments, and gotten largely good reviews from tenants.

My current apartment comes with one of these (the compact combo units), and I have to say, my experience has been uniformly the opposite of these two comments. First, the dry cycle is (in my experience) terrible on clothes, and I don't trust it for anything that I don't want to emerge misshapen and weird. Second, the dry cycle tends to be fairly ineffective, and its max capacity is half that of the unit, which is already small. Third, they don't seem to last very well after a certain point. The units in my building are several years old and my building management company decided they weren't cost effective to maintain. They make it clear in new leases that they won't replace or repair them when they break in any way; they actually built a central laundry room instead.

Perhaps they've fixed this but my model LG made the decision to not have any kind of lint trap. Now, it isn't actually the case that lint magically isn't involved with this drying technology, so over time (but on like a 1-2 year time frame), massive amounts of lint _do_ build inside the unit, making the dry cycle gradually even less functional. To clean it, you have to deconstruct the top part and stick a bent wire hangar down into the insides for an hour or so, using sketchy instructions from the internet. It's actually not all that hard if you're mechanically inclined but it's certainly not designed to be user serviceable. Or pay someone a lot of money to do this. If you get a ventless dryer, definitely try to get one that has a user accessible lint trip of some kind, if they exist.

The wash cycle is fine and I'm perfectly happy to line dry things. I use the new laundry room dryer when I need to do any real drying. I wouldn't buy an LG combo dryer on this experience, or probably any combo dryer or even ventless dryer. If/when this breaks completely (rather than the several minor problems that I haven't even gone into) I'm planning on just replacing it with a compact washer.
posted by advil at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Btw, forgot to say this explicitly, but I imagine that the difference between my experience and the others in the thread re LG combo units is that mine is a few years old (I'm not really sure exactly how old, unfortunately).
posted by advil at 12:16 PM on December 8, 2012

Also had a terrible experience with an LG condenser dryer (combo unit). No lint trap (had to literally take apart the machine to clean it occasionally), slow drying, misshapen clothes, sensor never worked. Unless they've gotten better recently, stay away.

New apartment has a outside-venting gas LG dryer though, and it's great!
posted by iamscott at 5:51 PM on December 8, 2012

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