Vented vs. Heat Pump Clothes Dryer
May 8, 2022 3:01 PM   Subscribe

We are investigating new washer / dryer sets. I'm extremely interested in moving from a vented dryer to a heat pump (specifically a Miele). Have you made that change? Were you happy?

I'm concerned that I'll feel like the heat pump dryer takes "too long" after being used to a vented dryer. However, our laundry area has some challenges:
  • It is very small
  • It is pretty far from the exterior wall so has a long vent running under the house that is a royal pain to clean
My hope is that the smaller footprint of the Miele set will make me feel as if the laundry area is not as cramped. We are a two-person family, although one of us works in a physical job and as such has clothing that requires more frequent washing.
posted by hilaryjade to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am used to a vented dryer, and when I visit my parents and their Miele, I just cannot get over how long it takes to dry stuff. I'm in the habit of "save up the laundry, do it all on Sunday" and that kind of plan just doesn't work when you're stuck waiting forever for the dryer.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:11 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]

We have a condenser dryer - an alternative non-vented type to a heat-pump. I believe condenser dryers are a bit faster than heat-pump dryers.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:21 PM on May 8

Another data point, we have a condenser dryer as well, and although it's a pain dealing with cleaning the condenser, drying is just as fast as a vented dryer. I have no experience with a heat pump version.
posted by qwip at 4:53 PM on May 8

Also have and like my condenser dryer. Note that it puts the hot air back into your house though. Not a problem for me because I line dry in warm weather, but if you don’t, it’s an issue.
posted by HotToddy at 5:11 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]

LG condenser washer/dryer owner here. Yes, get one. The typical N American upright twin units are prehistoric and use ridiculous amounts of water and power.

But do remember to clean out the filter, or it will be unhappy
posted by scruss at 6:47 PM on May 8

I have a condenser dryer and live in Europe so the houses aren’t really set up for vented dryers which is what I’m used to because I’m American. Basically what we do is hang dry our clothes on a clothes horse for a day and then finish up in a dryer. When I first tried to use it like a regular dryer it just didn’t really work like that.
posted by pairofshades at 11:13 PM on May 8

I have a Bosch condenser dryer and it's completely fine. It takes the same amount of time as the previous vented one I had, but doesn't dump a lot of heat that I paid for out into my garden. You can even get them plumbed into the drain if you want to save on emptying the water out.
posted by quacks like a duck at 11:37 PM on May 8

Former appliance repair professional here
All dryers will add heat, move air, and tumble, to force the water to evaporate from your wet clothes. The old ones are like an electric (or gas) oven with a fan blowing through your clothes, and the new ones are like the flip-side of a refrigerator with a fan blowing through your clothes.
And all dryers will remove the resulting moisture from the machine. The old ones will vent lots of hot moist air out the side of your house, and the new ones will either do that, or they will use the same air in a relatively closed loop a million times, but condense the water out of it and put the water into a drain.
So these newer ones use a much more complicated process to do the same thing. Why make it complicated? They are more energy efficient once they are in your house. They probably use half of the energy, or even less if you had a really inefficient machine and a really efficient new one. That's great!
But to my mind, this is the only benefit. Everything else is the same or worse than an older dryer.
Certainly they're far more difficult to work on. Most repair outfits, will not repair the heat pump or its pieces in the field, and if anything goes wrong with its sealed system, they have to remove the entire rest of the machine from on top of it, and rebuild the entire thing onto a new sealed system assembly. What a fucking headache.
Did I mention they weigh three times as much as an old dryer? These newer dryers are literally the reason I got out of the home appliance repair business- to avoid injuring my back. They require two people to lift off and on a stack with a washer. Half of washer/dryer sets are stacked, especially in locations where there is little space. And all repair contractors/shops will avoid sending more than one mechanic at a time if they can possibly get away with it. I personally experienced a near back-injury or nearly dropping one of these things onto a person or part of someone's house, about once a week, from the moment we started taking warranty calls for them, until I was able to start a different job.
The home appliance industry suffers greatly from luxury- and feature-creep, and these are a good example. The "problem" is that capitalism requires the appearance of constant growth, and we've become very good at designing and building long-lasting, efficient, effective machines. If it wasn't for planned obsolescence and cheaping out on parts and concealing useful design information from other businesses, we'd be in a paradise of long-lived machines. So what's a business to do? Look for the richest customers. Add lots of unnecessary features- touch screens, software modes, sensors upon sensors, designs that are like a door but with more doors in it, machines that talk with you, internet of things bullshit. Cover it with fancy exteriors that scream how much money you spent on it and how tastefully it fits in your kitchen or whatever.
This is all just pointless nonsense that gets piled onto, like, an oven, which is an insulated box that adds heat to your food and is not too difficult to clean; or a dryer, which is a big motor and barrel that adds heat to and removes moisture from your clothes.
Do you Need extreme energy efficiency, are you Really short on space? (There are even some machines I've seen on boats and tiny luxury condos, which are washers AND dryers, which are totally cool, but a fucking nightmare to work on, and they take a long time to do their thing.) Is it totally Impossible to vent from your laundry room to the exterior wall of your house? If you answer yes to these questions, then absolutely get a ventless dryer. Otherwise I would avoid the feature creep and get a standard dryer.
(My standard advice for appliance shopping is: Don't pay for any features you won't use. Aren't you just going to press "1" and "2" on your microwave? Won't you just hit "Hot" or "Gentle" for your clothes washer and walk away? Don't get the cheapest models- get the second or third cheapest, at least. The cheap ones are louder, smaller and flimsier, and they already cost a few hundred dollars so you're not really saving in the short term. Finally, get a brand that you have heard of before, that is popular in your part of the world. If you buy a brand that doesn't have a lot of supply chain for parts in your country, you may be waiting longer for repairs than you would like, and time without a fridge or a clothes dryer or whatever can be really annoying.)
posted by panhopticon at 12:54 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]

The ventless ones take SO long to dry. Like whatever amount of time you think is long, double that. Also in my experience they don’t dry bulky things well AT ALL. Sheets, towels and jeans kind of end up feeling dry but not really, and also kind of stiff. I’ve had success when line or rack drying the clothes first then throwing them in a ventless to “soften them” a bit. But at that point, why bother? But seriously if you are used to a traditional electric or gas exterior vented dryer you will find the ventless frustrating and part of your brain will convince you it must be broken because “nothing takes that long to dry.”
posted by saradarlin at 1:55 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]

We have a Bosch condenser dryer, it works well and is as fast as the vented one it replaced. Maybe once every two years it beeps to say it needs a clean, and you have to pull a fair bit of fluff out of the insides, but it's easy to do. I bought a length of plastic tubing off eBay so it drains into the washer drain. It does put heat into the house, but I live in an old stone building somewhere quite cold and damp most of the year, so that's a good thing. It doesn't have any unnecessary features or silly interface nonsense that gets in the way of using it easily.

My parents do have an older, cheaper brand condenser and I will say that theirs is dreadful, takes ages to dry anything. Perhaps a lot of the negative opinions here may be based on use of older or less carefully designed models?
posted by tomsk at 3:30 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]

I have a new Miele condenser dryer. It takes 45 minutes to dry clothes most of the way. I hang up almost all my clothes in a ventilated closet, so that is perfectly good enough for me. Sometimes I just put the mostly dry clothes on my bed and they are SO mostly dry that they are COMPLETELY dry in 2 hours, and then I put them away.

You will not get "just out of the dryer" feelings from a condenser dryer, but imo they are otherwise just as good.

panhopticon isn't wrong about feature creep, but for those of us who genuinely could not have a full dryer (like.......everyone on the island of Manhattan) it's a godsend.
posted by branca at 4:01 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Modern front loading washers often have ridiculously fast spin speeds, and the clothes you remove will be much more dry than you are used to from an older, slower, top-loader washer. So upgrading both washer + dryer is a good idea, energy-wise.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 3:51 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]

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