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ventless clothes dryer pros cons

Ventless Clothes Dryers: A Comprehensive Guide

By Donna Pols TrumpRise Writer
Feb 18, 2019

Ventless clothes dryers? Is that a thing? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly 80% of Americans own a clothes dryer. Unfortunately, 98% of those dryers vent to the outdoors. A non-vented standard dryer adds warm, lint-filled air into living spaces, which is harmful to breathe and potentially flammable. It also leads to excess moisture, leading to mold, and structural damage. An improperly vented gas dryer also has the potential to leak carbon monoxide into a home. Do all dryers require a vent? What options do you have?

Ventless dryers have been the norm in Europe for generations yet uncommon in North America. Moreover, vented dryers are illegal in Switzerland. So what do Europeans know that we don’t?

Table of Contents

  1. Clothes Dryers 101
  2. What Is an Air Vented Dryer?
  3. What is a Ventless Dryer?
  4. What Is a Condensing Dryer?
  5. What Is a Heat Pump Dryer?
  6. Pros and Cons of Vented Dryers
  7. Do Heat Pump Dryers Require Ventilation
  8. Ventless Dryer Brands and Costs
  9. Bottom Line

Clothes Dryers 101

If you want to learn a little more about dryer technology, this Whirlpool U-Tube video is an excellent place to start. To summarize, though, there are three types of commercially available dryers: air vented (most common in the U.S.), condensing, and heat pump. Condensing and heat pump dryers are ventless.

What Is an Air Vented Dryer?

Air vented dryers, sometimes called tumble dyers, draw in ambient air around them and use either an electric heating element or natural gas to heat the air inside the dryer drum. Heat and moisture from the drying clothes are channeled out of the home via venting. These are the clothes dryers with which we are most familiar in the U.S. However, to use them safely, they must be vented.

LG ventless clothes dryer
Photo courtesy of LG

What is a Ventless Dryer?

A ventless dryer is a clothes dryer that does not require exhaust to the outdoors. A ventless dryer provides a laundry solution for living spaces with limited venting options or space such as condominiums, apartments, or smaller homes. Ventless dryers are available in two variants, condensing dryer and heat pump dryer.

What Is a Condensing Dryer?

A condensing dryer is the most common and popular type of ventless dryer. Cool air enters the condensing dryer, which is circulated through a heat exchanger (condenser). Warm, dry air exits the heat exchanger and enters the dryer's drum to absorb moisture and dry the laundry load. Instead of exhausting the warm and humid air as waste through a vent, this dryer cools the air with a heat exchanger. It then condenses the water vapor so that it can go down the drain. The cycle starts again when the heater heats the air, the heat exchanger has cooled, and the heated air enters the drum to dry the clothes.

Whirlpool heat pump ventless clothes dryer
Photo courtesy of Whirlpool

What Is a Heat Pump Dryer?

A heat pump dryer is a ventless dryer that doesn't require a heating element because heat is generated within the dryer by compressing Freon gas. First, heat dries clothing in the drum, as in all dryers. Next, hot air from the drum is filtered for lint and cooled in an evaporator. Finally, heat collected from the evaporation process is transferred into the heat pump, reusing the energy to warm up the cool, dry air and sending it back to the drum.

To sum it up: the vent of a vented dryer is a way to rid your home of your laundry’s wasted heat and humidity (the clothing put in there is wet, after all). In addition, Ventless technology allows various means to collect and recycle wastewater and heated and cooled air for repeated use in the appliance. So which one is a more efficient use of energy? You guessed it: ventless dryers.

Pros and Cons of Vented Dryers

Vented dryers have a large capacity and generate a lot of heat, making clothes dry fast and can damage clothing over time. As a result, they have the lowest upfront cost of the three dryers described above. However, their energy efficiency is the worst of the three; vented dryers will cost consumers the most over time in energy bills. Also, for reasons stated above, they must be vented, a process that involves cutting a hole in a home’s exterior, the cost of which can be more than a thousand dollars.

Whenever you have to vent something outside, you are putting a hole in your wall or ceiling. That means your home is not as tight, and it can take more energy (and more money) to heat and cool it. Also, a hole for a vent is more likely to lead to more condensation and leaks in your wall or ceiling, which can lead to mold, rot, and other structural issues.

Condenser dryers don't need ventilation, require less energy than vented dryers, and can be installed in small or older homes and sky rises. This is one reason they are popular in Europe.

Passive houses, given their requirement for airtightness and eliminating unnecessary venting, will almost always require ventless dryers. This also benefits the homeowners by having lower utility costs. 

On the con side, they are only available in compact sizes, drying times can be two or three times as long as vented dryers, and they are more expensive upfront than vented dryers. In addition, they tend to add moisture to the room in which they are used, and the water they collect must be drained and emptied in some way.

Do Heat Pump Dryers Require Ventilation

Heat pump dryers do not require ventilation or create heat or moisture in the surrounding room and are the most energy-efficient option. Heat pump dryers use as little as half the energy needed for a condenser dryer. Some units are sold with vented-dryer competitive capacity, but they cost more upfront and take longer to dry clothes than condenser or air vented models.

An advantage of all-electric dryers is that they reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and a good set-up for a zero-energy home.

Ventless Dryer Brands and Costs

Bosch, Miele, LG, Whirlpool, and GE make ventless dryers, both condenser and heat pump models.

Bosch Ventless Dryer WTG86401UC
Photo Credit: Bosch

Bosch Ventless Dryers

Bosch condenser dryers, all 24" compacts, range in price on the Bosch website from $1,099 to $1,549. If you want a heat pump dryer, you have to specify that in the search, and even so, you may be directed to condenser dryers. (This is true for all brands. There appear to be many more options for condenser dryers than heat pump dryers.) The Bosch website gives no prices for their heat pump dryers. A 9-kg capacity model for $1599 is also available.

Miele TWI180
Photo Credit: Miele

Miele Ventless Dryers

Miele 24" 4.1 cubic foot capacity electric dryer ranges from $1499 to $1899, depending on special features. Although it is not specified at the site, it appears to be a condenser and not a heat pump model.

Whirlpool HybridCare Ventless Duet Dryer
Photo Credit: Whirlpool

Whirlpool Ventless Dryers

A description of Whirlpool's top-of-the-line 7.3 cubic foot HybridCare Ventless Duet Dryer with Heat Pump Technology can be found here but without a price and a location for purchase. Whirlpool condenser models, ranging from $1049 to 1299, are described here.

Additional information about heat pump dryers and condenser dryers can be found in our Explore Products area.

Bottom Line

If you are in the market for a new dryer and looking for the lowest cost option, start with air drying your clothes if your neighborhood allows hanging laundry out to dry. That would be the least costly but may not be the most practical—so perhaps combine that with a vented electric Whirlpool dryer, seven cubic feet capacity ($429 on sale at Lowe's) with a clothesline ($98.00 on Amazon).

If you are willing to pay the extra upfront cost, ventless dryers could be a great solution. Particularly for smaller spaces, small homes, apartments that cannot be easily vented, or homeowners looking for a more efficient method for drying clothing. And given that they are easier on clothing, your wardrobe will last longer, saving you time and money on that front as well.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-11-30T14:54:55+0000
Donna Pols Trump

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Donna Pols Trump

Donna Pols Trump’s work has been published in literary magazines and online. She has received several Pushcart Prize nominations. Donna’s education includes degrees in Biology and Physical Therapy and a host of writing classes taken and taught at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her short story “Portage” was selected by judge Anne Tyler for first prize in a 2018 contest sponsored by december magazine.