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Heat Pump Dryers 101

Dryer Technology: Vented, Condenser, & Heat Pump 


The technology utilized for laundry appliances is constantly evolving, with new features being developed for the modern lifestyle and better designs for improved performance. One of the newer types of dryers now available in the marketplace is the heat pump option, a ventless option that offers the added benefits of easier placement and better efficiency.


Vented Drying - The Originator
Traditionally, the gas or electric dryer you had in your apartment or home was a simple, but effective device. It dried your clothes using the following method:

-A motor rotated or tumbled the clothes within the drum

-A heater provided a supply of hot air

-A fan blew the hot air across the tumbling clothes.

The hot moist air was vented to the outside, replaced by room temperature air. Your clothes were dried quickly but used a lot of energy in doing so. Additionally, the requirement of a vent to remove the hot air made this process limited to those without that availability, which spurred a new innovation in dryer technology - the condenser dryer.

Condenser Dryer - Convenience & Flexibility


The condensing dryer utilizes a drying system that has no exhaust to the outside but instead uses a heat exchanger (called a condenser) to separate the moisture from the hot air (most combo washer/dryers utilize this method). The moisture is generally discharged to the same drain as the washer, and the hot air is recirculated. Drying times are longer (the recirculated air has some moisture left in it) but the energy costs are significantly lower.

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Heat Pump Dryer - Convenience, Flexibility, & Energy Efficiency All-In-One
The most recent innovation in drying technology is the 
heat pump dryerwhich is an improvement to the condensing dryer concept. It adds a second heat exchanger (called an evaporator) that cools the heated air, allowing a greater separation of moisture and air and again, recirculates the hot air. Energy consumption is lower still, and no outside venting is required. The water can be discharged to the drain, or collected in a tray. From a practical standpoint, condensing and heat pump dryers are similar. In terms of operation, heat pumps use a more efficient two-stage system, while condensing dryers use a water-cooled single stage system. 


Benefits & Drawbacks Of Each Dryer
While vented (or ducted) dryers have the benefit of drying your clothes in the shortest amount of time, their largest drawback is the amount of energy they use to do so; practically, this means money you will spend for convenience. However, condensing and heat pump dryers use significantly lower energy consumption, with heat pump being the most energy efficient of the two. Additionally, since neither require a vent for proper use, they are more flexible and can be installed almost anywhere. (Note: if you are using a washer/dryer combo, flexibility might be a bit more limited compared to stand-alone dryers). 


Conclusions
Dryer technology has evolved making them more efficient in terms of energy use, operation, and location. As a result, consumers now have more choices to pick the dryer that best meets their needs not only in terms of operation but also energy efficiency and location.