How to choose the best tumble dryer

Lynn Wright / 26 May 2016

Looking to buy the best tumble dryer? Our guide to tumble dryer types and standout features will help you choose the right model for your laundry needs.



Compare tumble dryer types and learn about the important technologies and features to consider when shopping for the best model for you.

Choosing a tumble dryer

Vented tumble dryers take the warm, damp air created by drying clothes and expel it outside the house through a plastic hose. The hose can fit into a permanent vent in the wall or simply hang through an open window. Cheaper than condenser models, vented tumble dryers have to be installed either next to a window or by an external wall vent.

Condenser tumble dryers separate water from the moist air into a container that must be removed and emptied regularly, although some models drain the water through a hose into a waste pipe. Although more expensive than vented models, condenser dryers can be used anywhere in your house as you don’t need to connect a hose to a vent or window.

Some condenser tumble dryers come with heat pumps that re-circulate the hot damp air rather than venting it outside the machine. By conserving heat, these energy-efficient tumble dryers can help you save money on your household bills. And as they use lower temperatures, they’re more gentle on your clothes and are very quiet in use.

What tumble dryer capacity do I need?

Tumble dryers come in a range of different capacities from compact 3kg models up to massive 9kg-capacity machines. An average drum capacity is 7kg, suitable for drying an average washing machine load. The more capacity your tumble dryer has, the more you can dry and as large drums improve the flow of hot air, the faster your clothes will dry too. 

Remember though if you struggle to fill a large tumble dryer each time you use it, you may be using far more energy to dry your clothes than is efficient.

Should I buy a washer dryer instead?

If you haven’t room for both a washing machine and a tumble dryer, then a washer dryer is good space-saving solution. It’s also useful for small families or couples whose laundry needs don’t stretch to a full-sized tumble dryer. 

Washer dryers work normally as washing machines, but the size of their drum limits their drying capabilities to usually half a wash load. And of course, you can use the machine to only wash or dry at any one time. 

On the plus side, there’s no need to vent or empty a washer dryer as the cold water used in the drying process is vented through the normal outlet. However, clothes will seem a little damp still when you first remove them, although this is just surface moisture that evaporates quickly.  

Ready to choose the perfect tumble dryer for you, read our guide to the Four best tumble dryers.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.