Should you select a natural gas or electric clothes dryer? All dryers use a small electric motor to turn a large drum that tumbles the clothes inside and an electric fan to distribute heated air. There are, however, two ways to create the heat needed to efficiently dry clothes - natural gas or electricity.
Most electric dryers operate on 240-volt current, twice the strength of ordinary household current, to fuel heating coils. Natural gas dryers use a gas burner to create heat, but otherwise they operate the same as an electric dryer. Clothes dryers are not rated by the U.S. Department of Energy or given an Energy Star rating because all models use around the same amount of energy.
Making a Choice
If you have both natural gas and 240-volt connections in your laundry room, you have a choice in dryers. Natural gas dryers cost more to purchase - approximately $50 to $100 more than the comparable electric model. But in most areas of the United States natural gas dryers will cost less to run over their lifetime. Generally speaking, the cost of electricity needed to dry a typical load of laundry cost twice as much as a load dried using natural gas as the fuel.
You should also consider installation costs - a gas dryer is going to have an additional cost for installation. It is highly suggested that a gas dryer be installed by a reputable technician while an electric dryer can just be plugged into a 240-volt outlet. If your home does not have a gas line already available in the laundry area, installing lines can be quite costly.
If your home does not have natural gas service, you can use liquid propane gas (LP gas) to fuel a clothes dryer. Liquid propane is stored in a large tank on your property. There are kits available to convert a natural gas dryer to a liquid propane dryer.
If selecting a natural gas clothes dryer, look for:
- Pilotless ignition and automatic shutoff -- find models that offer electronic sensor drying. They use an electronic moisture-sensing device that "feels" the degree of moisture in the clothes. When the degree of dryness selected is reached, the dryer automatically shuts off.
- Automatic cool-down -- a timed interval at the end of the drying cycle when tumbling continues with the heat off to reduce wrinkling of heat-sensitive synthetic fabrics and no-iron finishes.
An advantage of natural gas dryers over electric dryers is faster clothes drying means less time spent on laundry. Natural gas dryers are more gentle on fabrics because clothes are dried more quickly and at specific temperatures to adequately evaporate water from the fabric.
Before you buy any type of dryer, you should consider the needs of your family, your budget and the features you most desire. Dryers with moisture sensors typically shorten drying times and prevent overdrying that can shorten the life of your clothing. Noise reduction packages are a good choice if your dryer is located in or near a family room. Steam cycles are a nice - but pricey - option and require a water line for the dryer. The same wrinkle removing results can be obtained in a steamy bathroom.
To help you make your decision, read reviews of top rated electric and gas dryers at ConsumerSearch . You're sure to find features and choices that will fit your budget.
Specific questions? Just ask here.
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