Are you considering upgrades to your laundry room appliances or is your dryer in dire need of replacing? Which type of dryer is best; gas or electric? Knowing the difference could help save you money as well as conserve energy in the long run. Here's the lowdown on the two types to help you decide.
The last two hundred years have been pivotal in the development of clothes dryers (gas and electric). During this time they have been created, improved upon and perfected into being the robust and invaluable appliances they are today.
In terms of how they operate, electric and gas dryers work in similar ways:
As air is pulled into the dryer, it passes through a heating coil to warm it. An electric fan circulates the heat throughout the dryer so when the clothes tumble, they are constantly being heated. The molecules from the water in the garments heat up and turn into steam through the process of evaporation. The steam is then vented out of the machine through the dryer's exhaust tube.
Electric dryers are powered by a 240-volt current (twice the power needed for most household appliances) to run the electric heating coils and motors. Gas dryers on the other hand, use both natural or propane gas, as well as electricity to operate. A burner converts the gas into heat through a dedicated gas line and a 120-volt electrical outlet powers the drum and blower motors.
If you are considering a gas dryer bear in mind that it can be costly to install the necessary gas lines if you do not already have these. Your local utility company must install any connections to underground natural gas lines as this is definitely not a do-it-yourself job. If you choose liquid propane, a professional must install a storage tank as well as the gas lines.
One of the easiest ways to determine whether you have a gas or electric dryer is to look at the plug and the outlet. An electric dryer will have a grounded 240v electrical outlet that will look like the one pictured in the graphic above. The plug will be larger than a standard plug and will include either three or four prongs. An electric dryer requires higher voltage because it's using electricity to create the heat and power the drum, control panel and light, hence the larger plug and higher voltage outlet.
For those of you who have an existing dryer you can check the model number. This might tell you what type you have. A dryer's model number is usually located on the side toward the bottom, inside the door, or inside the door jamb. Open the door and look at the insulated section right outside the drum, as well as on the bottom of the inside of the door itself.
Gas dryers usually have a "G" somewhere in the jumble of letters, while electric ones have an "E." This isn't always the case, though. Whirlpool makes a dryer with the model number WGD4815EW, which has both an "E" and a "G." However, the electric version has two "E's" in its number: WED4815EW.
Compared to a gas dryer, an electric dryer should be easier to install by yourself, although consult the professionals if you aren't as handy in this area. It should be noted that tight laundry spaces may cause an issue with gas lines and fittings. Electric dryers tend to install easier in compact areas like small apartments.
So you also need to think about the space the dryer is going into before you consider getting a gas dryer. That being said there are small space gas dryer options on the market, so nothing is impossible.
Up front, you're probably going to pay around $50 to $100 more for a gas dryer, not to mention the installation cost, which should be done by a professional, so there are added costs here too. Gas dryers are more energy-efficient in the long run, according to Energy Star, though that may depend on rates in your area.
It has been suggested that the operating costs (after installation) of a gas dryer is approximately half that of an electric dryer. Gas dryers generally have less impact on the environment than electric dryers, generating about 60 percent less carbon dioxide.
Another advantage natural gas dryers have over electric dryers is faster drying of clothes - meaning less time spent on laundry and lower energy rates. Natural gas dryers in particular are considered to be more gentle on fabrics because clothes are dried more quickly at specific temperatures to adequately evaporate water from the fabric.
However, it should be noted here that most washers today have the ability to spin much faster than they did in the early '80s, meaning clothes aren't as wet going into the dryer. So both gas dryers and electric dryers have the potential to dry clothes faster - especially if they are Energy Star-certified, which means they use 20% less energy than standard dryer models. An important feature in both types are the moisture sensors that stop the dryer when the clothes are dry instead of running the entire cycle.Durability
Electric dryers typically last longer than gas dryers, and they are also easier to fix. Usually one of the first things to break on a gas dryer is often the pilot light. This can be costly to repair and requires a specialist to fix it.
Apart from heating and cooking equipment, home appliances account for over 700 residential fires across Canada each year. In the US, the vast majority of fires (92 percent) involve clothes dryers.
Most fires erupting in dryers are caused by lint build-up. Lint is highly flammable and may accumulate in the dryer or in the vent. Because electric dryers generate more heat, they could have a greater fire hazard potential than gas dryers.
Besides keeping your dryer working efficiently, regular maintenance can also help prevent your machines from breaking down and needing to be replaced earlier than expected. Check the manufacturer's maintenance instructions for tips. Other ways to increase the power of your energy efficient dryer are:
Now that you know what's better, a gas or electric dryer, you can begin conserving energy and saving money. If you are fortunate to have both gas and 240-volt electrical connections in your laundry room, you are in a fortunate position to choose what type of dryer to purchase. If you don't have a gas hook-up it is important you consider other factors like installation costs and whether you plan to stay in your home for at least the next 5 years. If not, your best bet is probably to opt for the electric, for now at least.
Although the difference between a gas dryer vs. an electric dryer doesn't seem very dramatic, over the course of your dryer's lifetime, you could save hundreds of dollars in energy costs. But remember: energy efficient dryers only save you money when used properly.