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Gas dryers vs. electric dryers: how do they differ?

If you're not checking behind your clothes dryer, you probably don't even know what you have. Is it electric or gas? But if you are looking for a new one, you need to know what is best for you. Having a gas connection does not imply being obliged to use it, but if you don't have one, you probably want to save yourself the cost associated with an installation. To be clear about what is best for your home, we compare gas dryers vs. electric dryers with all their pros and cons.

Can I choose between gas and electricity?

You can choose if you want to have a gas or electric dryer, but you must make that decision based on your existing washer connections. It can be expensive to change your gas washer connections to electricity and vice versa, so from here we recommend you keep what you have.

Sometimes, laundry rooms have a gas connection and a 240 volt outlet. If your laundry room can run on electricity or gas (which is sometimes the case with gas-powered homes), you can choose what type of dryer you want. On the other hand, if it is not configured for gas and you do not want to perform a complete installation process, the only option is electricity.

How to know?

Photograph of sockets for gas dryers vs. electric dryersOne of the biggest differences of gas dryers vs. Electric dryers is the outlet. The first one will be simpler, while the second electric one will have up to four pin holes. Jenny McGrath / Digital Trends

If you just moved to a place with a washer and dryer connection, you may notice if you should choose between gas dryers vs. electric dryers looking at the outlet. The gas ones work with electricity to turn on the lights and turn the drum, but they are heated with gas, so there should be a blocked gas line. If the outlet is larger (it can have three or four pin holes) and you don't see a gas line, you probably have an electrical configuration, which usually works with 240 volts. You can take a picture of the outlet and take it to the appliance store, and they should confirm it.

If you have a dryer, you can check the model number. Gas dryers generally have a "G" in place of the letter mix, while electric ones have an "E". However, this is not infallible. Whirlpool manufactures a dryer with the model number WGD4815EW, which has an "E" and a "G". However, the electric version has two "E" in its number: WED4815EW.

How do they get hot?

gas dryers vs. electric dryers

Both types – gas and electricity – use heat, air and turns to dry your clothes. The air flow and spin go hand in hand. While electric dryers use a heating element, gas dryers have a fuel burner. In the former, an electric current travels through the heating coil, accumulating electrons and heating the metal and, in turn, the air. A blower or fan brings hot air to the drum. Using natural gas or propane, gas dryers use a lighter to burn this fuel. As with the electric version, a blower or fan brings hot air to the drum.

A vent pipe?

gas dryers vs. electric dryersErika Rawes / Digital Trends

The electric and gas dryers are vented outwards, thanks to the humid air and full of lint they expel. Otherwise, you can find a moldy, not to mention many particles of fluff in the air. In addition, the gas dryer pipeline expels combustion products, which you also don't want to inhale. Electric models without ventilation are often in the apartments, because they do not need to expel air from outside. Many of these models are compact, but full-size tumble dryers are available.

There are two types of dryers without ventilation: condensation and heat pump, and each works a little differently. With a condenser dryer, the air is heated by a condenser and then travels to the drum and begins to evaporate water from wet clothes. The air returns to the condenser to cool, and while the moisture condenses, the air overheats and returns to the drum to start the cycle again. One thing to consider is that if you don't have a drain to divert the condensed water, it will accumulate in a tray that you should empty after each use. Heat pumps use a compressor technology similar to that of a refrigerator, recirculate the air and remove moisture from clothing and air. They use lower temperatures than conventional dryers and, therefore, are softer with clothes.

These dryers are more efficient in terms of energy: the heat pump is the most efficient, but their cycles take longer than their ventilated counterparts.

How much do they cost?

The price is another of the big differences between gas dryers vs. electric dryersThe price is another of the big differences between gas dryers vs. electric dryers Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

You will pay between $ 50 dollars and $ 100 more for a gas dryer, not to mention the cost of the installation, which could cost you between $ 150 dollars and $ 200 dollars, says Steve Sheinkopf, CEO of Yale Appliances and blog writer for Yale Appliance. Gas dryers are more energy efficient in the long term, according to Energy Star, although they depend on the rates in your area. However, front-loading washers spin three times faster than in the early '80s, which means clothes are not so wet when you enter the dryer, be it Sheinkopf.

There are now Energy Star certified dryers, both in electric and gas versions, and the agency says they use 20% less energy than standard models. They have humidity sensors that stop the dryer when the clothes are dry, instead of completing the entire cycle, and less intense heat settings that take longer, but use less energy. This can reduce costs. According to Energy Star, you will save about $ 245 dollars in certified equipment. It considers that this lower expense will continue throughout the useful life of the device. Depending on how much you spend on your dryer, you may eventually recover it in savings, but if you do not do it anyway you will be reducing your carbon footprint.

Some other difference between gas dryers vs. electric dryers?

Manufacturers tend to maintain the same characteristics for the electric and gas versions. In the example of the Whirlpool model, both have 14 cycles, automatic detection technology and four heat levels. The same goes for the Samsung DVE60M9900V and DVG60M9900V, which are more expensive and with many functions. They have a drying rack on the top for small items, steam capacity, a ventilation sensor to detect blockages, five heat settings and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Where you should go, gas dryers vs. electric dryers? "If you have gas or electricity, keep what you have," said Sheinkopf. "Towards the future, drying the heat pump is the most efficient." If manufacturers find a way to accelerate heat pump dryers a bit, we can all give up ventilation.

* Updated by Rodrigo Orellana on January 13, 2020.

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