If you live in the U.S. or Canada, you may be less familiar with the idea of a ventless dryer. This is because the U.S. (and Canada) are two of the only countries that still primarily use vented dryers.
In fact, in most parts of the world (outside of North America), ventless dryers are not only the only feasible option, but sometimes they are the only option at all. Ventless dryers (or simply “dryers” in Europe) enable you to effectively, and efficiently heat up your clothes, without the need to carve a giant hole in the wall or hook up any vent attachments.
So in simple terms, what is a ventless dryer?
A ventless dryer has no vent attachments, instead, the unit works to recycle the hot air within the machine, rather than shooting it out into the environment. Since there is no vent, the unit reuses most of the hot air from previous cycles, illustrating a much more energy-efficient solution.
How Does a Ventless Dryer Work?
A ventless dryer can be ideal for people who either do not have the proper setup to install a vented dryer, like a smaller living space with no way of installing vents or for those looking for a more energy-efficient alternative.
A ventless dryer works by constantly recirculating air through the drum to pick up moisture from the laundry and then condenses the moisture through a heat exchanger. In contrast to vented dryers which aim to push the hot air outdoors through the dryer vent.
Essentially there are 2 types of ventless dryers, both that work in slightly different fashions. One type uses a heater element alongside an air-to-air heat exchanger in order to condense the water from the hot air, and dry the clothes. This condensation process also uses a secondary air path (room air) to cool the primary hot-air path using the heat exchanger, resulting in the water in the air becoming condensed.
The second type of ventless dryer uses a compressor, and heat exchangers to act as a dehumidifier. Which is done to condense the humid air through the evaporator heat exchanger. The primary difference between this process, and the first process, is that this type of ventless dryer uses a secondary heat exchanger (condenser) to recover the heat, and apply it to the next cycle. Typically resulting in a more energy-efficient system.
What is the Difference Between a Vented and Ventless Dryer?
The biggest difference between a vented, and a ventless dryer is the fact that one requires a hookup, and a more complex installation process (vented). Whereas the other acts as an all-in-one dryer that uses recycled heat to dry the laundry (ventless).
There are Two Types of Ventless Dryers | Heat Pump and Condenser
What is a Heat Pump Dryer?
With heat pump dryers, a pump produces hot air which is then used to soak up moisture present in the laundry. Air will escape the drum of the dryer and then proceed through an evaporator which will remove the moisture from it.
At this point, the collected condensation is kept in a separate tank, and the dry air is reheated and sent back to the drum to continue the drying process. Heat pump dryers aim to keep the air warm throughout the entire process, as opposed to cooling it down after each use.
It also operates at a much lower temperature compared to a condenser dryer, which results in most heat pump dryers being tremendously energy-efficient, and gentle on clothes. Although, as with any appliance, there are certain pros and cons that come with owning a heat pump dryer. Some potential drawbacks include the fact that these heat pump dryers are typically smaller, and have longer drying times. Plus, some customers have complained about the noisiness that comes with a heat pump dryer.
What is a Condenser Dryer?
Most of the ventless dryers sold in the U.S. are labeled “condenser dryers”. These do not exhaust air, and instead, use a dual loop airflow system to improve efficiency. This simply works by the air passing through the condenser for initial heating, and then being pushed further into the drum. At which point it will then heat up the wet laundry, causing the water to evaporate.
Instead of sending the wet, and hot air through the vent outside, the air is looped back through the condenser, where it is then cooled down for the second airflow loop. From there, the air inside the condenser will get reheated, and distributed back into the drum to repeat the process until the clothes are dry.
A condenser functions by using the process of condensing extremely warm or hot air, and when this is applied to wet clothing, the moisture from the clothes is removed. The condensed air turns into water, which is then fed to an internal water tank (reservoir). Unfortunately, this will require regular emptying.
Feel free to read our Pros and Cons of Condenser Dryers article here.
Is One Better Than the Other? (Heat Pump VS Condenser Dryer)
Taking all of this into account, you don’t have to look far to see why ventless dryers are a good way to go. However, between the two options presented (condensing dryer, and heat pump dryer), I believe the best option to be the heat pump dryer.
This is because heat pump dryers offer better protection for your clothes, they are more eco-friendly, and do not require you to empty any water tank/reservoir like the condenser dryer.
Condenser dryers are better for apartments, or for those who need faster drying. But they are typically more susceptible to damage your clothes and will need you to empty the water tank quite frequently. Even though heat pump dryers are more expensive up front, they are way more energy-efficient, convenient, and gentler on your clothes (which will save you money in the long run also).
Ventless Dryer Pros and Cons
- Flexible location
- Gentler on clothes
Some benefits of having a ventless dryer are the fact that not only will you not need a dedicated laundry room, but you will have more flexibility for placement (just find the nearest electrical outlet/220v power).
Vented dryers are also not particularly energy-efficient, as they essentially act as hot air vacuums by pulling room-temp air from the laundry room, heating it up with your clothes, and shooting the evaporated moisture outside. This means that you are likely taking in climate-controlled air from your home, and pumping it outdoors, forcing your furnace to work twice as hard to make up for the air lost (especially in the winter). Even in the summer, the dryer will have to heat up air that has been artificially cooled by your air conditioner, still requiring a substantial amount of energy.
- More expensive upfront
- Takes longer to dry.
- Can be noisy (depending on the type).
While it is true that ventless dryers are easier to install, require less maintenance, and a more efficient, they also tend to be more expensive at first, have longer cycles, and (can be) quite noisy. These are important notes because those who are looking at ventless dryers, they are likely doing so because of physical, or financial limitations.
Meaning that they may be having a hard time installing a vent system into a small apartment, and are therefore forced to find a more convenient solution. Or maybe they are looking to save some money on energy bills. However, for those who live in a smaller unit, or an apartment with lots of neighbors, consider the fact that ventless dryers can be much louder than vented dryers.
Also, some people may live very busy lifestyles to the point where they simply will not have the time to wait for the longer drying cycles that come with a ventless dryer. So, when it comes to the cons of a ventless dryer, it will depend heavily on your lifestyle, so be sure to take the time to truly understand your needs, and wants as a consumer.
Here Are Some Recommended Ventless Dryers
1. LG DLEC888W
This LG model is an electric dryer (condenser) that carries a capacity of 4.2 cu. Ft. with over 14 different dry cycles, and 5 different temperature settings (including Senser Dry System). This smart appliance also comes with LG’s NFC Tag-On technology so that you can download new cycles directly from your smartphone.
The dryer also comes fully equipped with a NeveRust stainless-steel drum, as well as a removable water reservoir that captures the water from the drying process. Plus, (as with any LG appliance) you will get SmartDiagnosis which will enable you to reach out to LG’s service center if you have any questions or difficulties.
2. Miele TW1180 WP
Another exceptional option is Miele’s heat-pump compact dryer. This unique TW1180 WP model works differently from other ventless dryers in that it can plug into any regular 120v outlet. This 24-inch smart dryer has an immense amount of space with a 4.59 fu. Ft. capacity that can hold up to 18 pounds.
This model also features a patented condensation drainage design that comes with a hose to allow for moisture to be drained. It also comes with one of the more intuitive smart programs built into the unit with their M touch Flex Controls, and up to 32 languages.
3. GE GFT14ESSMWW
GE is a staple in the appliance game, and their 24-inch ventless condenser dryer shines bright in the market. It comes with an HE Sensor Dry and dual thermistors to constantly monitor moisture/temperature in order to prevent “over-drying”.
With over 4.1 cu. Ft. of space, and a stainless-steel drum, you will have peace of mind knowing that capacity, and durability at the forefront of this model. This is also another smart appliance, so you can monitor the performance and cycle status with your smartphone.
Ventless Dryers FAQs
Are Ventless Dryers Safe?
Strangely enough, this question is not as rare as you may think. Many people are under the impression that this lack of venting will lead to a build-up of heat, which can result in a fire. However, the truth is that ventless dryers are designed to be safe, effective, and efficient, and present no more of a risk than a traditional dryer.
How Much Does a Ventless Dryer Typically Cost?
As with most appliances, the price for a typical ventless dryer can vary quite a bit. However, you can expect the average ventless dryer to go for as low as $800, ranging up to about $2000. Though neither one of these ranges fall too far outside of those for a traditional dryer (depending on the brand/quality).
In Conclusion, Are Ventless Dryers Worth it?
While ventless dryers are undoubtedly easier to install, require less maintenance and are more energy-efficient. They are also far more expensive up front, and take a lot longer compared to vented dryers with each cycle.
So, when it comes down to whether or not ventless dryers are worth the price, it will depend entirely on your current living situation. Assuming that you have a rather large budget, and the price is not an issue, then it feels like ventless dryers are the better alternative.
While you may have to wait a little longer for each load and pay more at first to acquire the dryer. You can easily make that money back with the amount you’ll save in monthly bills from having a ventless dryer. Plus, you will have way more flexibility as to where you can place the dryer, and the install process is about as straightforward as it gets.
Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.