Ventless vs Vented Dryers: Which Is Right For You? 

If you’re tired of laundromats, you may want an apartment with laundry in unit or a new laundry machine. This is a major decision because choosing the wrong machine for your needs could be a costly endeavor. Clothes dryers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with different functions, price points, and benefits. Two main types of dryers include vented versus ventless dryers. Vented dryers have been popular in America for decades, but in recent years, ventless dryers have risen in popularity due to their energy efficiency and small size. 

Vented Dryers

These types of dryers are the traditional appliances used in the United States for clothes drying. They require a way to output air into the outdoors (thus being “vented”). These vented dryers take in air from the room, heat it and dry the clothes in the drum, then expel the hot air outside. This way of drying clothes is fast and effective but is energy inefficient and harmful to the environment. In some places in Europe, such as Switzerland, vented dryers are illegal because of their environmental impact. Air pollution from vented dryers is “significant” but can be mitigated through the use of dryer sheets, appliance filtration, and fabric softener. 

Pros of vented dryers 

  • Vented dryers work quickly and can dry a load (even bulky items or thick fabrics) in around 45 minutes. 
  • Because vented dryers send moist air outdoors, they are less prone to mold.
  • You don’t have to manually drain water, making them easier to use.

Cons of vented dryers

  • Vented dryers can frequently “over-dry” clothes, damaging the fabric. This can result in pilling, shrinking, or fading of colors. 
  • Cleaning and maintaining a vented dryer can be expensive because you have to disassemble the exhaust pipes and vent. 
  • Lint can get caught in the vent system. With enough build-up, it can cause fires. 

Ventless Dryers

Ventless drying technology may seem new to Americans, but ventless dryers have been utilized in Europe for decades. In small, older homes, these ventless dryers are useful because of their efficiency and size. Although ventless dryer technology is just becoming popular in America, its function is relatively simple. 

  • Air enters the dryer from the room
  • The air is heated using a “heat exchanger”.
  • Air exits the heat exchanger and goes into the drum, drying the laundry
  • Wet air goes back into the heat exchanger and cooled
  • The dry air is heated again in the heat exchanger and reenters the drum
  • This cycle repeats until the clothes are dry

There are two types of ventless dryers – heat pump and condenser dryers. Condenser dryers are more popular (and less expensive), but heat pump dryers use evaporation and compression to dry clothes at an even lower temperature.  

Pros of a ventless dryer

  • Ventless dryers can fit in small spaces and don’t require a vent, which can make them convenient for small apartments or spaces where a landlord won’t allow for a vent to the outdoors. 
  • Ventless dryers can also bring down utility bills due to their energy efficiency. 
  • Ventless dryers are between 30 to 50 degrees cooler than vented dryers, which means the heat is less likely to damage your clothes. 
  • Ventless dryers require less maintenance and cleaning than vented dryers.

Cons of a ventless dryer

  • Though ventless dryers can fit in small spaces due to their small size, they also hold smaller loads of clothes. 
  • It takes much longer to dry items. An average drying cycle will take about an hour and a half. It will take multiple hours if you’re drying bulky items. 
  • While make and model are primary indicators of price, ventless dryers are generally more expensive than vented dryers. 

Dryers in NYC

If you live in New York City and want to add laundry to your apartment, condo, or co-op, you may want to consider a washer/dryer combination machine, which uses ventless drying. These machines are small in size and can fit in most NYC apartments. Even if you opt for a separate washer and dryer, you will most likely need to install a ventless dryer due to the easier installation. For the sake of your neighbors, you may also want to pursue soundproofing through sound isolation pads or underlayments in the floors. 

Vented dryers require construction on the building to add a vent to the outdoors, which would likely prove difficult, or may raise objections from the building management. Check your lease or building alteration agreement to make sure you can install laundry machines in your home before pursuing any drying machine options. Vented dryers run on either gas or electric power. If installing a vented dryer that runs on gas, you will need to file for a permit with the Department of Buildings and have the installation performed by a licensed and insured contractor. Conversely, ventless dryers run on electricity. You only need a permit for a ventless dryer if you are adding a new outlet in your laundry room, in which case you’ll need to pursue an electrical permit.

Which dryer is right for you? 

The choice between a vented or ventless dryer primarily depends on your budget, space, and family size. A large family with multiple loads of laundry to do every day may necessitate a vented dryer that can dry loads of laundry quickly, whereas a single person living in a loft or studio may be well suited for a ventless dryer.

Ventless dryers are perfect for small spaces and can be more cost-effective due to their energy efficiency. If you are installing a dryer in an NYC apartment, you may have to opt for ventless technology due to the lack of outdoor venting and the inability to alter the building. Knowing whether you want a heat pump dryer (more expensive but sometimes larger) or a condenser dryer will help narrow the field of ventless dryer options. Regardless of your choice of dryer, check with your building management and rental or purchase agreements before installation to ensure you comply with all laws and regulations. 

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