Tumble Dryer Buying Advice
Are Heat Pump Dryers Worth It?
- Created: Wednesday, 31 December 2014 12:41
- Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2017 09:41
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Heat Pump Tumble Dryers
Are they any good or is it a waste of money, we look in depth at heat pump dryers
The latest fad in tumble dryers and, we don’t see it changing anytime soon, is what are known as heat pump tumble dryers which is a term that most people are probably not likely to be familiar with nor will many people understand what this technology is.
What you will see is marketing hoopla and blurb that will promise a nirvana of drying laundry at much lower energy costs. This can be wrapped up with a “green” bow very often telling you that you’re being “green” by using less energy.
But, is that true?
Does a heat pump dryer cut it in the real world for people in general? Are heat pump tumble dryers worth it or, even any good?
We will try to explain what they are, how they work in reality and give you the information to decide if, for you, that a heat pump dryer is worth the extra cash outlay.
Heat Pump Tumble Dryer Pros
The pros of a heat pump dryer are fairly simplistic with the major benefit being that they do indeed use far less energy than a normal tumble dryer would do. However, do not stop reading just yet as it isn’t all sweetness and light or, as simple as that.
Other than that there’s not really a lot to offer over a normal condenser tumble dryer.
Heat Pump Tumble Dryer Cons
We have more cons than pros!
First up is the additional expense in the first place.
Heat pump dryers use a heat exchange in much the same manner as a refrigeration product would or, air conditioning and as they need a compressor, gas and so on they are much more expensive to produce. Add to this the lower volumes sold due to the higher cost and the cost ramps up quite considerably, expect to pay about double what you would for an equivalent “normal” dryer.
For most, this will be £300-400.
That’s an awful lot of electricity you can buy with the difference.
Heat Pump Dryer Electricity Use
If you’re considering buying a heat pump tumble dryer to save loads and loads of electricity then read this section very carefully, we’ll tell you what the marketing people won’t.
The best you will get (using current figures we can find) is an normal average annual cost of use around £23 for a heat pump tumble dryer but, it costs £800.
The best normal condenser dryer, about £59 by comparison but, it only costs £380.
You don’t have to be a math genius to work out that to save a bean on electricity you’d have to own that heat pump dryer for more than eleven years, with no unforeseen extra costs to save a single penny.
Given the life expectancy is usually about 5-10 years these days, that really doesn’t make much sense does it?
If this is the sole reason you’re looking at a heat pump dryer is to save money on electricity we would strongly advise you to think very, very carefully about that choice.
The Green Argument
Often we see these kind of products being branded as “green” or “eco friendly” simply as they use less electricity.
As you might expect, it’s not that simple.
What no manufacturer will want to talk about is the extra use of materials (which need energy to make), the extra build time (again, more energy use) or the additional weight (more energy use to move them about) or extra packing and so on. It is convenient to forget this.
Whether the additional energy used in production and shipping can ever be recovered in the lifespan is open to debate but, we’d expect not.
You will see all kinds of fudged figures giving you the cost per kilo of laundry and so on but a lot of these are marketing garbage. They take the maximum capacity that you can never use as it’s a theoretical maximum and divide that to give a cost per kilo but, back here in the real world, that number will often prove to be almost double that.
Trouble is, most people wouldn’t have a clue let alone the equipment to verify this and, unless you happen to scrutinise your electricity bill to the Nth Degree, you’d be none the wiser. Most people won’t.
Heat Pump Tumble Dryer Perfomance
Not as good as a normal dryer in most users’ opinions or feedback we’ve had.
Heat pump tumble dryers do not get as hot as a normal dryer, by the nature of the technology they cannot do so therefore, they will almost always take longer to dry laundry. In some cases, a lot longer and, we do mean a lot!
Figure on what might take an hour in a normal dryer taking twice as long or more.
Added to which you will need to be extremely vigilant and ensure that the filters and condenser are almost religiously cleaned and maintained or the performance will suffer yet further as good and proper airflow are absolutely critical to the performance. Of course this is good practice (read, essential) for any tumble dryer but, on a heat pump dryer it is even more critical than normal.
Given the lower levels of heat and that these types of tumble dryer are all electronically controlled they cannot be used in low temperature environments in any way whatsoever. Most will have a minimum operating room temperature of 10˚C at best but, even that’s a bit cold for some.
You also cannot use them in environments that are too warm as they need cool, but not too cold air to condense.
In other words, forget using a heat pump dryer in your garage, outbuilding or conservatory etc and they simply will not work for a good bit of the year.
Then there’s the addition of all those extra electronics (that do not work well in damp areas either) which are expensive and sensitive. This makes the dryer far less tolerant of operator error from overloading, too little load and so on.
After this there’s a compressor fitted that is essentially the same as you would find on a fridge or freezer, the heat pump coils etc to form the heat exchange and all the electrics for that.
All this adds up and, should you choose to split one of these machines open, you’ll find that they are, compared to more normal tumble dryers, much more complex and have far, far less room to work with inside.
Service engineers mostly hate them due to this and that they often need completely stripped down to get to anything to repair them. This makes any service costs considerably higher as well obviously as, they take longer to repair.
By way of an example of this, the like of the Samsung heat pump tumble dyrers to do much of anything to them at all, are a complete stripdown that many repairers will struggle to do in under an hour. This is not a critisism of Samsung at all as many are the same deal when it comes to servicing but it is a good example of why the guys look at a call for one and think, "oh no" or words to that effect as they know what's involved.
Aside which, service engineers aren’t familiar with them. They’re fairly new and low volume so they don’t see too many.
Therefore, expect a premium on normal service rates to repair a heat pump tumble dryer.
This will change in time as these dryers become more commonplace of course however, they are still harder and more involved than a bog standard tumble dryer would be.
Let's demonstrate, here's what a service engineer has to do in order to do most common repairs to a Samsung heat pump tumble dryer:
We think you'll agree, that's a bit much to change a drive belt!!
But isn't the diamond drum pretty.
Where A Heat Pump Dryer Makes Sense
Commercially, even perhaps light commercial use where time is not a problem and the people using the machine will actually take care of it then there is a case to be made for the heat pump tumble dryer.
Domestically, unless you tumble dry an awful lot of laundry then we would think that the argument really doesn’t stack up for most people.
Heat pump tumble dryers and gas tumble dryers for that matter have been used in commercial operations for a number of years and, given the cost savings that can be had on a large commercial tumble dryer this makes complete sense.
But, when you bring that down into a domestic setting we cannot see how it makes much sense at all. Unless you dry a lot, then it might do.
If you insure against breakdown, it costs more as well so you’d have to factor that in as well.
It is very unlikely that, for most people, they would dry enough to justify the huge initial outlay even if we completely ignore all the other foibles so, we cannot recommend these tumble dryers to other than a very small niche of people.
Our recommendation, if you hadn’t guessed it already, is to pass on buying heat pump tumble dryer unless you dry a lot as it's only then that it will make sense financially.
Whirlpool heat pump dryerI bought a Whirlpool heat pump dryer which is under three years old. Never totally happy with it but four months ago it stopped working. Called engineer who quoted about 10€ less than I paid for it to repair it. There are only two adults in the house and for much of the year washing is dried outdoors so definitely not overused. I contacted Whirlpool in August but have still not had a reply. Just had to replace it but with a condenser this time.
Candy heat pump dryer nightmareBought a Candy heat pump dryer in October 2016. It took extremely long to dry clothes back then, but water did appear in the collection drawer, so it seemed to be just very slow at drying, even though we were aware of the longer programme times for these kind of dryers. We switched to using the extension hose, which seemed to expel water, but the long drying cycle remained. Then, in March we noticed that nothing was getting dry, even after running for 9+ hours. No water was being expelled through the hose extension. Just a lot of fluff and condensation inside the door. So, after removing the extension hose ourselves (a block maybe?) and reattaching the drawer, and noticing no difference in operation, we called the store where we bought it who advised us to call Candy, which we did. Candy said that maybe we were not using the dryer properly and said that if an engineer found no fault or that we were doing something wrong, then we would be charged. Candy said that clothes in the dryer could not be put in too wet and that too many or too few clothes could affect the drying process and also, that if using the extension, we had to place a tea-towel over the bucket to create a \'sauna effect\' so that the condensation water would flow through the hose. Candy advised that we had to keep both filters clean, which we were already doing daily! Well, we tried everything and last week we again called Candy and asked them to send an engineer. He turned up and after blowing and sucking through the hose inside, water started once again to trickle into the collection drawer. So, it seemed a blocked hose. We ran a 3 hour programme but the clothes were not dry, and no water either in the drawer. Ran it for another 6 hours. Still wet clothes! So, same problem, and not solved. Called the store again, and they said that they would contact Candy to ask for the engineer’s report. We have a 6-month old dryer that makes a lot of noise in operation but does little else! AVOID CANDY!
Heat pump dryerBought a big Candy dryer. After 2 weeks of frustration, I have sent it back, at great cost. Paperwork says 4 hours to dry a load. 7 hours is not enough. Even then clothes are not fully dry.. far from suiting those with a lot of drying to do, it is only good for 1 or 2 small loads per day. Apparently a lot of these machines are returned as faulty, because of their failure to meet the claimed performance. Hoover / Candy were naturally dismissive. Do not expect these machines to perform as claimed by the makers. This technology is not suitable for domestic machines. Recommend you stick with the conventional machines
Bosch heat pumpI have recently bought a bosch heat pump drier its much better than my old hotpoint condenser it takes a little longer but not much its much quieter and dries the clothes perfectly it was only 200 more than buying a bosch condenser ut also has the self cleaning filters which i would recommend
Beko Heat Pump Dryerhave a Beko heat pump dryer (the first model they did). Have never had a problem with it. Its much quieter that my old Hotpoint Condenser Dryer. Much more gentle on my clothes and does not get my utility room dripping with damp. As I have to dry inside due to acute hay-fever it saves us loads of money. Would not go back to \"normal\" dryer again. If you do a lot of drying then the heat pump route is the one to take even more so due to the ever rising price of electricity.
Operating environmentI am currently using a Panasonic heat pump dryer in my cold garage and it\'s working fine, dries a large load in around 2 hours and only draws around 200-400 watts compared to the 2500 watts of my vented dryer. I do a lot of drying so it saves us quite a bit on electricity. That said I agree with most of the cons. I paid nothing for mine, it was given away as \'faulty\' which turned out to be a blocked drain pump :-). It was real pain to get to and required more disassembly and special tools then you would think for something like that. (My maytag condensor dryer has a pump access cover on the back panel making it very easy to access compared to this one!). Overall I\'m very pleased with the performance, especially considering what i paid but doubt I would have ever paid full price for a new one and will be keeping a spare dryer as I doubt this one will be economical to repair if/when the heat pump fails.
Pros and consThey dry the cloth at a lower temp therefore more gentle and less shrinkage.
No humid air are blown out, - actually its a closed air system.
Heat pump are like aircon in cars, but its repair is too expensive
heat pump driersfurther to your review i would like to state that heat pump driers are usually given A++ rating for efficiency, yes they do use less electricity but also they use the refrigerating effect to strip the moisture out of the drying clothes utilizing the colder evaporator (what would be the condenser in a condenser drier) at the same time they don\'t throw nearly as much heat way as the non heat pump driers. much better in the summer although some users would like the extra heat in the home during the winter. finally in the light of the recent Whirlpool tumble driers catching fire these heat pump driers do not have an electric element which can set fire to fluff and are therefore much much more unlikely to cause a house fire! My current Indesit (whirlpool) drier is going down the dump before it sets fire to my kitchen!!!
The condenser in a condenser dryer merely condenses the water vapour from the clothing and then that is pumped away or to a tank.
Heat pump dryers are even less likely to ever go on fire that is true.