If you’re in the market for a new tumble dryer, you’re probably trying to figure out which is the best type to buy. You might have also seen the news reports of tumble dryers catching fire and wonder how safe these types are.
In this article, you’ll find the answer to these questions. You’ll also discover how they compare to the other types such as vented tumble dryers and condenser dryers.
How Do Heat Pump Dryers Work?
Heat pump dryers work by recycling the hot air that’s pumped into the drum to create a more energy-efficient way of drying clothes.
There are effectively 2 cycles:
- A closed-air circuit where hot, dry air enters the drum and absorbs moisture from clothes
- A coolant circuit which extracts the heat and reheats the processed air.
In the middle of these two cycles , the hot, damp air passes through several filters. After this, it reaches an evaporator that removes the water and stores it in a reservoir.
This process is repeated several times until your laundry is dry. They work almost exactly in reverse to how your refrigerator does!
Here is a quick video from Miele explaining how heat pump technology works:
5 Benefits of Heat Pump Dryers
1. Reduced Fire Risk
As we covered in this blog post, many tumble dryer fires were caused by lint catching fire in the vent pipe. Heat pump dryers don’t have this problem as they are ventless.
Heat pump tumble dryers are the most energy-efficient type of tumble dryers. They use 25% to 70% less energy than other types to dry your clothes.
3. Better For Your Clothes
Due to the way the heating process works, the temperature inside the drum is cooler than other types of dryers. This prevents fabric damage and clothes fading due to overdrying.
4. Less Humidity
Heat pump dryers don’t vent the excess moisture out into your home like condenser dryers do. This means there is less humidity and makes them more attractive for people living in flats and apartments.
5. Easy Installation
As these dryers don't need a vent, you don't have to install them near an external wall or make a hole for exhaust hoses to fit through.
3 Drawbacks of Heat Pump Dryers
1. Longer Drying Time
Due to using a lower heating temperature (as explained here), they have longer drying cycles than vented or condenser tumble dryers. However, the difference can only be 5 - 10 minutes.
2. You need to empty the water tank often.
Unlike vented tumble dryers, the hot air evaporates and fills up a water reservoir. This needs to be emptied regularly (unless you plumb in your tumble dryer).
3. More Expensive
Heat pump tumble dryers start at around £350 while vented tumble dryers can be found for £200 and up. However, you will save on electricity and benefit from more installation options.
Heat Pump Dryer FAQs
What is the difference between a heat pump and a condenser dryer?
The main difference between a heat pump tumble dryer and a condenser dryer is the temperature used.
A heat pump dryer heats the air to around 50 °C, while a condenser dryer reaches 70-75 °C. This means the heat pump dryer is much more energy efficient - but condenser models have shorter drying times.
Which is better: a vented tumble dryer or a heat pump dryer?
Despite the bad publicity which followed the spate of tumble dryers, some people still prefer vented tumble dryers as they’re cheaper and have faster drying times. However, heat pump dryers are much more energy-efficient and less of a fire risk.
Do you need to empty a heat pump tumble dryer?
Yes, similar to condenser tumble dryers, the water reservoir will need emptying pretty regularly unless you have it plumbed in.
Can I put a heat pump dryer in a cupboard?
Yes, unlike vented tumble dryers or even condenser dryers (which need unobstructed airflow) you can put a heat pump dryer almost anywhere. Just remember to empty the tank!
How long do heat pump dryers last?
Used properly, a heat pump dryer should last for around 15 - 20 years.
How much do heat pump tumble dryers cost?
The cost of heat pump tumble dryers has been falling in recent years. They usually start around £350 and go up to £900 - depending on the size. However, you can get some really great deals on the best tumble dryer brands for around £400.