What can you find in more than 80% of homes in North America? A Dryer.
In Canada, most of these dryers are vented dryers because, let’s face it, we have the space for them and in most places, there are no issue with venting them outside. But what about rental properties or a room where putting a hole in the wall isn’t possible? Fear not, you have options in the form of condenser or heat pump dryers, also called ventless dryers.
While these may seem like an anomaly in North America, their use is widespread in Europe and most people over there would never think about using a vented dryer. To properly understand how these ventless dryers work, we need to understand the overall drying process.
How does a vented dryer work? A typical traditional vented dryer uses an electric heating element to heat air. The warmed air is directed into the dryer's tumbler, mixes with the tumbling clothes and heats up the water in them. This action evaporates the water and the hot air is then expelled by way of an exterior vent. As can be concluded from their name, these dryers require an exterior vent to expel the humid air from inside the dryer; however, this may not be an option to install in every home. You should also consider that lint tends to build up inside the vent and it must be cleaned regularly in order to prevent a potential fire hazard.
So, what’s the big difference with a ventless dryer?
Aside from the obvious fact that they do not require an outdoor vent, quite a few things actually. There are two types of ventless dryers, namely the condenser or heat pump type. While both offer the same easy installation, they do work a bit differently.
Let’s start with condenser dryers. Also known as condensation dryers, these appliances use a condenser located at the entrance of the tub to heat the air as opposed to an element. As it enters the tumbler, it mixes with the tumbling clothes and removes the water content from them. The beauty in the process is that instead of being vented out, it goes back into the condenser to be cooled down and then reheated. The water collected from the dampness of the clothes either drains through a tube or collects in a container that requires manual emptying. The major benefit to this type of technology is that condenser dryers are significantly more energy-efficient than standard vented models. This energy efficiency comes from re-using the same air instead of having an electric element constantly on. They are also easier on your clothes; since a ventless dryer runs significantly cooler than a vented model, your clothes won't become overdried.
What about heat pumps?
While similar to a condenser dryer, this type of appliance uses a heat pump that maintains the same temperature throughout the drying cycle to heat the air that goes in the tub. This allows it to run at a lower temperature overall which makes it even more gentle on your clothes. Because of that lower temperature, drying times are typically longer than a regular vented dryer but they still are much more energy-efficient.