Gas vs. Electric Dryer: Which Is Better for Your Clothes?
Which type of dryer is cheaper to run, and dries your clothes more quickly? We’re airing the dirty laundry on the differences between these two types of dryers.
As you no doubt know, dryers operate by either electricity or gas. An electric dryer (which has a lifespan of about 14 years) employs an inner coil to generate heat, which is then circulated by a fan as the clothes tumble in a rotating drum. A gas dryer (life expectancy: 13 years) works on the same principle, except the heat is produced by a gas burner. An electric dryer requires a 240V outlet to provide enough juice to produce heat and tumble the clothes. A gas dryer requires both a gas supply line and a 120V electric outlet; the lower, 120V outlet is used only for tumbling the clothes and running the fan. The gas burner produces the heat.
One of your home’s hardest-working appliances is surely the clothes dryer and if yours is about to conk out, you’ll soon be in the market for a new one. The type of dryer you shop for may ultimately come down to the existing utility hookups in your home, but homeowners who have the flexibility to choose between gas and electric dryers may have a big decision to make. As you ponder the “gas vs. electric dryer” question, understanding the several notable differences between them will help you make a more informed decision about which is best for your home.
Electric dryers are more common than gas dryers.
Putting aside the question of power source for a moment, you might find it difficult to compare a gas dryer vs. electric dryer because you’ll find more electric than gas models on showroom floors. Why? Virtually all homes have electricity. In many communities, however, homes have both electric and gas lines, allowing homeowners to choose between electric or gas dryers. Most gas dryers are designed to run on natural gas because that’s what runs through community gas lines. Rural dwellers who do not have municipal access to natural gas can run a natural gas dryer on propane by purchasing a conversion kit that costs between $30 and $60.
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Gas dryers must always be vented.
When gas dryers are running, the combustion that takes place inside produces carbon monoxide, which must be vented either outdoors or into a suitable HVAC ventilation system. Most electric dryers also require venting to keep from blowing hot, moist air into the home. Some newer electrical models, however, eliminate the need for venting, which gives them a convenience advantage over gas dryers and should factor into your choice between a gas or electric dryer. Similar to the process that takes place in an HVAC unit, a ventless dryer recirculates hot moist air through a loop system that cools the air, removes the moisture, and recirculates the air back through the dryer. A ventless electric dryer is a good choice where there’s no suitable way to install an exhaust vent.
Gas dryers cost more than electric dryers.
The cost of a new dryer differs between gas and electric models. A mid-range electric dryer runs around $400 to $600, while a mid-range gas dryer will set you back $500 to $750. On average, a gas dryer will run approximately $100 more than an electric dryer of the same style and quality.
When it comes to high-end dryers, however, the differences in the price of dryers are less noticeable. A top-end dryer, gas or electric, runs $1,200 to $1,600. At that range, added costs have less to do with the power source and more to do with bells and whistles such as whisper-quiet operation, delayed start modes, and even steam cycles that dry clothes virtually wrinkle-free.
All ventless dryers, like this model from GE, are electric. For these you’ll pay, on average, $75 to $125 more than a standard vented model.
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Gas dryer installation will cost you more than electric dryer installation.
The real gas dryer cost is more than its sticker price. A handy homeowner with some DIY skills can often install an electric dryer just by plugging the dryer in a 240V outlet and connecting its vent hose to an in-wall exhaust hookup. To hook up a gas dryer, however, you’ll need to hire a licensed plumber because gas dryer connections must be fitted and then tested to ensure that no gas leaks will occur. When purchasing a gas dryer, plan on factoring in $75 to $125 to pay the plumber for this hookup.
Maintenance and repair costs are higher for gas dryers.
A DIYer can often troubleshoot operating problems that occur with an electric dryer, such as replacing worn belts or a faulty switch or even installing a new heating element if the old one goes out. But repairs to gas dryers usually require the services of a qualified technician. A typical service call, excluding any necessary replacement parts, can run $75 to $125, and if the technician must make more than one trip, costs can add up quickly. During the warranty period for either type of dryer, you’ll want to contact the manufacturer and have them set up the service call, which will often be free.
Electric dryers cost more to operate.
So why would anyone wish to dry their clothes in a gas-powered appliance? Is gas more expensive than electricity too, where maintenance is concerned? The answer is no: In most areas, natural gas and propane are less expensive than electricity, so it costs approximately half as much to dry a load in a gas dryer versus an electric one. Gas dryers typically cost 15 to 25 cents per load to dry, whereas it may cost 30 to 40 cents per load in an electric dryer. While you will pay more initially for a gas dryer, the operating savings over time will often make up the difference.
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Renovating? Factor in the cost to move washer and dryer hookups.
If you are considering moving the laundry room to another part of your home, you might want to factor in the cost of moving or extending electric and gas lines. It is generally cheaper to move electrical cables and parts than it is to move gas lines. Regional costs vary greatly, so you might want to consult with local experts about your specific situation. Consider these costs if you are shopping for appliances now, knowing that you’ll be moving them later, when a renovation is in the works.
Gas dryers work faster.
On average, a gas dryer can dry a load in about half the time of an electric dryer. Gas dryers heat up more quickly because their burners fire immediately, producing instant heat. Electric dryers dry slower because their heating elements take longer to warm up, and they never get quite as hot as a gas burner, so you’ll be waiting on those jeans and sheets quite a bit longer (though there are a few things you can do to help your appliance dry clothes faster).
Gas and electric dryers present different safety concerns.
Gas-powered appliances always pose a concern because ill-fitting gas dryer connection can lead to gas leaks in the home, which is a potential fire hazard. Improperly vented gas dryers also increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have any gas appliances, it’s a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector located nearby. Electric dryers also pose a small risk of fire or electrocution due to improper installation or faulty wiring.
These concerns should not prevent you from When they are installed correctly and maintained properly both gas and electric dryers are very safe household conveniences. Proper maintenance includes to make it a habit to empty lint filters after every load, not overload the dryer past its approved capacity, and keep the area around the dryer free from lint and dust buildup, and not using an extension cord,
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A number of factors go into evaluating the gas vs electric dryer conundrum. Do you already have a gas hookup in your laundry area? Do you mind paying more upfront for a gas appliance and taking the savings over the long haul because a gas dryer is cheaper to operate? Or would you rather save money on the initial purchase and prefer not incur the expense of installing a gas line if one is not present? It’s important to consider these questions as you decide whether a gas or electric dryer is best for you.
FAQs About Choosing an Electric or Gas Dryer
Still undecided about whether to go with a gas or electric dryer? Check out the answers to these last few questions to help you decide which appliance is the best option for your household.
Q: How does a gas dryer work?
A gas dryer uses a natural gas or liquid propane flame to heat air, which is then blown into the tumbler to dry the clothes.
Q: Do gas dryers ruin clothes?
Gas dryers do not ruin clothes. In fact, clothes dried in gas dryers may be better off because the process is faster than with electric dryers, so clothes are exposed to heat and tumbling for less time.
Q: Do you have to light a pilot for a gas dryer?
Most likely, you do not have to light a pilot light on your gas dryer. Modern dryers have an electronic ignition mechanism that ignites the gas burner. If, however, your dryer was built before 1994, you may have to manually light a pilot.