There's not a lot that makes you appreciate clean laundry more than if your current washer or dryer stops working and you end up hand washing and air drying your clothes or spending hours after work at a laundromat. However, shopping for a new washer and dryer can be overwhelming. When is comes to dryers most people don't even know if they should be shopping for gas vs electric.
We'll clear that up as well as share some tips to make sure you choose the correct dryer to match your washing machine for your home to avoid costly and timely ordering mistakes.
In this article, we'll teach you how to identify what type of dryer you currently have (it may not be as obvious as you think), while also covering the efficiency and cost differences between electric and gas dryers.
What type of dryer do I currently have?
The biggest mistake customers make when ordering a new dryer is selecting the incorrect fuel source for their washers and dryers. Don't assume anything! Some homes may have a gas cooking stove and gas hot water heater, but the previous homeowner never switched the dryer from electric to gas.
How to check for if I have an electric dryer
Electric dryers require a high voltage (240 Volt) outlet. This is a dedicated circuit that runs from your electrical panel to your laundry room.
Method 1 - Figure out your current model number and Google it. Typically, model numbers can be found on a silver sticker on or close to the appliance door.
This is the most surefire way to be sure of what type of dryer you have. If you can't find your model number, move on to method 2.
Method 2 - Check to see what type of outlet the dryer is plugged into
If you have an electric dryer, there will be an industrial looking outlet in your laundry room or closet. Sometimes it can be hard to see what the dryer is plugged into, especially with a stacked laundry setup. However, if you can see an outlet that looks like the image below, you have an electric dryer.
The three prong was the standard prior to 2000. For new construction homes 2000 onward, the standard is four prong. Make sure you let your appliance sales person know what type of outlet you have so the installation crews are prepared ahead of time.
Method 3 - Check your electric panel
Can't see your outlet? No problem! If you know where your electrical panel is, open it up and see if you can find a breaker labeled "dryer." Since electric dryers usually require 30 amps, if you see a double slot breaker with the number "30" (standing for 30 amps) or higher on the breaker, that means you have an electric dryer.
How to check for if I have a gas dryer
With the way gas lines run, it can be difficult to see if you have a gas dryer. The gas line usually runs at floor level and is hooked up at the back of the appliance, so it can be hard to see behind your dryer.
Method 1 - Check your model number and Google it. Typically, model numbers can be found on a silver sticker on or close to the appliance door.
Method 2 - If you can, look behind your dryer to see if there is a gas line connected to a shut-off valve.
Which is Better?
When shopping for a new dryer, you'll notice that all dryers have a gas and electric version. With all things being equal, a gas dryer will usually be about $100 more expensive than the same dryer in electric.
Can I convert my current dryer from one to the other?
No! You cannot convert a dryer from one type to the other. The heating system is entirely different in each.
Winner: Electric Dryers
Generally speaking, gas is a more efficient fuel source for generating heat than electricity is.
With electric energy, a power plant somewhere hundreds of miles away from you is turning heat (likely from burning fossil fuels) into electric current. That current then needs to travel all the way to your home. Some energy is lost along the way due to resistance in the wires. When the electricity arrives at your home, your dryer needs to convert the electric power back into heat, which also creates some loss. Overall this is not the ideal method of generated heat.
Gas, on the other hand, is a more preferred heat source. Gas is combusted and instantly turns into heat inside the gas dryers burner, so there isn't much energy lost in the system.
But which is better for the environment?
It all depends on how your power is being generated. If you have solar panels, obviously electric energy will be more environmentally friendly than gas. However, if you are getting your electricity from a run of the mill power plant (not from a wind or solar farm), then gas will be more environmentally friendly.
We are proud of you since you have taken the time to evaluate energy use when selecting the best washer and dryer set for your home. Our individual behaviors, at the end of the day, determine the impact on the environment.
Winner: Gas Dryers
Which is cheaper to operate?
For drying similarly sized laundry loads, gas is cheaper than electric.
Gas dryers run hotter than electric dryers, which reduces drying time and costs over time.
For a typical family that dries 5 loads of laundry per week, the average electric dryer will cost, on average, $130 per year while the same dryer in gas would cost about $85 per year to operate. That's about a $40 a year savings for gas dryers.
A gas dryer will generally compensate for the higher upfront price tag by around 1 to 2.5 years of use, depending on how frequently it's being used.
If you are building a new home and need to decide whether to run an electric or gas line to your laundry room, we recommend gas. However, it doesn't make sense to switch from a pre-existing electric line to gas since the cost to run a new line can be anywhere from $250 to $1,000 and that, along with the higher upfront cost of a gas dryer, will make it hard to recoup your investment.
Winner: Gas Dryers
Which Dries Quicker?
A gas dryer will heat up more quickly than an electric dryer, thanks to the efficiency of combustion mentioned before. Gas dryers are also capable of getting hotter than electric dryers. For these reasons, gas dryer cycle times are shorter than electric dryers.
In our busy lives, we all could use more time, and gas dryers help you achieve just that.
Winner: Gas Dryers
While gas dryers do cost more upfront, they are almost always the better choice. They are more efficient, better on the environment, and cost less to run per load. With quicker drying cycles, you'll be able to run more loads in less time.
However, if you currently have an electric dryer but do have access to natural gas, only make the switch if you wash 5 or more loads of laundry per week, and you plan to be in your home 5 or more years. Otherwise, the cost savings don't add up.
If you still need assistance in determining the type of fuel your current dryer uses, we are happy to review photos or Facetime with you to confirm. We'd love to hear from you!
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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on September 18, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don't be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.