Dehumidifier vs Tumble Dryer

In this article we compare a dehumidifier to a tumble dryer. If you are interested in the differences and similarities between these two appliances it is safe to say you want to use them to dry your clothes.

Because of that, the main focus of this article will be the differences in energy consumption. There are other advantages and disadvantages we discuss as well. It will be up to you to decide which is more practical and which is best for your situation.

We are going to do the heavy lifting of figuring out which one is more energy efficient. Later on in the article we will bring up a few practical considerations when it comes to operating each of these appliances.

Dehumidifier Advantages

The biggest advantage a dehumidifier will offer over a tumbler dryer is the ability to dry bulky items like backpacks or sleeping bags. By speeding the drying process in an entire room, dehumidifiers can dry out wet backpacks.

This is important because the zippers and straps on a backpack can damage the inside of a tumbler dryer. Also, it is quite noisy when the metal pieces come into contact with the inside of the dryer.

Sleeping bags also present unique challenges to normally sized tumbler dryers. Most people will need to use the commercial sized dryers available in laundromats to get a sleeping bag dry. Dehumidifiers easy solve this problem. You can hang the sleeping bag on a drying rack and let the dehumidifier do its work without needing to leave the house.

Energy Efficiency

One thing that is always important to look for when purchasing an appliance is ENERGY STAR certification. This is an important thing to look for because of a number of reasons. First it shows that the manufacturer was confident enough in their product that they were willing to let a third party inspect and certified that product. Also since the ENERGY STAR certification relates to how efficient the appliances you can be sure that relative to other products in the same class, this one should save you money on your energy bill.

How much electricity does a tumbler dryer use?

An important thing to note is that this certification is important when comparing products of the same type.  an ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifier is not the same as an ENERGY STAR certified tumble dryer. Tumble dryers use anywhere from 1800 watts to 5000 watts in an hour.  A typical tumble dryer will use about 3000 watts in an hour.

How much electricity does a dehumidifier use?

Dehumidifiers on the other hand generally use less than 300 watts an hour. A tumble dryer using 3000 watts an hour and a dehumidifier using 300 watts an hour can both be ENERGY STAR certified. This certification means that an ENERGY STAR certified dryer has been verified to meet certain efficiency standards.

The links below starts with two tumble dryers that are ENERGY STAR certified. The next two are dehumidifiers with the same certification. These links will take you to the product listing on Amazon.

GE 27 Inch Smart Electric Dryer with 7.4 cubic ft Capacity

Electrolux 27″ Electric Dryer with 8 cubic ft Capacity

Frigidaire 30-Pint Dehumidifier

hOmeLabs 70 Pint Dehumidifier

Costs of Operation

Earlier in this article we said that a typical tumble dryer will use about 3000 watts of electricity in an hour. This is quite a bit of electricity compared to a dehumidifier that only uses about 300 watts in the same time frame.  This isn’t exactly a fair comparison though. A tumble dryer will have your clothes dried  in about an hour.  If you are using a dehumidifier to dry your clothes you can expect it to take more than an hour. So if we do the math here, we see that this dehumidifier could run for 10 hours straight before using the same amount of electricity as the tumble dryer. Take the 3,000 watts used by the dryer divided by the 300 watts the dehumidifier uses.  the result is 10 hours of run time for the dehumidifier compared to 1 hour of run time for the tumble dryer.

It is pretty safe to say that it will take your clothes less than 10 hours to dry even if you hung them on drying racks. The dehumidifier used near drying racks will shorten the time it takes to dry your clothes. Based on the calculations above we can confidently say that a dehumidifier is much more energy efficient when compared to using a tumble dryer for your clothes. Next up we show one of the less obvious ways a tumble dryer can increase your energy bill.

How does a tumble dryer work?

A tumble dryer works by pushing heated air past wet clothes. the heated air carries the moisture away and is vented outside your home. This is a very simple explanation but it will suit our needs for this discussion.

There is an intake port usually located on the back of all tumble dryers. This is where the dryer sucks air from your home into the appliance. Next the air is heated blown past the clothes and vented outside. The dryer is taking air from your home that is already heated or cooled to a comfortable temperature and pushing it outside. as this air leaves you home it is slowly replaced by air leaking in through the seals on your windows and doors. Anytime your tumble dryer is running it is continuously taking comfortable air out of your home and pushing it outside while overtime pulling outside air into your home.

Most tumble dryers require an exhaust vent capable of handling over 200 cubic feet of air per minute.  The manufacturer expects the dryer to pull at least 200 cubic feet of air per minute from your home and put it outside. If you multiply this by 60 minutes, we spoke about an hour of run time earlier, you come up with 18,000 cubic feet of air. This is an incredible amount of energy when compared to a dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers do not have an external exhaust port that moves air from inside your home to the outdoors.  If you ever open a dryer in the winter time you will notice that it is very cold. Even when the dryer is not operating it is still leaking heat out of your home.

Other operation considerations

Sometimes when your dryer has finished its cycle of operations some of your clothes are still damp. Here you are faced with a choice of either hanging up your clothes on a drying rack or running the dryer again.

Running the dryer for a second cycle uses huge amounts of energy compared to leaving the clothes on a dryer rack.  If you are drying your clothes with drying racks and dehumidifiers, you don’t need to worry about this kind of decision. The dehumidifier will run until the humidity levels in the surrounding air are where you want them.

It is important to either check that water collection bin of your dehumidifier often or to have the dehumidifier pour directly into a drain. If you forget to check the water collection bin the dehumidifier will automatically turn off. This could lengthen the amount of time until your clothes are dry.

Final thoughts on dehumidifier vs tumble dryer

All this being said a tumble dryer is very convenient it just isn’t efficient. When using the dryer you do not have to worry about hanging all your clothes on dryer racks.

However some clothes are not safe for tumble dryers. They need to be hung up on a drying rack anyway. One option that might make the most sense is to use a dehumidifier with drying racks for smaller loads of laundry.

You could save the tumble dryer for larger loads or those that have towels and other items that are difficult to dry. Hopefully we have presented enough information for your to make an informed choice when comparing a dehumidifier to a tumble dryer.

The links below starts with two tumble dryers that are ENERGY STAR certified. The next two are dehumidifiers with the same certification. These links will take you to the product listing on Amazon.

GE 27 Inch Smart Electric Dryer with 7.4 cubic ft Capacity

Electrolux 27″ Electric Dryer with 8 cubic ft Capacity

Frigidaire 30-Pint Dehumidifier

hOmeLabs 70 Pint Dehumidifier

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