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Cheap Dryers Buying Guide
With the pressure on to tighten our financial belts, it's refreshing to discover that a good clothes dryer doesn't have to cost a bundle. If you don't mind forgoing high-tech extras like steam cleaning and sanitizing cycles, which reviews say don't make a difference in a machine's overall functionality, you can find a cheap dryer for $500 or less.
As we examined user and expert reviews, the Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW (starting at $448, Amazon) and Admiral AED4475TQ (starting at $359) rose to the top of the heap to become our best cheap dryer recommendations. The Maytag MEDC300XW offers more extra features than other machines in its class, and most users are satisfied with its performance. The Admiral AED4475TQ is a more Spartan dryer with fewer options, but it's well-liked for its wallet-friendly price and overall drying ability. In the good cheap dryer category, the Amana NED4500VQ (starting at $359, Amazon) wins appreciation for its load capacity and time-saving cycles, and the GE GTDX100EMWW (starting at $386, Amazon) gets kudos for being a good, basic machine at an affordable price. Exercise caution if you're considering the Roper RED4440VQ (starting at $284, Amazon), however. Experts pan its lackluster drying performance. We also found more user reports of breakdowns and repairs than with any of the other models we researched.
All cheap dryers come with some limitations. There's not much variety when it comes to design. Low-cost models are typically white, front-load dryers that are unexciting to look at. Several skimp on features such as interior lights and end-of-cycle buzzers. Cheap dryers don't offer many cycle or temperature options, and those they do have are mostly manual. The machines are typically somewhat noisy, and their parts generally aren't as durable as those on mid-range and high-end models. Also, temperature- or moisture-sensing capabilities may not be as well-tuned as they are on spendy models.
A frugal shopper in the market for a cheap dryer does have the option of either electric or gas; all our picks come in both configurations. Electric dryers are cheaper up front and by far the most popular choice. Gas-powered dryers run $50 to $100 more than their electric counterparts but are less expensive to operate over their lifetime. The cost of running a new gas line to the laundry room offsets any long-term savings, however, so most consumers go electric unless they have an existing line.
When choosing a cheap dryer, consider the types of fabrics you wash. If you launder lots of delicates, for instance, research cycle and temperature options carefully. Cheap dryers have few specialty cycles, and some don't offer low or air-dry settings. Additionally, be on the lookout for moisture-sensing technology. This feature both conserves energy and preserves clothing by cycling loads only until they're dry.
Finally, think about whether you prefer a lint trap located up front inside the machine or one situated on top. Although this seems like a minor detail, we found plenty of user comments that focus on this topic, and reviewers seem to have strong opinions about which they prefer.
Dryer reviews suggest that consumer products experts and budget buyers agree on one piece of advice: Forgo costly extras and buy a basic model, then spend your money where it matters -- on the washing machine. An efficient washing machine will reduce your dryer's workload by producing less-damp washables and reduce wear and tear, extending the life of your clothes. All dryers are rather inefficient, no matter their cost, so there's no significant advantage to purchasing a dryer that matches your washer.
Common brand names include Kenmore, Admiral, GE, Maytag, Amana, Hotpoint, and Roper. There are actually only a few manufacturers behind all these names. Amana, Roper, and Maytag fall under the Whirlpool umbrella, as does the Home Depot-exclusive brand Admiral. Hotpoint is a GE brand. Several manufacturers are responsible for products sold under the Sears Kenmore name, although most laundry appliances are made by Whirlpool. To determine the manufacturer for a specific Kenmore model, consult this handy reference table from Appliance411.
In making our picks, we analyzed the drying performance, reliability, and longevity of readily available models. We balanced user feedback with that of experts and researched dryer safety and efficiency as well, learning that proper maintenance is the key to both.
Best Cheap Dryers
Maytag MEDC300XWThis 7-cubic-foot electric dryer offers 10 cycles, wrinkle prevention, and moisture sensing technology. Experts and users like the number of options you get for the money, calling the dryer a good value. A gas-powered version, the Maytag Centennial MGDC300XW, is also available. Read more »
|Not ready to buy?|
Admiral AED4475TQThis Home Depot exclusive offers 6.5 cubic feet of capacity, five dry cycles, three temperature settings, and a reversible door. Experts call it a good buy for the money and most users report satisfaction with its drying performance. For those with a gas hookup, the Admiral AGD4475TQ earns similar reviews. Read more »
|Available for $399 at Home Depot|
Good Cheap Dryers
Amana NED4500VQWith 6.5 cubic feet of capacity, seven automatic cycles, three temperature options, a reversible door, and an end-of-cycle buzzer, this electric dryer includes more features than many others in the budget price bracket. Users appreciate the short dry time and roomy drum. An equivalent gas model, the Amana NGD4500VQ, is also available. Read more »
|Not ready to buy?|
GE GTDX100EMWWThis electric dryer comes with 6 cubic feet of space, three drying cycles, a reversible door, and a lint trap in the front. Decent drying performance and an interior light win users over. Also available is a gas-powered version, the GE GTDX100GMWW. Read more »
|Not ready to buy?|
Don't Bother Cheap Dryers
Reviewers enthuse about the 6.5 cubic feet of space in this electric dryer but are less impressed with its other attributes. Consumer products experts give it a failing grade for poor drying performance and call its auto-dry sensor unreliable. Frequent user complaints of faulty timers and burnt-out heating elements also raise a red flag. While several users seem satisfied they've gotten their money's worth, consumers might want to give this model a pass. Read more »
Kenmore 6002 Review
Roper RED4440VQ Review
Amana NED4500VQ Review
GE GTDX100EMWW Review
Maytag MEDC300XW Review
Admiral AED4475TQ Review
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