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Dryer Capacity, Dryer Cycles
Dryer capacity is a key concern among consumers, based on the many reviews we read, but it doesn't vary much among full-size dryers. Most dryers have a capacity of 6 to 7.5 cubic feet and easily accommodate oversize items such as comforters or pillows.
If you have limited space for laundry, a user who posted a review at Home Depot warns that the dryer capacity of the Admiral AED4475TQ makes it extra deep, causing it to stick out past the washer when hose clearance is taken into account.
Dryer Cycles.Basic dryers tend to come with basic cycle settings. Options such as permanent press, delicate, heavy duty, and normal are standard on nearly every dryer, high-end and budget alike. The Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW gives users 10 cycle options, including four temperatures, a wrinkle-prevention cycle, and automatic moisture sensing. The Admiral AED4475TQ has five dryer cycles: three temperature options, an auto-dry setting, and a wrinkle-free cycle. The seven automatic cycles of the Amana NED4500VQ include three drying temperatures, a "wrinkle prevent" setting, and an automatic temperature control. The GE GTDX100EMWW offers three drying cycles and three temperature options but doesn't include any extras like a wrinkle-free setting or automatic moisture detection.
Pricier units include more specialized dryer cycles for towels or wool care and custom "personal cycles." Some also boast steam-cleaning capabilities to help eliminate wrinkles and odors and can run sanitizing cycles for delicate or non-washable items. Thankfully, an old-fashioned steam iron and a box of Dryel or Dry Cleaner's Secret can accomplish much of what pricey steam dryers promise for a fraction of the cost.
While custom dryer cycles aren't necessary for satisfactory drying performance, you should check carefully to make sure the cheap dryer you're considering offers options for the types of items you launder. For example, some users posting reviews at Home Depot take issue with the lack of a low-heat setting on the GE GTDX100EMWW.
Dryer Moisture Sensors.One feature that's worth a little extra money, according to reviews, is a moisture sensor. Instead of following a timed cycle, the dryer runs until it senses the clothes are dry. This minimizes energy usage and can save as much as 15 percent on utility bills, according to the California Energy Commission.
A dryer moisture sensor works in one of two ways: by gauging the electrical resistance of the clothes using a sensor in the drum or by measuring the exhaust air temperature. According to Green Your, an online guide to green living, the drum sensor method tends to be more accurate, but you may have difficulty finding this type of sensor in a cheap dryer. Unfortunately, complaints about drying performance seem most prevalent in dryers with moisture sensors. However, most users find ways to coax effective drying out of their appliances by limiting load size, drying like fabrics together, and running an extra cycle for heavier items such as towels and jeans.
The Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW is one of the few low-cost models we researched that incorporates a moisture sensor. A user who posted a review of the Maytag Centennial at Home Depot likes not having to guess how long clothes will take to dry. On the higher end, the Kenmore 8903 and 6800, our splurge-worthy choices, offer moisture sensors as well.
Many cheap dryers offer similar features that help conserve energy, although they aren't as effective as dryer moisture sensors. The Admiral AED4475TQ dryer has a temperature-gauging capability that the brand calls Auto Sense Dry. The Amana NED4500VQ also monitors temperature, as do the GE GTDX100EMWW and the Roper RED4440VQ (starting at $284, Amazon). However, more than one Admiral AED4475TQ reviewer posting at Home Depot points out that the technology has its limitations: The auto-dry feature is an option only at the high heat setting and not on lower settings.
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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