What Are The Different Types of Tumble Dryer?

Tumble dryers, available as a heat pump, condenser and vented machine, all offer their own pros and cons, and we discuss everything you need to know.
Written By: Richard Morgan | Updated:
Types of Tumble Dryer
Richard Morgan/DIY Works

Tumble dryers have been around for many years now, and the vented machine was the most common type to be found in UK homes. However, as of recent, they have been somewhat phased out by condensing and heat pump tumble dryers.

If you are in the market for a new machine, below we discuss each type of tumble dryer.

What Is A Heat Pump Tumble Dryer?

Heat pump tumble dryers are the latest type of tumble dryer to enter the market, and they are also the most energy-efficient, which is a big bonus.

The heat pump machines function by recycling the hot air created inside of the drum to dry the clothes, and this results in much lower energy consumption.

Regarding the construction, they are freestanding and feature a water reservoir tank that’ll need replacing when indicated by the machine. As they are a newer type of machine, heat pump tumble dryers come with all the latest technology and a more modern design.

As shown in the picture, we recently purchased the latest Samsung heat pump tumble dryer, and it looks great with a sleek design that features an informative LCD display.

The main drawback of a heat pump machine is that they are far more expensive than the other types of tumble dryers. However, the reduction in energy usage should pay for itself (depending on how often you use it).

what is a heat pump tumble dryer

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

What Is A Vented Tumble Dryer?

Vented tumble dryers are the cheapest type of tumble dryer, and they work by removing moisture from the inside of the drum through a vent that leads it outside.

Most vented machines come with a long hose that allows you to vent the moisture outside in a method that suits you best. Although you could simply direct this hose out of the nearest window, we would recommend installing a vented tumble dryer in a location that leads the moisture out through a fixed exit in the wall.

Although vented tumble dryers tend to be the most affordable, they are also the least energy efficient. They will also require installation within a suitable area in order to vent the moisture outside.

To conclude, if you require a cheap tumble dryer, the vented machines are certainly a great option to consider. They are also very basic, with a minimalistic design and basic functions, which may be appealing to many people.

As shown in the photo, we installed the Indesit machine in our Airbnb, and it’s ideal because it doesn’t get used as often, which means the energy consumption isn’t an issue.

what is a vented tumble dryer

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

What Is A Condenser Tumble Dryer?

A condenser tumble dryer is a mid-range option that removes moisture inside the drum and stores it in a removable tank that’ll need to be emptied after each cycle. It’s the perfect solution to drying your clothes if you can’t afford the heat pump alternative or vent moisture outside using a hose.

As you can see in the photo of our old condensing machine, the removable tank is easy to access, and the water inside can be simply poured down the sink.

Although similar to a heat pump alternative, they aren’t as energy efficient because they don’t recirculate the hot air used to dry your clothes. However, they are more affordable, which is one of the most important factors to consider for many people in the market for a tumble dryer.

what is a condenser tumble dryer

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

Which Is The Better Type of Tumble Dryer?

To determine the better type of tumble dryer, we’ve split the main factors into the five points below.

1. Running Costs & Energy Efficiency

The running costs of a tumble dryer are a big factor to consider, and the energy rating given to a machine is a clear indication of how costly it’ll be to run. These ratings vary from A to G, and our recommendation is to purchase a tumble dryer that has a C or above rating in order to keep the running costs low.

From our testing of using the different types of tumble dryers and resetting our smart meter before each cycle, we found that the average cost to run a tumble dryer was between £0.45 and £0.65 with an approximate load of 5KG. We came to this figure with three separate loads in each of the tumble dryers shown in the pictures above.

The heat pump tumble dryer is certainly the most efficient and the least costly to run because it was averaging £0.45 to £0.50 per cycle during our analysis. The second most efficient was the condenser tumble dryer, which was then followed by the vented machine, which was the most expensive to run.

2. Performance

The performance of the different types of tumble dryers is quite similar, but you’ll often find that a condenser and heat pump machine offer generous capacities. This means that you are able to carry out much larger cycles and cut down on energy bills because the machine won’t need to be on as much.

However, in terms of what’s the top performer in terms of drying times, the condensing machine is the winner. This is because it offers larger capacities than a vented machine, and it doesn’t spend additional time recycling hot air within the drum, which is a drawback of the heat pump alternative.

3. Machine Placement

The placement of your tumble dryer may cause issues if you want a vented machine because they will need to extract air outside via a window or a fixed exit outside of a wall. Therefore, a condensing or heat pump machine is the clear winner because they aren’t restricted because the water collects within the reservoir tank.

4. Ease Of Use

Not everyone appreciates multiple modes of drying your clothes, but instead, they may want simplicity. Therefore, the ease of using a tumble dryer is seen as a factor to consider, and the vented machine is certainly one of the easiest to use.

Due to their budget price tag, they are designed to offer the basic form of drying your clothes with singular buttons to control their operation. On the other hand, the heat pump and condenser tumble dryers provide multiple functions such as “anti-crease” along with many other features, which may not be used at all.

5. Affordability

The budget you set aside for a tumble dryer will play a big role in terms of what machine is the better option. If you are on a tight budget, the vented machine is the perfect solution, and you can purchase many high-quality vented tumble dryers within the £150 to £200 price range. This makes the vented machine a clear winner in terms of affordability.

Condensing machines, on the other hand, are approximately £300 to £500, whereas the heat pump alternative can cost upwards of £800 due to all the technology and the heat pump mechanism.


Each of the different types of tumble dryer offers its own pros and cons, which can make it difficult to choose the one that’s right for you. However, to conclude, below are our recommendations in terms of which is the better tumble dryer:

  • Vented – Perfect for those on a tight budget and require a simple/easy-to-use machine.
  • Heat pump – The most energy-efficient type of tumble dryer that’ll lower your energy bills and provide you with plenty of technology to play around with.
  • Condenser – A combination of the two that offers the best of both types (vented and heat pump).

If you are still unsure as to which type of tumble dryer you should choose, feel free to get in touch, and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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