Whether it’s to save space, for portability, or you’re looking to just get something a little different out of your clothes dryer there are options out there for you.
There are a few different compact dryer options to consider.
Tumble dryers are the most familiar. They spin with a horizontal rotation, like a tire rolling down a hill or Ferris wheel, and the laundry falls as it slides off the ribs on the wall of the dryer drum. The falling effect helps to “fluff” the laundry and flip it to make sure as much surface area of each article of clothing is exposed to the hot air inside the dryer.
Spin dryers spin vertically, like a kitchen mixer or blender, and the laundry is pushed against the wall of the dryer drum. This is also how laundry washing machines extract water from laundry after the wash cycle is complete. Some spin dryers perform the same spin process as a typical washing machine, which is an incomplete drying process as all the water is not extracted, while others add heat to the process to completely dry the laundry.
Electric hanging dryers merely allow you to hang clothes, typically on a freestanding rack, with a heater underneath that blows hot air up towards the clothes. They’re a great portable solution for drying that doesn’t require venting air, but can still heat up a small room.
- Compact Tumble Dryers: Fast, Complete Drying. Primarily 110-120V required instead of 220V.
- Non-heated Spin Dryers: spins fast and removes 80-90% of the water from laundry. Additional drying required.
- Heated Hanging Dryers: Heated racks, some with enclosures, that dry your laundry faster than hanging alone.
These alternative dryers all come with their own pros and cons. Full-size dryers, typically 5.0 cubic feet or higher drum volume, are convenient because of the amount of clothes they can dry at once. These take up a ton of space and require proper venting.
RV’s and travel trailers often just don’t have space for a washer or dryer. For that, small volume tumble dryers are a convenient and familiar option, but you should be able to find a 110V dryer from any category that will fit your space needs.
The 110V tumble dryers are an excellent option for any situation when a 220V plug isn’t available, nor the space to fit a 220V dryer. There are a few different sizes available for 110V dryers, and they can even get small enough to fit on your kitchen counter.easily
All the dryers we’re covering here are compact, but not all of them are portable.
Portable Clothes Dryer Selection
- Ventless Dryers
- 110V Dryers
- Washer/Dryer Combos
These mini tumble dryers are the closest option to the traditional clothes dryer, but take longer to dry and have smaller capacities. All the options we look at in our guide are 110-120V and majority of them don’t have to be vented outside.
Spin dryers are a great choice if you don’t mind hanging your laundry to complete the drying process. Their high RPM’s extract 80-90% of the water, but don’t completely dry your laundry. They are great to use in conjunction with a compact tumble dryer to shorten drying times.
Electric Hanging Dryers
- Hanging Rack with Heated Enclosure
- Heated Rack
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Expectations Vs. Reality
Portable and compact dryers of all types dry slower than full-size, traditional tumble dryers. It just comes with the territory since when you reduce size and power that also increases drying time.
Beyond that, there is some overlap between what is considered “portable” and “compact.” Even the largest compact dryers can be portable as long as you have somewhere to put them, such as in an RV or boat.
If you live in a small studio apartment, or in a home that doesn’t meet the plumbing or electrical requirements for a traditional dryer, then don’t worry. There are options here for you.
These key points will give you a more informed outlook when deciding which type is right for you.
- Compact tumble dryers take up less space, but still produce heat that can optionally be vented outside.
- Spin dryers are recommended if you don’t want to deal with the heat from a tumble dryer, and don’t mind hanging clothes to dry.
- When we refer to compact and portable tumble dryers we’re talking about 110V dryers.
- “Compact” and “Portable” are subjective terms, but most manufacturers refer to tumble dryers with a capacity smaller than 5.0 cubic feet as compact. For portability, consider staying under 3.0 cubic feet.
There are compact 220V tumble dryers, but these are not what we would consider portable. If you’re in an apartment that has a 220V plug but lacks the space for a full-size dryer to fit comfortably, then they might work for you.
So, we have portable dryers that come in a variety of forms and compact tumble dryers that look like miniature traditional dryers.
More On Compact Tumble Dryers
These compact tumble dryers are meant to be installed in a more permanent location than the portable options above, and they all only need 110-120V power. This is great for studio apartments or if your housing just doesn’t have room or power capabilities for a full-size 220V clothes dryer. Also, consider these if you need more drying capabilities.
- Wall-Mount Options
- Sizes from around 1 Cu.Ft. and up
- Washer/Dryer Combos
- Large range of capacities and sizes
- Ventless Options
The capacity of standard washers and dryers are usually given in units of cubic feet and is the total volume of the drum. You can use the following formula to calculate the volume of your dryer or washer drum. You need the radius of the drum and the height. Measure the radius from the back center of the drum and measure the height from back to front.
volume = π x radius2 x height
A good rule of thumb is that you want your dryer to have twice the capacity of your washer to be sure that the dryer can handle the maximum load of the washer. With a compact dryer, you’re going to be dealing with less capacity, and it’s a good idea only to wash what your dryer can handle or be willing to hang dry some of your laundry.
What fantastic technology gets rid of the heat, lint, and moisture produced by the dryer?
Well, that’s not really how it works.
The ventless models don’t require you to vent the exhausted air outside of the room where the dryer is located. The internal filter captures the lint, and the hot air is just released into the room. That might sound bad, but remember these dryers are much smaller than what you’re used to.
You’re dealing with 800W to 1500W, which isn’t much more than a typical space heater. However, if you’re in a small space, this can be a problem in the summer. In the winter, it’s a good thing!
If you’re not able to run a duct in the location you’re putting the dryer then these ventless dryers are a great option.
BetterVent Indoor Dryer Vent
Does not use water. Double filter system. Needs to be mounted vertically on wall; parts are included for installation.
Deflecto Dryer Lint Trap
Uses water to capture lint. Transition duct, 2 clamps and lint trap are included. Vertically mount on wall; parts are included for installation.
Dundas Jafine Vent Kit
Uses water to capture lint. Includes 5 feet of 4″ diameter transition duct, plastic lint reservoir, 2 adjustable clamps
Remember, these types of attachments do not get rid of the heat. If you live in an area with hot summer weather, then consider getting a dehumidifier to keep in the same room with your ventless dryer. Obviously, the smaller the dryer and the shorter the length of your drying cycle the less heat and humidity you will have to deal with.
Compact tumble dryers fluff your laundry and completely dry it in a reasonable amount of time, but unless you can vent them outdoors, they will still heat up the room they’re in. They generally operate around 800W to 1500W, which is equivalent to a typical space heater.
Most people don’t have complaints about the additional heat, so it’s not something to worry too much about if your other alternative is going to a laundromat. One of the great things about these dryers is they can go in any room, or if you have a porch, you can just set it outside when you need it.
The hanging dryers produce a similar amount of heat, so they’re not a “better” solution in that regard. Spin dryers are the only heat-free alternative.