What is a Condenser Tumble Dryer and How Do They Work?

figuring out how a condenser tumble dryer works

A condenser tumble dryer is a home appliance that allows you to dry your clothes without the need for a vent to exhaust the warm air during a cycle.

They are particularly popular for people who don’t have the right location for a vented tumble dryer, and they are very convenient for people who live in an area where drying their clothes on a washing line is not viable.

To operate a condenser dryer, you will need a location that is well ventilated and has access to a plug socket. They need to be maintained slightly more than vented dryers due to the water bottle tank and the condenser unit that they are fitted with.

We will be answering some of the common questions that people have before they buy a condenser tumble dryer.

Condenser tumble dryer mechanics explained

The mechanics of a condenser tumble dryer is fairly straightforward. They still use a heating element and circulate the air during a drying cycle like a vented tumble dryer.

The difference between a vented and a condenser dryer is that condenser dryers are fitted with condenser units and a water tank system.

condenser tumble dryer mechanics explained

During the drying cycle, a condenser dryer will pull in air from the surroundings and heat it up with the heating element at the rear of the machine.

The hot air is then circulated through the drum and the moisture from your clothes is then lifted away with the warm air through to the condenser unit.

The condenser unit is usually located at the bottom of a condenser tumble dryer and will remove the moisture from the air as the air passes through the condenser box.

The water then trickles through to the pump housing where it is then pumped through to the water tank. At the end of a drying cycle, you can then remove the water tank and empty is out.

The water that’s in the tank can actually be quite handy as tumble dryer water is technically distilled meaning that it can be used for a wide variety of things.

Owning a condenser dryer does come with more maintenance than a vented dryer though. You are expected to keep on top of cleaning the condenser box which can be removed from the bottom of the machine.

This is because the lint filter sometimes overflows and lets lint through to the condenser which then gathers. This means that your dryer can get blocked and won’t operate efficiently.

You will also have to get rid of all of the water that builds up in the water tank during a cycle. This can mean that you might have to empty the tank multiple times during a drying cycle if you’re drying a lot of wet clothes.

Can you just plug in a condenser dryer?

Yes, you can just plug in a condenser tumble dryer for it to work. There are no vent requirements for the air to be exhausted.

condenser tumble dryer being plugged in to wall socket

The only requirement that a condenser tumble dryer has in order for it to turn on and function is that it has an electrical supply.

If you have a space in your home where you can plug the dryer in that’s safe, then you are good to go. This should be a location that doesn’t get wet and has good airflow.

Do you need a vent for a condenser tumble dryer?

No, you do not need a vent for condenser tumble dryers. The whole point of a condenser dryer is that they remove the moisture from the air before it is exhausted.

tumble dryer vent being removed

This means that they can be placed in areas in your home that a vented dryer couldn’t be. It’s not a requirement for a condenser dryer to be near a window or a wall duct that exits your home.

This doesn’t mean that they can be placed anywhere as a condenser dryer will still need to be placed in a well-ventilated area so that they can operate at the correct temperature.

Do condenser dryers use more electricity?

Yes, condenser tumble dryers use more electricity than vented tumble dryers and they typically use between 15% – 25% more electricity.

They are less energy efficient than vented dryers because they need to be able to turn the moisture in the warm air into water so that it can be stored in the water tank.

Appliance manufacturers have started to develop heat pump tumble dryers that operate in a similar way to condenser dryers but are more energy efficient and don’t get as hot while in operation.

Can you put a condenser tumble dryer in a cupboard?

Although you might be able to fit a condenser dryer in a cupboard it’s not a great idea and we don’t recommend it.

This is because all tumble dryers need to be in a well-vented area that allows the dryer to operate at a safe temperature.

condenser tumble dryer in well ventilated room

Condenser tumble dryers are fitted with thermostats and thermal overload cutouts which are safety devices. They are triggered if the dryer starts to overheat which is much more common in a small space like a cupboard.

The best place for a condenser dryer is somewhere that is open and well ventilated with access to an electrical supply. It’s also really important that the area is dry so the risk of water entering the electrical appliance is minimized.

If a tumble dryer stops heating up it might be because it’s in a space that’s not well ventilated. Your condenser dryer might start displaying an error code related to the thermostats if it overheats from a lack of ventilation.

Can condenser tumble dryers cause damp?

One of the downfalls of the convenience that a condenser dryer offers is that they don’t operate well when they are pressed up against a wall.

Because they don’t have a vent that pushes the air out into a well-ventilated space, they can sometimes cause the walls in your home to go damp.

This only happens if you cover the rear ventilation vents with a wall because not all of the moisture in the air is condensed and some of it escapes through the rear vents.

Over the course of years, the wall that is next to a condenser dryer may start to get damp and can often change in colour if the dryer is not installed in a suitable area.

If you don’t want your condenser dryer to cause dampness in your home, you should choose a suitable area for it to operate that is well ventilated and doesn’t cover up the vents at the back of the machine.

Can condenser dryers be stacked with a washing machine?

Yes, you can stack a condenser tumble dryer on top of a washing machine. It’s important that you use a stacking kit to securely fix the dryer to the washing machine so that it doesn’t fall off during a cycle.

condenser tumble dryer being stacked on top of a washing machine

It’s also important to mention that condenser dryers sometimes have a water tank at the top of the machine so you must be able to reach up and lift it down. It can sometimes be quite heavy which means you need to consider this before you install the dryer.

Condenser dryers are better for stacking on a washing machine than vented dryers because they don’t need a vent which means the vent won’t get in the way when you’re trying to make it neat and organised. It also means that you have more options to where you can install both of the machines as you don’t need an air vent or an open window.