We have been homeowners for over 35 years, owned 7 different homes as well as a vacation home. I even started this blog as I have extensive experience in home renovations, repair and consider myself an accomplished DIY’er. I’m also an engineer with 35 years of experience, and to be honest, I’ve never heard of a ventless dryer.
This topic came about as we were looking for a new washer and dryer combo for our shore house. The space where our existing washer and dryer are located is somewhat limited primarily due to the depth of the space. Most of the units we were interested in were deeper than the existing side by side we have, and if we couldn’t get it closer to the wall, it would protrude proud of the wall a few inches into the hallway. The main obstacle to getting the deeper units closer to the wall was the 4” flexible vent duct on the back of the dryer that you need to be careful not to crush.
As I started measuring and researching new units, I came across an option on the Stacked LG Washtower that said there was a “ventless” option. We followed up with a trip to our local appliance store, had an in-depth discussion with the salesperson, and I did some research on the pros and cons of Ventless dryers which I’ve described in this article.
What is a Ventless Clothes dryer?
Basically, a ventless clothes dryer is a unit that doesn’t have to be vented to the outside. Therefore, there is no need to connect that pesky flexible vent on the back that comes disconnected if you pull the dryer out to clean or get something that fell behind it.
Types of Ventless Dryers:
Before we discuss the pros and cons of vented vs ventless dryers, it’s important to understand some basics of how they work, and what types exist. There are two types, a “Condenser” type and a “Heat Pump” type.
Condenser Type: In a condenser type ventless dryer, air is heated by a condenser before it enters the drum, but instead of being vented to the outside, it’s re-directed back into the condenser, cooled down and then reheated again. The moisture that’s collected from the damp clothes during the condenser cycle is directed into a container that requires manual emptying. With most models, you can opt to connect a drain tube to allow for continuous removal of the water if an appropriate drain is accessible. Condenser dryers are more energy-efficient than standard vented models, since the same air is being reused. They’re also easier on your clothes since a ventless dryer runs much cooler than vented models, and your clothes won’t become overdried. This reduces the stress on the fabric of your clothing which will extend the life of your favorite outfits.
Heat Pump Type: This style of dryer operates with an electric heat pump. Unlike the condenser type, a heat pump dryer keeps the air warm continuously, rather than cooling it down after it’s used. It does, however, operate at lower temperatures than a condenser dryer, making it even more energy-efficient and gentler on clothes than condenser types. However, there are 2 notable drawbacks compared to Condenser dryers. The have noticeably longer dry times and tend to be noisy.
There is one safety advantage of the ventless option that I think is worth mentioning. If the ductwork of a vented system is not routinely cleaned and allowed to build up as seen below, the potential for a fire is introduced if the buildup continues to the point where airflow is significantly restricted.
Conclusion: Is Ventless better than Vented?
Ventless dryers are certainly easier to install, they are more efficient, and they are gentler on clothes. The also offer much more flexibility of location. However, they also tend to have a significantly higher upfront cost, they take longer than to get everything dry and in the case of the Heat Pump type, they can be noisy.
Our research indicates that less than 2% of homes in the United States have ventless dryers, while they are much more popular in Europe. This makes sense as typical European households tend to be smaller, so space constraints are more significant making flexibility of location more important.
So, what the right choice is for you is based on your situation considering the pros and cons of noted above. In most cases, a vented dryer will be the right choice, but if location flexibility is important and the outside vent connection is not located where you want your dryer, then a ventless unit may be a viable option.
We ultimately went with a vented dryer. For the space we had, we opted for the LG Washtower shown below. While I mentioned the reason we started looking for a ventless system to allow us to push the dryer closer to the wall, we found that this unit has knockout to actually vent it through the side vs the back. By venting through the side, we were able to push the stacked washer and dryer as close to the wall as we would have with a ventless system.