Best Cheap Dryers
Published on By Emily Lugg
Admiral AED4675YQ Review
(From $324.00 Best)
This Home Depot exclusive offers 6.5 cubic feet of capacity, 11 dry cycles with three temperature settings, and a powder-coated drum. Reviewers consider it a good buy for the money and a large majority report satisfaction with its drying performance.
Users who posted Admiral AED4675YQ reviews consider this electric dryer's performance satisfactory and admire its efficiency and large, 6.5-cubic-foot interior. Manufactured by Whirlpool and sold exclusively through Home Depot, this is an attractive option for consumers who need a reliable dryer on the cheap. A gas-run version, the Admiral AGD4675YQ, is also available.
Consumers like this simple dryer despite the scant feature set, with most reporting in Admiral AED4675YQ reviews at the vendor's site that the contents dry evenly and quickly. The range of cycle options, such as energy preferred, very dry, and no heat fluff (for a total of 11) offers enough choice to get the job done, they say. Like many dryers in its price range, the Admiral AED4675YQ does not include an interior light or end-of-cycle buzzer, and some users long for the latter. Although users generally say the wrinkle prevention feature adds value, a handful complains that it doesn't work. This model monitors dryness via a temperature gauge rather than a moisture sensor, and here, too, we found a few reviews asserting that the dryer leaves clothes feeling damp. (This complaint pops up with some regularity in reviews of budget and high-end models with sensors.)
A tapered back on this machine combines with the dryer vent to make it stick out farther from the wall than other models, an issue mentioned by several reviewers. The resulting 29.25-inch depth makes it appropriate only for consumers with ample laundry space. On the other hand, Admiral AED4675YQ reviews often remark on the reversible door, asserting it's easy to affix for left- or right-side opening.
The lack of expert buzz on this machine notwithstanding, user reviews indicate that the Admiral AED4675YQ is a good solution for cash-strapped consumers who want a dependable, if unremarkable, clothes dryer.
Where to buy
Maytag MEDC300XW Review
(From $448.00 Best)
This 7-cubic-foot electric dryer sports 10 cycles, wrinkle prevention, and moisture sensing technology. Experts and users like the number of features provided for the money, as well as the effectiveness, and consider this dryer a very good value.
Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW reviews give this model kudos for offering plenty of higher-end features for a surprisingly modest price. Users posting at Home Depot appreciate the large capacity of this 7-cubic-foot model and its gas-powered counterpart, the Maytag Centennial MGDC300XW. Consumer product experts at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute rate this model as one of the better budget dryers. Testing showed that a medium-size load dried quickly without getting tangled or twisted. This dryer was also one of the only models at any price that quickly and evenly dried a bulky comforter, according to Good Housekeeping's review.
Maytag MEDC300XW reviews from consumers point to the popularity of the wrinkle-free cycle (in addition to nine others) and extras such as an interior light, something you don't always find at this price point. Both the electric and gas versions come with a moisture sensor, a feature that experts at Consumer Reports strongly suggest. A moisture sensor helps conserve energy and preserve fabric by letting the machine run only until a load is dry, exposing clothes to no more heat than necessary. This technology is hard to come by in budget dryers, as well; most low-priced units have only temperature sensors, which generally aren't as accurate. Although users enjoy having the moisture-sensing option, a few report that larger loads don't always dry in one cycle and certain fabrics seem to throw off the sensing technology.
Another factor that prompts some grousing: the door. The Maytag MEDC300XW is fitted with both left and right door hinges, but one user notes that the door handle can't be moved, nor can the door be flipped, making it impractical to reverse. A Maytag MEDC300XW review suggests this model might not be a good fit for consumers who have difficulty bending or stooping because the door sits pretty low to the ground. And one grumbles that the heat turns off when drying is complete but the drum keeps turning until the door is opened.
For shoppers searching for a good, basic dryer that includes some unexpected extras, the Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW/ MGDC300XW is a solid, low-cost choice. Despite a few minor design flaws, user feedback suggests most are well pleased with its overall performance -- especially for the price.
Amana NGD4600YQ Review
(From $400.00 Good)
With 6.5 cubic feet of capacity, 11 automatic cycles with three temperature options, reversible door, and temperature sensor, this model includes more features than many other gas dryers in the budget bracket. Users appreciate the short dry time and roomy drum.
This gas dryer earns raves in Amana NGD4600YQ reviews for its ease of use and energy efficiency. Even heavy items like towels and jeans dry in one cycle, according to comments posted at Best Buy. With a 6.5-cubic-foot drum, users also have no trouble drying extra-large items such as comforters and king-size bedding and the large opening affords good access and visibility. The user-friendly simplicity of this model appeals to consumers, as well, and several Amana NGD4600YQ reviews at Amazon happily report "trading down" from higher-end dryers with all kinds of fancy electronics that ultimately proved unworthy.
The Amana NGD4600YQ comes with some convenient features that users appreciate, including a wrinkle-free option, an auto-dry setting, and a reversible side-swing door. Reviews also indicate that users are very satisfied with the energy-preferred setting, which leaves clothes relatively wrinkle-free and burns up less energy. That said, one user counters that less heat actually increases the amount of time clothes need to dry.
While the Amana NGD4600YQ delivers solid performance and welcome features, it's not without flaws. Some users find the lint trap hard to clean given its location at the top and others consider the 11 cycle options somewhat arbitrary. Another common complaint about this model is the lack of interior light. The rounded back of the model makes it a tough fit in small spaces, which puts off some potential buyers.
Users of the Amana NGD4600YQ and its electric counterpart, the Amana NED4600YQ, seem to regard such issues as minor nuisances, not deal breakers. Overall, this dryer is a dependable performer.
Where to buy
Whirlpool WED4900XW Review
(From $450.00 Good)
This 7.0 cubic foot electric dryer includes an end-of-cycle buzzer, interior light, 13 settings, and both a moisture and temperature sensor -- more features than most dryers at this price point. Reviewers are satisfied with the efficiency, reliability, and quiet performance.
Users rave about the overall performance and reliability of the Whirlpool WED4900XW, according to reviews, especially for the price. This is one of the few budget-friendly dryers that include both a moisture sensor and a temperature sensor to maximize energy efficiency, and reviews posted at Sears describe this as a major plus. Users further assert that the 13 cycle options ensure that all type of washables, from jeans to delicates, are dried thoroughly and with the right amount of heat for the right amount of time. A gas version, the Whirlpool WGD5900XW, is also available.
Reviews for the Whirlpool WED4900XW are solidly positive; some even express surprise at how many features are included given the modest price. Many users give special mention to the end-of-cycle buzzer, which is hardly standard in the budget segment. Also unusual for entry-level models are the interior light and the quiet-dry (noise reduction) feature, which pleases users no end; one writer concedes wondering if something was wrong because the machine was so quiet. Whirlpool WED4900XW at Best Buy also remark on the wrinkle-free results as well as features like the 7-cubic-foot drum, drop-down door (most dryers sport a swing door), and top-mounted lint filter.
Not everyone is completely sold on the proprietary wrinkle shield, however. One Whirlpool WED4900XW review expresses frustration at having to iron everything that comes out of the dryer. Others are disappointed with the accuracy of the moisture sensor, saying it leaves clothes damp.
Still, the rich feature set and strong reviews make the Whirlpool WED4900XW a serious contender for budget-sensitive shoppers.
Where to buy
Haier Encore RDE350AW Review
(From $342.00 Think Twice)
Reviewers enthuse about the 6.6 cubic feet of space in this electric dryer but are less impressed with drying performance, some finding one cycle isn't enough. Complaints about operational snafus are more pronounced than usual for entry-level dryers.
Reviews of the Haier Encore RDE350AW are mixed. While this is a basic model and extras are few and far between, it's the uncertain reliability that prompts consumer grousing. The thermostat, in particular, has wreaked havoc on many a load of washables, according to Haier Encore RDE350AW reviews at H.H. Gregg, where one reports having to replace the component after only five months. Other Haier Encore RDE350AW reviews, including several at Lowe's, complain about needed repairs for various reasons within the first year of ownership.
This 6.6 cubic-foot model features seven automatic cycles, including four timed-dry cycles, plus four temperature settings. It also sports a temperature sensor and wrinkle shield. Many users, however, report that multiple cycles are required to completely dry a load, which, as one user points out, causes energy usage to skyrocket and defeats the cost savings derived from buying a budget model. Another source of irritation shared in many Haier Encore RDE350AW reviews concerns the end-of-cycle buzzer. Although a non-standard feature in the entry-level segment, many reviewers find the frequency of the buzzing a nuisance and the volume unusually loud.
Convenience features (at least for some users) include a front-mounted lint filter, a drop-down door, and lights indicating the cycle status. A gas version, the Haier Encore RDG350AW, is also available.
This model is well-priced, attractive, and easy to use, but users waved enough red flags to prompt a caution sign when considering this unit.
Where to buy
With ongoing pressure to tighten our financial belts, it's refreshing to discover that the best cheap dryers get clothes dry, hold up to daily wear and tear, and are relatively inexpensive to repair. If you don't mind forgoing high-tech extras like steam cleaning and sanitizing cycles (which reviews say don't make a difference in a machine's overall functionality), you can find a good dryer for $500 or less.
Cheap Dryers Buying Guide
As we examined user and expert reviews of cheap dryers, the Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW (starting at $448) and Admiral AED4675YQ (starting at $324) rose to the top of the heap. The Maytag MEDC300XW offers more extra features than other machines in its class, and the vast majority of users are thoroughly satisfied with its performance. The Admiral AED4675YQ is a more Spartan model with fewer options, but is well-liked for its wallet-friendly price and overall drying ability. In the good cheap dryer category, the gas-powered Amana NGD4600YQ (starting at $400) wins over users with its multiple automatic-dryness settings and quiet operation and the Whirlpool WED4900XW (starting at $450) garners kudos for being a good, basic machine with appealing features at an affordable price. Exercise caution if you're considering the Haier Encore RDE350AW (starting at $342), however. Although many reviews indicate that this electric model adequately dries washables, others report a spate of operational failures within the first year.
All cheap dryers present some limitations. There's not much variety when it comes to design. Low-cost models are typically white, boxy, and unexciting to look at. Several skimp on features such as interior lights and end-of-cycle buzzers. Entry-level models offer only the basic drying cycles and temperature options, and controls are typically analog. Starter models tend to be somewhat noisy and their components somewhat less durable than those on mid-range and high-end models. Also, temperature- or moisture-sensing capabilities may not be as finely tuned.
A frugal shopper in the market for a dryer can choose between electric and gas; all of our picks come in both configurations. Electric dryers are cheaper up front and by far the most popular choice. Gas-powered dryers run $50 to $100 more than their electric counterparts but are less expensive to operate. The cost of running a new gas line to the laundry room probably offsets any long-term operational savings, however, so most consumers go electric unless there is an existing gas hookup.
When choosing a cheap dryer, consider the types of fabrics you wash. If you launder lots of delicates, be sure to research cycle and temperature options carefully. Budget dryers have few specialty cycles and some don't offer low or air-dry settings. Additionally, be on the lookout for moisture-sensing technology. This feature both conserves energy and preserves washables by cycling loads only until they're as dry as you want them to be.
Finally, consider whether you prefer a lint trap located up front inside the machine or situated at the top. Although this seems like a minor detail we found plenty of comments on this topic, and reviewers seem to have strong opinions about which they prefer.
Reviews indicate that consumer products experts and budget buyers agree on one piece of advice: Forgo costly extras and buy a basic model, then spend your money where it matters -- on the washing machine. An efficient washing machine will reduce the dryer's workload by producing less-wet laundry and thus curtail the wear and tear on both machine and washables. Note that all dryers are rather inefficient, regardless of price, although proper maintenance will make the most of what you buy.
Common brand names include Kenmore, Admiral, GE, Maytag, Amana, and Whirlpool. There are actually only a few manufacturers behind these names. Amana and Maytag fall under the Whirlpool umbrella, as does the Home Depot-exclusive brand Admiral. Several manufacturers are responsible for products sold under Sears's Kenmore label, although most laundry appliances are made by Whirlpool. To determine the manufacturer for a specific Kenmore model, consult this handy reference table from Appliance 411.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
Dryer technology is time-tested and relatively simple, which may help explain why dryer reviews are largely positive for the budget segment. It seems even low-cost dryers can deliver the performance, reliability, and longevity -- if not all the features -- consumers want. That said, some dryer reviews point out that performance can be inconsistent and you may need to test the machine's drying cycles to find those that work best with your laundry. Overall, though, most users seem to find that starter machines dry their washables in a gentle, reliable fashion at prices that can't be beat.
Drying Performance.One problem that seems to afflict dryers at all price points is drying consistency, and none of our picks is immune to this issue. For example, some consumers who posted dryer reviews at Lowe's complain that the Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW (starting at $448), one of the best clothes dryers on our list, takes more than one cycle to dry a load while some owners of the Admiral AED4675YQ (starting at $324) grumble about the effectiveness of the low-heat setting.
Even so, it's safe to say that our picks earn an easy majority of favorable reviews when it comes to drying performance. Most of the 800-plus users of the Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW laud its effectiveness and efficiency, with dryer reviews asserting that clothes emerge dry and relatively wrinkle-free. Most reviews of the Admiral AED4675YQ found at Home Depot report that clothes are thoroughly dry at the end of a standard cycle, and one says this model dries seven towels faster than the washer finishes a load. The Amana NGD4600YQ (starting at $400) likewise draws commendations in dryer reviews for its speed and effectiveness, and, say posts at Amazon, the contents don't get all tangled up and emerge cool enough to touch. The Whirlpool WED4900XW (starting at $450) also impresses users with its drying ability and relative efficiency; it quits when the contents are dry, states a post at Viewpoints, and saves on energy. Even the Haier RDE350AW (starting at $342) attracts support for getting the job done without fuss, according to comments at Lowe's, although it takes some heat for breakdowns too soon after purchase.
Dryer Durability.Dryers are technologically simple: Air is sucked in, passed over a heating element, and pulled into the tumbler, where it evaporates the water in the washables. Moist air is then forced out through the dryer vent, to be replaced by another round of hot, dry air.
In general, budget dryers seem to be reliable, although the Haier Encore RDE350AW presents a spottier track record than others we researched. Users of this model who posted at Fixya point to problems such as lack of heat and failure to start. High-end dryers may be no more dependable than budget models, according to reviews. We found a multitude of negative user comments about the Kenmore Elite Steam Electric Dryer (starting at $987), for example, with gripes ranging from a fried control panel to a loud rattling noise. Expensive dryers also cost more to fix due to their complex inner workings. We saw reports of repair costs on several sites that ranged up to $600.
Buyers of inexpensive dryers do end up with the occasional lemon, of course. One purchaser of a Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW complains of multiple problems after just three years, and a small fraction of comments about the Admiral AED4675YQ report some type of failure (e.g., doesn't work out of the box, gives up drying after a couple of months, etc). Experiences like these seem to be the exception rather than the rule, however.
How long can you expect an inexpensive dryer to last? According to information gleaned from sources such as Appliance.net, the average lifespan of a dryer is eight to 14 years. An expert at Fix It Now gives dryers an "appliance half-life" of 13 years, meaning that half of all 13-year-old dryers are no longer cost-effective to repair.
But estimates are only that and there are no guarantees a dryer will miss or surpass the mark. Although we found that many consumers who recently purchased a cheap dryer were replacing machines that had survived up to 20 years, it's probably safe to assume that those days are long gone, with shorter lifespans the norm for newer appliances.
Electric vs. Gas Dryers and Other Features
Electric Dryers vs. Gas Dryers.Dryers are powered by gas or electricity. Electric dryers are the most common because the laundry areas of most homes and apartments are configured for electricity. Electric dryers cost up to $100 less than their gas-powered siblings, making them more affordable upfront. In the long run, however, gas dryers are likely to yield a higher return in the form of lower energy bills. According to the California Energy Commission, drying a typical load of laundry costs 30 to 40 cents with an electric dryer versus 15 to 20 cents with a gas dryer. While expert estimates vary, you can expect to save $50 to $100 a year on utilities with a gas model, depending on local rates. If your laundry room has only electric hookups, however, you're probably wise to stick with an electric dryer. The cost of adding a gas line and the appropriate venting would likely offset the lower utility bills. Most dryers, including all those we researched, are sold in both electric and gas configurations.
Reviews make little mention of any difference in performance between electric and gas dryers. The energy source seems to have no effect on how dry clothes get, how long the process takes, how dependable the dryer is, or how much noise it makes.
Dryer Sensors.Clothes dryers consume more energy than any other household appliance with the exception of refrigerators. Even so, you can take steps to nudge the appliance closer to its maximum efficiency potential. Most critically, keep the vents unobstructed. Also look for a model with a moisture sensor, which prompts the machine to shut off when the desired level of dryness is reached. This feature minimizes energy usage and can save as much as 15 percent on utility bills, according to the California Energy Commission. Many reviewers assert that a moisture sensor is worth paying for and are thrilled about not having to guess how much time clothes need to dry.
The Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW is one of the few low-cost models we researched that incorporates a moisture sensor. The Whirlpool WED4900XW, another top pick, features the AccuDry system, which senses moisture and temperature levels to determine when to shut down the cycle. Both the Admiral AED4675YQ and Amana NGD4600YQ feature temperature sensors (somewhat less accurate than moisture sensors) that end the cycle when the load reaches a preset level of warmth. Ironically, complaints about drying performance seem more prevalent in dryers with moisture and temperature sensors. Most users nonetheless find ways to coax effective drying out of these appliances by limiting load size, drying like fabrics together (always a good tactic), and running an extra cycle for heavier items such as towels and jeans.
Dryer Cycle Options.Entry-level dryers come with basic cycle settings. Options such as delicate, heavy duty, and normal are standard on nearly every dryer, high-end and budget alike, as are temperature choices (e.g., high, medium, and low). The Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW gives users 10 cycle options, including seven timed cycles (one for "freshen up") and a wrinkle-prevention cycle. The Admiral AED4675YQ boasts 11 dryer cycles including auto-dry setting and extended tumbling. The Amana NGD4600YQ also features 11 automatic cycles, such as energy-preferred and wrinkle prevention. The Whirlpool WED4900XW offers 13 automatic drying cycles, including heavy, jeans, and delicate, as well as the trade-marked Wrinkle Shield that helps prevent wrinkles.
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 sanitizing cycles for delicate or non-washable items. Frugal shoppers can take comfort in knowing that 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.
Custom dryer cycles aren't necessary for satisfactory drying performance, but check carefully to make sure the cheap dryer you're considering offers options for the types of items you launder.
Dryer Capacity, Noise, and Maintenance
Dryer Capacity.Although reviews indicate consumers care about dryer capacity, the volume of the drum varies little among standard-size dryers, typically running 6 to 7.5 cubic feet. Capacity on all our top picks falls well within this range and is sufficient to accommodate oversize items such as comforters or winter jackets. (Space-saving units feature drum capacity of 3.5 to 4.5 cubic feet, and the capacity of stacked washer/dryer units hovers at a standard 5.9 cubic feet.) Drum size isn't a big differentiator and it probably isn't worth paying more for an extra half cubic foot of space.
Dryer Noise.If you choose to buy an inexpensive dryer, accept the fact that it won't be whisper-quiet. Reviews of every model we researched contain some complaints about noisy operation even as some proclaim them unexpectedly, and blessedly, quiet. If minimal noise is a key concern, the Amana NGD4600YQ and Whirlpool WED4900XW receive the most positive reviews for their quiet cycles.
Users also express divided opinions about the buzzers that signal drying is complete and/or the end of a cycle. On models that buzz, like the Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW, Whirlpool WED4900XW, and Haier Encore RDE350AW, many reviewers gripe about the sound. On models that don't buzz, including the Admiral AED4675YQ and Amana NGD4600YQ, many reviewers wish they did.
Dryer Maintenance.Clothes dryers consume more energy than any other household appliance, with the exception of refrigerators, but one way to make a dryer more efficient is by thoroughly cleaning the lint trap, dryer hose, and venting system. A lint-clogged dryer takes longer to dry clothes, often requiring two or more cycles, which wastes energy and generates higher utility bills. Lint also affects safety. Lint accumulation is a leading cause of dryer fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association, so it's critical that the filter be easily accessible and easy to clean.
Lint traps are typically situated on top of the unit near the controls or in front of the drum directly behind the dryer door. Reviews we read indicate that consumers have strong opinions about which location is more convenient. Some like having the filter on top so they don't have to stoop to access it. Many say these lint traps are harder to clear, however, and allow lint to fall into the machine before the filter is fully removed for cleaning. Others appreciate having the lint trap right inside the dryer door and say it reminds them to purge the fluff after every cycle.
Dryer vent cleaning is an equally important chore. Moist lint often accumulates in the tubing that connects the unit with the outside air, which blocks airflow and is highly flammable once it dries. Experts recommend dryer ducts made of metal (as opposed to plastic or foil) because they are less likely to trap lint and better able to contain a fire should one break out. Experts also urge annual cleaning and inspection of dryer vents; how-to guides are available online. If the ventilation ductwork isn't readily accessible or repairs are required, however, you'll need to call a professional. Regularly servicing a dryer may extend its durability and save you from junking a machine you might otherwise have believed faulty.