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Which tumble dryer is best for a flat?

Discover why a condenser tumble dryer or a heat pump would be your best bet, and which models from our latest reviews might suit you

If you absolutely need a tumble dryer to dry your clothes, then the recent warmer weather won’t have made a jot of difference to laundry day for you. Here’s where to go to get your laundry dry quickly, economically and without filling your flat with clouds of tumble dryer steam.

Tumble dryers come in three types: condenser tumble dryers, vented and heat-pump dryers. All work differently to get your clothes dry, but two out of the three types are our most suitable picks for a flat. And there are big differences between the different types in how much they cost to buy and to run.

Read on to find out more, or you can head straight to all our Best Buy tumble dryer reviews

Condenser tumble dryers

Condenser dryers chill the warm and damp air exiting the drum using an electrically cooled condensing unit. Chilled metal turns the steam hitting it into liquid, with the water then captured in a tank or drained away.

This means that there’s no need for a hose hanging out of a window, which gives you more choice over where to site a condenser dryer. This might be key if space is at a premium.

Because water from the drum is collected, steam isn’t an issue. But if you choose a poor condenser dryer, you’ll still have to cope with damp air leaking out of the machine and the possibility of mildew. And you need to empty the water reservoir regularly and remove fluff from the heat exchanger at least four or five times a year.

Prices range from around £180 up to around £700. One of the most recent models we’ve reviewed is a £183 Beko condenser tumble dryer that can hold up to 7kg of laundry. It’s also just 54cm deep, which means it won’t jut out from under a kitchen counter – important to consider if you have a galley kitchen. Read our full review of the Beko DTGC7000W to find out whether or not it’s a decent dryer.

We’ve also just published a review of the Beko DTGC8011W. It’s £240 and can dry up to 8kg of cottons. But it’s quite noisy, so might not be the best choice if your flat has an open-plan layout.

To give yourself the best chance of buying a really good condenser dryer, we’d suggest you pay between £300 and £450.

Heat-pump tumble dryers

Heat-pump tumble dryers also use a condenser to extract water vapour from the air, but their USP is the way they reuse heat leaving the drum to continue to dry the clothes. By doing this, heat-pump tumble dryers use on average less than half the energy needed by a conventional condenser or vented tumble dryer.

There’s a premium to pay for heat-pump dryers, based on the first-class job they do of energy-saving, so expect to pay at least £500 for a good machine. But for each year you own one, you could save around £50-£60 in running costs compared with other types of tumble dryer.

We’ve just published a review of the Blomberg LTH3842W heat-pump tumble dryer. It will cost you £500 but if you’re buying for a place where space is limited, it has the bonus of having a door that can be hung on either side of the drum opening.

If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, you might be tempted by the less expensive Hoover model we’ve just reviewed. It’s £370 and packed with snazzy features, including a transparent water tank in the door so you can tell when it needs emptying, and you can also control it from your smartphone. We found lots to like about it, but there’s one key downside that could mean it’s not the tumble dryer for you. Read our Hoover DXH10A2TCE review to find out.

If you’re paying more upfront for a heat-pump dryer, you’ll want it to last for long enough to make the money back in lower running costs. Find out the most reliable tumble dryer brands.

Vented tumble dryers

Vented tumble dryers pump warm and damp air from the drum through a hose to a vent in an exterior wall. Because you need to vent they might not be the best choice for a flat, as leaseholder rules might mean you can’t stick a hose out of the window or drill a hole through an outside wall.

But if there’s an existing vent there, you’ll be able to find a good vented tumble dryer for no more than £300, so keep this figure in mind when looking online for a new machine.

Compare all our vented tumble dryer reviews.

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