With the cold and wet winter months upon us, comes the conundrum of how we dry our washing quickly and efficiently. 

A tumble dryer can be a real saviour, helping to prevent our homes from becoming damp and cluttered, hanging washing from every radiator and door frame. The standard options for a tumble dryer are a vented or condenser variety, but what is the difference? And what is a heat pump tumble dryer?

What is a vented tumble dryer?

When you purchase a vented tumble dryer, you must ensure that you will be able to place it near an open window, door or an external wall. This is because it works by removing moisture through a vent and will need somewhere to pump it that isn’t indoors. You can choose to have the vent fitted to the external wall and pump the moisture directly outside, or attach the hose and pop it through the door or window. 

As it pumps the moisture out of the home, rather than converting it, a vented tumble dryer can be less costly to buy and is generally cheaper to run. 

What is a condenser tumble dryer?

A condenser tumble dryer will move the hot air that is made into an integrated unit and condense it into water. This water goes into a tank, where it is stored until you come to empty it. If you choose to, you can plumb in your tumble dryer in the same way as your washing machine, then the water will go directly down the drain.

A condenser dryer needs to be kept in a room with an ambient temperature of between 5 and 30 degrees celsius. It will need to be maintained regularly, by cleaning the lint filter, emptying the water tank and cleaning the heat exchanger in order to keep it running smoothly. 

What about a heat pump tumble dryer?

Perhaps a lesser known type of tumble dryer is the heat pump variety. This design uses hot air to absorb any moisture from your clothes. When the hot air has passed through the drum, it goes through an evaporator, which then removes the moisture that has been collected. This water is stored in a tank that can be removed and then emptied.

A heat pump tumble dryer differs from a condenser and a vented tumble dryer, in that it recycles the hot air that is left in the drum, rather than releasing it. It will also use a lower temperature to dry your clothes.


Condenser Tumble Dryer Vented Tumble Dryer Heat Pump Tumble Dryer
Requires external vent N Y N
Requires water to be plumbed in or emptied Y N Y
Energy use Highest Medium Lowest
Time to dry clothes Medium Fastest Slowest
Drying temperature 70-75°C 70-75°C 50°C

Which tumble dryer is best for you?

The end result is generally the same whichever dryer you use, in terms of the quality of dryness. When it comes to deciding between a vented and condenser tumble dryer, your main points of thought will be space, price and time. 

If you are short on space in your home and do not have access to an external wall, or opening doors and windows, a condenser dryer will be for you. It is likely to cost a little more than a vented appliance, but you will be able to bypass the need to release the moisture outdoors, as it will be converted internally into water. 

A vented tumble dryer will be more cost effective than a condenser in both the purchase and running stages, if you are able to find somewhere to run the hose externally. It will also dry your clothes more quickly than a condenser dryer, as it is not required to spend time converting the hot air into water. 

The heat pump tumble dryer will also be cost effective as it uses less energy to run. However, because it uses a lower temperature to dry your clothes, it will take longer to dry them. If you are not in a hurry, then it could be a great choice for you.