Gas or electric dryers? Our guide to your options

March 22, 2020

All clothes dryers operate in the same way. Air is drawn into the dryer, which is then heated to warm the clothes inside to remove moisture. An electrically powered drum tumbles the clothes the moisture is collected and vented out. The difference between gas and electric dryers is the energy used to create the heat. Gas dryers use gas, electric dryers use electricity. So what difference does it make which one you choose?

As with most choices, there are both pros and cons of both systems.

Pros of gas

Cheaper to run

Gas dryers generally have cheaper running costs since gas is nearly always cheaper than electricity. Operating costs can be as much as 50% cheaper than electric dryers.

Gas is also a more efficient heat source than electricity. Electric dryers need to convert electric power into heat, which creates some energy loss. Gas, on the other hand, combusts and instantly turns into heat within the machine itself, so no energy is lost.

Apart from being more energy efficient, gas dryers may also be more environmentally friendly, depending on how your power is being generated. If your electricity comes from solar power, then obviously an electric dryer will be better for the environment. However, if your electricity comes from a fossil fuel power plant, gas is the clear winner.

Faster drying times

Gas dryers are also faster at heating up clothes than electric dryers. Gas ignites immediately whereas electric coils take time to heat up. Gas dryers are also able to generate more heat than electric dryers because electric components don’t run as hot as a gas burner. For these reasons, drying times are shorter. Any reduction in drying time means you’ll be able to run more loads in less time and save money in the long run. It also means less wear and tear on clothing and linen since they spend less time tumbling in the dryer.

Cons of gas

More expensive initially

Gas dryers are more expensive to purchase than electric ones because the components are more expensive.

Gas connection

All sites have electricity, but not all laundry rooms have a gas connection. And even if gas is available, gas is dangerous to work with so gas dryers must be installed by a professional gas fitter or plumber. The consequences of a faulty installation can include an explosion, fire, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ventilation

Another factor to consider in the installation is the cost of installing a vent. All gas dryers must be vented to the outside. This is not only to enable moisture to escape, but, more importantly, to prevent any build-up of gas by-products.

So when deciding whether to have a gas dryer, you must take into consideration the extra costs involved in installation. If you require a gas line and a vent to be installed then these costs can be large. If you already have a gas supply and a vent, then you still have to budget a bit more for the additional cost of the dryer(s) being fitted by a qualified gas fitter or plumber.

Pros of electric

Less expensive to purchase initially

Electric dryers do not cost as much up front to purchase because electric components are much cheaper than those required for gas.

Installation

Installation is easy and you can do it yourself. Simply remove it from the box and plug it in. You do not need a qualified tradesman or any special connections. They do require a 240V socket, but these are standard in Australia.

Electric dryers also often do not need to vented to the outside. Many electric dryers use cool air to condense water vapour and this is then collected in a drain pipe or collection tank.

Cons of electric

More expensive to run

Electric dryers cost more to run in the long term because electricity is more expensive than gas and electric dryers take longer to dry linen than gas ones.

Longer drying times

Because electric dryers take longer to heat up, and are not as hot as gas dryers, drying times are longer. This means fewer loads can be dried with an electric dryer than a gas dryer in a similar time period.

Other dryer considerations

Drying times are even longer if your dryer does not have sensor technology. Temperature sensors control the internal temperature of the dryer, while moisture sensors automatically turn the machine off when the clothes are dry. These sensors save energy and reduces wear and tear on your clothes because they are not over dried. It is estimated that temperature sensors can save around 10% in energy costs and 15% with a moisture sensing control.

Summary

Gas dryers cost much more up front in both purchase price and installation costs, but can save you money in the long term. The more the machine is used, the earlier you’ll reap the financial benefits of a gas dryer. However, you must calculate how long it will take the dryer to pay for itself according to your laundry’s current and estimated work load, and future plans. For example, if you are going to sell your business in 3 years, it may be more cost effective for you to purchase an electric dryer. However, if you plan to stay in business for the long term, faster drying cycles, drying times and greater energy efficiency can save you a lot of time and money in the long term.

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