You need a new dryer, and you want to pick one that’s durable and does the job well. But you can’t vent it outside. Or maybe you don’t have a ton of space. Or you’re not sure what the best new technology is. So let us introduce you to the ventless heat pump dryer. The heat pump dryer is compact and stackable, gentle on clothes, and very energy efficient. It could be the answer to all your laundry quandaries.
If you’re wondering, “What is a heat pump dryer?” don’t worry—we get that question all the time. The heat pump clothes dryer is pretty new to the U.S. market, even though the tech has been widely used in Europe for decades.
Many of the household name brands behind the best washer and dryer sets manufacture heat pump dryers too. We think Miele makes the best ones, but there are other great options if you’re on a tighter budget or need more wash capacity. Read on, and we’ll walk you through heat pump dryers’ benefits and potential drawbacks, and recommend our favorite models.
Heat Pump Dryer Benefits
Energy savings is just the beginning. If that’s not a priority for you, a heat pump dryer will save you money compared with a conventional gas or electric dryer in a couple other ways. Here’s a quick breakdown of all of a heat pump dryer’s advantages over the clothes dryers you’re used to:
- Lower energy costs: A heat pump dryer can cut your energy use (and your electric bill) by 28 percent or more compared with a conventional dryer, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. In the summer, a conventional vented dryer can also make it hotter inside your house. That means you’ll have to spend more energy and money on air-conditioning, and your HVAC system will have to work harder. A heat pump dryer doesn’t give off heat like that.
- No mold: Heat pump dryers don’t release moisture and humidity into the air the way conventional dryers do. When the air’s damp, mold, bacteria, and spores can grow on your laundry room’s walls and ceilings. Mold can damage your house and cause health problems.
- Takes up less space: Conventional dryers have to be vented outside. They also require more clearance in your laundry room. A heat pump dryer doesn’t need to be vented or require those clearances, so you can put it in a smaller space. Pick a compact washer and dryer with heat pump technology, and you can fit laundry in a home of pretty much any size.
- Gentler on clothes: High temperatures can hurt the fabric of your clothes and linens over time. A heat pump dryer uses cooler air, so your items look new for longer.
How Does a Heat Pump Dryer Work?
To understand how heat pump dryers work and why they’re an improvement over the old technology, it’s helpful to know how a conventional dryer works. The dryers most of us are used to circulate hot air that evaporates the moisture in wet laundry. Then they release that moist air into a vent that carries it outside your home. Sometimes when you use a conventional dryer, your laundry comes out hot, right? That may feel nice, but that heat means your items are overdried. Conventional dryers typically get clothes hotter than necessary to dry them, which wastes energy and can damage your clothes.
A heat pump dryer, by contrast, uses heat exchange technology. Like a conventional dryer, it uses hot air to dry the clothes, though not nearly as hot. Then, instead of venting the moist air outside, a heat pump dryer converts it back into water, which collects in a tank. Let’s break down the process a bit more:
Step 1: The compressor heats the air. The warm air absorbs moisture from the clothes.
Step 2: The moisture laden air reaches a cold evaporator coil that contains refrigerant. As the air cools, the water is separated and collects in a tank. On some heat pump dryers, this tank may require draining from time to time. Most have to be manually emptied, but it’s relatively easy, since the tank’s in front and easy to remove and empty. All the heat pump dryers we feature connect to the drain of your washing machine and the waste water pipe, so there’s no need to drain the tank manually.
Step 3: The air is then reheated and recycled into the dryer, starting the condensation cycle again.
Pro Tip: Heat pump dryers have a lint filter just like conventional dryers.
You still need to clean it regularly, ideally after every load.
Consider a Heat Pump Dryer If…
You’re in the market for a new dryer, period. The energy savings are reason enough.
You live in an apartment or condo where you can’t vent to the outside. The same applies if you rent your home, since you don’t need to cut any holes in the wall for a dryer vent.
You need to save space. Ventless heat pump dryers are great if you’re looking for a stackable washer and dryer, since they’re smaller than many conventional vented dryers. You can get a compact machine that’ll fit pretty much anywhere. And because you don’t need to vent them, heat pump dryers can be installed under a kitchen counter, in a hall or bedroom closet, or in any spot where you have two square feet of space and the right electrical outlet (more on that in a minute).
You want a low maintenance dryer. With conventional dryers, you need to clean the lint out of the vent regularly, or it can build up and become a fire hazard. With a heat pump dryer, you don’t need to do that; you just need to clean the lint filters on the machine itself. For greater efficiency, however, you should vacuum the condenser coils periodically. Some machines have self-clean features to make that even easier, too.
You can’t add the 220 volt electrical outlet that most conventional dryers require. Miele heat pump dryers operate on the standard 120 volt outlets common in U.S. households, so there’s no need to call an electrician.
You’re looking for a washer and dryer set for a secondary laundry room. You can wash bulky, heavy items like blankets in your main, vented laundry set, and do smaller loads easily in an upstairs laundry room with a compact washer and heat pump dryer. We think that’s an ideal use case for a ventless heat pump dryer.
Steer Clear of a Heat Pump Dryer If…
You have tons of laundry to do. A heat pump dryer handles small amounts of laundry best. If you have a big family and do several loads daily, a heat pump dryer might not meet your expectations. Typically, a conventional dryer has around a 9 cu. ft. capacity. Most heat pump dryers have a capacity of around 4 cu. ft.—less than half of that of a conventional dryer—though there are a couple of larger ones, like the Whirlpool model we review below.
You need to wash lots of bulky stuff. A heat pump dryer can take longer to dry heavy clothes like bedding and jeans. Since these items tend to tangle in the dryer, parts of them might not get all the way dry in the lower heat. If you’re a little concerned about that, look for a heat pump dryer with a drum with a reverse tumbling feature (sometimes called a bi-directional drum) to help prevent clothes from tangling.
Your budget is top priority right now. Heat pump dryers cost more upfront than conventional dryers, usually by a couple hundred dollars although that depends on the caliber of dryer you’re considering. They can, however, pay for themselves in energy savings over time.
Q: Is a Heat Pump Dryer the Best Ventless Dryer?
A: Heat pump dryers aren’t the only ventless option. There are also condenser dryers. However, those use a heater element to dry laundry with hot air: up to 150 degrees F, compared with 122 degreees F for a heat pump dryer. As with a conventional dryer, that uses more energy, costs more to run, and can damage clothes. Because of the higher heat, however, condenser dryers typically finish drying clothes faster. It’s a trade-off: You get faster drying but higher energy costs with a condenser dryer, and potentially longer drying times but lower energy costs with a heat pump dryer.
The Heat Pump Dryer Features You Want
As with conventional dryers, you can buy a simple heat pump dryer with basic features, or you can spend more to get one that’s loaded with features. This really depends on your budget and how you like to do laundry. When you’re deciding which heat pump tumble dryer to buy, look for these features—they’re the ones that really deliver value and convenience:
- 120 V or 220 V: Unlike with conventional dryers, heat pump dryers give you an option. Mieles run on 120V, that of a standard outlet, so you can plug one of them in literally anywhere. If you’re replacing a conventional dryer, you probably have a 220V outlet. You can choose any 220 V heat pump dryer, or get a simple Miele NEMA adapter to plug in a Miele.
- Jeans/Denim cycle: Look for this cycle to ensure they get dry every time.
- Heavy/Bedding cycle: Unless you have another washer dryer set that you plan to use for larger items, you’ll appreciate this special cycle.
- Durable construction: Stainless steel models are easier to keep clean and stand up to wear and tear better than plastic. The door may also be glass or plastic; glass is sturdier.
- Auto sensing: This feature stops the machine when your items are dry, ensuring there aren’t any damp spots and saving power.
- Reverse tumbling: As we mentioned earlier, this feature prevents clothes from tangling and helps ensure even drying.
- Noise dampening: Exactly what it sounds like.
- Leak protection: Miele heat pump dryers connect to your plumbing with hoses designer to prevent potential water damage, and have an interior sump pump.
- Wi-Fi connectivity: High-end models let you set the controls and monitor when a load is finished via an app.
- Self-cleaning capabilities: A self-cleaning condenser reduces the time and effort you may spend on cleaning these parts, and ensures the machine runs efficiently all the time.
- Extended warranty coverage: The warranty on these machines is important, since heat pump dryer repairs can be expensive. Most models have a one or two year warranty. Extended warranties of up to five years may also be available. Check to make sure there is good service for the brand you’re considering in your area before you buy.
The Best Heat Pump Dryers of 2021
1. Best Overall: Miele Heat Pump Dryer TXD160WP
- Miele time-tested quality
- Three price points
- Reverse tumble
- Sensor dry
- Optional fragrance pods
- Flexible installation (standard 120 V outlet, no vent)
- Excellent leak protection
- Touch screen display only on priciest model
Miele’s known for the quality and durability of its appliances, from the very best dishwashers to legendary Miele vacuum cleaners. Its heat pump dryers have been around for a long time, so you can be assured that any kinks have been worked out.
We like that Miele has three residential heat pump dryer models at different price points, from $1,199 to $1,999, so you can choose the one that fits your budget. They all meet EnergyStar’s Most Efficient criteria, reducing energy and operating costs by up to 60 percent. All three have Wi-Fi capability and connect to the Miele@home app, plus smart features that reverse the drum for consistent drying and sense when your items are dry and adjust the cycle accordingly (aka PerfectDry). On any of them, you can add clothes midcycle thanks to the AddLoad function, and set it to start when it’s convenient for you with Delay Start. You also get multiple drying cycles (including denim) and optional long-lasting FragranceDos scent pods that fit into the machine. The stainless steel honeycomb drum is lit by LED lights, and the lint filter is located in the front on all three models, so it’s easy to use and clean. The three models have similar dimensions and capacity, and can be installed next to or stacked on top of your washer.
Now for the differences:
Miele TXD160WP is Miele’s entry level heat pump dryer, priced at $1,199. It has a more limited selection of drying programs, only one FragranceDos pod, and no cold air or soft steam functions. It has a rotary program selector and a white plastic door.
Miele TXI680WP is a step up, priced at $1,499. This is the one we recommend for most people—we think the additional features you get are worth the extra $300. They include a glass and chrome door, a second FragranceDos slot, several more drying programs (Smoothing, Table Linens/Drapes, Cold Air, Sportswear, Soft Steam, Pillows, and a Freshen Up option), and a basket for the drum to hold items you don’t want to tumble, like sneakers.
Miele TXR860WP is Miele’s premium heat pump dryer, priced at $1,999. It has all the features of the other two models, plus the option to save your favorite settings, a sound-dampening acoustic package, a time display, and Miele’s latest iPhone-like touch screen control panel, called M Touch.
All three Miele heat pump dryers, like their matching washers, plug into a standard 120 V outlet. In case you have a Bosch 220 V heat pump dryer in the past and want a Miele next, the Miele NEMA adapter converts 220 V to 120 V, a simple fix that doesn’t require calling an electrician.
See our full guide for more details on Miele washer and dryer.
2. Best Style: Bosch Heat Pump Dryer WTW87NH1UC
- Touch screen display
- Plugs into Bosch washer for easy installation
- Less maintenance
- No steam
- No sensor dry
If you’re looking for a smart machine, then this $1,399 Bosch model may be the one for you. It’s the first heat pump dryer from the reliable German company, which makes three of our top dishwashers. Bosch washer dryers also come ventless condenser dryers, in its 300 and 800 series. This Bosch heat pump dryer is the most stylish on the market today.
This Bosch heat pump dryer has 14 drying cycles including Jeans, Hand Wash, and Bulky, and since it connects to the Bosch Home Connect app via Wi-Fi, it can be operated from anywhere. It also comes with a patented self-cleaning condenser, which saves you time and makes the dryer more efficient. It actually uses the condensed water to clean the condenser at least four times during each drying cycle. An LCD touchscreen technology makes the menu easy to navigate.
This Wi-Fi model runs on 220-240V. If you have a Bosch washer, you can plug it into the dryer and then plug the dryer into the wall.
It packs a lot of features. You may just find that you wish it had steam. Check out our full review to learn about the full line of Bosch washers and dryers.
3. Longest Serving: Blomberg DHP24412W
- LED display
- Slightly larger capacity (4.1 cu. ft. compared with 4 cu. ft.)
- Steel drum
- Reverse tumble
- Interior lights
- Special drum paddles for even drying
- Sensor dry
- No steam
If you haven’t heard of Blomberg washer and dryer before, know that it’s a leader in heat pump dryers: The more than 130-year-old German company brought the first heat pump dryer—this one—to the American market. At $1,399, it compares favorably with other brands’ offerings. Blomberg is the first brand that introduced the technology in the US.
You get 11 drying cycles that use sensor technology to tell you when items are dry (Blomberg calls this OptiSense), including a special cycle that sanitizes clothes for babies and can be helpful to people who have allergies. Special paddles in the durable stainless steel drum are designed to prevent clothes and linens from tangling so they dry more evenly, and interior lights ensure you don’t leave any small articles behind. This unit also has a slightly larger capacity than most, at 4.1 cu. ft.; a bi-directional drum for consistent drying; and a compact and energy efficient design. We like its anti-creasing cycle, clean filter indicator light, and time-delay function, too.
4. Best for Budget: LG DLHC1455W
- Slightly larger capacity
- Steel drum, glass door
- Sensor dry
- Sound-dampening features
- Auto cleaning condenser
- LG doesn’t specialize in ventless dryers
With an Energy Star rating of most efficient for the current year, this LG DLHC1455W heat pump dryer is another solid choice. It has a slightly larger capacity than the ones we’ve reviewed above, with its 4.2 cu. ft. stainless steel drum. But you can still install it anywhere you have two square feet of spare space.
For $1,195, it comes with 14 cycle settings (including Bulky/Large, Towels, and a heated dry option) and Wi-Fi via LG’s ThinkQ app for remote start/stop, diagnostics, and energy monitoring. Again, this model carries forward the legacy of reliable LG stackable washer and dryers including the LG Washtower.
This heat pump dryer looks premium in solid white with chrome accents, and is pretty quiet while it’s running thanks to sound-dampening features. Another bonus: If you forget to take out your clothes when the cycle’s over, it will gently tumble dry again every three hours to keep them wrinkle free.
5. Best Capacity: Whirlpool WHD560CHW
- Extra large 7.4 cu. ft. capacity, 27″ wide (not suitable for apartments)
- Sensor dry
- No steam
- Takes longer to dry
This Whirlpool Energy Star model is the Big Daddy of American heat pump dryers, with a 27-inch width and a 7.4 cu .ft capacity. But at $1,449, it’s in the middle of the road, price wise. Just note that you need to plan for it to take up more space.
It has three sensors to track clothes’ moisture and temperature so it can adapt the drying cycle, plus a wrinkle shield option to automatically keep tumbling clothes till you take them out. Because of its larger capacity, it can easily dry heavy and bulky clothes like large towels and bedspreads, and has dedicated cycles for them. We appreciate that it has a dedicated cycle for small items and delicates that can be run at four different temperature settings. Inside the drum, four shorter, staggered baffles (the fins that toss clothes around) are designed to help everything tumble better and get drier.
However, this Whirlpool dryer doesn’t have steam , and it may take longer to get things dry. Its controls are less intuitive and take some getting used to as well. That said, if you need the capacity and have the space, Whirlpool is a trustworthy brand with excellent service and carries the pedigree of the Whirlpool washer and dryer.
If you live in a small apartment or condo or you can’t use a vented dryer, then a ventless model will dry your clothes well. Of the two types of nonvented dryers—heat pump and condenser—a heat pump dryer is more eco friendly choice, using less energy. With many options and models available from reputed brands with excellent track records, you can choose the best one for you according your budget and needs.
A heat pump dryer is more expensive than a vented model, but it is more energy efficient and you’ll save money and help the environment when you use a dryer of this type. It’s also gentler on your clothes, which will last longer.
What Is a Ventless Washer Dryer Combo?
A washer dryer combo is a single machine with one drum that both washes and dries your clothes. For more information, see our ranking of washer dryer combo machines, including ventless units.
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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on October 5, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.