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Gas vs electric dryer: Which should you buy?

Gas vs electric dryer: Which should you buy?
(Image credit: Shuttershock)

When shopping for a new dryer, most buyers are confronted with the decision between gas or electric models. But which is better: a gas dryer or an electric dryer? Ultimately the best dryer for you depends on the space you’re working with, and a few cost evaluations. When it comes down to it, the specifications of a dryer make more of a difference than the energy type. Many of the same brands that produce the best front load washers come out with matching dryers featuring Energy Star certification and smart steam settings. These can be stacked or placed side by side (although you can’t stack with the top load washers), and most dryers are usually available in both gas or electric options, so you won’t be limited when making your decision. 

So, if you’ve found your dream dryer and it’s come down to gas vs electric, which dryer type is best? Here are some key considerations for you to make.

Up-front cost

A man inspecting his clean laundry in front of a washer dryer pair.

(Image credit: Electrolux)

Simply put, gas dryers will cost more up-front. Most of the top dryers will usually show on a retailer’s page as electric as standard, with the option to buy a gas version for an additional cost of around $100, but this can increase in proportion to the overall cost of the machine. For example the GE GFD55ESSNWW, which is our top choice of electric dryer, has an RRP of $899, whereas its gas counterpart, the GFD85GSSNWW, has an RRP of $1,199. 

So, based on up-front costs, electric dryers are the clear winner. But how does that compare to ongoing costs? 

Installation costs

The up-front cost of a gas dryer is also increased when you consider installation costs. Because you need to hook your new gas dryer up to the gas in your home, you’ll need to hire someone to install it for you. This adds the expense of getting professional help, while an electric dryer will plug right in. If your home already has a gas line connected to your current dryer, replacing this with another gas model is a far easier choice. However, homeowners will have to consider installing a special gas line in their laundry room if they want to buy a gas dryer, which is a larger consideration.

Running costs

A person taking dry towels out of the dryer.

(Image credit: Getty)

Gas dryers cost more up-front, but their running costs are significantly lower than most electric dryers. This is because they run on natural gas or propane, which generates heat far easier than electricity, and is typically cheaper. According to Home Depot, “gas dryers dry loads in about half the time of electric dryers and produce less static cling.” This means they’re not only more energy-efficient, they’re also more effective at drying your laundry fast. 

Because they’re faster, gas dryers will also be more gentle on your laundry. Pair this with an Energy Star certification and you’re pretty much guaranteed a lower running cost in the long run with a gas dryer.

Ventilation

Ventless gas dryers will also cost more than vented options. Vented options release the hot air that builds up inside your dryer, whereas ventless options recycle this, which drives down ongoing costs. As with many things when it comes to shopping for large appliances, this up-front investment could save you in the long run when it comes to energy efficiency. It’s also easier to find a home for a ventless dryer, because you don’t need to find somewhere for your vent to go. 

While gas dryers require less energy to run than an electric dryer, gas is well known for being a less clean energy source to have in your home. This means your dryer could give off deadly carbon monoxide as it runs, so you need to place it in a well ventilated room. Depending on the placement of your machine, this could be a consideration when choosing between a gas or electric dryer.

Performance

A white washer and dryer sat side by side.

(Image credit: LG)

While gas and electric dryers aim to perform the same way, you'll notice some marginal differences in performance. One is that your gas dried clothes will have less static, and will probably take less time to dry. However, the range of cycles and extra features such as smart home compatibility will be consistent between the gas and electric versions of the same dryer. 

Although warranties will also be consistent between gas and electric versions of dryers, one big difference can be the cost of repairs if something does go wrong outside of warranty. Electric dryers are often easier to repair than gas dryers, which will always demand a qualified technician.

Gas vs electric dryers: Which should you buy?

In many ways, gas dryers are better than electric dryers, but it’s only a smart buy if it’s a realistic option for your home. However, there are plenty of reasons why a gas dryer may not be the right fit for you. First of all, if you don’t have access to a gas hookup, the cost of installing one may be offputting for an up-front cost. Pair this with the increased price you’ll pay for a gas dryer, and your bank account may take a hit if you go for a gas dryer. This will pay off over time, as gas dryers need half as much energy (and time) to dry your clothes as an electric dryer. However, an electric dryer is the better choice if you’re strapped for cash and need to buy something right now.