The difference between electric and gas dryers lies in the kind of power used to run the motor that turns the large tumbling drum. At purchase, electric dryers are less expensive than gas dryers, but use up a lot of electricity and cost more to run. Gas dryers are more expensive to buy, require a gas hookup as well as electrical power, but uses a lot less energy.
Electric dryers use heating coils to supply heat to dry clothes. They use a 240-volt current, which amounts to two times the power used in ordinary households.
Gas dryers use a gas burner to create heat. They require a gas hookup as well as an electrical outlet, which can be expensive to install. They also require venting, which means they need more space around them than electric dryers.
edit Energy Efficiency
Electric dryers have a slightly higher energy factor than gas dryers. This means they use more energy to run. Gas dryers dry clothes faster than electric dryers. This is easier on fabrics and more efficient.
Electric dryers cost between $250 and $2900. Gas dryers cost between $300 and $3,300. They cost, on average, $50 to $100 more than comparable electric models. However, they cost less to run over their lifetime. In general, an electric dryer will use twice as much electricity as a gas dryer for each load of laundry.
Electric dryers require little space and can simply be plugged into 240-volt outlet.
Gas dryers consume more space as they require a gas line and enough space for venting. If you do not already have a gas line, installing one can be expensive as well as requires expertise. Even with the presence of a gas line, it is recommended gas dryers be installed by a technician, which increases the cost of installation.
In March 2000 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a Report on Electric and Gas Clothes Dryers. In it they state that:
- Most fires erupting in dryers are caused because of excessive lint accumulation. Lint is highly flammable and may accumulate in the dryer or in the vent. Electric dryers generate more heat and so the chances of fire are higher.
- There were roughly 15,500 fires associated with clothes dryers, 20 deaths, 320 injuries and about $84.4 million in property damage.
- Electric dryers are more popular. According to Appliance magazine 4.5 million electric dryers and 1.3 million gas dryers were sold in the U.S. in 1997.
Electric dryers typically last longer than gas dryers. The first thing to break on a gas dryer is often the pilot light, which can be costly to repair.
For both gas and electric dryers, it is very important to clean the lint screen after every load. The duct, vent and hinged hood cover should also be cleaned periodically -- at least once a year. Gas dryers being less common than electric dryers, repairs for gas dryers can be more expensive, as specialists are required and parts can be harder to find.
Electric dryers are more popular than gas dryers in the US. According to a survey in 2001 by the Energy Information Administration, 23% of US households have gas dryers, and 77% have electric dryers.
edit Where to Buy
Amazon's Hot New Releases list for dryers is a good place to start to research the most popular new dryers in the market.