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When it comes time to shop for a new clothes dryer, you’ll find two power source options. Should you select a gas or electric-powered clothes dryer? All dryers are manufactured with basically the same inner workings. They use a small electric motor to turn a large drum that tumbles the clothes inside and an electric fan to distribute heated air. There are, however, two ways to create the heat needed to efficiently dry clothes, gas or electricity.

Gas Dryers

Natural gas and propane gas dryers use a gas burner to create heat. A fan blows hot air through a vent, which then dries your clothes.

Pros of Gas Dryers

  • Can be less costly to operate than an electric dryer
  • Dries clothes quickly
  • Heats up quickly

Cons of Gas Dryers

  • Expensive to buy new
  • Difficult to maintain

Electric Dryers

Electric dryers have a heating element that heats up and dries the clothing. A blower heats and dispenses hot air to speed up the process.

Pros of Electric Dryers

  • Affordable
  • Space-saving
  • Low-maintenance

Cons of Electric Dryers

  • Drying takes longer
  • Higher energy bill

Gas Dryer vs. Electric Dryer: Major Differences

 Gas Dryer Electric Dryer
Requires professional installationCan install yourself
Costs less to operateHigher energy bills
Dries and heats up quicklySlower to dry
Requires more maintenanceLow-maintenance

Natural gas and propane gas dryers use a gas burner to create heat, but otherwise, they operate the same as an electric dryer. There may be a significant difference in energy use over the long run between a gas and electric dryer. Installation needs differ between gas and electric dryers. Also, there can be a notable difference in how much it costs to purchase each type of dryer.

gas dryer vs electric

gas dryer vs electric

Features

Gas Dryer

There are two options for gas-powered clothes dryers. They can be fueled by either natural gas or liquid propane gas. Gas dryers always need to be vented to the outside.

Electric Dryer

Most electric dryers operate on 240-volt current, twice the strength of the standard household current, to fuel the heating coils. Some compact or portable electric dryers may operate on a 110-volt current. Most electric dryers need to be vented to the outside to expel moist, hot air. There are a few pricey ventless electric dryers on the market.

Repair and Maintenance

Gas Dryer

Any repairs on a gas dryer should be handled by a qualified repair professional. Since this type of dryer runs on gas, there is a risk of a gas leak.

Electric Dryer

An electric dryer is easier to maintain if something goes wrong. Sometimes it could be simply changing the belt on the dryer, clogged vents, or the thermostat. If you’re handy and know general repairs you most likely can fix some of the issues yourself.

Best for Maintenance: Electric Dryer

An electric dryer is easier to maintain than a gas dryer and will cost less to repair. Parts for these types of dryers are easy to get, and handypersons can fix it themselves, saving the cost of having a service technician come out.

Wear and Tear on Clothing

Gas Dryer

An advantage of natural gas dryers over electric dryers is faster drying of clothes which means less time spent on laundry. Natural gas dryers are more gentle on fabrics because clothes are dried more quickly at specific temperatures to adequately evaporate water from the fabric.

Electric Dryer

Electric dryers take longer to dry clothes because it takes more time to heat the elements. Electric components also don’t run as hot as a gas burner.

Best for Wear and Tear on Clothing: Gas Dryer

Gas dryers have features that maximize drying time resulting in less wear and tear on clothing. If selecting a gas clothes dryer, look for:

  • Pilotless ignition, automatic shutoff, and find models that offer electronic sensor drying. They use an electronic moisture-sensing device that “feels” the degree of moisture in the clothes. When the degree of dryness selected is reached, the dryer automatically shuts off.
  • An automatic cool-down cycle, a timed interval at the end of the drying cycle when tumbling continues with the heat off to reduce wrinkling of heat-sensitive synthetic fabrics and no-iron finishes.

Energy Efficiency

Gas Dryer

In most areas of the United States, natural gas and propane gas dryers will cost less to use than electric dryers to operate over the lifetime of the appliance. However, costs depend on the gas rates in your area.

Electric Dryer

Generally speaking, the cost of electricity needed to dry a typical load of laundry will be twice as much as a load dried using gas as the fuel. This also depends on the electric rates in your area.

Best for Energy Use: Gas Dryer

Over time, you’ll find gas driers cost less to operate. If the setup is already there for a gas dryer, using one is a good way to be more conscious of the environment, since gas dryers leave a smaller footprint and use less energy.

In 2015, for the first time ever, the United States Department of Energy began rating gas and electric clothes dryers, and some were given an Energy Star rating. Many of the models that receive the Energy Star rating use a ventless heat pump that can reduce the amount of energy used per load of laundry. A heat pump dryer is an alternative to the conventional gas or electric dryer.

Installation

Gas Dryer

If you don’t already have a gas line connection, it can be quite expensive to install the necessary lines. Your local utility company must install any connections to underground natural gas lines.

If you have moved from a home with natural gas service but it is unavailable in your new location, the dryer can be powered by liquid propane gas (LP gas). Liquid propane is stored in a large tank on your property.

There are kits available to convert a natural gas dryer to a liquid propane dryer. If you choose liquid propane, a local company must install a storage tank as well as the gas lines.

It is important to properly install a gas dryer to avoid any potential gas leaks. Since it uses natural gas, it should always be vented to the outside as it produces carbon dioxide while it’s drying clothes. It is highly recommended that a gas dryer be installed by a reputable technician to avoid any problems.

Electric Dryer

An electric dryer can just be plugged into a 240-volt outlet. You’ll find there’s a heavy-duty electrical outlet in the laundry room and specially designated breakers in a home’s electrical box to handle the dryer’s energy needs. An electric dryer has a large plug with three or four prongs to fit the outlet.

Best for Installation: Electric Dryer

An electric dryer is simple and easy to install right out of the box. A gas dryer is going to have an additional cost for installation even if gas line connections are already in place.

Cost

Gas Dryer

Most every dryer will come either as a gas or electric version. Gas dryers cost more to purchase, approximately $50 to $100 more, than the comparable electric model. That’s because the components for gas dryers are more expensive than those for electric dryers.

Electric Dryer

Electric dryers are less expensive to purchase than gas dryers. However, a high-end electric dryer can sometimes cost the same as a high-end gas dryer.

Best for Cost: Electric Dryer

The immediate cost to buy an average electric dryer with basic features is lower than a gas dryer. The more features on an electric dryer will drive up the price and likely cost the same as a gas dryer with just as many bells and whistles.

Lifespan

Gas Dryer

The average life expectancy of a gas dryer is 13 years.

Electric Dryer

The life expectancy of an electric dryer is 14 years.

Best for Reliability: Tied

Both electric and gas dryers are equally able to do the job of drying clothes and doing it well, boiling it down to your own personal preference as to which option you choose.

Safety

Gas Dryer

It’s important to be aware that gas dryers expel carbon monoxide, which if vented into the outside air is harmless. However, if allowed to accumulate indoors, it can pose a danger.

Electric Dryer

Electric dryers can catch fire if they overheat. Don’t overload the dryer and make sure to clean the lint filter and dryer vents regularly.

Best for Safety: Tied

Both electric and gas dryers have safety risks and both can be harmless if maintained and set up properly.

The Verdict

Your choice of which type of dryer to purchase might just come down to what connections are already in place. However, if you have both gas and 240-volt electrical connections in your laundry room, someone looking for speed in drying clothes and a cheaper energy bill might prefer a gas dryer, while those preferring less maintenance and a cheaper upfront cost/ease of installation would do better with an electric dryer.

Before you buy any type of dryer, you should consider the needs of your family, your budget, and the appliance features you most desire.

  • Dryers with moisture sensors typically shorten drying times and prevent over-drying that can shorten the life of your clothing.
  • Noise reduction packages are a good choice if your dryer is located in or near a family room.
  • Steam cycles are a nice, but pricey, option and require a water line for the dryer. The same wrinkle removing results can be obtained in a steamy bathroom or by tumbling wrinkled items with a wet towel for several minutes and then hanging to air dry.

Top Brands

  • Samsung offers high-end smart dryers.
  • GE also offers a line of smart dryers.
  • Bosch specializes in dryers for small spaces.
  • Maytag has a reputation for reliable dryers.
  • Amana is known for budget dryers with basic features.

FAQ
  • Is it better to have a gas or electric dryer?

    Ultimately whether it’s better to have a gas or electric dryer depends on your needs. Gas dryers will get clothes dry faster, while electric dryers require less maintenance.

  • Is it possible to replace a gas dryer with an electric dryer?

    Yes, you can replace a gas dryer with an electric dryer. To do so, you’ll need to have a 240-volt electrical connection in your laundry room.

  • Does a gas dryer need a vent?

    Yes, a gas dryer must be vented outside. This routes the carbon monoxide out of the home and into the air.

  • Do gas dryers give off carbon monoxide?

    Yes, gas dryers give off carbon monoxide. This does not pose any type of safety risk if it is probably vented into the open air, but would be a risk if allowed to accumulate.

  • Do gas dryers need to be elevated?

    Whether or not a gas dryer needs to be elevated depends on the installation location. It also varies by state, so it’s best to consult the product manual for specifics as well as your local area’s fire codes.

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