Heat pump or condensation dryer: what to choose?

3 major technologies of dryers coexist: evacuationthe condensationand the heat pump. While the exhaust dryer is highly efficient, it also consumes a lot of energy and requires air to be vented to the outside.

The condensation dryer solves the latter problem, and comes with its share of modern drive motors that consume less energy. The heat pump dryer is becoming increasingly widespread, with promises of energy savings in relation to others.

In this article, we'll look at the differences between heat pump and condensing dryers in terms of consumption, price, reliability and maintenance requirements. The answer is not the same for everyone.

The differences between heat pump and condensation dryers

Here is a table summarizing the main differences between the two heat pump dryer technologies, before going into more detail on each difference

Condensation dryerDryer Heat Pump
Speed of cyclesabout 2 hoursabout 3 hours
Air heating technologyElectric resistanceair-to-air heat pump
Purchase priceabout 350-400€ and moreabout 500-600€ and more
Influence on the room climateOverheating of the room due to very hot air in the drumNo overheating due to lower air temperature
Installation locationAll roomsHeated rooms
FragilityAverageHigher due to technology in place
Influence on the condition of linen after useHigh air temperatures can damage linenLow temperatures prevent damage to linen
Need for maintenanceAverage (filters to be cleaned)High (Filter + condenser to be cleaned)
Electricity consumptionHighLow (approx. 30% less than a condensation model)

Slower drying cycles with a heat pump dryer

Where a condensation dryer uses a basic heating element to heat the air and dry the clothes, a PAC dryer uses the ambient air in the room via a heat pump. As a result, the temperature rise of the air in the drum is much less violent, extending the drying cycle by 30 minutes to 1 hour.

What's more, the final air temperature reached in the drum is not as high with a heat pump model. In fact, a condensation dryer can reach an air temperature of 80°C, whereas heat pump models are limited to 55 or 60°C. This means longer drying times.

Air heating technology

The condensation dryer uses a conventional heating element, as in evacuated models. Electricity is converted into heat. This is a costly process in terms of electricity, which enables high air temperatures to be reached for faster drying, but which can damage the linen.

The heat pump dryer uses an air-to-air heat pump. In other words, the heat pump uses the air in the room where the dryer is located (bathroom, laundry room, etc.) to extract its calories and transfer them to the air in the dryer drum. This process exists thanks to the refrigerant circuit that makes up the heat pump: evaporation of the refrigerant in the room air, condensation in the drum air.

Heat pump technology also requires electricity to operate, but about 75% to 80% less than a resistor to return the same energy to the air. Hence the savings we'll talk about later.

Purchase price of a heat pump dryer vs. a condensation dryer

Most quality heat pump dryers are available for less than €500. The best-known brands are LG, Bosch and Beko. This is normal, as a heat pump is a more technical system than a simple resistance heater, and includes a compressor and a condenser, just like a refrigerator.

For condensation dryers, a good appliance costs about 350 to 400€, but can also cost more depending on the brand chosen.

The price difference between the two models is about 150€.

Influence on the room climate

When your condensation dryer is running at full speed, you know the feeling of intense heat in the room. It comes from the very hot air in the drum, which transfers some of the heat into the room.

A heat pump dryer is gentler. With lower air temperatures, the appliance doesn't burn and the room temperature doesn't rise too much, which can be more pleasant.

Dryer installation location

The advantage of a condensing dryer is that it can be installed anywhere. You don't need an exhaust duct, and you don't need a room at room temperature. So you can put it in a garage, or any other sheltered room, for that matter.

However, the heat pump dryer is best installed in a room at room temperature. This is because they work with a heat pump that draws energy from the air in the room. Having air at the right temperature increases the dryer's performance and reduces energy consumption. Its coefficient of performance would drop if placed in a cold room, so it would consume more electricity, but this is possible.

Fragility of the PAC dryer vs. the condensation dryer

The condensation dryer is not too fragile. All you need to do is clean the lint filter and condensation tray.

For a PAC dryer model, you'll need to do the same, but in addition you'll need to check the condition of the condenser and clean it if necessary, or clean the evaporator filter every two weeks or according to the manufacturer's instructions. Failure to do so will damage the machine.

If you're tired of your T-shirts still being too small after 3 or 4 times in the dryer, the heat pump dryer might just solve your problem, as it is more delicate.

Influence on the condition of linen after use: condensation dryers vs. heat pumps

Given the high temperatures (80°C) reached in the drum of a condensation dryer, laundry can quickly become damaged, shrink and so on. With the heat pump system, on the other hand, laundry is less damaged thanks to the lower temperatures.

Santa's pants have shrunk

Heat pump vs. condensation maintenance requirements

Heat pump dryers require much more maintenance than condensing dryers. They are fitted with additional filters to protect the heat pump components. In particular, an evaporator filter needs to be cleaned every two weeks, one month, or as specified by the dryer brand.

The condition of the condenser should also be checked regularly, and cleaned if necessary.

The need for more maintenance brings the consumer face to face with his own discipline, and can, in the event of forgotten maintenance or negligence, generate a breakdown more quickly.

Bosch's Autoclean technology, for example, eliminates the need to clean the lint filter, as lint accumulates in a tank that must be emptied every 20 cycles. Or Bosch's SelfCleaningCondenser technology, which automatically cleans the condenser.

Electricity consumption PAC vs condensation dryer

This is the main reason for opting for the heat pump model. A heat pump generates hot air at a lower cost than a resistance heater. In fact, the air-to-air heat pump works perfectly in ambient air conditions of 20°C, for example. Its coefficient of performance is generally excellent at around 3 to 5, which means that to heat air to a certain temperature, you use 3 to 5 times less electricity than with a conventional resistor.

Energy savings thanks to the PAC dryer heat pump

One of the main arguments put forward by heat pump dryer manufacturers is the energy savings they offer compared to their evacuated or condensing cousins.

To be totally transparent, I've taken the 10 best-selling heat pump tumble dryers, and compiled their annual energy consumption declared on the energy label.

The annual consumption in kWh/annum shown on the energy label is based on 160 standard drying cycles for cotton with full load and half load (average of the two). It also takes into account the appliance's standby consumption. This is a theoretical figure, as actual consumption depends very much on individual usage.

HEAT PUMP CLOTHES DRYERAnnual consumption Kwh/annum
Bosch WTH85V02FF 236
Candy Smart CSO4 H7A1DE-S269
Clothes Dryer 7 Kg BEKO DHP73W 277
Bosch WTH83002FF243
Beko DH10444PX1W278
Electrolux EDH4284TOW235
Haier HD90-A636 236
Bosch WTH85VX0 Series 4212
Beko DRY833CI176
Hotpoint NT M11 8X3E IT175

CONDENSATION DRYERAnnual consumption Kwh/annum
Bosch WTN85V07FF499
Whirlpool FFTCM118XBFR562
Bosch WTG85409FF Series 6616
Electrolux EW6C4853SC 561

Consumption of heat pump dryers vs. condensation dryers : results

Based on 10 best-selling models of each type of dryer:

  • Average annual electricity consumption for a heat pump dryer is 243kWh/year
  • The average annual electricity consumption of condensing dryer is 582kWh/year
  • Therefore on average a heat pump dryer consumes 60% less than a condensing dryer.
  • The difference in consumption represents on average 340kWh. What at 0.18€ / kWh represents a annual savings of 60€.

As these values are theoretical, the values you will obtain in practice will depend on your use and your compliance with the manufacturer's operating instructions.

Price comparison between heat pump and condensation dryers

Given the heat pump system included in heat pump tumble dryers, it's logical to see a price rise compared to condensing tumble dryers which only have an electric resistance.

Based on the 10 best-selling models on the market, here are the prices.

Bosch WTH85V02FF 545€ à 649€
Candy Smart CSO4 H7A1DE-S560€ à 650€
Clothes Dryer 7 Kg BEKO DHP73W 400€ à 470€
Bosch WTH83002FF540€ à 640€
Beko DH10444PX1W630€ à 650€
Electrolux EDH4284TOW540€ à 620€
Haier HD90-A636 500€ à 650€
Bosch WTH85VX0 Series 4600€ à 630€
Beko DRY833CI530€ à 680€
Hotpoint NT M11 8X3E IT810€
Average sales prices for heat pump dryers: base 10 best-selling models
CONDENSATION DRYERPrice in € including VAT
Bosch WTN85V07FF420€ à 510€
CANDY CSOEC10DG-S300€ à 430€
CANDY CSEC9DG-S290€ à 530€
INDESIT YTCM108BFR1315€ à 410€
Whirlpool FFTCM118XBFR380€ à 490€
Bosch WTG85409FF Series 6450€ à 590€
CANDY CSOEC10TREX-47320€ à 420€
Electrolux EW6C4853SC 390€ à 510€
BEKO DCB7114GA0W400€
VALBERG DC 8 B W566C290€
Average sales prices for CONDENSATION dryers: base 10 best-selling models

Price of heat pump dryer vs. condensation dryer : results

Based on 10 best-selling models of each type of dryer:

  • The average selling price of a heat pump dryer is 605€ T.T.C
  • The average selling price of a condensation dryer is 406€ including VAT
  • Therefore, on average, a heat pump dryer costs €200 more than a condensing dryer.

Final opinion: Should I choose a heat pump or a condensation dryer?

As we saw above, the average annual saving on a heat pump dryer is €60. This, combined with the €200 price difference with a condensing dryer, means a return on investment of around 3 years, assuming no increase in the price per kWh.

This return on investment is fairly rapid, but the €60 difference in consumption is not enormous. So the energy-saving argument of a heat pump dryer is valid and interesting, but it's not enough to make up your mind.

There are other arguments to consider when making a purchasing decision:

The heat pump dryer takes better care of clothes thanks to lower operating temperatures

However, heat pump dryers can't be installed just anywhere.

Condensing dryers without heat pump require less maintenance than heat pump models

The heat pump dryer takes a good hour longer.

Therefore the dryer is well suited if :

  • You've got €500-600 or more to spend, and you're sensitive to energy savings.
  • You have a room at room temperature in which to place it
  • You've already had bad experiences with traditional dryers because of the damaged or shrunken line, and this is your main barrier to purchase.
  • You don't mind waiting a little longer for the laundry to dry properly
  • You're pretty disciplined about maintenance
  • You are a very large clothes dryer, in which case the savings increase proportionally

You will prefer the condensing dryer if:

  • You don't have a budget of €500-600 for a quality model
  • You prefer it to be quick
  • You want to install the dryer in a cold room, garage, cellar, etc.
  • You occasionally forget to service your filters for several cycles, and you don't plan to change 😉

And if not...

About the author

Juliena mechanical engineering graduate and specialist in climate engineering since 2009, has become a writer specializing in renewable energies, with expertise in heat pumps and photovoltaic solar panels for individual housing.