Washer/dryer combo buying guide

A washer/dryer combo is a tempting option when you've limited space, but there are some drawbacks.
 
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01.The ultimate washer/dryer combo?

washer-dryer-buying-guide

Combined washing machine and dryer units sound like the ultimate laundry convenience — you put dirty clothes in and take out clean and dry clothes out. Most are compact enough to sit under a kitchen bench. All up, they sound too good to be true — and in many cases they are.

Past CHOICE tests have revealed that combined washer/dryers often can’t match the performances of their separate counterparts. While the performance of washing machines in these combos can be comparable to other front loaders, it’s their drying function that often lets them down.

For more information on Washing and drying, see Laundry and cleaning.

Pros

  • The washing machine component of some models can match top performing front loaders. Their wash cycles can also be very water- and energy-efficient.
  • A CHOICE user survey of 27 people revealed that they usually only fill their washing machine up to 50% of its claimed capacity. So if this is true for you, the small drying capacity of these machines may not be a problem.

Cons

  • In past CHOICE tests, many machines failed to completely dry a load — even after a drying cycle as long as 3.5 hours.
  • The drying capacity of these machines is generally half of their washing capacity. This means that if you do a full washing load, you’ll have to remove up to half of it before the drying cycle starts.
  • These combos have condenser dryers. Instead of releasing hot, damp air via a duct into your laundry, they use water to condense steam back into water. As a result, they use large volumes of water in their drying process. The worst offenders have been known to use 72L to dry a load.
  • Current water efficiency ratings only rate the washing machine component, not the dryer. The washer may have an excellent water rating — and even qualify for a rebate in your state or territory — but the dryer may blow out your water bill (though since November 2011, washer/dryers must be labelled to show the water consumption of their dryer function).
  • A standard washing and drying cycle can lasts over 5 hours. Like most front loaders, their wash cycle is at least 90 minutes. Add to that a drying cycle that can last anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 hours and it’s a long wait for freshly laundered clothes. Using a separate washer and dryer would be quicker.
  • Some combos are too large to fit under a bench, so always check their exact dimensions if they need to fit in a specific spot in your home.

The verdict

If space is an issue, a small washer/dryer combo may be the right solution for you. But consider buying a separate washer and dryer first. Not only will you be able to wash and dry more quickly, the washing and drying cycles are likely to be more efficient.

A conventional dryer can comfortably sit on top of a front loader, or it can be wall mounted. That’s a better (and cheaper) option.

Related articles

For more information on appliances that can wash and dry clothes, see our test reports on:

 
 

 

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