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Vented vs. Ventless Dryers: What’s the Difference?

Are you shopping for a new dryer but can’t decide between a vented or ventless model?

Which type is better? How are they different?

In this comparison of vented vs. ventless dryers, you’ll learn how they differ in energy use, performance, capacity, maintenance, price, and more.

By the end, you’ll have the key facts to decide which dryer is best for your needs.

Use the links below to navigate the comparison:

Vented vs. Ventless Dryers: Comparison Chart

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of vented vs. ventless dryers.

Swipe to view the entire chart on mobile.

Vented DryersVentless Dryers
Annual Energy Use305-748 kWh372-463 kWh
Operating Temperatures125-170°F120-158°F
Drying Time40-50 minutes60-90 minutes
Size7 cubic feet4 cubic feet
InstallationRequires exterior venting and gas connectionPlug into 240-volt outlet
MaintenanceClean dryer and exterior ventClean dryer vent and empty water chamber
SafetyHigher fire risk due to clogged ventLow fire risk
SpaceRequires more space due to exterior ventRequires less space, could be placed in an interior room
Price$$-$$$ (Amazon, HomeDepot.com)$$$-$$$$ (Amazon, HomeDepot.com)

What Is a Vented Dryer?

Vented dryers expel heat and moisture through an outside vent.

Vented dryer
Vented dryer

Here’s how they work.

Vented dryers draw in air from the surrounding room. A heating element increases the temperature of the air, and a fan blows it into the drum. The hot air circulates, causing the moisture in clothing and linens to evaporate.

Vented clothes dryer
Vented clothes dryer

A hose attached to the dryer draws out the heat and moisture. The hose feeds through a wall or window and exhausts the excess heat and moisture outside. That release is what makes the unit vented.

Exterior dryer vent
Exterior dryer vent

Vented dryers have greater capacity, dry clothes quickly, and are more affordable than ventless dryers. But they also require ventilation and, if not properly maintained, can become a fire hazard.

What Is a Ventless Dryer?

As the name suggests, a ventless dryer does not use a ventilation system.

Ventless dryers draw air in, much like vented dryers, but they constantly circulate the air. These models use a heat exchanger to draw moisture out of the laundered garments. The moisture collects in a bin or empties from the dryer through a hose.

Ventless washer dryer combo
Ventless washer dryer combo

Ventless dryers either use a condenser or heat pump to dry clothes.

Condenser models use a dual-loop airflow. The first loop sends air through the condenser for heating. The second loop of air is sent back to the condenser for cooling. So, the condenser does double duty; it heats and cools the air throughout the cycle.

Alternatively, heat pumps hold both hot and cold air. The cold side of the pump removes the moisture from the air, while the hot side heats the air to dry the clothes.

Ventless dryers are great for small spaces and are energy-efficient. But they take much longer to dry clothes and can’t hold as many clothes as a vented dryer.

Difference 1: Energy Use

Ventless dryers have a more energy-efficient design. And of the two types mentioned earlier (condenser and heat pump), heat pump dryers use the latest, most efficient technology.

According to an ENERGY STAR report, ventless dryers are roughly 14% more efficient than conventional vented dryers. And ventless dryers utilizing a heat pump save an estimated 20–60% of energy use, depending on the model.

But the savings are not limited to dryer use. Because a heat pump ventless dryer doesn’t expel hot air, it won’t spike the temperature in your home. That means your cooling system won’t kick on as often.

The exact efficiency depends on the heating mechanism (gas or electric for vented, condenser or heat pump for ventless) and the model.

It also varies by cycle; longer, hotter cycles require more energy. Check the user manual for specific energy ratings and settings before buying.

Difference 2: Temperature

Vented dryers run at much higher temperatures than their ventless counterparts.

The following table shows the average temperatures for vented and ventless dryers:

Dryer TypeTemperature
Gas (vented)125–170°F
Electric (vented)125–135°F
Condenser (ventless)Up to 158°F
Heat pump (ventless)Up to 122°F

In terms of fabric care, lower temperatures will extend the life of your clothing and linens. But, it will not dry thick garments as well.

One of the most common complaints about ventless dryers is that you have to hang items like blankets and comforters to get them completely dry.

Difference 3: Drying Time

Vented dryers have a shorter dry time than ventless models. The higher temperatures and method of drying provide faster results than ventless models.

With a vented dryer, moisture is removed from the appliance and sent outside. Ventless dryers handle moisture inside the appliance. Ventless models with a water bin often require emptying just to complete a drying cycle.

The average drying time of a vented dryer is about 30–50 minutes less than a heat pump ventless dryer and 15–30 minutes less than a ventless dryer with a condenser.

A vented dryer could finish a drying cycle for a normal load of clothes (dryer about ¾ full) in about 50 minutes. With the same load, a ventless dryer would take about 90 minutes. And if you have a bulky comforter, it could take hours. 

Exact drying times vary because there many factors at play, including:

  • Load size
  • Fabric type and thickness
  • How damp the clothes are
  • Dryer model
  • Type of heating element
  • Dryer cycle in use

And those are just a few variables to consider. The main point is that ventless dryers take about 80% longer to dry clothes than vented models.

Difference 4: Load Capacity

Ventless dryers are more compact than vented models. Vented models have larger drums and are better suited to handle large bulky loads.

Vented dryers have an average capacity of 7 cubic feet. The average capacity of ventless dryers is 4 cubic feet.

To give you an idea of how that looks, think of clothing in terms of pounds. A 4-cubic-foot dryer (ventless) can hold about 12-15 pounds of laundry.

Fifteen pounds of laundry looks like:

  • 5 pairs of sweatpants
  • 4 sweatshirts
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 10 pairs of underwear

 A 7-cubic-foot dryer (vented) can hold around 25-30 pounds of laundry, approximately two times more than a ventless model.

Difference 5: Installation

Ventless dryers are easy to install. Plug them into an outlet with sufficient voltage (usually 240 volts), and you’re done. A vented dryer requires a vent that exhausts outside. And if it’s a gas-powered vented dryer, you will also need a gas line connected.

In modern homes, you’ll likely have a built-in vent in a dedicated laundry room, basement, or any place where it makes sense to put a washer and dryer. An older home may require hiring a professional to install a vent, adding to the overall cost of the dryer.

Difference 6: Maintenance

Vented and ventless dryers require you to clean out the lint trap after every use. But vented dryers also require periodic cleaning of the dryer vent.

The dryer vent sucks out small amounts of lint as clothes dry. Over time, the lint can accumulate inside the vent and become a fire hazard.

To maintain a vented dryer:

  • Clean your lint filter with a nylon brush every six months.
  • Every three months, remove and clean the vent pipe from the dryer.
  • Clean and remove lint from the area where the vent is attached to the dryer.
  • Inspect the vent system to ensure it is damage-free and air flows freely.
  • Make sure the outdoor vent cover opens when the dryer is running.
  • Ensure the outdoor vent cover has a damper to keep out dirt, snow, and rain.
  • Check to make sure the outside vent is not clogged with lint.
  • Ensure nothing is blocking the outside vent (for example, snow).

Additionally, if you have a gas-powered dryer, hire a professional to inspect your dryer connections annually to avoid dangerous gas leaks.

To maintain a ventless dryer, you’ll need to empty the water bin after every cycle or during a cycle, depending on how damp the clothes are.

Some ventless dryers have a hose that empties the water. In that case, check the hose connection monthly to ensure a tight fit and that the area has proper drainage.

In short, vented dryers take more work to maintain. But with proper maintenance, you can avoid hazards and extend the life of your dryer, no matter which type you buy.

Difference 7: Safety

According to the United States Fire Administration, dryers are linked to 2,900 home fires annually. In 34% of cases, failure to clean the dryer was the leading cause of the fire. It’s essential to regularly remove lint and ensure that nothing flammable is nearby or blocking dryer airflow.

Ventless don’t get as hot, and they don’t have areas where lint can build up and possibly catch fire. Therefore, a ventless dryer is less of a safety hazard.

Difference 8: Space

Vented dryers need more space than ventless dryers. Physically, they are larger. Plus, they require space for proper venting. And since they must vent outside, you’re limited in where you can place them.

Newer homes may include a laundry room or laundry nook with a pre-built vent. If there is no designated space, you’ll need to find an area near a wall to vent the air outside.

However, a ventless dryer gives you more freedom of placement. It also has a smaller footprint, allowing it to fit in smaller spaces.

The chart below shows the exact dimensions of popular vented and ventless dryers:

Whirlpool Dryer – 7 Cubic Feet (Vented)H 43 in, W 29 in, D 28.25 in
GE Dryer – 7.3 Cubic Feet (Vented)H 44 in, W 27 in, D 29.5 in
LG Dryer – 7.3 Cubic Feet (Vented)H 44.25 in, W 29.5 in, D 27 in
Samsung Dryer – 4 Cubic Feet (Ventless)H 33.5 in, W 23.6 in, D 25.6 in
LG Dryer – 4.2 Cubic Feet (Ventless)H 33.5 in, W 24 in, D 25.25 in
GE Dryer – 4.1 Cubic Feet (Ventless)H 33.25 in, W 23.44 in, D 25.25 in

Difference 9: Price

The initial cost of vented dryers is often less expensive than ventless models. And with ventless dryers, you’ll find that models with heat pumps are pricier than those that dry using a condenser.

However, vented dryers also have installation costs. Gas models require periodic inspection by a professional, which adds to the cost. They also use more energy than ventless models. So, they can be more expensive than ventless models, given the ongoing costs.

You can get a rough estimate of the total cost by comparing vented and ventless dryer prices on Amazon and HomeDepot.com. And you can get free no-obligation quotes on installation costs from local contractors on HomeAdvisor.com.

Bottom Line: Should You Buy a Vented or Ventless Dryer?

Vented and ventless dryers both have advantages. But there are downsides, too.

Let’s quickly recap the key differences:

  • According to ENERGY STAR, ventless dryers are between 14% and 60% more energy efficient than ventless dryers.
  • Vented dryers run at much higher temperatures and dry clothes faster than ventless models.
  • Vented dryers have approximately double the capacity, allowing you to dry more clothes at a time.
  • Ventless dryers are easier to install and maintain since there’s no vent to clean.
  • Dryers are linked to nearly 3,000 house fires annually, and 34% of those fires are caused by failure to clean the venting system. Ventless dryers pose less of a fire risk.
  • Since ventless dryers are smaller and don’t require an outside vent, you have more placement options.
  • Vented dryers cost less upfront, but installation and maintenance costs can make them more expensive long term.

Bottom line — vented dryers are more popular: they cost less upfront, can handle larger loads, and dry clothes quickly. However, ventless models are compact, reduce fire risk, and can be placed almost anywhere (even in a closet), making them ideal for smaller homes and apartments.

Compare prices and read dozens of reviews of vented and ventless dryers on Amazon and HomeDepot.com.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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