Best tumble dryer 2022: Budget to high-end dryers

Helen McCue
26 Dec 2022

Not sure which tumble dryer to buy? We help you pick the right one at the right price, and tell you everything you need to know

If you have room for a dedicated tumble dryer then it’s a far better choice than any washer dryer. The best tumble dryers will dry clothes far faster – and in many cases, more gently – than any washer dryer could manage, and they’ll also dry bigger loads of washing at once, which is a godsend for any household. The tricky bit comes when choosing the right one for your home: there are many different brands, price points and features to consider. You could spend ages comparing the machines just from one manufacturer alone.

Here, we’ve done all the hard work for you. On this page, you’ll find a selection of our recommended freestanding tumble dryers, from cheaper condenser models right through to top-of-the-line heat pump dryers, along with links to the best prices we’ve found. If you're specifically looking for an integrated model, then head over to our Best integrated tumble dryers guide instead. And if you’re not sure which features to look out for, then read on and our buying guide will explain everything you need to know about finding the right tumble dryer for you. 

Sharp KD-HHH9S7GW2-EN heat pump tumble dryer: Now £419

Heat pump dryers are generally much more efficient than condenser models, but they often cost a bit more as a result. This Sharp model is a solid option if you can't stretch to the superior Hisense model below, as it sports a 9kg drying capacity, 15 programmes and 8 sensors for accurate automatic drying.
Was £439
Now £419

The best tumble dryers: At a glance

How to choose the best tumble dryer 

What’s the difference between a condenser and vented tumble dryer?

With a condenser dryer, the hot moisture vapour within the unit condenses into droplets of water, which are ported to a removable collection tank that needs to be emptied by hand, usually after every drying cycle. Condenser dryers are more expensive than vented machines but much easier to install – all you need is a nearby power outlet.

Aside from regular emptying, the only other drawback is that some moisture inevitably escapes the machine, causing a slightly humid atmosphere in the room. The walls may show signs of condensation, but nothing more than you would expect from having had a hot shower or bath. 

Vented dryers are cheaper and more practical in the long run as all of that hot, moist air is ported outside through a 4in hole in the wall. This means you won’t have to worry about emptying a tank of water into the sink, and your utility room’s walls will be dryer.

The only major drawback is that you’ll need to have the machine placed against an outside wall with an AC power outlet nearby, and you will almost certainly need to employ the services of an expert with a wall-penetrating 12in drill. It’s worth bearing in mind that a builder’s installation costs, combined with the price of the vented machine, could easily amount to more than the cost of a condenser dryer.

What is a heat pump tumble dryer?

If energy efficiency is your primary concern, consider a heat-pump dryer. They’re most expensive to buy, but can reduce annual energy costs by as much as 50%. Heat pump dryers pass the moist air collected during the drying cycle through an evaporator, which removes the moisture before reusing the same hot air for the rest of the drying process. They still port condensed moist air to a collection tank that will require emptying from time to time.

However, you’ll need to weigh up the extra cost of the machine against the electricity savings made. Some experts have calculated that it could take up to 11 years of ownership before a heat pump dryer equals the cost of a cheaper condenser or vented machine. They also operate at lower temperatures and take much longer to dry your clothes. Also, they won’t operate properly in ambient temperatures less than 10˚C so you can rule out installing one in an outhouse or garage, especially if you plan on using it during a typical UK winter.

What is a sensor dryer?

All but the very cheapest dryers will have onboard sensors programmed to estimate the amount of moisture left in the clothing. When the sensor detects that the clothes are, say, “cupboard” or “iron” dry, the machine will end its cycle. Sensors can dramatically reduce energy costs as the dryer switches off when the job is done. A non-sensor machine will carry on until it reaches the end of its timed cycle, leaving your garments bone dry and, in some cases, possibly even a little damaged.

What size dryer should I get?

Ideally, you should consider a tumble dryer that’s the same capacity as your washing machine. The capacity refers to the dry weight of clothes you can fit inside the drum. The most common sizes of drums are between 6kg and 10kg but the bigger, the better, as that extra space provides better hot air circulation and, consequently, a more efficient drying process. If you have a large family and king-size duvets to dry, consider a 9kg model. Otherwise, a 6kg to 8kg drum will likely suffice.

What do energy ratings mean?

Running costs are extremely important: a machine that’s cheaper to run could cost you less in the long term, even if it’s more expensive to buy. The energy rating labels are a good way to make quick comparisons between models, as you can contrast the energy efficiency, drying capacity and noise levels at a glance. 

In 2021, the EU Energy Rating system was phased out in favour of a UK-specific version. Where the previous system graded appliances from A+++ down to D, the new system will do away with the plus signs in exchange for a simpler A to G rating. If an appliance is rated A, it’s about as energy-efficient as it gets. 

Most of the machines below enjoy an energy rating of B and higher, so you shouldn’t see too much of a difference in long-term running costs – we’re talking savings of just a few pennies in some instances. However, an A-rated machine will most definitely be more energy-efficient than one rated B.

READ NEXT: The best washer dryers to buy

    The best tumble dryers to buy

    1. Haier HD90A636: A brilliant heat pump tumble dryer for sensible money

    Price: £579 | Buy now from Amazon

    This affordable heat pump dryer from Haier is a winner. You get 16 drying programmes, an impressive A++ energy efficiency rating and good drying performance into the bargain.

    It’s a minor point, granted, but the Haier also cuts a rather snazzy dash. The black door, orange LED display and smart-looking fascia are refreshingly different. If you want a machine that won’t embarrass a modern kitchen, this may hit the mark. 

    Crucially, the all-round performance is solid, too. Clothes are dried well, without being too wet or over-dried, and the large drum makes it easy to load and unload. Factor in the low running costs and the only thing counting against the Haier is that it’s noticeably noisier than the competition.

    Read our in-depth Haier HD90-A636 review

    Key specs – Type: Heat pump; Capacity: 9kg; Rated efficiency: A++

    2. Beko DTLCE80021W: A great-value condenser tumble dryer

    Price: £219 | Buy now from AO

    There’s no need to over complicate the task of getting your clothes dry. This great value dryer from Beko has simple controls that won’t require you to delve into the instruction manual every time you want to switch it on.

    It has drying programs for every type of load, from towels to delicates. Water is collected in a tank that pulls out of the drawer at the top, so it’s easy to remove and empty. And there’s plenty of love for this dryer online, with users praising the speedy drying times and uncomplicated settings.

    The 8kg capacity will be spacious enough for most families, and its B rating for energy efficiency is comparable to even the most expensive dryers. Don’t let the unfussy design and low price fool you, this is a budget dryer that doesn’t cut corners.

    Key specs – Type: Condenser; Capacity: 8kg; Rated efficiency: B

    Buy now from AO

    3. Sharp KD-NHH9S7GW2-EN: The best budget heat pump tumble dryer

    Price: £439 | Buy now from AO

    Heat pump tumble dryers are the best option for energy efficiency, but often the upfront cost can be prohibitive. This Sharp dryer is still costly in comparison to a budget condenser dryer, but for a heat pump model that could reduce your electricity bills, it offers good value for money.

    The 9kg capacity offers plenty of space for the average wash load. And to avoid over-drying and potentially damaging your clothes, it uses sensor drying technology to stop the cycle once the load is dry.
    Users love how energy efficient it is in comparison to condenser dryers. And with a delay timer, anti-crease function, interior light, and a reversible door, it’s got all the features you’d expect to see on a more expensive dryer.

    Plus, with 15 drying programmes that include special cycles such as a Baby Care, Duvet and Jetdry 34”, which can dry up to 1kg of laundry in just 34 minutes, the wallet-friendly price tag doesn’t mean it’s lacking in drying options.

    Key specs – Type: Heat pump; Capacity: 9kg; Rated efficiency: A++

    Buy now from AO

    4. Bosch Serie 6 WTWH7660GB: The best high-end heat pump tumble dryer

    Price: £729 | Buy now from Argos

    The Bosch Serie 6 WTWH7660GB’s excellent performance lives up to its sleek looks. Its AutoDry function uses sensors to ensure that laundry is dried to perfection, while a healthy selection of programmes means that it can tackle any load you can throw in it.

    Bosch’s Home Connect app lets you choose from the drying programmes, monitor the progress of the cycle and start or stop the machine from your smartphone or tablet. This means you can set the dryer in motion from the comfort of your sofa.

    Heat pump tumble dryers tend to be more energy-efficient than their condenser cousins, but even by their money-saving standards, the WTWH7660GB performs very well. The low running costs mean it will repay its relatively high initial price the longer you own it.

    Read our in-depth Bosch Serie 6 WTWH7660GB

    Key specs – Type: Heat pump; Capacity: 9kg; Rated efficiency: A++

    Buy now from Argos

    5. Samsung Series 6 DV90T6240LN/S1: The best heat pump tumble dryer for stylish modern kitchens

    Price: £800 | Buy now from Currys

    If you don’t have a utility room where you can hide your laundry appliances, this is one you won’t mind having on show. It combines smart technology with excellent energy efficiency, and the sleek graphite finish gives this tumble dryer a covetable high-end look.

    The Optimal Dry technology utilises moisture and temperature sensors to adjust drying times during the cycle, which will be kinder to your clothes and save energy. Wi-Fi connectivity also means you can use your phone to schedule drying, adjust settings and get alerts when the cycle is finished.

    Other noteworthy features include a Wrinkle Prevent setting so you can reduce the dreaded ironing pile. And a reversible door means you can set it up to open from either the left or right depending on which side is most convenient.

    It’s not a budget-friendly choice, but for great performance as well as looks, most reviewers think it’s worthy of the investment and particularly like how quiet it is. And with 16 programmes to choose from, there are plenty of options, no matter what you need to get dry.

    Key specs – Type: Heat pump; Capacity: 9; Rated efficiency: A+++

    Buy now from Currys

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