The washer-dryer allows you to obtain clean and dry garments in a single cycle using a single appliance. It is a good solution for some consumers, while others will find in this machine more disadvantages than advantages. So who should buy a washer-dryer? To answer this question, in the guide below, we will deepen together all aspects related to its use, technical characteristics, cost of purchase and management.
What is a washer dryer?
As you can easily guess from the name, the washer-dryer is an appliance that washes and then dries laundry, combining in a single machine the functions of a washing machine and those of a dryer.
From this consideration, it is evident that the washer dryer’s first advantage is the obvious saving of space in the house because it offers the possibility of installing only one appliance instead of two. The models currently on the market are equipped with all the features and washing programs offered by modern mid-to-high-end washing machines and dryers.
Although the expected result is the same, it is self-sufficient that the use of this appliance is different, compared to having to wash and dry the laundry using the corresponding household appliances individually. So let’s see how it works and how you use the washer-dryer to make the most of the advantages it offers.
How does it work, and how much does the washer dryer consume?
As far as the washing function is concerned, the appliance has no substantial differences from a common washing machine. The components are the same, as are the functions. We will then have the basket where the garments are washed, clean water and soap suction, and the discharge of the water used during washing using a pump.
The drying phase is entrusted to a more complex structure that has a more articulated operation. Once the washing is finished, the basket is hit by a powerful hot and dry airflow. The air is then conveyed into the so-called heat exchanger, which cools it quickly by condensing the moisture subtracted from the laundry.
The water retained by the condensation process is expelled into the drainpipe or collected in a special tray, which will then be emptied manually. On the other hand, the air is now cold and dry and is heated again to continue the drying cycle.
The substantial difference between a traditional dryer and a washer-dryer lies in the operation of the heat exchanger. In both types, the exchanger cools the air that passes through it through special fins that have the task of extracting heat from the air by exchanging it with the outside.
In some models, the drying takes place by heat pump, and their operation is completely similar to that of air conditioners. A refrigeration circuit heats the air through an engine circulated inside the basket, drying the laundry. Here, the hot air is charged with moisture that will be collected in the appropriate tank or expelled into the exhaust pipe. These models are more sophisticated and have a higher purchase cost than condensing dryers but can boast greater energy efficiency and, therefore, significantly lower electrical consumption.
In a condensing dryer, air circulation occurs outside the fins that lower the temperature of the warmer internal one.
In the washer-dryer, on the other hand, the exchange takes place using the water that the appliance draws from the domestic water system. This quickly cools the fins and consequently also the warm and humid air coming from the basket.
In this case, the heat exchange is faster and more efficient because water conducts heat better than air. However, the water supply must be constant because, during the exchange, the liquid heats up and must be continuously reciprocated with new freshwater.
In older models, steam was re-entered directly into the environment. Although simpler, this solution can cause moisture problems and make the appliance unsuitable for use in a closed environment, forcing installation in covered balconies, garages, or cellars.
However, the latest generation washer-dryers can trigger condensation using cold air, with water consumption almost halved compared to water models. Other models are equipped with heat pump technology, significantly reducing electricity consumption as well. In practice, the only water used is the water strictly necessary for the washing cycle, just as it happens in a traditional washing machine.
The washer dryers have different load capacities as regards the washing and drying phases. This happens because, to allow proper drying, the basket must be partially empty, allowing hot air to circulate freely between the garments. For most models, therefore, the load capacity in drying is about half that in washing.
On balance, if the appliance has a maximum washing capacity of 8 kg, filling the basket will have to be emptied in half and perform two drying cycles of 4 kg each, thwarting the advantage of having an all-in-one appliance. Once again, the problem hardly arises for a single person because it will be enough to load 4 kg at a time (quantity more than adequate to meet the needs of a person) and wait for the long drying times simply by organizing the day well. On the other hand, for a large family, the discourse changes because you may have to do more washes a day, and it would not be convenient nor always possible to wait for the times of the washer dryer.
How do I use a washer dryer?
Personally, I think that laying laundry in the sun is the best way to achieve impeccable drying and effective sanitization of the garments that we are going to wear. When I can, I do it. On the other, however, this is not always feasible. Not everyone has a sufficiently spacious balcony, and environmental conditions do not always allow this.
Those who live in very humid places know how long it takes to dry freshly washed garments, especially during the colder months. In large cities, laying laundry outside the home means finding yourself in clothing dirty with smog and dust, especially linen or shirts in light colours.
Last but not least, the time factor must be considered. The most practical example in this regard comes from my daily life. I lead like many a rather hectic life, and my typical day takes place most of the time away from home.
Having so little time to devote to household chores, the choice to buy a washer-dryer was an obligatory step for me. The user experience soon made me appreciate the time savings and the great flexibility that this appliance can guarantee me, especially once I become familiar with some of its features.
In fact, I usually load the washer-dryer before leaving the house to return after work and find the laundry clean and dry. This is a substantial advantage for me because I would have no other way of returning home to unload the washing machine and load the dryer throughout the day.
As far as I can see, the quality of washing is comparable to a normal washing machine. During drying, however, I find this appliance slightly less performing than a dryer. This limit, however, can be partly exceeded by selecting the maximum centrifuge speed in the last phase of washing if we are not in the presence of wool garments or particularly delicate.
If, instead, I have to use a low speed in a centrifuge or if I have to exclude it totally from the washing cycle, I usually load the washer dryer in the evening to find the garments well dry in the morning. This process is obviously longer because, without the centrifuge, the garments retain a lot of moisture but allows you to take advantage of the time slots when the cost of electricity is lower.
It is always useful when you can, divide the garments by type and use the dedicated drying programs for each fabric or garment. If possible, it is better to avoid treating shirts and towels together, for example, because the latter needs much more time to dry, and the result is not always optimal.
A careful selection of the garments to be treated also allows you to use the specific programs that return the garments ready to be ironed, a not small advantage for those like me who have little time to devote to laundry.
What are the differences between washer dryer, washer and dryer?
Between the washer dryer and washing machine, the effectiveness during washing is quite similar, while for the last stage, the differences with a traditional dryer are quite noticeable.
I noticed that the washer-dryer takes almost twice as long to dry laundry as a traditional dryer from personal experience. Almost all the models I’ve tried to take between three and four hours to get the job done.
However, I am not so concerned about this, as I manage to schedule the appliance’s work cycles according to my needs. Still, those who have to do more washes a day will probably orient their purchase choice on two separate appliances.
As far as operating costs are concerned, a complete cycle in the washer-dryer results in slightly higher electrical consumption than the double switch between the washer and the dryer because it takes longer to do the whole work. Water consumption is also slightly higher because this is also used during the drying process. However, the resulting differences in bills must also be assessed in light of the cost of purchase.
Indeed, a quality “all in one” model costs on average more than a dryer, but the amount spent on buying a washer and dryer is higher than it takes to take home a good dryer.
The higher purchase costs are due to the increased complexity of this appliance, leading to a greater probability of failures or malfunctions—off-warranty replacement of spare parts for washer-dryer costs on average higher than similar components in separate models.
The latter can also be replaced individually by limiting part of the expenditure. Simultaneously, damage to the washer-dryer, which would inevitably result in a higher disbursement, will certainly result in a higher disbursement.
The classic example that comes to mind, a situation that I have experienced myself, is the electronic card’s breakage. The estimate for repairing the fault exceeded the washing machine’s value, which with a few years on its shoulders was now out of the market, and I found myself forced to buy a new model instead of repairing the old one.
However, the latest generation washer dryers are quite reliable appliances, thanks to the technological progress and investments of manufacturers in the constant improvement of these models. Their complex nature deserves a little in-depth study to understand whether the purchase of this appliance is really right from a strictly technical point of view.
Pros and cons of washer dryer
In summary, the positive aspects of this appliance are:
- Excellent washing performance, as well as a single washing machine.
- Footprint in the house halved, compared to the combination of washer + dryer (although, by installing them stacked column, in fact, the space occupied on the ground is equivalent to that of a single appliance).
- The washing and drying cycles take place without having to intervene manually.
- It is possible to wash and dry completely independently, using the appliance even just for washing or just to dry laundry.
- The purchase cost is equivalent or, in some cases, lower than the expense of taking home a washing machine and a condensing dryer.
- Drying load capacity is only half the load capacity when washed
- Some models have twice as much water consumption as individual appliances dedicated to washing and drying.
- Heat pump models, which reduce water consumption, are quite expensive.
- Reliability is not always at the level of those guaranteed by the washing machine and dryer.
When should I buy a washer-dryer?
These appliances are undoubtedly an advantageous solution for those who have little space available, for those who spend most of their time outside the home, and for families composed of one or two people at most. The convenience of starting a single cycle for laundry in these conditions exceeds the drying performance not always perfect or the long waiting times.
If the household is larger, and if doing laundry is an operation to be repeated very often, it is definitely better to choose a washing machine and a good dryer because of the lower drying times and limited water consumption. If the problem is the budget, you can save money by choosing a cheaper dryer to buy the two appliances for a washer dryer’s price.