A washer dryer combo is an integrated unit that performs the functions of a stand-alone washer and dryer from start to finish while occupying half the space. Their main advantage is that they are space-economic and flexible in positioning.
Instead of transferring your wet load from the washer to the dryer, washer dryer combo are designed in such a way that the drying cycle kicks in after the washing cycle. Unlike separate washers and dryers, these units needs less or no human input after loading the clothes.
They are however limited in their operation as although they can take up the same load as a front-loading washer, they can only dry half the load and take considerably longer to dry the clothes. Their water consumption is also way higher compared to stand-alone washers and dryers.
Are Washer Dryer Combo any Good?
Washer dryer combos are not for everyone. They will work perfectly well for some people but for others they will be a headache. They are perfect for people who leave alone or people with small spaces like in apartments, dorms and RVs.
The main disadvantage with washer dryer combos is that they take really long to have your clothes dried, some up to 6 hours. The washing aspect works well but their drying is what takes longer, and can only dry half the washer’s load.
People who love washer dryer combos have few clothes to wash and have a lot of time or patience. If you have kids in your home then I would highly advice against buying these units. You will need to wash on a daily basis, which is far from ideal.
In this post, I will go in detail outlining the pros and cons of washer dryer combos so that you can make a more informed decision on what is good for your home. What works well for someone will not necessarily work out well for you too.
Below is a summary of the pros and cons of washer-dryer combos:
Let us start with the good things about the all-in-one or ventless washer dryers as they are also called:
- Space-Saving: Washer-dryer combos are compact and require less floor space than separate washer and dryer units, making them ideal for small apartments or homes with limited laundry room space.
- Efficiency: They are generally energy-efficient, using less water and energy compared to traditional washers and dryers.
- No Venting Required: Ventless designs eliminate the need for external venting, simplifying installation and allowing placement in various locations within your home.
- Convenience: Combos offer the convenience of washing and drying in a single machine, saving time on transferring laundry between appliances.
- Capacity: Washer-dryer combos have smaller drum capacities compared to separate units. This means they may not be suitable for large households or laundry loads.
- Longer Cycle Times: The drying process in combos can take longer than traditional dryers, as they use lower heat settings to conserve energy. This can result in longer overall laundry times.
- Limited Drying Options: Combo units often have limited drying options and may not be as effective at drying certain fabrics or bulky items.
- Maintenance: Maintenance and repairs can be more complex and expensive for combo units, as they combine two functions into one machine.
- Cost: Initial purchase prices for washer-dryer combos can be higher compared to separate units with similar features.
How to Use a Washer-Dryer Combo
Using a washer-dryer combo is a little different from using separate washer and dryer. I have heard of cases where someone left their clothes to wash and dry at night only to wake up to totally wet clothes in the morning.
One thing you will love about these units is that you don’t need to transfer your clothes from the washer to the dryer. All of that happens in a single drum so you can leave for work in the morning and come back to perfectly clean and dry clothes.
Some washer dryers are however better at drying than others. What these units will not do is fold the clothes for you. The technology is yet to advance to that point.
There are 2 types of washer dryer combos. There are vented and non-vented washer dryers combos. Folks who live in small apartments/condos choose to go with the non-vented washer dryers but if you are buying one for your RV or boat then you definitely need to get the vented one.
Vented washer dryer combos works pretty much the same as stand-alone front-loading washers and dryers. You just need to toss your clothes in the drum and start a cycle.
This is where it gets interesting. You can use your washer dryer combo as just a washer and forget its drying function if you have a line to dry your clothes. Drying clothes in the line and in the dryer of these units takes about the same time which is about 6 hours. Some do it in 3 to 4 hours though.
Now if you forget to “instruct” your unit to dry the clothes after cleaning them, you will come back to wet clothes. This is something most new owners of the units forget to do. As it is, the washing and drying functions of these units can be used independently so you must select drying after washing.
Vented Washer Dryer Combos
In a vented washer dryer combo, the unit draws in air from the room and heats it up. The hot air is the spun together with the clothes where it absorbs moisture/water from the clothes forming steam. Vapor (steam) leaves the unit through the vent.
The unit then draws in fresh air from the surrounding and the process is repeated. Vented washer dryer combos are faster in drying clothes than non-vented washer dryer combos.
Ventless Washer Dryer Combos
Ventless/non-vented washer dryer combos are what most people living in apartments, dorms, condos and other small spaces prefer. The lack of a vent is the single reason why these units takes so long to dry clothes. Another reason is that they are also rated 120 volts.
So how does the drying happen in ventless washer dryer combos? They use a condenser drier. Unlike in vented units there is no hot air coming out of the system and hence the air in your house will not be hot/humid as is the norm with tumbler dryers.
Here is an illustration from an LG ventless washer dryer combo.
In a non-vented washer dryer combo, hot dry air is pushed through your wet washing where it extracts moisture which is then cooled in a heat exchange and condensed into water. The water is then collected in a tank or pumped down the drain. Dry air is then reheated and the process repeated over and over until the clothes are dry.
The one thing that you will discover about this units is that the drying cycle uses a lot of water, sometimes even more than the washing cycle. Why is this the case though? Why would a drying cycle need water?
The heater exchanger of a condenser dryer is cooled using water, unlike in stand-alone units where air is used instead. Cold water is used in the condensation process (process of turning steam to liquid water) since water is a better heat conductor than air.
The cold water is circulated in the heat exchanger until it becomes warm and is then drained off and cold fresh water is drawn in from the pipes.
Please note that if the condensed water is collected in a tank at the bottom of the unit instead of being drained away you will need to drain the tank manually frequently. Unless you are installing the washer dryer under a countertop, it helps to have it on a raised platform.
The Pros and Cons of Dryer Washer Combos
Washer dryer combos have many advantages and some disadvantages. This is why I mentioned in the beginning that they will work very well for some but for others they will just be a constant headache. To understand if a washer dryer combo is what you need in your home, let us look at their pros and cons.
The following are the advantages of owning a washer dryer combo as opposed to a stand-alone washer and dryer:
1. They are Space-Efficient
For people without the luxury of a large space in their laundry room then these units are their best bet. They utilize half the space taken by stand-alone washers and dryers while doing the same task.
The fact that these units do not need to be vented gives you more options on where to position them. For people who do not have big loads to wash, these units are just fantastic.
Please take your time to go through the dimensions of these units as some are too big to fit under a bench/countertop.
2. They are Energy-Efficient
By just looking at the power ratings of both washer dryer combos and stand-alone dryers and washers, you will not see a significant difference in power consumption. But there is something about the washer dryers that make them more energy-efficient.
How many times have you washed clothes but completely forgot to transfer them from the washer to the dryer forcing you to wash them a second time? That is what I am talking about.
That is a problem that washer dryer combos solve. You don’t need to manually/physically transfer your wet clothes from the washer to the dryer. Everything happens in the same drum. You therefore never have to clean your clothes a second time. That is how these units are energy-efficient.
3. They Offer More Flexibility
The washing aspect of washer dryer combos is exactly the same as that of other front-load washing machines in terms of quality and time taken. It is the drying aspect that is different.
If you really like these units but are afraid of the time they take to dry and the amount of load they can dry at a time, you can opt to use them for washing only and line dry your clothes instead of using the drying option.
That is what I would do if I have got a big load of clothes to wash and dry. This makes sense since it takes about the same time to line dry clothes and dry them in the washer dryer combo. Another option is to wash your clothes frequently.
You can also use the unit for drying purposes only. If you need to hand wash some sensitive garment or baby clothing, you can do that and later dry them in the unit
Now, what are the disadvantages of buying a washer dryer combo? Here are the reasons not to buy a washer dryer combo:
1. They take long to Dry Clothes
A stand-alone dryer will take about 30-60 minutes to dry a load of clothes depending on the material. Washer dryer combos take 3-4 hours to dry a load of clothes, some even 6 or more hours.
As stated earlier, the lack of venting in this units and their power rating is what contributes to their slow drying process. While this may not be a problem for some people, folks who need to wash and dry a big load of clothes will find these units frustrating.
2. The Drying Operate at Half Capacity
Unlike in stand-alone washers and dryers where you can transfer a full load of clothes from the washer to the dryer, in a washer dryer combo the drying cycle operates at half the load capacity of the washing cycle.
If for instance your washer dryer can only take 15 pounds of load, it can only dry 7.5 pound of the load at a time. This means if you are operating the unit at maximum load you will need to dry the clothes in 2 batches.
To avoid this problem, owners of this units prefer operating them at half their capacity. That is why I said they are great for folks who live alone, or perhaps a couple without kids.
3. They are Repair-Prone
The technology behind these units is quite complex which makes them break down very often. I reckon that is why most people are yet to adopt them. The thinking behind them is great but unfortunately they don’t live up to expectation.
According to an article by the Wirecutter, washer dryer combos are the most repair-prone household appliances with a report indicating that over 70 percent of them needed one form of repair or another in their first year. Newer models are however more reliable.
4. They use a Lot of Water During Drying
When you are buying a washer, you will most likely look at its water rating/consumption. You want to buy a water-efficient unit especially if you live in a dry area.
Washer dryer combos only indicate the water consumption of the washer but not always that of the dryer. As mentioned earlier, these units use a condenser dryer which needs lots of cold water to cool the heat exchanger. The water used in the heat exchanger can at some point exceed that used in the washer.
To just give you an idea of how much water they use to dry your clothes, a washer dryer can use about 9.5 gallons to dry a load of 8 pounds. Some inefficient units will even use more water.
With advancement in technology, newer models of washer dryer combos are using heat pump technology which is more energy efficient and don’t need any water to dry the clothes. They are however more complex and expensive.
Washer Dryer Combos vs Separate washers and Dryers
Dryer Washer Combo Reviews: The Best Washer Dryer Combo
If you feel like a washer dryer combo is something that you would really like to have, I know 1 unit that is quite reliable and do what it is designed or promises to do. Here it is:
LG WM3488HW 24″ Washer/Dryer Combo
The LG WM3488HW 24″ Washer/Dryer Combo is in my opinion the best washer dryer combo presently in the market. It works perfectly and look good too. Let us look at some of its features and specifications.
- Capacity: 2.3 cubic feet.
- Ventless condensing drying
- 10 years limited warranty
- Colors: white, silver
- Door opening: 13.8 inches
- Electrical requirements: 120 volts
- Maximum RPM: 1400
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 24″ x 33 1/2″ x 25 1/4″ (45″ D with door open)
- Weight: 156.5 pounds
- 6 Motion technology
- TubClean cycle
Should I Buy a Washer Dryer Combo or Separate?
The quality and reliability of the modern washer dryer combos has tremendously improved compared with the first models. That be as it may, these units will however only appeal/work well for certain people. You will either hate them or love them?
Is it worth buying a washer dryer combo? How do you know if to buy a washer dryer combo or separate washer and dryer?
I will start by saying that if space is not a problem for you then go for the separate washer and dryer. Buying an all-in-one washer dryer might be a tempting offer but separate washers and dryers are way more reliable.
Another reason to buy a separate washer and dryer is if you have a large family. A family with 2 or more kids (even 1) will not enjoy owning a washer dryer combo. With a separate washer and dryer, you will have time to wash a new load as the one in the dryer is drying, which is time-efficient.
Buy a washer dryer combo if you are completely squeezed for space. Do your due diligence in advance to make sure that the washer dryer you wish to buy will fit in the space that you have. These units don’t have equal dimensions.
Another reason to buy a washer dryer combo is if you live alone and are hardly ever at home. That way you will leave your clothes in the unit to wash and dry and by the time you come back they are ready to be ironed and worn.
In conclusion, I am not fully convince that washer dryer combos will completely phase out the stand-alone washers and dryers any time soon. There is still a lot of work and innovation needed to make that a success.
The only time I have seen a combo perform better that 2 previous separate items is bidet toilet combos. Those are more practical and convenient than stand-alone bidets and toilets.