The majority of Electrolux’s dryers have 8.0 cubic feet of capacity and measure about 27 inches wide. Pair one with a 27-inch-wide washer and we’re talking about more space than most apartments or small condos can handle. That’s why Electrolux recently introduced its Front Load Compact Dryer, which has half the capacity of the company’s larger machines but also offers the flexibility (and extended drying times) of being ventless.
Stack it up
At 24 inches wide and deep, the cube-ish Electrolux compact is definitely smaller and easier to fit in tight spaces than full-sized machines. Compact dryers are often found hiding inside closets in condos and apartments, though they need the doors open to run properly. This one comes in white, and the LED panel, found on the front of the machine, illuminates with white text. On the dark control panel, there are eight white IQ Touch buttons on the left side for cycle selection, and one dryness button. (IQ-Touch is Electrolux’s name for its “always on” buttons.) The right side has four buttons for dry time, wrinkle release, delay start, and chime on/off. Below the panel and LED screen are controls for power, my favorites, temperature, and start/pause.
Inside the stainless steel drum, blue baffles offer a nice little unexpected pop of color. It has 4.0 feet of capacity, which isn’t quite twice the size of the Compact Washer’s 2.4 cubic feet.
Because it lacks a vent, the Electrolux model doesn’t need a duct to blow its hot air into the outside world, giving you more options for placement. At 33.5 inches tall, it’s a good stacking height, because most people will still be able to reach the front-control panel if it’s on top of its mate, the Compact Washer.
A little extra attention
If you’re used to dryers with vents, the Electrolux Compact Dryer will require a bit of getting used to. First and foremost, it’s going to take longer to dry clothes. The normal cycle says it takes an hour and 44 minutes, while the heavy duty cycle takes two hours and 19 minutes, and delicates will be done in just under an hour. There’s a fast dry option that takes 40 minutes.
The dryer does have a kit that will let you hook it up to a drain to get rid of the water it tumbles out of clothes, but it’s not a necessary attachment. If the Compact Dryer doesn’t release water to a drain, it will collect in a container inside a pullout drawer next to the control panel. Just like you empty the lint trap after each load, you dump out the water from the container. Below the dryer drawer, there’s a condenser you’ll occasionally have to clean, and you’ll get a prompt on the display when it’s necessary.
So many cycles, such varied times
If you walked up to the Compact Dryer with no idea how to work it, you could pretty easily turn on the machine, select the normal cycle, hit start, and let the machine do its thing. The IQ Touch buttons do seem to require that you jab them in the just the right spot before responding, so you could be fiddling with the specialty cycles for quite a bit. As a kind of “safety” feature (actually more of a “don’t mess up my laundry” feature), you have to power down the dryer before switching cycles. you also have to hold down the power button for a second to shut it down. With the front-control panel on a short machine, this is meant to reduces the number of times your hip (or your kids) accidentally knock a button and suddenly start baking your delicate fabrics. That said, the dryer won’t let you make silly mistakes, like turning the heat up in the delicates cycle. It simply says “not possible” when you hit the increase temperature button.
It isn’t going to handle a week’s worth of laundry for the whole family.
The Compact Dryer has seven regular cycles and four specialty ones, including a wool option. This is a different kind of spin than the regular cycle, because it’s designed to help your sweater lie flat and not get tossed out of shape. The dryer does let you customize your choices a bit, like upping the temperature on regular cycles. The options aren’t as robust as those in the companion Electrolux Compact Washer, but most people don’t venture far beyond the normal and delicate cycles for something as specific as an all-jeans load anyway.
Concerns about capacity for U.S. consumers used to mammoth dryer interiors are understandable. And if you’re doing a full load of laundry every day, this probably isn’t the machine for you. However, I fit three sets of full-size sheets in there and separately a full-size comforter. To simulate a regular load of laundry, I piled in 11 shirts (including t-shirts, button-downs, and blouses), two pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, a towel, and some miscellaneous items like underwear, socks, and a hand towel. The dryer could still freely tumble the items and dry them in the allotted time.
Wait for it
The drum has moisture-sensing bars that actually helped reduce some of the long drying times. Though a “mixed load” was supposed to take an hour and 56 minutes, it finished more than 10 minutes early. This sometimes resulted in slightly damp clothes, such as when my delicates cycle stopped after half an hour; the moisture-sensing feature does cut down on over-drying, however, which wastes energy and can be hard on fabric. I never had a situation where it left clothes far too wet, but for smaller loads that might not activate the sensors enough, there’s also a timed-dry option, which works without the moisture-sensing feature.
The DT Accessory Pack
The Electrolux Compact Dryer isn’t for everyone. Due to the nature of its compactness and ventlessness, its cycles are long and it isn’t going to handle a week’s worth of laundry for the whole family. But it can fit just about anywhere, making it ideal for condos and apartments. It also under-promises on drying times, and its moisture sensors help ensure you aren’t wasting energy by continuing to dry clothes that are already as arid as the desert.
Full of features and attractive, the Electrolux Compact Dryer is $900 at Home Depot. It’s a lot to ask for such a small package, but if compact and ventless is what you’re looking for, it has a bigger capacity than much of its competition and a fair amount of versatility with its cycles, temperatures, and times.