Are you researching new dryers and wondering about the differences between a gas dryer vs electric dryer? There are a few situations in which you may need to decide which type of fuel you want your dryer to use - for example, if you have both fuels available in an existing home, or you are building a new home and trying to decide which hookups to install.
Most common dryer models come in both gas and electric but there are key differences to consider. Let's take a closer look at the major factors that set them apart - and check out our dryer buying guide for more info on choosing a new dryer.
How Do They Work?
Clothes dryers need to heat the air in some way to dry your clothes as they tumble inside of the rotating drum. Besides unique types of electric dryers, such as ventless dryers, your typical electric dryer will use electricity (usually 240 volts) to power the heating elements. A gas dryer uses a burner to produce heat, similar to a gas range or water heater, and can usually be plugged into a regular 120 volt outlet to power the drum and control panel.
Both gas and electric dryers need to be vented - gas dryers produce carbon dioxide gas in addition to lint and steam. You can tell whether an existing home is set up for a gas or electric dryer by seeing what type of outlet is available in the designated laundry area: a regular outlet with a capped off gas line nearby means the home is set up for a gas dryer. A larger outlet with three or four prong holes is for an electric dryer.
Fuel Source Costs
Gas dryers come out of the factory set up to work with natural gas. If you want to run your dryer off of liquid propane (LP), you'll need a conversion kit, which are usually sold by the dryer manufacturer. Propane is a more common fuel source for many homes, but natural gas tends to be cheaper - about 1/3 less than the price of propane. You may be able to close this gap if you order propane in bulk to fuel other appliances in addition to the dryer. There will be a cost for the LP conversion kit and the actual process of doing the conversion itself. The total cost for labor and materials is generally less than $100, but you should check with your appliance retailer.
Electric dryers generally cost more to operate - electricity is usually more expensive than natural gas. They usually can't reach as high a temperature as gas dryers, so it can take longer for your clothes to dry in an electric dryer. A ventless condensation dryer will offer greater operating cost savings than a traditional vented model. Depending on your unique situation, the cost of converting a single appliance (the dryer) to natural gas may or may not be worth it - it depends on the utility costs in your area and the availability of the fuel sources. A gas dryer may cost up to half as much to operate per load as an electric dryer!
Installation & Pricing
Electric dryers are fairly easy to install where the proper size plug is present. You just set them in place and plug them in. With gas, on the other hand, you'll generally need a plumber or other professional to connect the gas to the dyer. This is an important logistical consideration, and it will be more expensive if you need to run a gas line. If your laundry area already has a gas shutoff valve attached to a flexible piped gas line, the installation cost can range from just $100-250.
In general, the same model from the same manufacturer will price at least $100 higher in gas than in electric. This by itself isn't too big of a factor, and the potential installation costs are a bigger issue if converting from electric to gas or trying to decide between a gas dryer vs an electric dryer.
Safety & Repairs
We'll cut right to the chase: today's gas dryers are just as safe as electric dryers with proper installation and upkeep. Modern gas dryers use surface ignitors rather than pilot lights, unlike gas dryers from the 90s or earlier. Their repair rates are very similar. You aren't taking a significant risk either in safety hazards or repair needs whether you choose an electric or gas dryer model.
If you are the type to prefer DIY maintenance and repair, keep in mind that gas dryers usually require a qualified technician, while an electric dryer may be easier to troubleshoot yourself. Typical repair issues down the road for a gas dryer include ignitors, flame sensors, gas valves, and thermal fuses. With electric dryers, issues may involve the heating element, fuses, and thermostat.
Keeping your vents and ducts clean goes a long way towards keeping your dryer in the best condition possible and reducing fire hazards. Other common repairs for dryers include the safety coils, drum belt, and door latch. The average cost to repair either type of dryer is $100-$400, according to Home Advisor.
Quick Comparison: Gas vs Electric
When it comes to features and styling, gas dryers are less common in the US, so there are fewer gas dryer models overall. Many dryers are available in gas and electric versions with features like steam cycles and sensor dry.
The advantages of electric dryers include...
Lower upfront costs (purchase price and installation)
Easy to install
Ventless models are available
More features and styling options available since they are more popular
DIY maintenance and troubleshooting is usually easier
The advantages of gas dryers include...
Lower operating costs (up to half the cost of an electric dryer)
Dries clothes more quickly
Can operate off of liquid propane or natural gas depending on your needs
We hope you enjoyed this article and will explore the variety of other blogs we've published on related topics. Also, please feel free to leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!
Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in May of 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy as of the publication date noted above.