Samsung DV520AEW/XAA
Samsung DV520AEW/XAA

Best electric dryer

The Samsung DV520AEW/XAA is an electric dryer that gets very good reviews from both professionals and owners. This 7.5-cubic-foot dryer features a steam function that can be used in two ways: for freshening clothes or removing wrinkles. It also has 13 drying programs, adjustable temperature and an LCD control panel. Other useful features include an interior drum light, a reversible door (so the dryer can be installed on either side of the washer), a drying rack and a moisture sensor, which saves energy and helps prevent overdrying. Samsung's warranty covers the whole washer for one year and the control board for two. Reviewers say this dryer provides fast, quiet drying performance, and the steam cycle is good for getting out wrinkles. The only complaint we saw about this dryer -- aside from its relatively high price tag -- is that bulky items tend to ball up and don't dry completely.
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Samsung DV520AGW/XAA
Samsung DV520AGW/XAA

Best gas dryer

If you have a choice between gas and electric dryers, a gas model will usually save you money in the long run. The Samsung DV520AGW/XAA is the gas-powered version of the highly rated Samsung DV520AEW/XAA electric dryer (above), and it has the same features and warranty. Like most gas dryers, this model gets far less feedback from users than its electric equivalent, but the few owner reviews we found are positive. Users say it offers good performance, both for drying and removing wrinkles on the steam setting. We found no complaints about this gas dryer.
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*Est. $1,050 Estimated Price
Whirlpool WED4900XW
Whirlpool WED4900XW

Best budget electric dryer

Despite its relatively low price, the Whirlpool WED4900XW has the most important feature for any dryer: a moisture sensor, which saves energy and helps prevent overdrying. It also includes wrinkle prevention and an interior drum light. The 7-cubic-foot dryer has 13 drying cycles, four temperature settings, simple dial controls and a one-year warranty. It gets very good scores in independent tests for its drying performance and convenience, but its noise level is only so-so. Most owners praise its performance, capacity and ease of use, though a few say it takes too long to dry heavy loads. Complaints about durability are few, especially for a dryer in this price range. One feature many users like is the pull-down door, which keeps clean clothes from falling onto the floor.
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Maytag Centennial MGDC300XW
Maytag Centennial MGDC300XW

Best budget gas dryer

This dryer is the gas version of the Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW (*Est. $550), but it gets better reviews from users than its electric sibling. This 7-cubic-foot dryer has basic dial controls and a powder-coated drum rather than stainless steel. However, it does include some useful extras: wrinkle prevention, a reversible door, an interior light and, most importantly, an energy-saving moisture sensor. Although it is not included in any professional tests, this dryer gets high marks from users, who praise its drying performance, capacity, features and value. We did see a couple of complaints about the dryer's noise level, but most users don't consider it a serious problem. The dryer is backed by a standard one-year warranty.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Clothes Dryers Runners Up:

Maytag Centennial MEDC200XW *Est. $400

2 picks including: HomeDepot.com, J.D. Power & Associates…

Kenmore 6800 *Est. $800

2 picks including: J.D. Power & Associates, Sears.com…

LG DLG4802W *Est. $800

1 pick including: HomeDepot.com, J.D. Power & Associates…

Comparing reviews of clothes dryers

When it comes to choosing the best clothes dryer, consumers have two choices: gas or electric. Electric clothes dryers, which require a 240-volt wall plug, are less expensive than comparable gas dryers by anywhere from $50 to $150 on average. However, gas dryers are generally cheaper to operate because natural gas rates are cheaper than electricity in most areas, according to the California Energy Commssion.

Despite this, about 80 percent of clothes dryers sold today are electric, according to ConsumerReports.org, and there are far fewer user or professional reviews for gas dryers. Tests show little difference in performance between gas and electric versions of the same dryer, so we include the corresponding gas dryer for each model covered in our report.

ConsumerReports.org offers the best information on clothes dryers, with comprehensive and credible ratings. Editors test about 75 electric dryers and rate them on drying performance, noise, convenience and capacity. The gas-powered versions of each top-rated dryer are also recommended (if they exist).

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute also conducts thorough tests of both gas and electric dryers, but their results are less detailed than those at ConsumerReports.org. Although each dryer is rated with a letter grade, the write-ups accompanying these grades are brief. The editors list pros and cons for some of the tested dryers, but others have only a short paragraph listing their highlights.

Professional tests can evaluate a dryer's performance, but not its long-term reliability. To gauge customer satisfaction, we consulted the 2011 Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates. While this survey records the opinions of more than 5,500 consumers on numerous dryer bands, evaluating each on such factors as performance, features and price, it doesn't compare specific dryer models.

A host of retail and user-review sites give owners a chance to weigh in on their clothes dryers. While such reviews rarely approach the depth and knowledge of the pros, many offer insights into usage over time and sometimes delve into practical matters that the experts overlook. Retail sites such as HomeDepot.com, BestBuy.com, Lowes.com and Sears.com all have a good number of user reviews. Some owner feedback can also be found on Viewpoints.com and Epinions.com.

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