Lower-priced dryers may lack advanced features like speed dry or digital displays, and most don't have designer touches like fancy finishes, but this shouldn't be considered a deal-breaker, experts say. As long as your dryer offers a choice of temperatures, timed and automatic drying options, and a few fabric settings (such as cotton, delicates and permanent press), it should be able to handle any type of laundry. Many dryers costing less than $700 perform just as well as more expensive dryers in independent tests, but they generally score lower for convenience and noise level. We also saw more reliability complaints for dryers in this category.
In addition, budget dryers are more likely to break down just outside of the warranty period, which is typically one year, although some manufacturers offer longer coverage for specific components like the control panel. Extended warranties may be available, but experts recommend checking before you invest in a dryer to make sure there are technicians in your area qualified to provide warranty service for the make and model you choose.
Among budget-priced electric dryers, the best reviews go to the Whirlpool WED4900XW (*Est. $500) . This 7-cubic-foot dryer is pretty utilitarian in its appearance, but it does offer a pretty good range of features, including 13 drying programs, four temperature settings, a moisture sensor and an interior light. It also has a wrinkle control setting, which gives the clothes a tumble every five minutes after drying ends to help keep wrinkles from setting in. Its basic dial controls are actually a plus with many users, who find them more straightforward and easy to use than an elaborate digital control panel.
One unusual feature of this dryer is that its door is hinged at the bottom rather than on the side. Users say this prevents clean clothes from falling out onto the floor, and the open door makes a convenient shelf for folding. However, it may also make it harder to reach in and retrieve items from the back of the drum. Like most budget-priced dryers, the WED4900XW is available in white only and is covered by a standard one-year warranty. Whirlpool does not offer a corresponding washer for this dryer, but a couple of top-loading washers are similar to it in styling.
The Whirlpool WED4900XW gets mixed results in professional tests. Its drying performance, capacity and ease of use are all very good, but it's a bit on the noisy side. However, only a few user reviews mention this dryer's noise level, and we found only one that described it as a serious drawback. Instead, the 65 or so reviews we found at BestBuy.com and Lowes.com tend to focus on this dryer's performance, capacity and ease of use. Many owners say this model dries clothes quickly, although a couple of users say it takes more than one cycle to dry heavy items. We saw only a couple of complaints about durability; one user at Lowes.com reports a breakdown after six months, and another says that the powder-coated finish of the drum scratches easily. Overall, though, users are highly satisfied with this dryer, and more than nine out of 10 say they would recommend it.
The gas version of this dryer, the Whirlpool WGD4900XW (*Est. $670) , does not receive nearly as many reviews from users. We found only about 10 reviews each at Sears.com and at the Whirlpool site. Users at Sears.com award the dryer 4.5 stars out of 5, praising its performance, capacity and simple controls. However, reviewers at the Whirlpool site give this dryer a lower score (3.9 stars out of 5), with several complaining about noise and durability. With a sample size this small, it's not clear whether breakdowns are actually more common with the gas dryer than the electric version, but it is clear that owners are not as consistently happy with it.
Two other budget-priced dryers that get generally good reviews from users come from the Maytag Centennial line. The Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW (*Est. $550) is a basic 7-cubic-foot dryer with 10 drying cycles, five drying options, a powder-coated drum and dial controls. It also offers a few extras, including a moisture sensor, wrinkle prevention, a reversible door and an interior light. The Maytag Centennial MEDC200XW (*Est. $400) is similar in capacity and features, but it lacks a moisture sensor and has fewer adjustable settings. Also, its wrinkle-guard cycle runs for a maximum of 40 minutes, while the more expensive dryer's runs for up to 90 minutes. Both dryers come only in white and are backed by a one-year warranty. Their corresponding washers are the Maytag Centennial MVWC300XW (*Est. $530) and the Maytag Centennial MVWC200XW (*Est. $540) , both traditional top loaders.
Neither of the Maytag dryers has been included in any professional tests, but both get fairly good reviews from users at Lowes.com and HomeDepot.com. Surprisingly, we found slightly better reviews for the more basic MEDC200XW. It receives more than 340 reviews altogether, with average ratings of around 4.4 stars out of 5, and 89 percent of users say they would recommend it. Most owners praise this model's drying performance, large capacity and quietness. However, there is some disagreement among users about how long it takes to get clothes dry; estimates range from 55 minutes to three hours for a large load. We also read reports of dryers breaking down anywhere from two weeks to two years after purchase, resulting in hefty repair bills. The gas version of the dryer, the Maytag Centennial MGDC200XW (*Est. $640) , gets similar comments -- both positive and negative.
The MEDC300XW has about 140 reviews in total, with overall ratings between 4.1 and 4.5 stars out of a possible 5. On the whole, comments for this dryer are similar to those for its less expensive cousin; users generally praise its large capacity, quietness and drying performance. Many owners also say it saves energy with its sensor drying feature. However, complaints about long drying time are slightly more common with this model than with the cheaper MEDC200XW. Durability complaints also seem to pop up slightly more often with this dryer. Several owners say their dryers failed around the three-year mark, while a few say their dryers broke down in the first six months or were defective right out of the box. And although most users find this dryer quiet, we did see a few complaints about excessive noise.
Interestingly, we did not see nearly the same rate of complaints about the gas version of this dryer, the Maytag Centennial MGDC300XW (*Est. $600) . In roughly 40 reviews at HomeDepot.com, this dryer earns an overall rating of 4.7 stars, and 94 percent of users say they would recommend it. Users say the moisture sensor on this dryer works well, and we found only one complaint about long drying times. We also did not see any complaints at all about durability for the gas dryer.
Unlike its electric equivalent, the MGDC300XW gets significantly better ratings than the cheaper MGDC200XW, and one owner specifically recommends the MGDC300XW as a better value than its more basic cousin. We did see a couple of complaints about this dryer's noise level, but overall users seem to have no problems with it. These consistently positive reviews make the Maytag Centennial MGDC300XW our pick for the Best-Reviewed gas dryer in the budget price range.