Choosing a washer-dryer combo or laundry center
Strapped for space? One option may be a laundry center, which includes a
washer and dryer in one stacked unit. These machines come in 24- or 27-inch
widths, and they are a little shorter than full-size stackable washer and
dryers, usually measuring between 70 and 75 inches high. However, a laundry
center typically has fewer features than a full-size washer and dryer, and
its capacity is much lower; you'll have to run more loads to wash the same
amount of laundry. In addition, with some of the smaller, 24-inch-wide laundry
centers, the washer and dryer cannot be run at the same time.
The most compact option is a washer-dryer combo, which washes and dries
laundry in the same tub. These units typically measure 24 to 27 inches wide
and 33 to 35 inches tall, and they can fit into smaller spaces than stackable
washers and dryers or laundry centers. They don't require a vent to the outside
and run on standard 120-volt outlets. However, most washer-dryer combos have
very small capacities, and long drying times are a frequent complaint on
user-review sites. This option is likely best for consumers who don't have
much laundry, because owners often report that it can take several hours
to complete even a small load.
In general, experts say to consider the following when shopping for a laundry
center or washer-dryer combo:
- Remember, separate washers and
dryers can often be stacked to save space. However, only models labeled
as stackable can safely be stacked. Consumers will also need to buy
a kit to mount the appliances. It's also important to keep in mind that
the total height of the stack may make the dryer hard to reach.
- Laundry centers
are easier to reach than stacked washers and dryers. However, they
tend to have fewer features than separate appliances, and 27-inch units
take up almost as much floor space. Twenty-four-inch units will often fit
in a closet or kitchen, but they don't hold as much laundry.
- Washer-dryer combos can be
used in rooms without outside dryer vents. This makes them a great
choice for apartment dwellers, but they do have some serious drawbacks.
They have limited capacity, may take several hours to finish a load of
laundry and are prone to breakdowns.
- Front-loading washers use less
water and electricity than top-loading washers. Their fast spin speed
removes more water from clothing to cut drying time, which also makes
them easier on fabrics. Most laundry centers are top-loading, and washer-dryer
combos are typically front-loading.
- It's worth paying extra for a
moisture sensor in the dryer. A moisture sensor monitors the level
of moisture in the load, automatically shutting the machine off when clothes
are dry. Although it costs extra, a moisture sensor helps save energy
and reduces wear and tear on fabric.
- A gas dryer will cost less to
run over the long haul. Gas dryers are more expensive initially, but
experts say they typically cost less to operate, depending on your local
utility rates. All the laundry centers covered in our report are available
in both electric and gas versions. Washer-dryer combos, however, are
- Think carefully about extra warranties. Like their full-size counterparts, laundry centers and washer-dryer
combos usually come with a one-year warranty. Some manufacturers offer
extended warranties, but experts generally recommend skipping them because
they are expensive and there's no guarantee that the unit will break down
during the warranty period. However, some owners specifically recommend
making an exception in the case of washer-dryer combos, saying that their
machines required multiple repairs in the first five years.