What's Right for Me: Stacked or Side-by-side Washer-Dryer?

By: Emilie Sennebogen  | 
To stack or not to stack?

Key Takeaways

  • Stacked washer-dryer units save space and are ideal for smaller living areas like apartments or condos, offering a quieter, electrically powered alternative to side-by-side models.
  • However, they may require the installation of a 240-volt outlet, increase electricity usage and feature smaller load sizes compared to standard washers and dryers.
  • Front-loaders provide flexibility, as certain models can be stacked for compact living spaces while still offering the efficiency and capacity of larger machines.

So you're in the market for a new washer and dryer. You probably already have a good idea of how much you want to spend and what features you need to help keep on top of your laundry load. The only question left to answer is -- to stack or not to stack? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each.


Side-by-Side Washer-Dryer

High-efficiency washer-dryers come with a number of options.
Jupiterimages/Getty Images/Comstock/Thinkstock

If you have space for a side-by-side unit, you'll have a wider selection of upgrades to choose from. You'll have the option of selecting a front-loader or top-loader, high-efficiency, large capacity, control-over settings and extra rinse cycles. You can even find machines with smart sensors that will automatically adjust such things as the water level and temperature. A side-by-side setup (with a front-load washer) can be concealed below a counter, which can also double as a folding table. The opening is closer to the ground, which is more convenient for loading than a stacked unit. And for all of you aesthetes, those front-loaders sure are good lookin'. If you want the bells and whistles, it will cost you but it will pay off in the long run in energy and water savings.


Stacked Washer-Dryer

The biggest pro of stacked units is their compact size. They're about the same price as middle-of-the-road top-loaders and cost considerably less than front- loaders. They're ideal for apartment or condo living, or if you're short on space for a dedicated laundry area. They're generally quieter than side-by-side models and use electricity rather than gas, which means you don't need to vent your dryer. Keep in mind, though, that electric dryers will cost you more to run than gas. They do, however, require a 240-volt outlet (regular outlets produce 120 volts), so this probably means hiring an electrician to install one. The load-sizes in these all-in-one stackable units tend to be a little smaller, though you can find units that compare to a standard top-loader. Another consideration is your height. If you happen to be vertically challenged, you may not be too hip on using a stepping stool to empty your dryer. If you've got some space to work with in your laundry area, but you're really not sure how you want your new units arranged, front-loaders offer the best of both worlds because certain models are designed to be stacked. Bottom line, you get your XL high-efficiency machine in a compact setup.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can stacked washer-dryer units be separated if I move to a larger space?
Yes, some stacked units are designed to be separable, allowing flexibility if you move to a space that accommodates side-by-side placement.
Do stacked washer-dryer units offer the same capacity as side-by-side units?
While some stacked units may have smaller capacities, there are models available that rival the load sizes of standard side-by-side units.

Lots More Information

Related Articles


  • "Clothes Dryers." Consumerenergycenter.org, 2010. http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/appliances/dryers.html
  • "Choose The Right Washing Machine For Your Family." Stackedwasherdryers.net, 2010. http://stackedwasherdryers.net/choose-the-right-washing-machine-for-your-family/
  • "Lively Laundry Rooms." Bhg.com, 2010.http://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/storage/around-the-house/laundry-room-decorating-ideas/?page=8
  • Petrowski, Elaine Martin. "The Latest Spin on Washers." Thisoldhouse.com, 2010. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,220011-2,00.html
  • "Washer buying guide." Reviews.cnet.com, December 10, 2009. http://reviews.cnet.com/washer-buying-guide/
  • "Washer Dryer Combos: Reviews." Consumersearch.com, 2010. http://www.consumersearch.com/washer-dryers