When choosing between a separate washer and dryer or an all-in-one combination, there are some advantages and drawbacks that should be considered. One of the most obvious advantages of an all-in-one unit is the space savings. Since many of these units are about the size of a standard dishwasher and can fit under a countertop, they offer those with limited space a laundry option [source: Lee]. Since you don't have to run a vent outside, the ventless versions offer even more flexibility of positioning.
Along with space savings, there is also an element of time savings. Since these units have settings to let you both wash and dry at the same time, you don't have to worry about remembering to switch over the laundry. This may also alleviate the need for a second wash if you forget to switch over those wet clothes and they start to smell moldy.
Finally, all-in-one units can be energy savers. First off, the washing portions of these machines work much like front-loading washing machines. Front-loading washing machines typically use less water than traditional top-loading units; for this reason, these units also use less energy to heat the reduced amount of water [source: Federal Trade Commission, California Energy Commission]. Front-loaders also can spin more quickly and usually produce drier clothes at the end of the cycle, meaning less time in the dryer [source: Federal Trade Commission, California Energy Commission].
All-in-one units do have their drawbacks, or at least qualities that you should consider before purchasing one. While washer dryer combos are space-saving, that can mean a reduced capacity when it comes to load size [source: Lee]. Maximum load sizes for a combined wash-and-dry cycle can range from 6-10 pounds depending on the unit [source: LG Electronics, Ariston]. A cycle for an all-in-one unit can also take a longer time than stand-alone machines, ranging from about 2-3 hours [source: Lee, LG Electronics].
With both advantages and disadvantages, a washer dryer combo must be evaluated as any other appliance before making your final decision on the laundry system that's right for your needs. For lots more information on home appliances, see the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Gas Association. "Dry Two Loads of Laundry with National Gas for Same Cost as One Load with Electricity." (Feb. 10, 2010) http://www.aga.org/Kc/aboutnaturalgas/consumerinfo/TwoLoadsofLaundry.htm
- Ariston. "Washer Dryer." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.aristonappliances.us/index.asp?p=gamas&gama=4
- California Energy Commission. "Consumer Energy Center: Clothes Washers." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/appliances/washers.html
- Creative Laundry Systems, Inc. "Combination Washers and Dryers." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.creativelaundry.com/product_line/combination-washer-dryers.cfm
- Deco. "DC 3720 CEE White Deco Combo Washer Dryer." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.decoappliances.com/productdetails.php?id=8
- Editors of Time-Life Books. "How Things Work in Your Home (and what to do when they don't)." Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1985.
- ENERGY STAR. "Clothes Washers for Consumers." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=find_a_product.showProductGroup&pgw_code=CW
- Equator Advanced Appliances. "Equator Combo Washer Dryer Owners Manuel." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.equatorappliances.com/ownersmanuel/3720%20-%20Owner%27s%20manuel.pdf
- Federal Trade Commission. "Buying a Washing Machine? It's a Loaded Question." June 2000. (Feb. 12, 2010) http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt070.shtm
- "Fix-It-Yourself: Major Appliances." Time-Life Books. 1987.
- Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative. "Clothes Dryers." (Feb. 10, 2010) http://www.gcec.com/knowledge.aspx?id=105
- Haier. "1.7 Cu. Ft. 1000 RPM Washer/Dryer Combo." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.haieramerica.com/en/product/HWD1000
- Innovative Washing. "Combination Washer Dryers--An Overview." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.washerdryercombo.com/
- Lee, Michael. Vice president of marketing, Thor Appliance Company. Personal interview and correspondence. (Feb. 9, 2010)
- LG Electronics. "LG Washer/Dryer Combo." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.lge.com/us/appliances/washer-dryer-combos/index.jsp
- San Diego Gas & Electric Company. "Facts about Clothes Washers and Dryers." (Feb. 8, 2010) http://www.sdge.com/documents/forms/washersDryers.pdf
- Summit Appliances. "Washer Dryer Combos for Every Need." (Feb. 10, 2010) http://www.summitappliance.com/housecare