Unlike washers, most dryers come in only one basic configuration: front-loading. They have a hinged door on the front panel of the unit that affords access to the dryer drum. Aside from size and capacity (dryers are available in widths ranging from about 20" for a compact model to 32" or more for a full-size), particular features really differentiate each dryer from its competitors. Many dryers are compatible with stacking kits, and can also be installed on pedestals to match the height of your washing machine.
Choosing Your Fuel Type
There is one big decision you'll have to make when purchasing any dryer: choosing between electric and gas.
An electric dryer requires a 240-volt outlet, while a gas dryer needs a natural-gas hookup. Before you shop for a new dryer, be sure to verify which option your home has (some offer both). Some gas dryers may require a special conversion kit to fit within the parameters of the existing natural gas connection in your home.
Most dryer models are available in versions that accommodate either fuel type. Gas dryers typically cost about $50 to $100 more than comparable electric models — but they'll likely save you enough in energy costs over the long term to more than cover the difference, so don't discount the gas option if you have a choice.
Special Features to Consider
Some dryers have the option to connect the dryer to a water source to provide special steam cycle options. This may require connection to a water source nearby, and some models may have an option to pull water via a connection to the back of a washing machine. Steam cycles introduce moist air vapors during key times of the drying cycle, which can help reduce static, release and reduce wrinkles, and soften some types of fabrics.
Flexible Venting Options If you are thinking about moving and taking your appliances with you, or if you are planning for a newly built home and you are unsure of what the final layout of your space will work with, choosing a model with flexible venting options might be a good choice for you. Flexible venting options provide multiple ventilation connection points on the dryer, so you can arrange and connect it as needed later on.
Ventless Drying Ventless dryers, also called condenser dryers, allow flexible drying options without the hassle of connecting the dryer to a ventilation system. These models tend to be more compact than traditional dryer styles. These dryers are a great solution for those who cannot make modifications to their homes to allow for the addition of a ventilation system.
Wi-Fi Connectivity & Smart Diagnostics
Some dryers will provide you with options to interact with your connected home system and/or smart phone. Features can range from providing instant diagnostics and reports on your dryer's performance to sending notifications to your smartphone when your load is complete.