Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?

Hello,

I'm new to the forum and a solar energy newbie, with a very small background in college physics in the distant past. Please excuse the ignorance of this post if it seems silly.

I've been looking into purchase of an electric versus gas "large capacity, energy efficient" dryer. I've read the pro's/con's of each:

Electric dryer: $50-100 less expensive up front ($92 in the case of the dryers I'm looking at), may have longer operational life

Gas dryer: more energy efficient, less expensive to operate over time, potential expensive pilot light failure during the lifetime of the dryer, instant heat, shorter drying time, higher heat (may burn clothes?), funny gas smell if opened mid-cyle, potential problems if inadequate ventilation

ConsumerEnergyCenter.com reports, "Generally speaking, the cost of electricity needed to dry a typical load of laundry is 30 to 40 cents, compared to 15 to 20 cents if you use gas."

Following this rationale, it will take 460 loads (possibly 1-2 years?) of operation to make up the cost difference in energy for purchase of a gas dryer.

Our in-unit laundry room has both gas and electric hook-ups. We are currently renting and this is our first washer/dryer purchase.

Here are some specs for the dryers I'm interested in:

Electric (GE - DCVH680GJ):
27'' Electric Dryer with 7.0 cu. ft. Capacity, Multiple Cycles, Moisture Sensor, ADA Compliant and Deluxe Dryer Rack, 5 heat selections, 4 exhaust options, 240V,5600W,24A,60Hz or 208V,4400W,22A,60Hz

vs. the Gas Model (GE - DCVH680GJ):
27'' Gas Dryer with 7.0 cu. ft. Capacity, Multiple Cycles, Moisture Sensor, ADA Compliant and Deluxe Dryer Rack, 5 heat selections, 3 exhaust options, Gas (BTU/HR): 22,000 Factory-equipped for Natural gas
Volts/Hertz/Amps: 120 V, 60 H, 6A

I don't mind that the gas dryer is more expensive. We have gas hook-ups and can vent the exhaust safely. I'm curious if the electric dryer may actually be more energy cost-efficient if we eventually use solar-powered electricity. (We would like to purchase a home in the next year or two and plan to install solar panels.)

This may be a completely moronic question, but, given the volatile trends in the fossil fuel market, could natural gas eventually become more expensive to utilize than electricity?

I appreciate all comments and suggestions.

T2 in SF

Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?

    The best answer is no dryer at all! Line dry outside, or even line dry inside if needed. In most climates laundry will dry in a day at most out side. Inside, most areas need indoor humidity added anyway, (save the PNW and perhaps Fl.) I know that there places that ban laundry lines, but my answer is too bad,,I would hang it out anyway. I know that there is a convienence issue, but what can I say,, you give up energy savings for convienence.

    You can do all kind of hand wringing about which is better for the environment, but unless your electricity comes from a renewable source it is a bit of a Hobbson's choice.

    Icarus
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,015 admin
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?

    We line dry most of the time, and use the drier some during the winter (rather than taking 3 days to dry in wet weather, and end up with mold in our garage).

    A modern gas drier usually does not use a pilot light--but some sort of electric/electronic ignitor. So, you don't have to worry about that waste of natural gas.

    I have also used a kill-a-watt meter and found that I can reduce our washer/drier energy use by 40-50% by just turning off the AC outlet to the appliances when they are not running. "Turned off" they where taking around 9 watts--which, in 24 hours was about what my washer would use for 1 load.

    I noticed that a couple of brand new energy start appliances now use less than 1 watt on "standby"--a huge improvement to my 20 year old solid state stereo which used 40 watts on standby.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?
    icarus wrote: »
    The best answer is no dryer at all! Line dry outside, or even line dry inside if needed. In most climates laundry will dry in a day at most out side. Icarus

    ha ha! this is the best answer....! so TCTMD any more questions????
  • sub3marathonmansub3marathonman Solar Expert Posts: 300 ✭✭✭
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?
    BB. wrote: »
    I have also used a kill-a-watt meter and found that I can reduce our washer/drier energy use by 40-50% by just turning off the AC outlet to the appliances when they are not running. "Turned off" they where taking around 9 watts--which, in 24 hours was about what my washer would use for 1 load.

    I noticed that a couple of brand new energy start appliances now use less than 1 watt on "standby"--a huge improvement to my 20 year old solid state stereo which used 40 watts on standby.

    -Bill

    When you say "just turning off the AC outlet to the appliances" does that mean you are switching it at the circuit breaker? Because I thought that practice was frowned upon. And it would seem to be impossible to keep unplugging and plugging it back in. The one other advantage to doing that too is it prevents any surges or lightning from damaging it. I think my washing machine circuit board was damaged one time because of a surge and I had to replace the board for $150.:grr
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,015 admin
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?

    I just use a switched power strip. The "power on" red LED on the power strip is a handy reminder when it is on and needs to be turned off.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?
    BB. wrote: »
    I just use a switched power strip. The "power on" red LED on the power strip is a handy reminder when it is on and needs to be turned off. -Bill

    Thanks for the tip BB. I'm putting my Kill-o-watt meter on our washer and dryer tonight. They are both older Neptunes with mechanical timers so I've always assumed they didn't pull any juice once turned off.

    But I've never checked. I have everything else in the house on a switch except the fridge. They DO have circuit boards but DON'T have digital displays/controls so it'll be easy enough to confirm they aren't sucking up valuable power when not in use.

    Phil
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?

    How dumb are manufactures? Mechanical timers have worked well for years,,, now we have to have electronic ones that not only draw current 24/7, but can't be repaired, only replaced!

    I have always assumed that the solenoid valves were NC, and only drew current when they were open. (Must be that way, or every time you had a power outage the water would turn on now that I think about it!) I don't think older mechanical timer units draw current when idle.

    I think I will keep using my Honda powered wringer for another few decades!

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,015 admin
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?

    Mechanical timer units probably do not draw power--but it does not hurt to check.

    The bigger offenders are probably 5-20 year old electronics... My new TV, draws 1 watt or less on standby... My 20 year old stereo (my first CD player)--draws 20-40 watts on standby (now on switch power strip and don't worry about the blinking 12:00 display).

    If you use lots of power (AC, electric heat, well pumps, etc.)--worrying about 9 watts from a washer/drier or 4 watts from a cell phone charger probably is not worth upsetting the spouse over.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?

    Stupid satellite receivers draw ~30 watts,,, on or off. They say they should be left "hot" so that they can get software updates! Put them on an outlet strip and kill them when they are "off". It takes about 5 minutes to gather satellite signal upon turn on, but so what?

    Tony
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Natural Gas versus Solar Electric Dryer?
    icarus wrote: »
    Stupid satellite receivers draw ~30 watts,,, on or off. They say they should be left "hot" so that they can get software updates! Put them on an outlet strip and kill them when they are "off". It takes about 5 minutes to gather satellite signal upon turn on, but so what?

    Tony

    I think my Dish receiver draws more.... 9 amps of 12V IIRC.. even tho it's "off".

    I keep it on a switched outlet strip too and just have to deal with the "acquiring satellite" for a few minutes when we want to watch TV. That strip is controlled by a wall switch and is for ALL entertainment equipment.

    And I checked. My Maytag Neptune (old style with mechanical timers) doesn't draw any power when off. Dryer nor washer.


    Phil
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