Combo washer dryer
A combo washer dryer (also known more simply as a washer-dryer in the UK) is a combination in a single cabinet of a washing machine and a clothes dryer. It should not be confused with a "stackable" combination of a separate washing machine and a separate clothes dryer.
Combination washer dryers are popular amongst those living in smaller urban properties as they only need half the amount of space usually required for a separate washing machine and clothes dryer, and may not require an external air vent. Additionally, combination washer dryers allow clothes to be washed and dried "in one go", saving time and effort from the user. Many washer dryer combo units are also designed to be portable so they can be attached to a sink instead of requiring a separate water line.
Washer dryer combinations are a type of home appliance that handles the basic laundering duties of washing and drying clothes. These machines are often referred to as "combo washer dryers" or "all-in-one washer dryers," but basically the washer dryer combo is the size of a standard or compact washing machine, but is able to perform both washing and drying functions. Designed to handle different types of fabric and garments such as clothes, sheets, and towels, washer dryer combos usually have functions such as temperature controls, customizable cycle controls, and ventless systems. While combo washer dryers are not as effective and efficient as some full-sized, fully functional, separate washer and dryer machines, the combos provide a viable option for those who can benefit from having a compact machine that is able to wash and dry clothes.
- 1 History
- 2 Early history of washing machines
- 3 Early history of drying machines
- 4 History of combination washers and dryers
- 5 Combos, stackables, and laundry centers
- 6 Ventilation
- 7 Typical features of washer dryer combos
- 8 Capacity
- 9 Detergent
- 10 Benefits
- 11 Disadvantages
- 12 Brands
- 13 References
- 14 External links
The history of the washer dryer combo is part of the history of washing machines and drying machines. For centuries, the necessity to wash and dry clothing has been almost as basic as the necessity of clothing itself. However, before washing and drying machines were invented, the laundering of clothes was done by hand at rivers, streams, or other sources of water. Rocks, sticks, corrugated wash boards, and other rudimentary tools were often used to help in the washing process. After a good wash, the clothes would be left to dry in the sun. People then learned to use cranks, levers, and rollers to create the first washing and drying machines. The scrub board was then invented in 1797. Instead of pounding the dirty laundry with a rock, launderers used the washboard for scrubbing away the grime. Although easier than the earlier methods of cleaning clothes, it was still laborious for people then who had to use harsh lye soaps and hot water.
Early history of washing machines
Like many other forms of machinery and technology, washing and drying machines were created as a means of making laundering tasks easier, faster, and more convenient. One of the first innovations in washing machine technology was the use of enclosed containers or basins that had grooves, fingers, or paddles to help with the scrubbing and rubbing of the clothes. The person using the washer would use a stick to press and rotate the clothes along the textured sides of the basin or container, agitating the clothes to remove dirt and mud. This crude agitator technology was hand-powered, but still more effective than actually hand-washing the clothes.
More advancements were made to washing machine technology in the form of the rotating drum design. Basically, these early design patents consisted of a drum washer that was hand-cranked to make the wooden drums rotate. While the technology was simple enough, it was a milestone in the history of washing machines, as it introduced the idea of "powered" washing drums. As metal drums started to replace the traditional wooden drums, it allowed for the drum to turn above an open fire or an enclosed fire chamber, raising the water temperature for more effective washes. Still, it would not be until the 19th century when steam power  and, in the 20th century, electricity would be used in washing machine designs
Early history of drying machines
In the late 18th century, the first type of dryer technology was introduced with a simple, hand-operated machine called a mangle wringer. This machine consisted of rollers and cranks so that the operator would insert the garments on one side and crank it through the tightly-compressed rollers, wringing much of the water and soap from the garments. During the 18th century, wringers and manglers were a separate machine from the washing machine. It was not until the mid-19th century when the first wringer/washer combo was patented and developed, with the wringer sitting atop the washing drum. This invention allowed for convenience and ease of use. Because the wringer sat on top of the washing drum, the water wrung from the garments would fall straight into the tub to be reused for the next batch of garments.
Another simple yet ingenious innovation in the history of dryers came about before the turn of 19th century. Designed by a French man named Poncho in 1799, the early dryer did more than just wring clothes, but it actually aided in fully drying the clothes. This early design was referred to as the ventilator, because it allowed the clothes to vent out and dry completely. The ventilator was a metal drum that had holes along its sides. The drum was usually hand-turned over an open fire, allowing the clothes to dry much faster than simply wringing and air-drying. Essentially, this ventilator design was the main idea behind most dryer machine designs up to the late-19th century, when attention started to turn toward using stoves to dry the clothes. Finally, in the 20th century, the invention of electrical drying machines made these ventilator-type machines obsolete.
History of combination washers and dryers
Aside from the early wringer/washer machine of the mid-19th century, washing and drying machines were not combined until the fully electronic versions of the machines were better perfected in the latter half of the 20th century. Shortly after the very first completely automatic clothes washer was developed by General Electric in 1947, the same company also invented the first washer dryer combination unit in 1954. Throughout the years, washing machines, drying machines, and combo machines alike have received numerous improvements in technology, making for better functionality, effectiveness, and efficiency. Today, washer dryer combination units have many of the features that would be found on a typical washer and dryer. While these units are far more popular in Europe and some countries in the East, they are gaining popularity in the United States as a practical and functional laundry solution.
Combos, stackables, and laundry centers
Many consumers confuse the term "washer dryer combo" for similar washer and dryer configurations like stackable machines and laundry centers. The main design factor that distinguishes washer dryer combos from other configurations is the fact that the washer dryer combo is a single machine (typically the size of a stand-alone washing machine) that can do both washing and drying tasks in the single combo machine.
Stackable machines, on the other hand, are defined by two separate machines, a washer and a dryer, stacked on top of one another. These stackable machines are often a good choice for large families that still need the full capacity and functionality of a washer and dryer without having to compromise too much regarding space. Most stackable washer and dryer configurations come in the front-loading design as opposed to the top-loading design, which makes it easier to access both the washer and dryer while they are stacked.
The "laundry center" is a compromise between the stackable and the combo configurations. Like the washer dryer combo, the laundry center is a one-piece appliance. Like the stackable configuration, the laundry center comprises two separate machines, the washer and the dryer. In most laundry centers, the dryer is mounted above the washer, making for a one-piece design that offers the compact footprint of a washer dryer combo with the functionality and capacity of stackable washing machines and drying machines
Some combination washer dryers are ventless because they have a two-drum system that forces the hot, moist air into the outer drum where a condensation process cools the air and condenses the water vapor out of it. The water is flushed out the drain hose to the sink or through the plumbing lines. These units are easy to install under cabinets, in closets or anywhere with electricity because of their lack of vents.
Typical features of washer dryer combos
Most washer dryer combination units are of the front-loading design. This allows for easier access, better efficiency, and more effective washes than top-loading designs. Instead of just leaving the clothes to soak in the water throughout the entire wash, like a top-loading machine would do, the front-loading design tilts the drum on its side, so that the contents of the drum are repeatedly lifted in and out of the water throughout the wash cycle.
Condensation-based ventless drying system
Most washer dryer combos are ventless and are designed with drying systems that work differently from the ordinary stand-alone (vented) dryer. Instead of venting hot air outside, like a conventional dryer would, the combo unit makes use of condensation similarly to condenser dryers. Hot dry(er) air enters the drum from either the front or the rear and evaporates some of the moisture from the tumbling clothing. This warm, damp air is then drawn through a condensing chamber.
Typically in separate-condenser dryers, cool air is used to cool down the process air from the inside drum and to condense the vapour. In combined washer dryer units, however, cold water is used instead. The water flows in the opposite direction to the air, allowing the air to cool and to release its moisture, which is pumped out along with the water used to cool the air. These machines normally take longer than regular dryers, because the combo unit has a smaller drum, so there is less volume to allow air circulation and the drum itself must be dried immediately after a wash cycle . This water-fed drying system is not particularly environmentally friendly, as water is required for both the washing and drying phases of the program.
Automatic sensors and systems
Washer dryer combinations are normally built with a number of sensors and systems to automate much of the washing and drying cycles. Some of the higher model washer dryer combos have sensors that monitor water level, suds levels, temperature levels, and garment dryness. The information gathered by these sensors are used to control the spin speed, cycle settings, draining systems, operational noise, and other functions.
Child lock features
Some washer dryer combination units have child lock features to help keep children and the machines themselves safe. Considering that these machines have compact builds that make them an ideal fit in small homes, it may be easy for children to reach these machines, which is why child lock features are important.
The amount a combo washer dryer unit can hold varies depending on the type of unit. Most hold a slightly smaller amount compared to full size machines. LG makes the only full size washer dryer combos available in the US. Like the equivalent difference between washers and dryers, the washing capacity is greater than the drying capacity on most combo units. Airflow through the drum is a necessary part of clothes drying, so the difference is greater (these units can generally dry only 1/2 to 3/4 of their maximum wash capacity).
Because combo units use less water than regular washing machines, they require less detergent and detergent that has fewer suds than regular detergent.
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The main benefit of washer dryer combination units is their compactness. The small size of these machines compared to the total space consumed by a separate washer and dryer suits them to small homes, apartments, condominiums, and any place where space is an issue. Aside from having a small footprint, combo units also have a small height, allowing them to fit into confined places, like under a kitchen counter or in a closet.
Another potential benefit of combo washer dryers, compared to larger, separate machines, is portability. Some models have wheels that make it easy to move them in and out of different rooms, cabinets, or closets, and the ability to operate without dedicated gas or electrical outlets nor exhaust ducts also makes installing or relocating a machine easier (non-condensing ventless machines can cause humidity problems, however). Some of these machines have even been installed in recreational vehicles.
Some washer dryer combination units are Energy Star certified, which means that they meet a minimum standard for energy efficiency. Some of these washers are also rated well for their water consumption. However, overall environmental and financial impact of any given installation must be calculated not only from the instantaneous energy and water consumption rates, but also the time it must be run per load. A combo machine with smaller capacity than separate machines may have to be run more than once for an amount of laundry that larger machines might handle in one pass, and in doing so could potentially use more energy or water per load than larger, separate machines even if it does have a lower rated power consumption. Conversely, separate machines may be less efficient overall if their capacity is larger than necessary for the loads they will be required to handle.
Washer dryer combination units have most of the features found in modern washing and drying machines. Combination machines, despite being half the size of a separate washer and dryer setup, may have a similar price because they still contain all the component parts of both.
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Combo washer dryers generally (though not universally) have lower capacity than separate machines. Whereas some of the larger stand-alone washing machines can handle over 20 lbs (9 kg) in capacity, large combo units often can only take around 13 pounds (6 kg). Furthermore, the dryer cycle of many of these machines can only handle around one-half to three-quarters of the capacity that the washer cycle can handle. Modern redesigns, while costlier, exceed these limits. But with older washer/dryer combos, this means that users will not be able to wash and dry a full-capacity load in one go, instead, they will have to lessen the amount of clothes in the washer before going into the dryer cycle, while with separate machines no unloading and setting aside of wet fabrics would be necessary.
Another major drawback of washer dryer combos is that they take significantly longer to dry a batch of clothes in comparison to stand-alone dryers. Stand-alone dryers make use of hot air or other heating elements to dry the clothes in a fraction of the time that it takes the condensation-based drying system in combination units. This is a drawback that is innate to the washer dryer combo design, since the dryer has to work longer to dry the drum and its enclosure as well as the clothes inside the drum. A drying cycle in a typical combo washer dryer unit can take between 45 minutes and three hours.
Washer dryer combo units have also received criticism because they are not as efficient as some of the stand-alone machines. Because of the larger size and build of stand-alone machines, manufacturers are able to put more energy-saving features into the machine. Furthermore, washer dryer combination units are disadvantaged since the machine must perform both washing and drying functions, which makes it harder to design an efficient and effective machine. The longer drying times of washer dryer combos also make it difficult to increase efficiency, because the machine has to stay in operation for much longer than a stand-alone dryer does. Another contributing factor to the poor efficiency of some combo units is that they can only handle small loads, so users will have to run multiple small loads rather than fewer but larger loads, which a stand-alone machine can easily handle.
Considering the drawbacks of washer dryer combo units, some consumers may find these machines to be impractical. Small capacities, long drying times, poor efficiency ratings, and pricing all are disadvantages of using these combo machines, which must be weighed against their space saving and convenient hookup advantages.
An incomplete list of some of the brands that manufacture washer dryer combination units:
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