* Prices may differ from that shown
Clothes horses, washing lines and heated airers may be the most environmentally friendly and cheapest options for laundry drying purposes but they are space and weather dependent (especially with the UK's new weather apocalypse affording a mere 15 drying days a year), so for people simply inundated with washing sometimes the only option may be a tumble dryer. Sure, they are the least environmentally friendly and most expensive of your options but they are also by far the most convenient and space forgiving. Our old Beko vented tumble dryer (clearly manufactured in the stone ages) had a hinged door that opened rather oddly from the top and somebody (i.e. me) one day left the door open before vacating the house, and upon returning home couldn't find the cat anywhere. After a full scale cat-hunt we were eventually able to detect faint cries and worked out he'd gotten trapped in the dryer with no escape for which I was duly whipped by a cat o' nine tails - a fitting punishment. Dehydrated but otherwise unharmed we realised this tumble dryer had to go for cat safety and switched over to a much more modern tumble dryer.
==Too many choices putting you in a tumble?==
There are 4 main types of tumble dryers available: electric vented; gas vented; electric condenser, and compact. Both types of vented dryers dry clothes by heating then extracting the warm, damp air from the drum and venting it out through a hose. The electric condenser dries clothes by heating, extracting the warm, damp air and then allowing it to cool in the machine to be collected in a water reservoir. Compact tumble dryers are basic just smaller versions of the aforementioned other three and intended for where space is an issue. The advantages of vented machines are they are cheaper than condensers, even more so with gas but they do need to be installed near a window or door to allow for proper ventilation and gas ones should be installed by a Gas Safe installer. The advantages of condensers are they can be installed anywhere but since you will have stagnant water, a cheap condenser could lead to a mildew problem if it has poor moisture control so you do have to choose these ones wisely to avoid this nightmare.
Having nowhere suitable to put a vented dryer we plumped for the BEKO DSC85W condenser sensor dryer from Currys for the reduced price of £199.99 (as of October 2012) but the price seems to have gone up since then. The sensor drying element means this tumble dryer should sense when your clothes have reached your set level of drying and stop to save running for longer than necessary and thus saving on energy. This particular model on the Energy Efficiency Scale has a B rating which makes it the second most efficient appliance you can buy at less than 0.64 Kwh/kg per usage. The manufacturer's guide for this model state that 8Kg for a full cycle on the highest temperature it will consume 4.49 kWh and for 4Kg on a lower temperature it will consume 1.80 kWh so the annual costs for an average usage all year round will probably be around £110 give or take which is obviously a cost you'd have to weigh up against the free cost of leaving clothes lying around to dry naturally but at a much slower rate.
This beast is reasonably heavy at 38Kg (approx. 6 stones) and quite bulky at 850 x 600 x 600 mm (H x W x D) and had to be lugged from the car all the way up the stairs which was definitely a two person job. Once we got back from hospital after corrective surgery on our spines, installing the machine in our utility room was simple. We plugged it in. There were also some feet at the bottom which needed a little adjustment to make sure the machine was level to enable smooth running and fewer vibrations. The first noticeably great thing about this tumble dryer is it has the functionality to drain out the water collected in the reservoir through its own special hose compatible with a pipe fitting for a house's drainage system and fortuitously the pipes ran through our utility room so we were in the perfect place to connect the two up which was apparently a very easy job (according to my dad the resident expert). Although, special care to ensure the connection is sealed up must be taken or flooding is likely to occur if the hose comes loose.
For once the instruction manual that came with the tumble dryer was actually worth a read as it gives clear help on: how to fully install the machine complete with outgoing drainage; very useful safety advice for operating the machine, child (cat) safety and ensuring you avoid shrinkage and irreparable damage to your clothing by only drying appropriate clothes (a list of no-nos is provided) and ensuring you remove things like coins and lighters and tissues from your clothing; a breakdown of all the different programmes available, as well as proper maintenance and cleaning advice. The capacity of the machine has a maximum of 8Kg and there is also a useful chart in the manual to give you an idea of the average weight of an item of clothing such as sheets, towels, jeans, shirts, dresses to make it a bit easier to stop you overloading the machine and causing mass destruction.
This tumble dryer has no digital displays so it is all very manual when programming. All the buttons and knobs are laid out clearly at the top - from right to left you get the on/off button; the knob to set your chosen programme; the start / pause / cancel button; the audio warning button to alert you when the programme has finished which can be switched off; a vertical row of status indicators so you know where you are in the cycle; two indicators for when either the filter is full or the water tank needs emptying (which won't happen if the machine is plumbed in), and finally a time delay button for a 3h, 6h or 9h delay. If you press the start / pause / cancel and audio warning alert buttons together you will operate the child-proof lock deactivating all the other buttons apart from the on/off button preventing naughty little imps from ruining the whole drying process. These are all pretty obvious to work out even without the manual so I personally find this machine very intuitive to use.
The door also hinges from right to left and needs a pretty hefty shove to get it to close and a strong pull to get it open so should be pretty safe for children (and cats) as they won't be able to get trapped inside and certainly won't be able to open the door mid-cycle and the machine is so stable there is no danger whatsoever of it toppling over.
There are 11 available specialist programmes to run and 4 extra time programmes:
~~Cottons / Coloureds~~
These programmes are run at a high temperature and are recommended for bed sheets, quilt covers, underclothing etc. - basically anything made of cotton which is durable.
Cupboard Dry - with a capacity of 8Kg and a spin speed of 1200-1000 rpm, this programme takes 129 mins to complete and should be used on normal laundry which should be dried in such a way that ironing is not required.
Normal Dry - with a capacity of 8Kg and a spin speed of 1200-1000 rpm, this programme takes 134 mins to complete and should be used on normal laundry which still shouldn't require ironing, but has a higher chance with certain items.
Iron Dry - with a capacity of 8Kg and a spin speed of 1200-1000 rpm, this programme takes 105 mins to complete but the items will require ironing afterwards.
Extra Dry - this programme is designed for thick, multi-layered cotton laundry like towels, linens or jeans and should not require ironing afterwards but there are no operational values for this function so I've no idea how long it takes or how much you can put in since I've never tried it.
These programmes are run at a lower temperature than for Cottons so are designed for the less durable materials such as shirts and blouses.
Iron Dry - the same as for Cottons but with a capacity of 4kg and a speed of 800 rpm this programme takes about 40 mins to run.
Cupboard Dry - the same as for Cottons but with a capacity of 4kg and a speed of 800 rpm this programme takes about 53 mins to run.
This programme is designed for your very delicate laundry such as silk blouses and fancy underwear and is run at a very low temperature making it suitable even for items that are hand wash only. This programme has a capacity of 2 kg, a spin speed of 800 rpm and should take 40 mins to complete. You are then recommended to whip these items out as soon as they've finished and hanging them up to prevent creasing or damage.
This programme is designed for...drum roll...jeans. The capacity is 4Kg (which is about 5 jeans) and runs on a spin cycle of 1200-1000 rpm with a completion time of 80 mins.
You know the drill by now - meant for shirts. 1.5kg capacity, 1000-800 rpm, 40 mins. Probably ideal if you're off to an interview and were desperately trying to get something clean to wear.
~~Xpress 35 mins~~
Works with a maximum of 2Kg on cottons, running at high speed with a spin cycle of 1400-1000 rpm taking just 35 mins, again ideal if you need something quick (as long as it is cotton based).
This programme allows you to simply run the ventilation part of the process without blowing any hot air on the clothes for 10 minutes which should deodorize nasty smells if the clothing has been trapped in a closed environment for a while.
These programmes allow you to run the tumble dryer at a lower temperature for 10, 20, 40 or 60 minutes to finish off any still damp clothes.
* If you need to stop any of the programmes simply hold down the start / pause / cancel button for 3 seconds. You can then change the programme if you want by twizzling the knob and pressing start again which will start running the new programme from the beginning.
* If you want to add or take out clothing in the middle of a cycle if you press the start / pause / cancel button this will pause and then you can safely open the door.
* Adding wet clothes to drier clothes before resuming the programme may result in all the clothes not being fully dry by the end so think carefully before you make such a bold move.
* If the child-proof lock is in place and the programme is changed this obviously won't affect the current running of the programme, but if the child-proof lock is then deactivated the machine will get confused as the programme would have changed so will simply terminate mid flow.
* If you leave your laundry in the machine after a programme has finished it will start an anti-creasing programme for 2 hours which basically consists of every 10 minutes rotating the laundry to stop creases forming.
==Giving it a spin==
Now I am a self-confessed lazy person, and when it comes to laundry I do not separate any of my clothes for washing (and nothing bad has ever happened) and frankly I'm not about to do it for tumble drying. So when I do use this tumble dryer on my clothes I tend to just bung it all in, run the Normal Dry for cotton programme and return in just over 2 hours. The first time I used this tumble dryer, I hadn't even bothered to unroll my socks and these alas remained damp (clearly through user error) but everything else was dry, even though it took a bit of getting used to the way the material felt as it did still feel damp even though it wasn't which was confusing to the brain. They also did end up with a strange smell - not particularly unpleasant but they no longer smelt like the fabric conditioner used after the initial wash but I guess most new stuff offends the olfactory senses in some way or another so it wasn't overly surprising.
The second time though the outcome was much better with my clothes smelling as fresh as when they were firstly laundered, and having learnt my sock lesson, were all completely dry, so it must have been the system sorting itself out the first time around. Also, and most importantly, there was no discernible damage to any of the clothes which consisted of a mixture of underwear, socks, jeans, pyjamas, cardigans, t-shirts, blouses and a towel so I have no fear that this machine will shrink, perforate or generally destroy any of my clothes even though I am blatantly using it in a reckless and cavalier way. This is sadly with the exception of zipped cardigans for which both my sister and I have had incidents months down the line whereby the zips broke off which could have been on the verge of occurring anyway but were certainly expedited through use of the tumble dryer so I think unfortunately some wise decisions of what clothes should be added need to be made which does mean a little more effort into using this dryer may have to be made. Still, broken zips has of yet been the only casualties and everything thus far has survived intact from sheets, pillowcases to towels, jeans and shirts so I have full confidence in this machine.
Apparently this dryer operates at 65dB which for me isn't overly noisy, especially with the utility room door shut so I'd have to say this machine is pretty inoffensive, especially given how long some of the cycles are so I don't really have too many complaints about that aspect. The filter does become clogged very quickly so this is in constant need of cleaning out which is a bit annoying, but for the convenience of the tumble dryer I'm willing to get over it. There's not much I can really add about the overall running of the machine - clothes go in, they dry, the water drains away, clothes come out undamaged which has been happening successfully over 6 months of constant operation so far. As you've probably guessed, ironing is not my forte due to crippling idleness so again this is not something I really factor in with my clothes - I'm happy to strut my stuff in wrinkled clothes - but for the purposes of this review I've had a good check and on a Normal Dry cycle my clothes come out pretty wrinkle free so at least from the perspective of ordinary clothing, ironing should be at a minimum.
I do feel slightly bad about the environmental implications but as soon as warm weather returns there will be no need to use this tumble dryer as clothes will dry much faster naturally (in theory). This dryer still has another 6 months under warranty (12 months in total) but it looks like it should last a long time from all experiences so far, though obviously if this changes I will updated this review accordingly. Overall this is an efficient, quiet tumble dryer that is easy to install and clean with a nice range of programmes to suit all kinds of different materials and has yet to do any damage to any clothes. The cycles can take quite a long time to complete for large loads but still are comparatively much quicker than waiting for them to dry naturally, with the exception of blistering hot sunshine - as if that is even a factor in the UK. If you're looking for a reasonably priced tumble dryer that won't cost you too much over the years you could do a lot worse than this one.
==Clean is Serene==
* Keeping the tumble dryer clean will improve its longevity and the quality of your laundry after a cycle and this is not a particularly tricky job so even a lazy-bones such as myself can cope. Lint and fibre has a tendency to fly about during a drying cycle and gets caught in the filter. To clean this, simply open it up and pull it all out. If it becomes too clogged it can be washed with water (a shower head seems the easiest option) and be allowed to dry before reinserting.
* The metal sensor at the front of the drum which detects whether the clothes are dry should be washed 4 times a year with a vinegar covered cloth before drying them.
* If you do not drain your water away, the water tank needs to be constantly emptied and can be cleaned as you see fit as longs as it is dry when it goes back in.
* The condenser which is located at the bottom of the machine should be cleaned once a month or after every 30 cycles again with the easiest way a spray from a shower head - all in all no more than a 20 minute job for everything.
Short name: Beko DSC85W