Home > Town Appliance Official Blog > Electric Clothes Dryers Explained: How Do They Work?

Electric Clothes Dryers Explained: How Do They Work?

Electric Clothes Dryers Explained: How Do They Work?
Published by Town Appliance on

Electric dryers are essential to the optimal functioning of any modern household. We all need to dry our clothes thoroughly after washing them. However, have you ever had someone explain how electric clothes dryers work? Learning about the internal workings of a thing can help us truly appreciate its purpose. Let’s analyze the different components of the electric dryer and detail how it works below.

Anatomy of the Electric Dryer

You should know a few things about the anatomy of an electric dryer before we move forward in learning how it actually works. Without knowing what comprises a thing, you can’t know how it operates, so let’s go into the various parts of an electric clothes dryer below.

The Control Panel

The control panel houses the buttons you use to adjust all the settings you need before you dry your clothes. You can subdivide it into the switch that starts the machine, the selector knobs and other switches, and the timer. The timer is generally the biggest knob that sends electricity to various parts of the machine in a pre-ordered way for a standardized amount of time. Selector knobs customize your settings, such as the temperature, clothing type, soil level, and time lengths.

Door Switch and Interior Light

The doorknob is an attribute that sets the dryer to its “on” setting after the dryer flap is shut tightly. This device sits just inside the doorframe and is generally tamper-resistant. When you unlock the door while the dryer is going through its cycle, the switch turns off, which cuts off the circuit’s energy current. The interior light isn’t available in all dryers, but if yours has one, every time you unlock the door, it turns on and lights up the drum.

Drive Motor and Components

The drive glide is an essential part of the dryer. The drive strap connects to the drum and rotates as needed. Alternatively, the sharp fan edge draws hot air through the barrel and drives it out of the exhaust escape. This feature stops the temperature from switching on if the glide doesn’t reach the correct speed. Essentially, the drive motor ensures that the drum cycles effectively. If it’s not working correctly, it won’t circulate.

Burner Assembly and Other Components

The igniter and the sensor, the gas valve, and the thermostat comprise the burner assembly. As the name suggests, the gas valve controls the amount of gas (or power) the dryer uses, allowing it to flow through the dryer and turn the motor. Gas regulators spread the current to the igniter, which shines orange. Heat and light unlock the sensor circuit and give energy to other parts of the gas regulator—which unlocks the regulator. As the gas runs outside the regulator, it starts the igniter. When the gas burns, the feeler maintains the desired temperature. The temperature is consistent until the end of the pre-set drying time. Once the clothes are dry, the cycle is complete.

How Does It Work?

Now that we understand the various components of an electric dryer, it’s time to explain how electric dryers work. Continue reading to learn more about the ins and outs of the process.

How a Dryer Creates Warmth

All clothes dryers use heat to ramp up the clothes-drying process. However, there are differences in how exactly electric dryers accomplish this heating method. Obviously, electricity fuels electric dryers. With that being the case, the various heating coils are analogous to those found in water heaters and electric ovens. Your dryer then sends an electric current throughout its coils, which creates resistance. This resistance creates electrons that conduct heat and release small bursts of energy. The coils then become hot because the electrons start building up. After that, heat transfers to the air around it, forcing it through your appliance by a fan.

Gas and electric dryers also use thermal fuses and thermostats for temperature regulation. They serve a key function in the safety of appliance operation. The biggest benefit is fire prevention, which can happen if the appliance overheats. When your fail-safe fails, look for the root cause. If the cause is a blown fuse, this could mean that the dryer has overheated. You may be able to avoid this problem entirely by removing lint build-up from the lint screen or trap and slot after every load. You should also consider having your dryer vent professionally serviced at least once per year, every six months, if you often have full loads of laundry.

How It Creates Circulation

A primary function of electric dryers is air circulation. This method is what dries your clothes. Depending on your machine’s airflow, it may take your clothes longer or less long to dry. Dryers draw air through the vents and openings outside of the housing unit. From there, a blower or fan distributes heat through the drum.

The heated air typically leeches water from your clothing. During this process, your dryer draws air in during the drying cycle, and the moist air is taken through the lint screen, through the back of the dryer, and into a duct. After that, it’ll flow out of the house using the ducts. Unfortunately, this system impedes airflow and slows drying efficiency when it vents incorrectly.

Ventless clothes dryers heat and draw in fresh air, which moves through clothes, drying them. However, these dryers don’t vent the air trapped inside. It just travels through a heat exchanger, which cools the air and causes its moisture content to condense into the containment chamber or drainpipe. Eventually, through this process, the dryer dries your clothes.

How It Tumbles Clothes

The dryer’s drum tumbles your clothes. Without this motion, your clothes will stay motionless within a pile, and air circulation would be impossible. A pully system, powered by a roller system and usually supported by an axle accessory, turns the drum.

Special Features Not Mentioned

Thus far, you now understand the standard components across electric dryers. However, there are many unique options out there that depend on the dryer type. The panel has different cycle options, and some have automatic moisture sensing, though most have a basic system of gears, electrical contacts, and cams. Additionally, you can control some electric dryers with your smartphone. Dryers sometimes have a dry steam feature, which creates steam independent of the drying cycle.

Overall, electric clothes dryers are incredibly useful. If you’re looking for a few excellent choices, shop Town Appliance today! We’ll get you all the appliances you need!

Electric Clothes Dryers Explained: How Do They Work?

Who Are We and Why You Can Trust Us?

At Town Appliance, we bring over 45 years of experience and expertise in the appliance industry. Since 1979, we've grown from a small local business in Lakewood, New Jersey, into the most reliable appliance retailer in the tri-state area, with four large showrooms and nationwide delivery.

Our team consists of appliance experts who are not just here to sell but to help you buy what you really need. Our recommendations are based on real-world use, not just specifications.
Thank you for choosing Town Appliance!

Daniel Kraftman Author

Written by

Daniel Kraftmann

Seasoned professional with a background in mechanical engineering, boasts over a decade of invaluable experience in the dynamic world of e-commerce.

For the past five years, he has dedicated his expertise to the appliance industry, becoming well-versed in the intricacies of home appliances, their cutting-edge technology, and ever-evolving features.

As a passionate mechanical engineering enthusiast, Daniel keeps a vigilant eye on emerging trends and innovations in the appliance sector. With a profound understanding of both the engineering principles and the consumer demands, he brings a unique blend of knowledge and practical insight to his blogs.

Back to blog