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Gas vs Electric Dryers

On April 26, 1962, I helped install a Belco 30 lb. Athletic Washer & Dryer in Sedgefield Middle School in Charlotte, NC. We replaced their 24 year old washer in 1986. The dryer was not replaced until February 1, 2004.

When I mentioned this fact to the principal, he did not seem too impressed. He stated, “This dryer has already proven its reliability… I’m more impressed knowing the fellow that carried the dryer in, is the same fellow that carried it out!” This dryer was in operation 41 Years 280 days. Why did this dryer last so long? Because it was a gas heated dryer and not electrically heated!

Gas dryers operate on 110 Volts/1 phase/20 Amp Service and plug into a regular wall socket. Electric dryers require 208 Volts/3 Phase/100 Amp Draw or 480 Volts/3 Phase/50 Amp Draw. Electric dryers use three times more energy to operate than gas models.

Electric dryers take 5+ Min. longer to dry than gas models. This makes the motor, fan, basket, drive bearings, V-belts, etc. turn more RPM, operate more hours and require repairs more frequently than gas models. Electric ovens have far more parts to wear out and replace, such as a 100 Amp contactor ($288), a transformer ($450) and six heating elements @$106 each … all of which are replaced periodically.

The extra expense of these parts, spur some schools to purchase a new dryer instead of making repairs. Gas ovens have a gas valve and two burner tubes which normally last the life of the dryer. Because gas dryers dry faster, have fewer parts and require less service, they have a 5-10 year longer life span than most electric dryers.

Over 80% of commercial dryers sold in the US are gas dryers. Schools that do not have natural gas, should use bottle gas (LP). A propane tank must be installed outside the building. Our 50 lb gas dryer burns about 100,000 Btu per hour for $1.10, compared to $3.41 per hour for an electric dryer. This is a savings of $2.31 per hour. A school dryer operating just 5 hours a day for 200 days equals 1000 hours a year. Multiply this by the 25 year life span of a dryer. This totals 25,000 Hrs @ $2.31 and equals a $57,750.00 savings for a gas heated dryer! When additional service calls & parts are added to the energy costs, electric dryers cost 3-4 times more to operate than the energy efficient, more reliable gas dryer.

Formula: One Kilowatt Hour (KWh) of Electricity : 0.1165 cents.

  • One Therm (100,000 BTU) converts to 29.3 KWh @ $0.1165 : $3.41 per Hour
  • One Therm (100,000 BTU) of Natural Gas . = -1.10 per Hour
  • Note: One Therm of Liquid Propane (Bottle Gas): $2.53 per Hr
  • Total Energy Savings for a Natural Gas Dryer . . . . . $2.31 per Hour

Note: Prices for gas & electricity are from US Dept. of Energy report 4/11/11. Total 25 Year savings was calculated with no adjustments for future price increases.  This savings does not include extra service calls & repair parts maintaining an electric dryer.


FACT: Natural Gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel with a smaller carbon footprint than most energy sources.

FACT: 90% of the energy produced through natural gas is delivered for use with natural gas appliances.

FACT: 30% of the primary energy involved in producing electricity is delivered for use with electrical appliances.

“Bottom Line” . . A Gas Dryer is a lean green money-saving machine!!!

– William N. Beall

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