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Compact Laundry Units & Laundry Downsizing Options

When Space is Limited - Downsize Your Laundry Appliances


Compact laundry appliances can be the perfect choice if your living space is limited or if you would prefer to have smaller appliances to allow room for shelving in your laundry area. When the laundry room is small, a space-saving stackable washer and dryer can better utilize the space. And when installing a traditional laundry pair is not possible, a portable washer or combo washer/dryer unit may be the best choice. While all these types of washers are considered compact, they are not equal when it comes to load capacity, physical size, features and washing operation.

Many households are downsizing and manufacturers are rushing to meet this need with a variety of laundry units that not only take less space, but most can still manage average loads. They can be placed side by side, under counter, or stacked with the dryer on the top, to minimize floor space. Here's what the market has to offer in way of space-saving laundry units:

One-Piece Stacked Washer Dryer Centers

The main compact option years ago - the stacked laundry center may not be as popular today as it was back then, but it's still a viable choice for some households. Generally one-piece by design, these stacked laundry units usually have a washer on the bottom and a dryer on top, but there are some larger models that emphasize fabric care with a drying center (rather than a dryer) for hang-drying clothes. These laundry centers are generally 27" wide, but some models are deeper than others and this unit is high, so height clearances need to be considered. They are now available with either a front-loading or top-loading washer.

The main benefit to this style of compact laundry is size - given your particular laundry space - and price. Though a one-piece laundry center is an option some choose, the main drawback to this style option is that should one part of the unit not be repairable in the future, it could mean having to replace both laundry appliances.
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Compact or Regular Size Washers & Dryers With Stacking Options

The most popular compact laundry appliances are those with stacking options. Stacking a washer and dryer is a great way to save on space, providing the higher dryer access is not a problem for those of short stature. Some models require a supporting framework or stacking kit, so check with the dealer before purchasing. It's also a good idea to ensure that you have enough height to accommodate the tall unit, as well as enough space at the back of the stacked units to complete the installation with the dryer venting kit. Stacking should only be attempted with laundry appliances that are designed with a stacking option. Very few full size laundry appliances are so designed, most stackable washers and dryers are 24" wide.
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Various Compact Laundry Appliances

The term 'compact' has a wide application especially when it comes to washers and dryers. It can include portable washers, countertop dryers and all-in-one washer/dryer combos. These come in various load capacities and while some capacities are quite small, others are up to the 3 cu.ft. Some models can be stacked, placed under a counter, or positioned side by side. The larger compacts are rated to handle average loads with some manufacturers reporting load capacities of 16 bath towels.

With a width ranging from the average 24" (even smaller) to 27", these can easily be tucked into a closet or small laundry space. Some compact pairs have optional pedestal drawer bases which can be very handy for storage, as well as to raise the unit to provide better access especially for front-loading washers. However, for stacked units, a pedestal may raise the appliances to an inconvenient level.
Install Laundry Appliances for Best Efficiency

Portable washers are extremely popular for apartments, condos, cottages or tiny living spaces. Though not as convenient as an installed washer, these smaller capacity washers are easy to use and can be wheeled out of sight when not in use. To operate, they use an adapter to connect to the kitchen faucet.
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Portable dryers are not designed with wheels, though you place one on a wheeled cart. Most are operated on a counter top and though practical, these small dryers are not as popular as portable washers.
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Washer/Dryer Combos

A washer/dry combo is an all-in-one laundry appliance, which can first wash and then dry your wash load in the same machine. Some sport impressive features, like a delay start to have the load completely finished when you arrive home from work, along with fabric care settings and wash level/dryness sensors. An excellent laundry choice for cottages, RV's, condos, small living spaces or temporary housing, they do not require venting and plug into a standard electrical outlet, making them very easy to position anywhere.

There are a few drawbacks to this all-in-one washer/dryer design. Loads take twice as long, and some users have reported even longer completion times. Prices are getting more competitive as brand variety increases, but buying only one appliance does not guarantee saving money over buying a traditional laundry pair. There seems to be mixed reviews with a few of these models, though some offer good performance.
Before You Buy a Washer/Dryer Combo
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Reader Comments:

From SM Re: Compact Washer Dryer
Compact washer dryer have been a solution to all your washing problems in today's time. Some reasons that made these products stand apart from basic machines are listed below: 1. Compactness 2. Energy Saver 3. Save Water 4. User friendliness 5. All in One In the past few years there has been a new "player" in the field of laundry machines-the washer dryer combo. A washer dryer combo is designed to take up less space than both a stackable washer dryer and a side-by-side washer dryer. The washer dryer combo has one very important distinguishing factor--you wash and dry in the same machine!
Learn about dryers and other dryer resources by visiting smallhome.com.

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