Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ode To My New Dryer: Frigidaire GLER331A Electric Dryer

The Good: It dries clothes without excessively raising the electric bill
The Bad: Small clothes get jammed in the edge of the drum
The Basics: Relatively energy efficient, looks good and runs quietly, if only it didn't jam clothes occasionally, the Frigidaire GLER331A would be a perfect dryer for a medium-sized family!

One of the things that has begun to baffle me is the whole Energy Star Certification. There are energy efficient refrigerators, dehumidifiers and clothes washers. There are energy efficient dishwashers as well. But clothes dryers, it seems, are unable to be certified energy efficient, when it seems like they are major energy hogs. My search for a more energy efficient Dryer led me to the Frigidaire GLER331A.

This is a 5.7 cu. ft. dryer that I was originally drawn to because of its capacity (fairly large) and energy efficiency for that size. That is to say, out of all of the dryers I looked at in the 4.5 - 6.0 cubic foot range, this dryer had the best energy efficiency.

Having never installed a clothes dryer before, I had my trepidations when I brought this unit home. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the directions for installing the exhaust tubes (sold separately, at any hardware store) were very well written and easily comprehensible. The only problems I had with installing exhaust ducts to the back were based on my home's construction; the exhaust port on the side of the house was at an irregular height, forcing me to put the dryer up on some bricks. Even there, the directions in the manual were quite handy; they included full details for leveling the unit by unscrewing the feet. This has worked quite well and now, after fifty loads of clothes, the unit has never had any problems with movement.

The other problem with the exhaust port (I used aluminum ductwork to avoid problems with tubes bunching up) was with the end of the dryer. The dryer's exhaust pipe is scalloped to indicate it belongs inside the pipe. It's a male lead into a female exhaust pipe fitting. The problem is that the diameter of the exhaust pipe is the identical size to a female end of an exhaust pipe fitting. In short, the end that is supposed to fit snugly into the exhaust port pipe is almost impossible to fit. This has, on two occasions, led my exhaust port pipe to become detached from the dryer's exhaust pipe. The unit is problematically designed in this regard as there is no way to tape the dryer's exhaust pipe to the duct pipe because the pipe in the dryer does not stick out past the back wall of the dryer.

Outside installing ducts - which, if you already have a dryer you won't need to worry about - this unit is basically a plug in and go type machine. It is not like a gas dryer (like the Whirlpool WGD5200 dryer reviewed here!). One of the very convenient aspects of the machine is its easy to use controls. There are three settings for heat (high, medium and low - no silly "air dry" setting without any heat) and one control dial. The control dial has three settings as well: Drying for Colors, Drying for Whites and timed dry. All three settings work fine. Indeed, leaving the dryer to do its own thing as far as the drying settings seems to work perfectly. Whenever I have left the machine on either "Automatic Colors" or "Automatic Whites," the clothes come out perfectly dry and ready to wear.

With one notable exception. Every two to three loads, there is what I call a jam. The dryer works, like most dryers, by rotating a drum around while air is passing through the machine. In order to keep the clothes from simply remaining on the bottom during the rotations, there are fins inside the drum. The problem with the fins is that they do not come close to the front and back of the dryer. Thus, there is a gap between the drum fins and the door that one opens to access the dryer and the back wall. This gap is problematic, however, as it appears to be slightly larger than the gap in most dryers (obviously, some gap is necessary or else the fins would be rubbing against the front and back of the dryer), and clothes are constantly getting wedged in there. As the dryer does its usual tumbling, on every other or every third load, I find some garment (usually a t-shirt or pair of underwear or oversized sock) wedged between the fin and a side of the washer. Invariably, this garment is still wet, but undamaged. I do not know the effect these wedged garments have on the dryer and only time will tell. To reiterate, though, I know how to properly load a dryer and I have properly loaded it each time and still this keeps happening. I believe it to be a design flaw.

But other than that, it's hard to complain about this machine. It runs very quietly, gets clothes dry and has yet to eat any of my socks. With its easy to clean lint trap and simple controls and relatively easy installation, this is an ideal dryer for a small to mid-sized family.

For other Frigidaire product reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Frigidaire FDB750RC Stainless Steel Dishwasher
Frigidaire FRT21HS6JS 20.5 cu. ft. Refigerator/Freezer
Frigidaire FEF336EC Electric Range
Frigidaire FFC07C3A Chest Freezer


For other appliance reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2005 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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