print this column


Designed by the Rotterdam consultancy EJOK, this appliance is a thrifty alternative to conventional tumbler dryers. These are the greediest power consumers in the home. It is basically a well-insulated cupboard of sheet steel connected to a black solar collector panel which projects through the wall of the house to the outside. The internal and external components are thermally isolated from each another. The collector is heated by the sun. An electric fan drives air through the collector, and the warmed air blows over the washing, which may be hung up or stacked in wire drawers inside the cupboard. The system is electronically regulated. As well as for drying the washing, you could use it for airing clothing or drying wet coats. The system includes an additional electric heating element for when it is dark outside. The solar dryer unarguably consumes less power and since the clothes are hung in it and not tumbled the fabric will be less subject to wear and tear during drying. The machine has few moving parts so it will last longer. On the other hand, there are some drawbacks. The dried fabric is not as ‘soft’. It takes a little more effort to hang the washing up or to lay it down carefully in a drawer. The machine cannot be placed just anywhere, for it requires a hole to be made through an outside wall. All in all, the solar dryer is quite a bit less convenient than the usual power-hungry tumbler dryer.