Whirpool Duet SilentSteel dryer drum stops the banging

The dryer's tumbling sound reminds you that it's doing its job, but that reassurance can be annoying if it's too loud and the dryer is near a bedroom or family room. Consumer Reports' tests of 100 electric dryers found that 53 were relatively noisy or worse, making them less than ideal for placement near living space. Whirlpool claims that its Whirlpool Duet WED96HEAW electric dryer, $1,300, runs quieter thanks to its SilentSteel dryer drum. Here's what our tests found.

The claims. Whirlpool's website says that this dryer offers quiet efficiency and goes on to shout about how little noise it makes by adding that this Duet's "unique sound-dampening material that surrounds the stainless steel dryer drum ensures metal buttons and zippers will make less noise as they tumble, so your dryer runs quieter and only as long as necessary." That's because sensors that monitor the temperature and moisture levels in the dryer shut off the machine when laundry is dry.

The check. Our latest tests of electric dryers included the Whirlpool Duet WED96HEAW electric dryer with a SilentSteel dryer drum, $1,300, and a similar model, the Whirlpool Duet WED94HEAW, $1,100. Both are recommended models. They have large capacities and were superb at drying. But the Whirlpool with the SilentSteel dryer drum was quieter and scored excellent in our noise tests (only four of the 100 dryers tested earned that noise score). So how quiet is quiet? "Using our standard tests for determining noise, we found this dryer produced a low humming sound that while audible, was not intrusive," says Emilio Gonzalez, the engineer who runs Consumer Reports' tests of laundry appliances.

The other Whirlpool Duet scored very good in our noise tests, and Gonzalez says that dryer is very quiet, but you could more readily hear the tumbling without it being annoying, so this machine could also be installed near living spaces. If you want a gas dryer, the Whirlpool Duet WGD96HEAW has the dryer with the SilentSteel drum; the Whirlpool Duet WGD94HEAW lacks it.

As for Whirlpool's heavy-metal claims—metal buttons and zippers make less racket as they tumble—we also dried a 12-pound load of laundry that included jeans with zippers and metal buttons mixed with other heavy items in both Whirlpool Duet dryers. We found that the dryer with the SilentSteel dryer drum did dampen the noise.

Bottom line. You heard it here. The Whirlpool Duet with the SilentSteel dryer drum is quieter than most dryers we've tested. For complete details on test results and features, see our buying guide and Ratings for electric and gas dryers.

Next up, the Whirlpool Duet WFW96HEAW, $1,300, matching front-loading washer. It can be paired with either Whirlpool Duet dryer and is in our lab now. We'll post the results as soon as our tests are complete.

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