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Old 12-15-2007, 06:10 PM   #1
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SPIN drying cloths

I thought some others would be interested in a technology that has almost been forgotten about (at least in the USA, less so in Europe), to use considerably LESS energy than normal cloths drying takes!

Specifically, I'm talking about "SPIN drying", or a device that extracts water out of cloths by use of centrifugal force (fast spinning). Such devices are NOT a replacement for a normal cloths dryer, as the cloths will still be "damp". So you will still need a normal dryer (or cloths line) to finish the job, as it were. But you can still dramatically lower the resulting drying time, for a trivial amount of electrical usage, by first extracting as much water as possible. And as an added bonus, this fast spinning is better on the cloths than the "baking on" effect that traditional dryers do (so you not only save energy, and get much faster drying time, but your cloths last longer as well).

Despite some forum posts indicating issues with customer service (including shipping mishaps), I decided to risk it and get a "SPIN dryer" (this one: http://www.laundry-alternative.com/spin-dryer.htm ) from http://www.laundry-alternative.com/ (since they are virtually the only place to get a SPIN dryer in the USA at any sort of reasonable price). I'm glad I did, as the thing arrived without incident (except for a very minor delay in shipping, possibly due to the holidays), and works pretty much as advertised.

I was just testing the thing (today) with my Kill-A-Watt meter, and it seems to peek at about 350watts (while first spinning up), and goes down to around 215watts once its fully up to speed. Since the thing is smaller than my washer, I have to run multiple SPIN loads to each washer load. But SPIN loads go much faster than washer/dryer loads, as you just SPIN until the water into the catch bucket slows/stops (which seems to be somewhere between 1 minute and 5, depending upon cloth type), and just dry normally after that. So even with the SPIN drying being smaller than my washer, it still doesn't add much time/effort to washing/drying cloths. But because of how much water is extracted by this physical (spinning) process, the final drying time will usually be cut by more than 1/2 (I estimate it cuts my drying time to about 1/3 of what it was before the SPIN dryer), saving a LOT of energy (since normal drying is very energy wasteful) _and_ making the laundry go quicker as a bonus!

BTW: Based upon the water we dumped out of our catch bucket (an old 5qt ice cream container), I estimate that SPIN drying our wash load of towels extracted over a gallon of water from them. And the kill-a-watt meter showed this cost us well under 1 cent of electricity to extract that much water. Now that might not sound like a huge amount of water, until you realize that normal cloths dryers do almost all their drying by evaporation (i.e. heating the water, and turning it to steam). And it shouldn't be any sort of surprise to realize that it takes a fair amount of energy to turn a whole gallon of water into steam (which is what you would be doing without the SPIN drying starting the job first)...
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Old 12-15-2007, 07:49 PM   #2
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We hang dry. In winter, we hang clothes up in the bathroom. Cheaper.
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Old 12-15-2007, 09:28 PM   #3
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We hang dry. In winter, we hang clothes up in the bathroom. Cheaper.
Yes, but the cost of SPIN drying is very low, even if you do later hang the cloths up!

A load of laundry takes under 1 cent of electricity to SPIN dry (I know, because I used my kill-a-watt meter on my new SPIN dryer to check). And if you SPIN dry first, any other drying method (including "hanging the cloths up) will go MUCH faster.


And I also just noticed an additional benefit of SPIN drying. I now have personal anecdotal evidence that SPIN drying also acts as a "fabric softener" of sorts. i.e. I just noticed that the cloths/sheets/etc are now coming out "softer" when they are done. Now, I'm not sure if this is do to the "fluffing" effect of the SPINing, or due to extra wash chemicals being removed (along with the water) as part of the SPIN process (or both). But whatever the cause, I noticed that the fabric is now softer to the touch!

So even if I decided to go to "hanging things up" at some point, I think I would still like to use a SPIN dryer FIRST, before finishing the job with a cloths line. And in the mean time, I think I'll continue to use the SPIN dryer before using our normal (gas) dryer to finish the job.

NOTE: If you do go with a normal dryer for the final steps, be sure to get those plastic "dryer balls", and put them in with your load (weather or nor you SPIN dry first). The things might sound strange, but my personal experience is that they really do help with the drying time (and therefore with how much energy is used), by helping to keep the cloths separated as they tumble in the dryer (and therefore allow more of the dryer heat to dry the cloths, and less to go out the exhaust vent). And for $10 for a couple of the things, they are really a decent bargain (again if you are using a cloths dryer at all, if not please ignore).
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Old 12-16-2007, 05:04 AM   #4
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These spinners are sometimes used in public pools, to aid in drying out bathing suits. Well, then work excellent. Problem is, they work a little too well, and end up ripping your bathing suit to pieces. The final spin cycle in your washing machine is the perfect balance between stress on your clothes and water removal. I prefer to have my clothes take longer to dry (I hang dry them) and last longer.
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Old 12-16-2007, 06:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Erdrick View Post
These spinners are sometimes used in public pools, to aid in drying out bathing suits. Well, then work excellent. Problem is, they work a little too well, and end up ripping your bathing suit to pieces. The final spin cycle in your washing machine is the perfect balance between stress on your clothes and water removal. I prefer to have my clothes take longer to dry (I hang dry them) and last longer.
Weighing 230lbs and working construction I wear mainly denim or canvas pants, and cotton shirts. I wear the knees out or snag holes in my clothes long before a machine like this could damage them. A side note is my old levi jeans really are some of the toughest jeans I've found. Arizona's are lousy. I good price verses lasting would be the $12 dark blue grandpa "rustlers". All though the rough inside feel of the denim never really wears off. Also members mark jeans from sam's are good value.
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Old 12-16-2007, 08:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Erdrick View Post
These spinners are sometimes used in public pools, to aid in drying out bathing suits. Well, then work excellent. Problem is, they work a little too well, and end up ripping your bathing suit to pieces.
Well, I believe that happened to you. However, that raises the question of what went wrong. Because a properly used/maintained SPIN dryer just shouldn't do that.

Keep in mind the physics of this. While there is a lot of force toward the outer edges of the drum (which is the whole point), that is the ONLY force that the SPIN dryer is exerting on the cloths. So unless the cloths snag on something, they should NOT be stretched/torn (there just isn't forces to do it otherwise). And assuming there aren't any places in your SPIN dryer to snag things (and there shouldn't be, if the dryer is in good shape), than the only thing you possibly could snag on is other cloths.

However, snagging on other cloths shouldn't be a problem either, unless the people using the SPIN dryer didn't properly follow loading instructions. You really do need to load each piece separately (and without gaps in the loading for things to move around), so that the cloths aren't knotted together. And you also need to make sure that the SPIN dryer in loaded TIGHT (i.e. no big air gaps for things to flop around in). This is very easy/quick to do, but if you ignore this REQUIREMENT (for example, just toss the cloths in, paying no attention to where they are in the drum, as might happen in a gym where people didn't get instructions on loading a SPIN dryer), than the knotted together cloths can twist into a tight ball (which likely could rip/tear the cloths). This will NOT occur with a properly loaded SPIN dryer however!

NOTE: This isn't just theory either. While I have only had my new SPIN dryer for a few days, I used them extensively when I was a child. So I do have some real experience with how they work. And they really are NOT a problem in this area, as long as you actually follow proper (recommended) loading technique. However, if you ignore loading instructions/technique (for example, by just leaving the cloths tangled together when loading) all bets are off...

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The final spin cycle in your washing machine is the perfect balance between stress on your clothes and water removal.
In many ways, I feel that statement is like someone saying that the auto-makers are already building in the perfect balance of fuel economy and performance into their vehicles. When in fact most of us on this site know that isn't even close to being true with most cars/trucks. Instead, the auto-makers usually optimize for performance and cost of the vehicles, and fuel economy often comes out a distant third. The bottom line, is that the compromises the manufacturers make, aren't necessarily the ones we (who are more interested in efficiency than the overall public) would consider anything close to a "perfect balance".

In a similar way, I really think the only washers that MIGHT be doing a good balance in this area, are the newest (and most costly) "energy star" models that come with very fast 1000rpm+ "final SPIN" modes built in. And even those washers probably don't extract as much water as a good stand alone SPIN dryer. And your average washer doesn't extract nearly that much water, and instead assumes you will just invest the extra energy to remove the water in your dryer!

As I see it, the vast majority of washers in the homes were designed (by the companies making them) for ease of making the washer, and are less concerned with efficiency of "drying the cloths" before putting them in the actual dryer. After all, why should the makers of the washers care, when they aren't the ones paying the energy bill? And remember, even people who care about energy efficiency with their laundry, might not realize that the SPIN (either in the washer itself, or in a stand-alone SPIN dryer) can make more of a difference on energy efficiency of drying the cloths, than the efficiency of the dryer itself (because if your cloths already have less water out of the washer, there is less work for the dryer to do).

So a really "fast SPIN" in a washer might not be as much of a selling point as you might expect (because most consumers probably don't realize the true value of that feature). And if a feature isn't a big selling point for a product, many manufacturers of that product won't go to the expense and trouble of adding that feature to the product (in this case a cloths washer)!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erdrick View Post
I prefer to have my clothes take longer to dry (I hang dry them) and last longer.
I have nothing against cloths lasting. However, I don't see it as an either-or. Because properly used (which includes paying attention to loading technique) a SPIN dryer should be very gentle on the cloths. Remember, a SPIN dryer has virtually nothing (except other cloths) for your cloths to snag on. And with proper loading technique, your cloths shouldn't snag on other cloths either!
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:08 AM   #7
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Sounds like a nice device for drying hand washed laundry - I usually spin my socks and a t-shirt at a time in a big salad spinner when I don't have access to a washing machine. When the t-shirt is properly balanced in the salad spinner it really gets spinning at really high speed and extracts quite a bit of water from it. Then I hang it up to dry - I have t-shirts going back more than 10 years that I wear pretty regular. Cloths driers really beat the fabric apart and that is evident in the lint filter. Also spin drying them really well removes the minerals from the water that makes the fabric less soft.
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:24 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DracoFelis View Post
In many ways, I feel that statement is like someone saying that the auto-makers are already building in the perfect balance of fuel economy and performance into their vehicles. When in fact most of us on this site know that isn't even close to being true with most cars/trucks. Instead, the auto-makers usually optimize for performance and cost of the vehicles, and fuel economy often comes out a distant third. The bottom line, is that the compromises the manufacturers make, aren't necessarily the ones we (who are more interested in efficiency than the overall public) would consider anything close to a "perfect balance".
Well, manufacturers make products that will sell. That goes for auto manufacturers too. Covering expenses is a priority, and profit is necessary for further development.

Consumers purchase products for many reasons, and manufacturers develop and market on those reasons.

Economy is important to me, however, if it doesn't fit our safety or performance needs, I'm not buying it. No manufacturer, or its stock holders, wants product not selling.

Al Gore won't even drop money on a more fuel efficient plane or just fly first class. But that is his right.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:44 AM   #9
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Sounds like a nice device for drying hand washed laundry
If you only do a little laundry at a time (as you might do, if you were just hand washing stuff for yourself), an even smaller SPIN dryer might make sense. For example, the company I purchased my recent SPIN dryer from, also has a model about 1/2 the size of mine. I figure the smaller model would be excellent for a single person living in an apartment...

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I usually spin my socks and a t-shirt at a time in a big salad spinner when I don't have access to a washing machine. When the t-shirt is properly balanced in the salad spinner it really gets spinning at really high speed and extracts quite a bit of water from it.
Exactly the same principal as a SPIN dryer!

About the only significant differences are that the spin dryer will usually spin much faster than the salad spinner (and therefore be better at getting water and chemicals out), will not wear out your arm cranking it (like the salad spinners can), but will use a very small amount of electricity (for the spin dryer's motor). Otherwise, the effect should be pretty much the same between your salad spinner and my spin dryer!

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Also spin drying them really well removes the minerals from the water that makes the fabric less soft.
Ah, so that explains it!

I had noticed that my cloths/towels/etc were now coming out "softer" (with the SPIN dryer), but I was only guessing as to the reason why. Your explanation that it is better removal of minerals that make cloths feel "stiff", makes a lot of sense. Essentially that makes a spin dryer a totally natural (no chemical) "fabric softener" of sorts!

Of course, I still use the normal cloths dryer afterwards (I haven't yet gone to hanging stuff up). However, the spin dryer does greatly lower the normal drying time (in my regular dryer), which should (in addition to saving energy) help the cloths last longer than just using the dryer by itself, without the spin drying first (because they are in the dryer, getting the dryer stresses on the fabric, for a shorter period of time). So while I might not have gone as far as you have (i.e. I haven't taken that extra step towards hanging damp cloths up), I still think my spin dryer is a big step in the correct direction.
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Old 12-16-2007, 12:02 PM   #10
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Well, manufacturers make products that will sell. That goes for auto manufacturers too. Covering expenses is a priority, and profit is necessary for further development.
Yes, I understand marketing reality. However, that point also explains why marketing reality is often way removed from technical perfection.

You previously made the point that washers were designed for the "perfect" (presumably from a TECHNICAL standpoint) balance between stresses on the cloths and water removal. My point was that "marketing reality" often trumps technical perfection (or even good technical choices), and washer makers were no exception. I think your argument just proves my point!

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Economy is important to me, however, if it doesn't fit our safety or performance needs, I'm not buying it.
Nor would I.

But I don't see spin dryers in that category. To me spin dryers perform a very valuable function (removing water, minerals, and leftover wash chemicals, from cloths), do it easily and with little cost (under a penny a load), and (perhaps most importantly) are very delicate on fabrics when used properly. That does mean you have to load the spin dryer properly, but that's easy to do if you are thinking about how to use the device!

Of course, just as what makes sense for FE in cars (what this forum is primarily about) isn't what sells to the big ignorant masses (which are more concerned about "power" and "status"), what makes the most technical sense for washing cloths also isn't the most popular devices for middle America's laundry rooms either. Because truth be told, total efficiency of cloths washing is really way down on your average buyer's list of priorities for washers/dryers. Instead many people tend to go for price and convenience (i.e. having the appliances do as much of the "thinking" for you as possible) in their washer/dryer sets.

That explains why spin dryers are so hard to find in the marketplace (because they make technical sense, but don't fit the "image" many consumers are looking for). However, some of us really do care about the technical side of things, and steer our purchases accordingly. And considering this forum is about FE, I figured that a higher percentage of people on this forum might actually care about this technology, than would be the case with your average citizen off the streets.
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