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How to Tell if Dryer Is Gas or Electric (Without Moving the Dryer)

Although gas and electric dryers use entirely different processes to dry clothes, their designs, at least on the outside, are very similar. Because of this, at first glance, it can be difficult to tell if a dryer is electric or gas-powered. 

There are a variety of visual and even auditory cues that can help to identify whether a dryer is electric or gas. Many of these cues can be assessed without the fuss of moving this heavy appliance.


Look for product information on the dryer, packaging, manual, or online. Look at the connections. Electric dryers have two, while gas dryers have three. If there is a glow, it will stay on for an electric dryer but turn off quickly in a gas dryer. Gas dryers also produce a kind of roaring sound.

Look for the Product Information

Where to Look

Dryer manufacturers aren’t trying to hide what kind of dryer they’re selling, so oftentimes, there will be a variety of indicators as to what kind of dryer you are looking at. 

On the back of the dryer, you should find a variety of labels that provide warnings as well as information. The information section of the labels will likely provide voltage information as well as the type of dryer. 

Label at the back of a gas dryer, gas dryer illustration

However, if you are trying to avoid moving the dryer, this might not be helpful to you. If the label is near the top, you can stick your phone down there and take a picture, but if it’s at the bottom, you won’t be able to do this.

An alternative spot to look is the box of the dryer if you still happen to have it. The box will most likely state the type of dryer near the brand name, as this is often part of the product name. 

The manual may also likely say what kind of dryer it is near the brand name wherever the product name is listed.

If the box or manual doesn’t help, an online search can be a last resort. When you find the make and model, the type of dryer will most likely be listed in the product name or description. You should also be able to see a picture to compare to your dryer for confirmation.

What Will It Say?

Even after looking at the back of the dryer, box, manual, or online, it may still be unclear whether the dryer is electric or gas. 

Don’t fret, though. There are various other ways to determine whether your dryer is gas or electric. Even without a label, electric and gas dryers have different components that can lead to their identification. 

Voltage rating is a great example of this. Gas dryers are commonly 120 V, while electric dryers are commonly 240 V. 

The labels on the back of the dryer may show the voltage rating as well as a voltage warning. 

Additionally, the cord of a gas dryer will look different from the cord of an electric dryer. 

Gas dryer cords will look similar to regular appliance cords, with a standard three-prong outlet connection into a standard outlet. 

An electric dryer cord, on the other hand, will have a special outlet, sometimes with four holes, and an outlet connection that does not fit into a standard outlet.  

REPLACE WITH LICENSED IMAGE

Care Instructions Not Always Helpful

In my experience, appliance manuals are not always helpful in determining the exact model that you have.

Often, particularly if there is a lot of overlapping information between the two, they will combine the instructions for both versions in order to streamline the production of the manuals.

So, if a dryer comes in both a gas model and an electric model, your manual may have information and, specifically, care instructions for both.

Obviously, this is not going to be very helpful if there is no other indication of which one you actually have.

Good thing this article’s not over yet! I still have two more ideas for your to try.

Check for a Gas Line Connection

One sure way to identify if your dryer is gas or electric is to find a gas line connection. 

A dryer will not be right up against the wall in the back because of the connections, whether they are electrical connections or gas connections. 

This makes it easy to peek at the back of the dryer without moving it. 

To aid in your investigation, it is best to use a flashlight so that you can identify things more easily.

When you peer behind an electric dryer, you should see two things:

  • One of those things is the exhaust vent, which is a metallic tube that is often about four inches in diameter. They may be semi-rigid or foil, but they will always have a metallic sheen to them. 
  • The other thing you will see at the back of a dryer if it is electric, is the electric cable connecting it to the 240 V outlet. 

For a gas dryer, on the other hand, you will see three things:

  • The exhaust vent, which should look the same as an exhaust vent for an electric dryer. 
  • The electrical cord, which will look a tad different for a gas dryer since the outlet will be a standard three-prong 120 V outlet. 
  • The main difference you will see with gas dryer connections is a gas line. It looks thicker than an electrical cord but only has a diameter of about an inch or less. It’s often made of a yellow plastic or a kind of shiny metal. A gas line won’t be connected to an outlet but rather a gas hookup in the wall.
Back of gas dryer Illustration, gas dryer components

Look for a Glow

Both gas dryers and electric dryers emit a glow during a drying cycle. If it’s dark, you might be able to see this glow when you peer over the back of the dryer.

In electric dryers, the glow is from the heating element, which remains hot as long as the program is running.

In gas dryers, the glow is from the ignitor, which will only remain hot until the gas is ignited.

Reasons Why a Gas Dryer Ignitor Will Not Glow (With Solutions)

So, if you put on a load of washing to dry and watch for the glow, a continued glow means you have an electric dryer and a glow that disappears shortly after the program starts means that you have a gas dryer.

How Does the Dryer Sound?

Although most strategies used to identify a gas or electric dryer are visual, there are some auditory cues that can be used to differentiate between a gas and an electric dryer. 

Gas dryers surely have their pros and cons, and one of the cons is that they can be noisier than their electric counterparts.

Many people who use a gas dryer rather than an electric dryer say that their dryer is noisier than electric dryers that they have had in the past. 

The reason for the noise is that gas dryers use gas combustion to heat air and dry clothing. 

Combustion is not a silent reaction. If you have ever heard the sound of a blowtorch, you know what combustion can sound like. It can be described as a roaring, similar to that of a waterfall but without the splashing sound of water. 

Many customers have reported that their gas dryers sound like blowtorches, which is natural since this is the sound of gas combustion. (Although the sound shouldn’t be too loud).

Electric dryers, on the other hand, use an electric heating element rather than gas combustion to create heat. These heating elements are much quieter than the combustion process. 

However, this method is not foolproof since a noisy dryer does not mean that the dryer is gas-powered. 

Instead, there may be loose or broken components, such as a dryer belt, that are causing some annoying sounds. 

Man-fixing-the-dryer-belt-of-a-dryer

Importance of Knowing Dryer Type

Knowing your dryer type may seem trivial since they do the same thing, but it is important to know the type so that you can properly care for your dryer to extend its life as much as possible. 

For example, knowing the risks of gas dryers over electric dryers is important in enabling you to keep your household safe. Combustion produces carbon dioxide and can even produce carbon monoxide. 

Gas dryers must be installed carefully so that the gas line does not leak. This can lead to fires and even explosions. 

Electric dryers are not without their risks either. They pull an enormous amount of power, which means that they need a dedicated circuit, a dedicated outlet, and extension cables are a bad idea.

Sources

https://www.grandappliance.com/blog/electric-versus-gas-dryers

https://www.wikihow.com/Install-a-Gas-Dryer

https://www.usnews.com/360-reviews/home-goods/dryers/gas-vs-electric#safer

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