Automatic Dry Vs Timed Dry – What’s the Difference?

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Modern-day dryers come with plenty of options to improve your user experience. For example, all dryers have a Timed Dry cycle option that runs for a set period. However, newer models also have an Automatic Dry option that works with a moisture sensor.

The Timed Dry cycle is very straightforward, as it runs for a period you set. So, if you choose a 30-minute Timed Dry cycle, it’ll stop abruptly at the 30-minute mark and begin cooling down. The Automatic Dry cycle will continually sense how wet your clothes are and shorten or lengthen the cycle duration as needed.

These two dryer cycles work quite differently from one another. Still, each one is better suited for different conditions. Keep reading to understand which one you should use and when.

What’s The Difference Between Automatic Dry And Timed Dry?

Automatic Dry and Timed Dry are two types of dryer cycles. Both dryer cycles function differently, so each can offer you a different set of benefits and drawbacks.

Here’s how each one works:

Timed Dry

A Timed Dry cycle is pretty straightforward. It’s a drying cycle that will only run for a fixed duration that you choose.

Suppose you choose to begin a 30-minute Timed Dry cycle. In that case, the dryer will run for only 30 minutes and shut itself off at the end.

Whether your laundry inside is dry or still wet, the dryer will stop operating once your set time has ended.

From a technical perspective, your dryer only needs its built-in timer for the Timed Dry cycle to function correctly.

Read: Why Does My Dryer Take Several Cycles To Dry Clothes? – Troubleshooting Guide

Automatic Dry

Unlike a Timed Dry cycle, the Automatic Dry doesn’t have a fixed duration. That’s because the dryer uses a moisture sensor to continuously monitor how wet your clothes are as they dry.

Once the sensor detects that your clothes are dry, it’ll trigger the dryer to end the drying cycle early.

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However, if it finds that your clothes are still wet, it’ll continue the drying cycle for as long as necessary.

The Automatic Dry cycle relies on a component called a moisture sensor. Most newer dryer models come with that sensor and can offer you the Automatic Dry cycle option.

Read: Why Dryer Smells Like Sewage?

How Do I Know If My Dryer Has An Automatic Dry Cycle?

All dryers have a Timed Dry cycle, but not all come with an Automatic Dry feature. That’s because not all dryers have the moisture sensor that’s needed.

Suppose you’re unsure whether or not your dryer model has a moisture sensor. In that case, there are a few ways you can check:

  • Dryers with moisture sensors typically have a label on the front panel that shows it offers an Automatic Dry or Sensor Dry feature.
  • You can also check for the moisture sensor inside the dryer. The sensor has two metal strips running across its surface, and you’ll find it next to where the air is sucked out. Depending on the model, it could be in the back or front of the dryer drum.
  • Finally, you can check the user manual for information regarding the Automatic Dry feature or moisture sensor in your model if it has one.

Read: Gas Vs Electric Dryer | In-Depth Comparison

What Are The Pros and Cons Of A Timed Dry Cycle?

Even though you might have an Automatic Dry cycle option on your appliance, the Timed Dry cycle is still the better option in some situations.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of a Timed Dry cycle:

Pro: Flexibility

Firstly, the Timed Dry cycle offers you plenty of flexibility in choosing how long a cycle should run.

For instance, a typical laundry load might require 30-45 minutes of drying to remove all moisture. However, you’ll want the flexibility to choose a shorter duration to dry smaller loads or items like baby clothes and face towels.

Pro: Control

Some items are much more fragile than your standard laundry load. As a result, they can only spend an exact amount of time in your dryer or risk experiencing damage.

An example would be sneakers or very delicate fabrics prone to over-drying.

Instead of trusting those sensitive items to an automatic drying feature, you can use a Timed Dry cycle to end the cycle at an exact moment.

Con: Not Enough Drying Time

The precision of a Timed Dry cycle is a double-edged sword. Remember: the drying cycle will stop precisely when the time runs out.

Unfortunately, that can also mean that the cycle will end prematurely before all your clothing items are dry enough.

Read: GE Electric/Gas Dryer Not Heating?

Con: Potential Over-Drying

Over-drying can be very damaging to your clothes. However, suppose your Timed Dry cycle lasts too long. In that case, the dryer will continue working despite your clothes being too dry.

That will cause damage and excessive wear to your fabrics.

What Are The Pros and Cons Of An Automatic Dry Cycle?

Now, here are the pros and cons that you must understand about an Automatic Dry Cycle:

Pro – Energy Savings

Automatic Dry cycles are popular because they can provide significant energy savings. In addition, the moisture sensor increases your dryer’s efficiency by adjusting the cycle duration to only what your laundry load requires.

Some laundry loads require more drying than others. The Automatic Dry cycle can make the necessary adjustments and save you lots of power (and money) in the long run.

Con – Not Suited For Small Loads

Yes, Automatic Dry cycles increase your dryer’s efficiency. However, that’s only possible for loads above a specific size.

When a load is too small, the moisture sensor inside fails to accurately measure how wet your clothes still are. As a result, the dryer will mistakenly shorten or lengthen the cycle duration and lead to under- or over-drying.

So, the Automatic Dry cycle is not a good option for users who often dry small loads only. 

Con – Reliance On Moisture Sensor

The Automatic Dry cycle requires an additional component to function correctly: the moisture sensor.

Unfortunately, if that sensor is faulty or dirty, the Automatic Dry cycle will no longer function correctly. You can only use the cycle again once you replace the affected sensor.

That can be pretty frustrating to users who rely on the Automatic Dry cycle, as it will not function despite all other dryer components being in excellent working condition.

Bottom Line: Is Timed Dry Or Automatic Dry Better?

A Timed Dry cycle is not necessarily better than an Automatic Dry cycle, and vice versa. Both offer benefits that make them suited for different situations.

You should use the Timed Dry cycle for small loads. It’s also useful for delicate items requiring more controlled dryer heat exposure.

However, Automatic Dry helps you save energy and money whenever you dry a standard laundry load. Plus, it allows the dryer to make many decisions automatically without your input.

Read: 5 Reasons Why Fisher Paykel Dryer Is Not Heating

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Check out these additional questions and answers to better understand your dryer:

How Does A Moisture Sensor Work?

Most dryer moisture sensors work when your tumbling clothes brush up against them. When your clothes touch the bars, it creates electrical resistance that the dryer uses to determine how wet it is.

Why Does My Dryer Only Dry On Timed Dry?

If your dryer has both cycles but only works on Timed Dry, it’s likely because your moisture sensor is faulty. As a result, the Automatic Dry cycle doesn’t work.

Why Are My Clothes Still Damp After Drying?

Damp clothes after a dryer cycle are caused by restricted airflow. That means the lint filter or vents are clogged with lint and dirt. As such, moisture from the dryer remains trapped in the drum and keeps your clothes wet.

Do Smaller Loads Dry Faster?

Yes, smaller loads generally dry faster. That’s because there’s less moisture to remove and more airflow around them as they tumble in a dryer.

Is Automatic Dry Low Heat?

Some dryer models will only use low heat when you choose an Automatic Dry cycle. However, some brands and models allow you to adjust the heat levels to your liking.

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