Pros and Cons of Stackable Washers and Dryers

by Michael Franco
opening bifold doors to reveal laundry machines

When it comes to making major home appliance upgrades, there can be a lot of pressure to pick the perfect piece. This is especially true when it comes to purchasing a washer and dryer. After all, these workhorse appliances aren’t cheap, and you want them to last. And, these days, the seemingly endless array of choices in style, finish, and features may have even the most seasoned appliance purchaser’s palms sweating.

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To further complicate matters, some buyers may need to consider stackable washer and dryer combos due to space limitations. But what are the pros and cons of stackable washers and dryers? And how much money should you be prepared to spend? Here’s an outline of both the pros and cons of stackable washer dryer options and combination units, along with cost comparisons to their side-by-side competitors, so you can know how these appliances stack up before you buy.

First Things First: Know Your Options

In addition to pondering brand preferences and knowing whether your home has gas or electric connections, one of the biggest factors to take into consideration when purchasing a washer and dryer is space. If you’re lacking a traditional laundry room, or if the dedicated laundry space in your home is tight, you may want to consider a stacked or stackable washer-dryer combo.

In certain small space situations, a stackable washer-dryer is the only viable option — unless you want to go all Little House on the Prairie by setting up a clothesline outside. If air-drying your underoos in view of neighbor Steve sounds as fun as churning your own butter, never fear: There’s likely a stackable option that will work for you.

If you’ve determined that a stackable washer-dryer combo is optimal for your space, the next thing you need to consider is type. There are two basic styles of stacked washers and dryers on the market. First, there is the single unit laundry center, which is a stacked washer-dryer combo that’s a single appliance, like the GE Stacked Laundry Center or the LG Washtower. These 2-in-1 units are often a slightly more affordable choice, but vary with regard to features and load capacity.

The second choice is a front-loading washer and dryer that are separate, but stackable units, like this Samsung stackable option and this LG 4.5 Washer 7.4 Electric Dryer option with ultra-large wash and dry capacities. Stackable units are often available in more compact sizes, with both washer and dryer using a front-loading system to allow for stacking, and run the gamut with regard to wash-cycle features and load capabilities. The added bonus to these stackable options is that, unlike the single-unit laundry centers, these can be used either stacked or side-by-side, allowing for far more flexibility should you have more space to unstack the units in the future.

Whichever style you prefer, know that you’ll have slightly fewer options to choose from. There are still many models out there not built with stackability in mind, but don’t worry: There are still plenty of single-unit or stackable electric and gas washer and dryer sets to choose from.

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Cost Considerations

What’s the price difference between a stacked combo and separate units? Are stackable washer and dryer combo units more expensive? The truth is, both stacked or stackable-option combos are, on average, pretty comparable to standard side-by-side washers in terms of price.

According to Fixr, the average cost of a stacked washer-dryer combo ranges from $550 to $3,000 (CAD 700 to CAD 3,800), while buying side-by-side washer and dryer units separately will run you anywhere from $600 to $3,500 (CAD 750 to CAD 4,500). Exactly how much you end up spending will depend on the brand and how many special features you’re hoping for.

For example, this Whirlpool stacked laundry center combo may be lacking in bells and whistles and have a smaller load capacity than most side-by-side units, but at less than 2 feet (60 centimeters) wide and under $1,500 (CAD 1,900), it fits nicely into snug spaces without breaking the bank.

But for those seeking a higher-end stackable option and willing to spend significantly more, Miele offers some top-of-the-line stackable units that are compact, Wi-Fi-connected, Energy Star-certified and full of special features like a soft-steam option and anti-crease system.

Size Considerations

One of the cons of a stackable washer-dryer combo is they often have smaller load capacities than standard side-by-side alternatives. Front-loading machines simply tend to hold less than top-loading ones, and this is especially true for single-unit centers and the more compact stackable options.

Still, running smaller loads of laundry in these stackable systems has some perks. They typically require less energy, making for a wash and dry cycle that’s easier on the Earth and your electric bill. However, there are some exceptions — like this stackable LG 4.5 and 7.4 Electric option that boasts an ultra-large wash-and-dry capacity with a 30-inch (76-centimeter) depth that can still fit into most closets and smaller spaces.

Another added benefit of stackable front-load washer and dryer systems is that many offer optional pedestals for purchase, so you can adjust the height to best suit your space and needs. This can make it much easier to load and unload your laundry, with far less bending over or straining to reach for that wayward sock at the bottom of a top-loading washer barrel.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

While there are some possible disadvantages to stacking washer-dryer combo units — like size capacity and fewer options to choose from — there are also plenty of advantages. A stacked washer-dryer combo can save both space and money, while still allowing for full laundry room capabilities when you’re short on square footage.

And, with plenty of stackable washers and dryers now offering the same Energy Star certifications and smart Wi-Fi capabilities as other washers and dryers on the market, you can rest assured that you aren’t missing out on premium features and environmental friendliness.