Condenser dryers do have drawbacks, however, and this dryer's biggest weakness is how long it takes. A two-hour normal cycle explains why this machine gets such a low score. It also gets pretty warm to the touch. But if you need a clothes dryer and don't have a vent, this is the best you can get.
It's compact, but is it competent?
The first thing you'll notice about the Ascenta is its size. It stands only 33 1/4 inches tall and 25 inches deep, which is no bigger than your average dishwasher. That means it can fit under most kitchen countertops.
Why is that important?
Well, a condenser dryer uses a heat exchanger to draw out the moisture in your laundry. The moisture is then collected and then pumped out. If the dryer can fit under a countertop, it can use the same plumbing as your sink to get rid of the water.
The downside to the design? Hot air isn't vented outdoors. Instead, the dryer itself gets hot: Using an infrared thermometer, we measured a surface temperature of 118ºF while the dryer was running. Just being around this dryer made us break a sweat. It's the price you pay for not venting the hot air into the outside world.
Other than the heat issue, we didn't find any major faults with the Ascenta's design. Everything is clearly labeled. The red LCD screen is easy to read, and a Galvalume drum (a zinc, aluminium, and steel alloy) is rather attractive.
Though Bosch's U.S.-bound products are aimed squarely at American consumers, this Ascenta clearly speaks with a German accent. Both condenser dryers and compact dryers are more popular in Europe, where energy and square footage are at a premium. On the one hand, you have a machine that's more efficient, both in resource and space usage. On the other, this dryer can take up to three hours to finish a cycle and has nearly half the capacity of a traditional American-style machine.
The Cotton Dry cycle took about an hour and a half. That's significantly longer than most dryers. Still, it got our test laundry completely dry.
We were skeptical of how well this compact Bosch would handle a wet comforter, which usually needs lots of room for tumbling. But it proved good enough: After an hour of the Heavy Duty cycle, the dryer automatically stopped, leaving the comforter half-dry. That's not unusual, since it's common practice to flip bulky items and run a cycle twice.
Overall, we found the Ascenta's performance to be acceptable, but not astounding. However, if you're in the market for a machine that needs no duct work, your options are limited. Amongst the few choices, the Bosch Ascenta WTB86200UC is a strong contender.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
If your choices are limited, this Bosch is a good one.
The Bosch Ascenta WT86200UC—quite literally—a niche product. It's built to fit in a small space where venting isn't possible. If you have the choice to install a vented dryer, do it—condenser dryers are smaller and slower than their vented counterparts.
But if you don't have a choice, ignore this dryer's low score. Waiting a little longer for your laundry to finish is a heck of a lot easier than dragging your clothes to the laundromat, or begging for permission to drill a hole through the wall for a vent.
In order to bring you the most objective and useful information, we base our reviews on scientific tests. With dryers, it's all about the ability to remove moisture from laundry without damaging it. So we placed sensors in the Bosch during each test to measure the temperature and humidity inside the drum, to see if the clothes get dry enough without damaging heat.
This Bosch got an exceptionally low score because it took a very long time to dry clothes and got extremely hot in the process. However, that's only in comparison to vented machines. When it comes to condenser dryers, it's actually quite good.
The Normal and Delicate cycle tests involve wetting an eight-pound load to 1.7 times its weight—about as wet as laundry is when it comes out of a washer. We place these loads into the dryer along with temperature and humidity sensors. Like many other condenser dryers, the WTB86200UC got very hot and tumbled for a long time, which can lead to premature clothes wear. The cycle lasted over an hour and our sensors picked up a peak temperature of 168°F. That's a little too hot for our tastes–at such temperatures clothing can get prematurely worn.
The Delicates cycle fared much better in that regard, lasting only 40 minutes and only reaching a temperature of 121.1°F. However, it only got clothes 28% dry.
The Quick cycle turned out to be not as quick as we'd like. It took 40 minutes and got our 4 lb. test load 94% dry—about twice as long as the best vented machines we've tested. If you're in a hurry, it falls short.
We used the Heavy Duty cycle to tackle a test comforter, which we wetted to 1.5 times its weight. The cycle took roughly an hour and the test comforter came out 51% dry. That's not terrible, since it's common practice to flip a comforter and run another cycle. However, the best examples of larger vented dryers take less time to get the same job done.
Meet the tester
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email