The Kenmore 81182 (MSRP $699) reminds us a lot of the LG DLE3050W (MSRP $799), except it's a little cheaper and a little better. Amongst the mid-tier dryers, the 81182 outpaced many of its competitors and was reasonably fast too: only 53 minutes for the Normal cycle. This dryer also showed that it can balance raw power and finesse. For example, the Delicates cycle dried laundry into an ironable state without breaking the 108°F mark. If you're looking for a 7.3-cu.-ft. dryer that can be stacked, you can't go wrong with the Kenmore 81182.
Standard design that isn't bland
The Kenmore 81182 is based on the LG DLE3050W dryer. But this time around, Kenmore decided to add its own sense of style to the mix. Where the DLE3050W's control panel looked like a car's dashboard clock, the 81182 is more like an alarm clock on your bedside.
All the option buttons are spread out and the front is larger than usual, so you don't have to put on your reading glasses just to dry a shirt.
Handling-wise, nothing about this machine feels cheap. That's a feat, considering the budget-conscious price. The buttons have good action, a drum light allows you to load and unload laundry in a dark basement with ease, and there are no quirky cycle names. Everything is straightforward, so if you've used a dryer in the last decade, nothing will confuse you.
The Normal cycle test consists of an approximately eight pound load wet to 1.7 times its weight. We then place this load in with temperature and humidity sensors. On average, the Normal cycle test finished in 53 minutes and removed 99% of all moisture. It reached a maximum temperature of 167°F, which could prematurely wear out your clothing if you dry fragile fabrics frequently.
The Delicates cycle proved worthy of its name. It reached a high temperature of 108°F, which won't damage clothing. After an hour, it removed 87% of moisture.
The Express Dry test uses a 4 lb. load wet to 1.7 times its weight. It took 25 minutes to complete, during which it removed 83% of all moisture. Our sensors picked up a high temperature of 168°F.
The Bulky test uses a comforter wet to 1.5 times its weight. The 81182 performed admirably, removing 85% of all moisture. This is especially good considering that for most people, it's standard practice to flip the comforter and run the Bulky cycle again.
Sometimes too hot, most of the time just right
We encountered a few instances where this Kenmore got too hot. How can a dryer get too hot, you ask? Well, fabric that's repeatedly exposed to high temperatures gets worn out prematurely. The Normal cycle reached over 167°F, which passes that temperature threshold. The flip-side of that is our test laundry came out completely dry in under an hour.
Luckily, the Delicates cycle stayed cool enough to stave off damage to your fragile items. The Bulky and Express Dry also did their jobs well. The Bulky cycle removed 85% of moisture from a comforter, which is good since it's standard practice to run such cycles twice. The Express Dry required 25 minutes to finish and we found it well-suited for drying a handful of items.
When it comes to shopping for a dryer under $1,000, it's wise to steer away from one with too many extras. A basic dryer should focus on moisture removal, and that's exactly what the 81182 does.
There are a few extras: It has Wrinkle Guard, which keeps a load tumbling after the cycle is done. This prevents laundry from getting musty and, of course, wrinkly.
There's also Kenmore Connect, which is a system that allows customer support to diagnosis a broken machine over the phone. Hopefully, this is something you'll never have to use, but it's nice to have when things go south. Other than that, the 81182 is all business.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
A good choice for those on a budget
If you plan on shopping at a Sears, this a good buy. It's not perfect—our tests showed that the Kenmore 81182 uses extra heat on some cycles, and drying times are a little long. Still, the price-to-performance ratio turned out to be among the best we've tested, while the 7.3-cu.-ft. drum and Sanitize cycles make it appealing to families. There are dryers that will dry better. There are dryers that will cost less. But the Kenmore 81182 is the middle-ground that we can all live with.
Meet the tester
Senior Manager of Lab Operations@ReviewedHome
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.
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