Speed Queen ADE41F Review
This dryer is a blast from the past, with old world performance too.
As a manufacturer of primarily coin-operated, industrial washers and dryers, Speed Queen is particularly familiar to apartment residents and college students living in dorms. They do have products meant for regular consumers, however, and that lineup includes the "pro-sumer" Speed Queen ADE41F. This massive, stainless steel dryer looks like something that could've been found in a laundromat several decades ago: it's big, looks clunky, and uses old-fashioned crank timers with limited cycle options. Its design is a carryover from the '70s, when Raytheon used to make commercial laundry equipment in addition to military hardware.
Ah, the good old days. But as Billy Joel said, the good old days weren't always good, and that's certainly the truth here. The cycles we tested ran longer and got much hotter than many other more conventional machines found today. You can't argue with the overall results: it definitely got our test loads dry, but it took quite a long time, subjecting laundry to unnecessary stress. A more advanced machine would've had a far more delicate touch.
For all that hot air, the Speed Queen's price tag also matches it's rather substantial girth: We couldn't find it for sale for less than $1499. Most dryers that dethrone this Speed Queen cost half as much. Unless you want a dryer that looks and feels like a small tank, look for something a bit more up-to-date that won't hit your wallet—or your laundry—quite so hard.
Design & Usability
Is this drying behemoth really as sturdy as it looks?
The control layout is a bit old-fashioned, with a crank knob used to select any given cycle. There's no time display, no lights to indicate what settings are being used, and no start button; you have to push the cycle select knob to make the machine go, like it's the stone age—or at least the early 1990s. The knobs themselves are big and sturdy, but some felt rather loose, and one even came off rather easily (Luckily, the design prevents them from being replaced incorrectly, so you don't have to worry about sticking them back on). The red highlights are a nice visual touch, but don't really add anything substantial to the layout.
The door is surprisingly light for such a heavy-looking machine, and that's because the actual handle is made of plastic. The rest of the machine is stainless, which means you're going to be dealing with a lot of unsightly fingerprints. Be prepared to scrub if you want your laundry room to look more like an operating room.
The lint trap is really more of a lint divot, with no removable section at all. There's an indentation from which you scoop out the lint; it was easy to clean, but a bit of an unconventional approach that doesn't really add to the machine's overall ease of use.
Performance & Features
It may look like it came out of the Apollo program, but this dryer's performance is far from out of this world.
The Speed Queen's cycles are divided into four sections, three of which are actually sensor-based despite the crank timer: Automatic Permanent Press and Knits, Automatic Regular and Delicate, and Automatic Wrinkle Out. There is also a Timed Dry that can run for up to 75 minutes, though no other specialty cycles to speak of.
The Permanent Press and Regular cycles offer two marked dryness levels to choose from, though the crank knob can be set to anywhere in between them, as well. There are also four temperature settings, including a "no heat" option. Temperature isn't set automatically, so one of those choices must be selected for any available cycle.
Overall, long cycles and very high heats make for a rather inefficient appliance, despite producing dry clothes. The really disappointing thing is that the Speed Queen took as long as it did and used temperatures significantly higher than what we typically see. That said, clothes came out completely dry after most every test.
The Normal cycle lasted twice as long as on most modern machines—an hour and 45 minutes—and it was also excessively hot, which is bad for clothing. Since this model doesn't have a proper Quick Dry equivalent, we just ran a Timed Dry cycle for 30 minutes, which dried the load entirely. We took similar measures to simulate a Delicate cycle, which is also noticeably absent, but even with the temperature set to Low / Delicate, this dryer still gets dangerously hot—far too hot for delicates especially. Excessive temperatures are clearly a recurring problem.
Finally, the Speed Queen has one extra drying feature, sort of. The Permanent Press and Regular cycle settings have a built-in extended tumble for when the cycle has concluded, in lieu of a more traditional wrinkle prevent function. This can be turned on or off using the designated knob found just to the left of the cycle selection. Other than that, there's nothing else special about what this machine has to offer.
A Short-Lived Rule for this Speed Queen?
The Speed Queen ADE41F is a very bizarre appliance. This stainless steel dryer looks a bit like a small bomb, and treats clothes like it actually is one. It did get our clothes dry, but the disturbingly high heats and lengthy drying times definitely overdid it. Even if it didn't cost so much, it wouldn't be a great value.
An average price tag of $1499, though, should get you a more efficient machine, one that doesn't have a Normal cycle that last more than 90 minutes, or internal temperatures so hot they'd make a cactus sweat. Subtlety and efficiency are definitely not this machine's strongest attributes. No specialized cycles, an old-fashioned crank timer, and flimsy controls just add insult to injury. If you're shopping for novelty, this relic of the Cold War-era laundromats may be for you. If what you're looking for is an effective dryer, however, keep on searching.
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