Kenmore 62342 Dryer Review
Low-tech drying, available at Sears.
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At first glance, you might think the Kenmore 62342 (MSRP $719.99) is very similar to budget dryers from Whirlpool and Maytag—and you’d be right. All three brands are based on the same design and made in the same factory.
With almost no features to speak of and an old-school interface, this model would need some pretty fantastic performance points—or a ridiculously low price—to make it stand out from the pack. Unfortunately, high heat and little control over cycles means it’s par for the course compared to other entry-level units.
Not even discounts can give the 62342 an edge over the competition: Only Sears and KMart sell the 62342, and the lowest sale price we could find was $429.99. Unless you've got a coupon or know about an impending price drop, that doesn’t hold up against the $379 Whirlpool WED4815EW, or even the $399 Maytag Centennial MEDC215EW.
If the 62342 goes on sale, feel free to consider it; in the meantime, there are more affordable, equally low-frill options on the market.
By the Numbers
The Kenmore 62342 (MSRP $719.99) is a fine, run-of-the-mill budget dryer. It almost always got our test clothes dry, but—like most low-cost units—did so through the use of high heat as opposed to subtle, effective technology.
Design & Usability
It’s the little things that make a difference
On the whole, the Kenmore 62342 is a very basic electric dryer: A pullout lint trap, 7.0-cu.-ft. interior, and white drum are all par for the course on a $400 dryer. Fortunately, the manufacturer did include an internal drum light—a helpful feature that will help you keep track of runaway socks.
Where budget dryers can really make a mark visually is on the control panel. The 62342's crank-to-turn controls themselves aren’t really anything special in terms of functionality: The cycle select can be a bit imprecise, while the knob that controls the cycle signal and gets pushed to turn the machine on was noticeably looser than the others.
That said, Kenmore’s two-tone knob design really does make this unit distinguish itself visually. Combined with the darker gray border and pale silvery console backing, the 62342 doesn't look like it was designed by an accountant.
Normal & Delicate
Normal is the one “cycle” that’s actually listed on the crank timer. Paring this option with the Medium heat setting, our test materials were completely dried after about 55 minutes on average. Temperatures peaked at 164.9°F, though, which is a bit hot for our taste.
To do our Delicate test, we again used the Normal dry setting, but this time paired it with Low heat. The results were roughly the same: After about 53 minutes on average, clothes came out 99% dry. The Low heat produced a peak temperature of just 146.9°F, however, which is actually more in line with what we’d like to have seen in the Normal test. Consider using Low heat for all your drying needs outside of heavy duty or bulky garments.
Quick Dry & Bulky
In the absence of a designated Rapid Dry option, we used a 30-minute manual cycle set to High heat for our Quick Dry test. This is the perfect example of how finicky crank timers can be—despite apparently setting the dryer for 30 minutes, one test cycle ran for 40, while the second ran for only 27. Nevertheless, the average end result was clothing that was 100% dry. We’d be surprised at anything less, though, given the high peak temp of 164.2°F.
The only thing this Kenmore couldn’t hack was our large, downy comforter. We threw everything the 62342 had at it—More Dry paired with High heat. The sensor decided to stop after 44 minutes on average, but the 156.2°F peak temperatures weren’t enough: The comforter had rolled its dry exterior around a big damp ball in the middle, and was still 31 percent wet.
If you buy this dryer, you’ll have to take out any large item, fluff it around, and stick it back in.
Performance & Features
Heat, and lots of it
On both manual and sensor-based cycles, the Kenmore 62342 does manage to gets clothes dry more often than not. As is common with modern budget entries, however, it does this primarily through the use of high heat.
Lacking many familiar cycle designations, like Quick Dry or Heavy Duty, we looked at the owner's manual to determine which settings would best fit our test laundry loads. Our Delicate test, for instance, used the Normal dry setting paired with Low heat.
At the end of the day, the 62342 was able to dry every test load of standard garments we could throw at it. (It had a bit of a hard time with our bulky comforter, but that’s true of most machines.) However, each cycle ran about 15 to 25 degrees warmer than we’d prefer—even on the Low heat setting.
While that’s common among budget dryers, it’s still not great, and is something you should be aware of. If you’re drying anything that’s not made from a hardy cotton, you may start to notice premature wear and tear or fading in your clothes.
Again, another aspect common to budget dryers is a lack of control. The 62342 does use sensor drying, but selecting a “cycle” is vague at best thanks to a mechanical cycle selector. What’s more, the only feature you have is an optional Wrinkle Guard, which will occasionally tumbled clothes after a cycle is done until the door is opened. Beyond that, a choice of three temperature settings—Low, Medium, and High—make up all the options you’ve got.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Kenmore provides consumers with a standard one-year warranty that covers any and all wear and tear—as long as you're using the machine properly. If something breaks through no fault of yours, it'll get fixed.
Hard to Justify...
...even considering the low cost
The thing about the Kenmore 62342 electric is that, compared to other budget models, there really isn’t anything wrong with it. All the things we may not like about it—crank timers, pullout lint traps, lack of features—are facets of virtually every dryer in this price range.
No, the only place that Kenmore drops the ball is in its price. What could be wrong with such an attractive price of merely $429.99 you ask? The fact that competitive models do just as well and can be found for as much as $60 less.
If the 62342’s price gets cut, or if you're getting some sort of deal on a package of appliance from Sears, then check it out. Otherwise, you should be able to find a better deal without much hassle.