Kenmore Elite 81983 Smart Electric Dryer Review
Can a clothes dryer be glamorous?
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It’s easy to think of a dryer as nothing but a heated box, ready for a tumble. Don’t take that the wrong way. Dryers weren't always sexy—but now, they can be.
The Kenmore Elite 81983 (available at Sears for $1,169.99) is ready to come from the basement to the living level, fully loaded. The dryer has an ultra-bright light in a great big stainless drum, a tight seal on the door, and a lot of cycles—including a few of a steamier nature. It's available in white (81983) and metallic silver. On sale, it costs around $1,099.
Smart features let you set cycles, keep track of the load, and get diagnostics and alerts, all from your phone.
There are plenty of other dryers that offer multiple dry cycles, fight wrinkles and odors, and have their own smartphone apps. We were interested to see whether this good-looking dryer would differentiate itself when it came to performance, too. We tested an electric model in our labs, though you can expect the gas version to work the same way.
The silver metallic finish on this chic dryer gives stylish dryers from Samsung and LG a run for their money. It’s no surprise that LG manufactures this model for Kenmore, as it rocks their style.
When you put it next to its truly elite companion washer, they make a pretty pair.
With a 29-inch-wide, 34-inch-deep, 40-inch-tall form factor, this dryer isn’t a space saver. That's because it has lots of room for super-sized loads, 9.0 cubic feet, to be precise.
Controls are on the front, with one knob for dialing up the desired cycle. It’s an advantage to be able to see both the LED display of cycle status and the ETA of dried laundry.
The Check Vent feature lets you know when there are blockages in the exhaust system, something to keep a close eye on.
We found that the dryer’s performance was comparable to other dryers at a similar price point. In testing, we discovered that it took a little over an hour to dry an eight pound load in the Normal cycle, and 21 minutes for the Express Dry with a four pound load.
The large, soggy comforter we tossed in got more than 96% dry during one run of the Bulky cycle, which lasted 1 hour and 24 minutes. That's a big deal—not many dryers can touch that. Start the laundry after dinner, then pop your comforter into the dryer, and it will be nice and toasty by bedtime.
Water and steam options:
• Static Shield sprays the laundry at the end of the cycle to disperse static electricity. That could make a big difference in the winter, preventing you from getting shocks when emptying the drum.
• De-Wrinkle uses steam to release each crease.
• The Sanitize cycle kills germs. That's good for baby things, or sweaty work clothes. This dryer emits true steam by heating water first, and it's NSF certified. Some other dryers have steam cycles that just use water from wet clothes.
We found that installing the Kenmore Smart app was straightforward, which is unusual for an appliance app. It enables users to control many features, from wherever there’s a WiFi signal. Activating Wrinkle Guard remotely prevents clothes from getting crumpled by keeping them tumbling until you're available to unload them. Control lock is a safety feature. (You're not hiding anything in your dryer, right?)
The Bottom Line
This is a competent model that doesn’t innovate, but plays well at its (considerable) price point, offering plenty of features for the money. It doesn't include a drying shelf, though, which is a nice-to-have.
On the showroom floor at Sears, this dryer is likely a stunner, with its silvery finish and its outstanding matching washer. If you buy it, don’t hide it in the basement. It's too beautiful for that fate.
However, before you make a final dryer decision, take a look at this Maytag dryer. The aesthetic is much different, but it may cost you a bit less, and our tester gave it a rave review.