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Canal Boats & Narrowboats


It is possible to install a tumble dryer on-board a canal boat or narrowboat. However these are very power hungry, more so than a standard washing machine so particular considerations must be made regarding power generation (if away from shoreline power).

Vented or Condenser
Domestic tumble dryers are either a vented machine or a condenser dryer. A vented machine takes the damp air and discharges it outside to prevent condensation.  If you are building a new canal boat, the vent could be permanently fitted, or you can simply hang the hose out of an open window door or hatch. A condenser dryer separates water in to a container which is emptied after the dryer has finished or is sometimes pumped out via the washing machine plumping. 

A standard tumble dryer will use between 2000-4000W of power which isn’t an issue on if your canal boat is on shoreline power, but a major consideration if you are running through an invertor or generator. 

The standard width of a tumble dryer is 60-69cm wide for a drum capacity of 7-9kg. However, compact models can be found which are 50cm wide and 50cm deep but you will sacrifice the amount you can dry as the drums can only hold 4kg. 

Washer Dryers
These are a practical space saving solution as they are a combined machine and no additional plumbing or hose vents are required. However you do need to bear in mind that drying time is longer than in a stand-alone dryer as the drums are smaller; it is a wet condenser system so uses cold water for the drying process, thus increasing water consumption.

Of course you can opt for a standard domestic tumble dryer on board your canal boat if you have the space and power to accommodate one or you could opt for other canal boat friendly alternatives such as:
  • Heated clothes airer – a traditional clothes airer but with heated rails. You will require 230V mains (either through shoreline, an inverter or generator), but they are generally compact and can be folded away when not in use. Depending upon the model they can use around 200W which would draw around 18 amps, which is considerably less than a tumble dryer. 
  • Air Dryers – unlike the heated clothes airer above that requires heat to be generated; the air dryer looks very similar to a traditional airer but uses multiple fans to blow room temperature air over the wet clothes, thus using very little energy. As it only circulates air and not heat; it only uses 25W (2 amps at 12V). It still requires 230V mains (either shoreline or an inverter). Again the air dryer can be folded away compactly when not in use. 
Ultimately you may also have the option to dry clothes outside, however do check with your marina / mooring as in some cases this is banned. Also be very cautious of drying clothes in close proximity of a stove as this can easily result in a devastating boat fire. 
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