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Washing Machines

Electrolux Compact Washer and Dryer Pair needs no vents, cleans with steam

The Electrolux Compact Washer and Dryer Pair is small, boasts a steam cleaning mode and doesn't need outside air.

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LAS VEGAS -- Living within tight quarters comes with many challenges and high upon the potential list of frustrations is the lack of on-premises laundry facilities. At KBIS 2015, appliance maker Electrolux revealed its solution to the problem, the Compact Washer and Dryer. Made up of a pair of products that cost $999 each, Electrolux claims its clothes-cleaning system is the perfect choice for apartment dwellers due to its small footprint and ventless design.

The Electrolux Compact Washer and Dryer combo is made to fit into tight spots. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Smaller might be better

The first thing that struck me about the Electrolux Compact Washer and Dryer combo was its minute stature. Displayed at the company's KBIS product booth cleverly shoehorned underneath a waist-high kitchen countertop, it was clear to see that both machines didn't displace much in the way of valuable living space. Indeed, Electrolux touts that each unit qualifies as a 24-inch appliance, which typically means 24 inches wide.

Both units measure just under 24 inches wide, a smidge over 25 inches deep. and stand 33.4 inches tall. They also tip the scales at 180 pounds each so you'd better use a hand truck, movers, or all three to position into place.

No vents needed

Like any true apartment-friendly laundry set worth considering, Electrolux's Compact Washer and Dryer system doesn't require air vents to function. Instead, its dryer unit relies on a simple water condenser tray.

The potential upsides to this approach are many; the most appealing is you don't need to punch holes in your walls to access external air. So in theory the Electrolux solution can be dropped anywhere there's access to 240 volts of AC electricity plus an adequate water supply.

Instead of hot air vents this laundry system uses a water condenser and collection tray. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Clean with the power of steam

Another feature Electrolux makes sure to talk up is its washer's ability to steam clean. The company points out that the washer is the first compact model with this function. And according to Electrolux, steam cleaning not only treats clothes more gently than traditional (mostly kinetic) methods, it has the oomph to remove stubborn stains from delicate wool fabrics.

As both a clumsy eater and an owner of multiple brightly hued dress sweaters, the steam cleaning mode sounds the most compelling.

This washer cleans with steam. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Outlook

I suggest, however, you take the claims Electolux makes concerning the installation convenience of its Compact Washer and Dryer pair with a grain of salt. For instance, you may not need fancy external ventilation to install this laundry combo, but it does demand a proper water source.

Like any other washing machine, it will need the three lines to the unit (hot, cold, drain). If your rental has one of these special plumbing fixtures you're in luck, but it might be tough going otherwise without an exceptionally accommodating landlord.

Even if you own your home, putting in a wall-mounted laundry box is still a job for an experienced plumber or contractor. I also have a suspicion that ventless drying will take much longer to achieve the same results compared with old-school hot air linked to an external vent.

Still not deterred by these potential hang-ups? Then by all means investigate the Electrolux Compact Washer and Dryer pair further. The system is available now costing $999 per washer and dryer unit.

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