Brabantia - Solar Powered Clothes Drying

Tuesday 17th August, 2010
The name Brabantia will likely need no introduction to any homeowner - chances are you've got one of their waste bins somewhere in your home. In fact, the first bin I ever bought was a Brabantia - a little pedal bin for use in the bathroom in my first place after I left home.

After moving into a new home with a garden, it became clear that my green testing had become a little...how shall I put it? Ungreen! My original benchmark energy test involved washing and drying a set of towels from our weekly wash - but of course there is nothing at all eco-conscious about using a tumble dryer when the sun is shining!

Enter the Brabantia Lift-O-Matic rotary dryer.

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This is like the Rolls Royce of clothes dryers with all the niggles from other models designed out. It comes with with a long steel spike for the ground, to ensure it doesn't blow over even in the strongest winds. The spike fits flush , so you can push the mower straight over it when you cut the grass - there's even a red cap to go in the top of the spike when you remove the dryer - the little slot on the cap allows you to clip it to the line when not in use. The dryer itself has an aluminium pole, making the device light and easy to lift in and out of the hole. The arm mechanism is extremely easy to open and close, the wires remain tangle free and, being the Lift-O-Matic model, you can even adjust the height of the dryer on the pole - handy for airing duvets and things. All the lines that join the dryer arms are individual, making them easy to replace should one break in the future and the lines also have quite a grippy surface - I don't even bother using clothes pegs when putting my towels out to dry. In fact, the only thing it doesn't come with is a cover, but one is available for purchase separately.

Unlike my usual product tests, this one actually saves electricity - it doesn't use any - all the spinning around it might do is purely powered by the wind and the warmth of the sun does all the drying. To test the true savings, however, I had to go back to the laundry and wash some more towels at 40 degrees, except this time I disabled the drying cycle. At the end of our wash cycle, towels still wet, my electricity meter clearly read 0.51kWh, a massive saving of 2.16kWh (81%) bringing our cost down from about 30p to just under 6 pence per wash. On a hot sunny day, the towels are actually dry in about the same time the dryer takes!

Of course we wash more than that each week. We do one load of towels, one of bedding, baby, whites, light clothes, dark clothes and underwear - 7 washes. In fair weather, these can all be dried on our washing line - our 50m model will easily hold 3 to 4 loads at once - with a saving of 15.12kWh per week, about £1.50. Even if we say the weather is only suitable for 6 months of the year, that's still a 393.12kWh/£40 a year saving.

How does that work out in saved CO2 emissions? Well, using my friend the NEF CO2 Calculator, we can calculate how much CO2 those saved kWh would have generated from UK power stations - an enormous 213kg of CO2 or about the same carbon footprint as a Nissan Leaf travelling for over 1638miles! Yes, with the electricity saved by line drying for 6 months a year, you can drive 1600 miles in a new electric car.

Backed with the usual excellent Brabantia guarantee, the Lift-O-Matic rotary dryer will pay for itself in no time and for double the savings throughout the winter months, you could look at one of Brabantia's indoor drying solutions such as their Bathroom drying rack.

Further photos of the garden installation can be viewed here.

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