Part of Whirlpool's Supreme Care range, the HSCX10431 is the matching large-capacity tumble dryer to the excellent Whirlpool FSCR10432 washing machine that we tested last month. This dryer offers a truly whopping 10kg load capacity, as well as a steam freshen-up function and sensor drying.
The premium price ticket gets you outstanding A++ heat pump energy efficiency, dedicated gentle wool drying programme and a 60-minute speed dry for when you are in a hurry. It’s burgeoning features list and technical expertise are faultless but some quirks make this a drier to divide opinion.
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Sumptuously styled to match its partnering washing machine, the HSCX10431 looks thoroughly modern with its gloss black door and control panel, array of symbols and bright blue LED display. The massive door opens to reveal a huge porthole and one of the largest drums on the market. Double duvets wont be a problem here. Shame there's no drum light to seek out the odd missing sock, though.
Whirlpool’s 6th Sense tech monitors and adapts the temperature and humidity inside the drum automatically, promising perfect drying using the lowest possible amount of energy. The drying system puts warm air into the drum in several places to eliminate hot-spots and keep the tumble drying process as delicate as possible.
This machine’s Steam option isn’t actually a drying feature at all; it adds a warm humidifying phase at the end of the drying cycle to minimise creasing. Most cotton and some synthetic blends can be put on a hanger straight out of the drum and wont need ironing at all.
The Steam Refresh programme builds on this idea and is designed for dry, clean garments like shirts, blouses, trousers, cotton and synthetics. Give them a whirl of the Steam Refresh programme and hang them up immediately until fully dry, refreshed and crease-free. This could be great for livening up seasonal clothes when you get them out of storage, albeit at only 1.5kg at a time.
Like its partner washer, the HSCX10431 looks a whole lot more high-tech and intimidating to use than it actually is. In fact, it's amazingly straightforward, with most of the key programmes accessed by spinning the central knob. Programme choices are highlighted as symbols and spelled out on the text display, giving you the best of both worlds.
A row of option buttons along the bottom of the display allows you to add steam, adjust drying time and change the dryness level. It's then a simple case of loading up and pressing Start. The text display gives you a countdown time to the programme end.
The condenser container is located top-left, mirroring the soap drawer on the matching washing machine. This pulls straight out for emptying and is of a good size, but if that's too much hassle this machine can be plumbed into a waste pipe too.
Its two fluff filters will need regular maintenance like those of any condenser tumbler. One filter is located inside the lower lip of the drum door and the other – requiring a lot less cleaning, from our experience – is behind a flap at the bottom of the machine.
With Whirlpool’s current push for quieter kitchen appliances, it comes as no surprise that the HSCX10431 is no noisy neighbour. The energy label claims a fairly low 65dB noise, which is about conversation level. Thankfully the type of noise a dryer makes – a constant low hum – isn’t too intrusive, so that 65dB isn’t going to be a major problem in the background of a coffee morning.
Better news still is that, with a 4kg load, we measured the HSCX01431 at an even more respectable 63dB – respectably quiet for such a large-capacity dryer.
There is no single fully automatic programme on this tumble dryer, so it's down to the user to choose one of the programmes on offer, relative to the clothes going in. Whirlpool provides plenty of choice, though, and we'd be hard pushed to think of a garment or fabric not catered for by one of the programmes.
The main Eco Cotton and standard Cotton loads are the only two that will handle a full 10kg load, with the Eco version being the programme the energy label's figures are based on. While no other programmes will handle the full 10kg, there are no less than 16 to choose from.
Mixed, synthetics, delicates, jeans and wool are covered by the common programmes, but this Whirlpool also adds specific cycles for big items such as blankets, sportswear, silk, shirts, towels, outdoor wear and down jackets. There's also a 1kg mini-load programme, an adjustable drying time cycle – pretty much a manual setting – and an airing programme that tumbles dry laundry with cool air to freshen it up.
Add-on options include a Rapid mode that shortens programme duration, a Gentle mode that dries at a lower temperature, and FreshCare. Like the feature of the same name on the matching washing machine, FreshCare continues to rotate the drum infrequently after the drying cycle has finished to keep things fresh before you unload.
You can also select the dryness level across one of three settings: a slightly moist Iron Dry setting ready to be ironed, a drier Cupboard Dry level and an Extra Dry setting.
As mentioned, there's no single fully automatic programme. Instead you select the programme to match the load and select the dryness, then the 6th Sense technology does the rest. This threw up something of a mixed bag of results, depending on the programme and dryness setting.
Our 50% load (4.0kg dry weight) on the Eco Cotton programme took a fairly lengthy 2 hours 11 minutes, but we were suitably impressed with the frugal energy consumption at just 0.88kWh. Well under a kilowatt to dry 4kg of cottons is great, but we weren't so thrilled by the Cupboard Dry moisture level at the end of this cycle. The clothes emerged fairly damp, perhaps even damper than ideal for Iron Dry, and were cool to the touch – potentially explaining part of the superbly low energy figure.
Unusually on this Whirlpool, the clothes go through a cool drying phase towards the end of the programme and emerge from the drum cold. This means that they don’t continue to dry very well once they've been removed. If, like us, you hang up your nearly-dry clothes to drop creases as they finish off drying in the room, you're out of luck. We really struggle to see why the dryer would go through any form of cool drying process, particularly given the high level of moisture in the clothes at the time.
Rustling up a full load (8kg or 80% of max) on the EcoCottons programme and the extra dry setting did ensure the clothes emerged fully dried. This programme doubled the time to well over four hours and the energy used crested 2kWh – but for that amount of clothing it remains exceptionally energy efficient.
A week or so of trying different settings, different programmes and different dryness levels revealed plenty of quirks and this machine’s wide variation between Extra Dry, Cupboard Dry and Iron Dry – perhaps better labelled "Extra Dry", "Damp Iron Dry" and "Still a bit wet really", in that order.
Clearly this is a tumble dryer that's going to take a fair bit of trial and error to get your clothes dried just how you like them. Granted, it's somewhat more finicky than a fully automatic, throw-in-and-go dryer, but get the settings right and this Whirlpool delivers very good drying results, very efficiently.
Given the huge load capacity of the Whirlpool HSCX10431 (for cotton clothing at least) there are few more economical ways of drying your family wash short of a clothes line and a nice sunny day.
If you used this machine on the Eco Cottons programme 150 times per year with 100 full loads (80% full to replicate real-world loading) and 50 half-loads (4kg dry weight), it would use around £37-£40 per year, depending on the dryness setting you choose. There isn’t a great deal of difference to the cost per kg of clothing dried relative to how much you load up this machine either. So it doesn’t make a lot of difference to your running costs (per kg of clothes dried) if you're drying a full or partial load. This is a big dryer, but it’s not just for big loads.
The HSCX10431 is another well-designed and great-performing appliance from Whirlpool’s 6th Sense series, but it will take plenty of fiddling with settings to get used to it. Experimenting is required to achieve your ideal dryness level, as the Cupboard Dry setting was simply too damp for our liking. Yet there's no arguing with this model’s outstanding capacity and equally outstanding energy efficiency when it all comes together.
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An outstandingly efficient tumble dryer that takes a while to get used to.