Kenmore Elite 7.0 cu. ft. HE4 Super Capacity Plus Electric Dryer - Series 85861-85866

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Epinions Product Rating: Disappointing
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The Ultimate Clothes Drying Experience?

Feb 15, 2005 (Updated Feb 15, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:
  • Ease of Cleaning:
  • Style:

Pros:Works well and consistently

Cons:Expensive, drying time a little longer than some

The Bottom Line: For that Euro look and for dry clothes without wrinkles, this dryer is tops.

We had purchased a bottom-of-the-line washer/dryer pair a couple of years ago. We did this with the intent of replacing them after I retired with a top-of-the-line pair. Now I have retired, the washer broke, and we have made the replacement. We decided to replace the dryer as well, even though it was still working as well as it ever did.

We started our search with a few criteria. One was that we wanted stackable separates, not a stacked package. This forced us to only consider front-loader washers, the so-called Euro Style. This choice also led us to the matching Euro style dryer.

We quickly eliminated anything with the Maytag name. Anyone researching on dryers in Epinions will understand why. We settled on Whirlpool and GE as the brands of choice. We quickly moved to the Duet line of Whirlpool as the one to examine. GE was hard to find in our area since the local GE dealer had gone out of business. On the way back from our first look at the Duet line we stopped at Sears to see what they had. The Kenmore Elite looked an awful lot like the Duet. Some additional checking assured us that the Elite line by Kenmore was indeed also made by Whirlpool and was, at least, modeled after the Duet series.

The delivered and installed price from Sears was better than the best price we found on the top Duet so we bought it and crossed our fingers. We should warn you that these Elite products are popular. The earliest delivery date was nearly three weeks after we made the purchase. We believe it was worth the wait.

Kenmore Elite 7.0 cu. ft. HE4 Super Capacity Plus Electric Dryer - Series 85861-85866

In addition to the HE4 dryer, the subject of this review, the Elite series also sports an HE2, HE3, and HE5. The HE5 wasn't available at Sears, but we looked at the lower numbers as well. The HE4 was our choice due to extra features and load size. We ordered the white-on-white color. This series also comes in white-on-black, bisque, and graphite. A similar series of HE4 comes in additional colors at a higher price. These colors match those of the washer and of the optional pedestal which we also purchased.

The first thing that hits you is sticker shock. This dryer is expensive. We were able to use a coupon and catch a sale to get the price down, but it still is big enough to hurt. The next is its size. The dryer we were replacing was 25 inches deep. This one is 31". With the door open, you need over 50 inches of clearance from the wall. It was a tight fit where we put it, but it works. This thing is also heavy. It really takes two husky folk to unpack and set it up. The dimensions are: 27" wide, 38" high, and 31 1/2" deep. With the door open, make it 50 1/2". It weighs 147 pounds.

We decided to use this pair side-by-side and bought a pedestal to get it higher off the ground. On the pedestal, the dryer door is high enough not to require bending over to move clothes. It does add over 14" to the overall height, however. With the dryer on the right and the washer on the left the doors open opposite each other so that the space is clear between them to move clothes. It is easy with the pedestal even with heavy loads. If this isn't the case in your installation, the doors can be reversed. It looks like a fairly time consuming process. We're glad we didn't need to find out.

The installation is pretty straightforward. If you opt for the pedestal, it is attached with the dryer laying on its side. Two people are recommended although we suppose one really husky one could probably handle it. The appropriate electrical pigtail must be attached. We were lucky that the installer had the right one with him. You should know what kind of plug you need before you buy. You will also need to decide where you want the dryer vent to exit. You have a choice of either an offset lower rear exit, exit from either side, or (when the pedestal isn't used) a bottom exit.

With the pedestal, leveling is pretty easy. You remove the pedestal drawer (requires removing two sheet metal screws) and use a ratchet wrench to adjust the four feet for level in both directions. This can be done after the dryer is in place and then the drawer is reinstalled. Feet are supplied for leveling the dryer directly without the pedestal. No leveling of the dryer is necessary if stacking it on the washer. Plug the dryer in and watch it light up. If you don't do anything for five minutes the lights will go out. There is also a light inside the dryer. It is a 10 watt appliance light and requires removal of a screw and the cover to replace it.

Although the control panel is initially intimidating, it is pretty intuitive in operation. All the main choices are on lighted pushbuttons which surround a large central Start button. The choices on the left are for automatic sensing of dryness and include: Heavy Duty, Bulky/Bedding, Jeans, Normal, Casual, and Delicate. These cycles select a temperature, and an estimated time for drying. On the right are the timed dry choices: Timed Dry, Express Dry, or Touch Up. These main cycles select a drying temperature and length of time to run the dryer.

For timed drying the time can be increased or decreased. Tapping the + or - button below the time indicator window results in one minute changes. Holding the button down increments the time by 5 minutes. This option is not available for dry sensing cycles. Using the timed dry choices, the temperature can be selected by repeatedly pressing a button that cycles from high to air dry. If Wrinkle Guard or Damp Dry Signal is not automatically selected as part of the basic cycle, they can be added as well. Wrinkle Guard intermittently tumbles the clothes without heat for up to two hours and the Damp Dry Signal is activated when the clothes are about 80% dry. The other option is whether or not you want an End of Cycle signal and how loud.

When you run into the situation where you have something like a knit sweater that you would like to dry but certainly don't want to come out misshapen from tumbling, this dryer also has a solution for you. It comes with a drying rack that can be placed in the dryer. the rack takes a little bit of tongue-twisting to get it in the first couple of times, but it might be worth it for that special need. You can pre-block the item and lay it on the shelf. The dryer will concentrate heat in that area and you will have anywhere from a damp dry to fully dry garment that still has its shape. The dryness is your choice. You use timed dry for this operation.

The warranty on this machine is the typical one year limited warranty, but with a two year warranty on the control board.

But How Does It Work?

This is the best dryer we have ever had for properly sensing dryness, particularly with mixed loads. You can choose between normal, less or more dry and it will respond accurately. The dryer it replaced did dry faster than this one, but at a cost of noise and more wrinkling and twisting of the clothes. No-iron clothes come out ready to hang almost every time. There is very little twisting of clothes with either a full or small load. The lint screen is in front and a reminder light flashes when you select a cycle to help you remember to clean it. It is so easy to do that you will seldom not do it. Lint is a thing of the past unless you deliberately mix heavy lint givers with heavy lint receivers.

We have run many loads through this dryer with nothing but happy results. We have used dryer sheets, but seldom do so. One of our teens (they wash their own clothes) has decided she doesn't mind everything she has blending toward a sort of pink shade and washes without thought to sorting. It dries her strangely mixed loads as well as the better sorted loads of the rest of us.

We haven't had this machine very long and the durability is always a question. We will update if and when we have our first problem.

The companion washer is here:

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 847.00

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