laundry

Whirlpool Duet WED97HEDBD Dryer Review

Not exactly a diamond in the rough

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With its faux carbon fiber finish, the Whirlpool Duet WED97HEDBD (MSRP $1,499) sure looks lovely.

Though the 97HEDBD might be one of the most stylish dryers we’ve tested, unfortunately it’s not the “most” anything else. It’s not the most affordable entry in the high-end market, it doesn’t have the most cycles or features on display, and—perhaps most importantly—it can’t quite hold up against the best dryers available. It’s a decent dryer, sure enough, but unless you’re really gunning to make an aesthetic difference in your laundry room, or if you want to match a paired washer, there are other superior options on hand.

Design & Usability

Whirlpool Duet WED97HEDBD Front
From a distance, this machine looks like a fairly standard, higher-end gray dryer. View Larger

Glamorizing the laundry room with a girl’s best friend

At CES 2014, Whirlpool polled show-goers on a selection of new machine finishes. And while we would've been equally excited if Bold Damask or Aqua Chevron graced our labs, it was the Black Diamond finish (formerly known as Diamond Steel) that made the cut.

The Black Diamond finish is stylish, classy, and very understated. So understated that if you were to look at the 97HEDBD under certain lighting, you might think it was just a standard black dryer. Most of the machine is, in fact, just a black dryer—the Black Diamond design is only found on the front panel under the controls and surrounding the door. Standard versions of this machine are available in gray (Diamond Steel) for the same price, or in white and silver (Chrome Steel) for less.

Despite the reflective glossy black finish, the controls are easy to read. Bright blue indicator lights track which cycles and features are selected, so you’ll never be confused by what’s going on in the machine.

A special stainless interior—known as a SilentSteel drum—is designed to keep laundry tumbling noise to a minimum. Clanging zippers or buttons won’t be silenced, but will definitely be dulled.

Performance & Features

Lots of toys, but average drying

Price doesn’t always match performance, and in this case it’s hard to say if you’re really getting what you pay for. The Normal cyle got clothes perfectly dry, but in our tests Quick and Bulky were both subpar. Items felt too damp to be worn at the end of the cycles.

The only thing that really impressed us was Delicates: low temperatures, slightly faster-than-average drying times, and undamaged clothing make this the best cycle we tested by a mile.

Whirlpool Duet WED97HEDBD Cycle Selection
The cycle selection is more than adequate, but not quite as extensive as you'd expect for a dryer that costs over $1,000. View Larger

Despite residing at the peak of Whirlpool’s newest dryer lineup, this machine doesn’t have as many extras as you might expect. In addition to the typical modes, you get a Casual cycle, Sanitize—particularly useful for households with small children—and a designated Towels mode. If you want to hook up a hose, there’s also a Steam Refresh option.

As for features, Wrinkle Shield can be performed with or without steam, in addition to this dryer's regular steam feature. Static Reduce, a damp dry signal, and a control lock are all fairly standard these days. The most interesting feature is EcoBoost, which increases efficiency for most cycles by reducing temperatures and extending drying times.

Whirlpool Duet WED97HEDBD Controls
Given the EPA's new emphasis on dryer efficiency, the EcoBoost feature becomes all the more important. View Larger

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Lukewarm

Whirlpool Duet WED97HEDBD Black Diamond Pattern
The special black diamond finish was created based on a consumer vote at CES 2014. View Larger

Novelty finish, underwhelming performance

We can’t stress this enough: The Whirlpool Duet WED97HEDBD is not a bad dryer. If you like the look or you own a matching washer, buy it, especially with retail prices down to roughly $1,255.

Unfortunately, appliance competition is stiff. With more versatile, more effective, and more affordable machines on the market, this one doesn’t quite manage to hold its head above water.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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