Orange Sky – Waru Dryer

  • 2022

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

Orange Sky

Designed In:


We build vans to support people experiencing homelessness or doing it tough with clean and dry laundry, and a safe space to connect. Whilst growing our services, we identified an issue with the environmental impacts of traditional clothes dryers. So, we designed our own – the Waru Dryer.

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  • Commercial clothes drying has two forms - electricity and gas powered. Until now, we have used electric clothes dryers which account for 90% of the energy consumption during an Orange Sky shift. To supply the needs of the energy intensive clothes drying process, we have previously relied upon a large marine diesel generator in each vehicle, which used a considerable amount of diesel each shift. They are also less reliable and need regular servicing. Chasing the objective to become more environmentally sustainable, the design challenge became clear: How could we run an Orange Sky shift using solar power?

  • To remove the onerous generator meant finding a new, significantly more efficient method to power our dryers without sacrificing their commercial performance. We determined a never before tried solution of mounting a small diesel powered air-heater unit on each machine to perform drying. The power for the Waru Dryer’s electrical and mechanical components, washing machines, internal lights, water and fuel pumps, is now instead powered using a roof-mounted solar array and battery bank. The Waru Dryer is no conventional clothes dryer, providing more efficient ways to support people doing it tough, whilst being kinder to our planet.

  • The use of efficient, purpose specific air-heaters has facilitated a reduction in diesel consumption from 5L per hour to 1L per hour for both dryers. Using solar energy to power the rest of the electrical system has significantly reduced our environmental impact, as well as operational and maintenance costs in the form of fuel purchasing, regular maintenance and fixing common issues. The result means greater shift reliability to deliver more social impact for Australians doing it tough. Less spending on fuel also ensures our valuable donations go further than ever before.

  • The Waru Dryer: - Powered by fuel burners and batteries (charged using solar) - Reduces energy consumption by up to 80% - Achieves drying performance consistent with commercial electric dryers - Pre-heating function, meaning the dryer is already hot before you put the clothes in. - Air heater automatically shuts-down after 10 mins from last use to further conserve diesel and reduce consumption - Word 'Waru' acknowledges that innovation is not new to these lands. 'Waru', meaning fire in Pitjantjatjara, is likely the first invention harnessed by humans - Wrapped in powerful external artwork by Rhoda Tjitayi, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) woman - Allows more Orange Sky services in farther remote regions