Drying food is a long-duration process, and electric food dehydrators can help you save the time and do a proper job.
But do dehydrators use a lot of electricity?
What if you run them for 24 hours?
How much do dehydrators cost to use and are they going to affect your electricity bill significantly?
I’m an electrical engineer, and I will help you make a wise decision regarding getting a dehydrator by answering these questions for you.
Without further do, let’s begin!
Do Food Dehydrators Use a Lot of Electricity?
In short, if you have a small-to-medium size dehydrator, and you dry fruits, vegetables, and meat for your own family use, then you won’t consume a lot of electricity and the cost won’t be significant ($1-$3 per month on average).
But if you intend to buy a big dehydrator and run it all the time in order to dry food and sell it for profit, then you should consider the cost of electricity, which I will detail below in more details.
Popular small-medium size food dehydrators don’t consume a lot of electricity if you run them few times a month, but they could consume a lot of electricity if you use them several times a week, dehydrate foods that take long time to dry, and in big quantities that would require you to do dry them in batches.
This is because a food drying session lasts for several hours (3-20 hours or more depending on the food itself).
How Much Electricity Does a Dehydrator Use?
On average, a dehydrator uses around 5 kilowatt-hours per session, based on the average dehydrator wattage of 500 watts, and average session of ten hours.
Per month, assuming that you dry food using the dehydrator for one session a week, then the average electricity consumption of the dehydrator would be around 20 kWh’s per month.
Note that these are average estimates based on the average size of the most popular food dehydrators, average time of a food dehydration session, and assuming that you run the dehydrator on the highest temperature, once per week.
The actual electricity consumed by a dehydrator changes from one user to another based on:
- The actual wattage of the dehydrator.
- The total number of sessions the dehydrator is used.
- The temperature used in each session.
- The duration of each food drying session.
The wattage of a dehydrator varies depending on its capacity and the number of racks inside it, and depending on the highest temperature it can provide for drying food.
That total number of sessions for using a food dehydrator depends on the quantity and variety of foods you dry.
And the temperature and duration of each session depend on the type of food you dry in each session, as each food or category of foods require a certain temperature and time duration in order to be properly dried.
For example, fruits take longer time to dry compared to meat and vegetables as they contain more water.
And one fruit kind takes longer than another as each fruit is different from the other.
How Much Power Does a Dehydrator Use? Dehydrator Wattage
Food dehydrators use anywhere from 250 to 1,500 watts of power in order to run, depending on their internal space or capacity, and on the temperature range that they can provide.
Most of the popular food dehydrators come in the wattage range of 250-700 watts, and these are good for the use of individuals or families.
Bigger dehydrators with the power rating of 900-1,500 watts usually come with a bigger capacity, and are more suitable for commercial use, especially with the higher prices.
Note that a certain wattage dehydrator does not always have to draw the full wattage, as you don’t always need to use the highest temperature that it offers, just like it is with the electricity consumption of smokers for example.
Most food dehydrators come with the temperature range of 85-195 F (30-90 C), or close to it.
How Much Energy Does a Dehydrator Use?
The average dehydrator of 500 Watts power will use around 5 kWh’s per average food dehydration session that takes around 10 ten hours.
This is just the average, and the actual energy consumption per session will vary from one dehydrator to another based on the wattage, which is mainly related to size and capacity, and for the same dehydrator based on the session duration and temperature, which depend on the kind of food itself.
This could be less than 1 kWh per session, or 20 kWh’s per session.
For example, a small 250-Watt dehydrator with 3-5 racks would need to work only for 3 hours in order to dry some herbs, and it won’t require using the highest temperature that the device offers, which would result in less than 0.75 kWh of energy consumption (less than 15 cents per 3-hour session).
On the other hand, using a big 1,000-watt dehydrator with 10 or more racks in order to dehydrate a big quantity of figs or grapes, which have high water content, would take around 20 hours or more per session, resulting in around 20 kWh of energy consumption (around $3 per 20-hour session).
How Long Does a Dehydrator Take?
The food dehydrator takes between 1-30 hours in order to dehydrate food, depending on the type of food, its water content, and the size and thickness of food pieces.
For example, fruits have a relatively high content of water and they are usually thick, which requires cutting them into thinner pieces, and they would take between 6-30 hours depending on the fruit itself.
Vegetables and herbs on the other hand, has a smaller water content, and many of them come in smaller sizes as in thin leaves, which makes them dry faster with the dehydrator, taking anywhere from 3-14 hours.
And the different kinds of meats would take anywhere between 3-8 hours based on the kind of meat, the cut, and the size of each piece.
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Are Dehydrators Energy Efficient?
Food dehydrator are generally energy efficient machines that use heating elements in order to heat the air, fans to evenly circulate the hot air, and adjustable thermostats in order to set the suitable temperature for each food.
Are Dehydrators Expensive to Run?
Dehydrators can become expensive to run if you intend to use them every day for long hours, especially if you intend to sell dried food and profit from it.
While for a single-house use, the dehydrator might not more than few dollars to your monthly electricity bill.
How Much Does a Dehydrator Cost to Run?
On average, a dehydrator costs around 70 cents per session in order to run, based on the average wattage of 500 Watts, average food dehydration session of 10 hours, and average electricity price of 14 cents/kWh.
Assuming that you run the dehydrator for four sessions per month, once a week, then the total cost would be around $2.8 per month.
As explained earlier, a 500-Watt dehydrator consumes around 0.5 kWh per hour, leading to 5 kWh’s per 10-hour session.
With the average energy price of 14 cents/kWh, the dehydrator running cost per session would be 5 X 14 = 70 cents/10-hour session.
Note that these are estimates based on:
- The average wattage.
- Average session duration and temperature.
- And average electricity price.
The actual cost of running a food dehydrator changes from user to another by changing any variant, or more, of the three above.
For example, the same 500-Watt dehydrator, at the same electricity rate of 14 cents/kWh, would cost around 35 cents per session in order to dry eggplant or mushrooms, which require only 5 hours of using the dehydrator.
While a 1,000-Watt dehydrator, with the average energy price of 14 cents/kWh, would cost around $1.4 per session in order to dry its capacity of kiwis and apples, which take an average of 10 hours in order to dry.
And the same goes with energy price that changes from one location and company to another.
For example, utility companies in California and Connecticut charge around 50% higher than the average, while in other places like in Washington or Utah, they charge around 30% lower than the average.
How Much Does it Cost to Run a Dehydrator for 24 Hours?
On average, it costs around $1.7 in order to run a food dehydrator for 24 hours, with average wattage of 500 Watts, and average energy price of 14 cent/kWh.
That’s 0.5 kWh/hour X 24 hours / $0.14/kWh = $1.68 for 24 hours of usage.
For a small 250-Watt dehydrator, it would cost around 84 cents in order to run for 24 hours.
And for a large 1,000-Watt dehydrator, it would cost around $3.4 in order to run for 24 hours.
This is all assuming that the dehydrator uses its full power capacity when it is running, but actually, since most foods will be dried at lower than the highest temperature setting of the dehydrator, the actual consumption would be slightly lower than these numbers.
And again, if you use the dehydrator where the energy prices differ from the average, then the actual cost would change accordingly.
How to Choose Energy Efficient Dehydrators?
Here are few tips to help you choose and run an energy efficient food dehydrator in order to save energy and money:
- Choose a dehydrator with the capacity of the food quantity you intend to dry in one batch, not much bigger so you don’t consume electricity for no purpose, and not much smaller so you don’t end up doing more batches that would exhaust the dehydrator.
- The dehydrator should have an adjustable thermostat in order to set and control the necessary temperature for each food.
- Try to dry foods that require the same temperature and time together, so that you run the dehydrator fully loaded throughout the whole session.
- If you still want to dry a quantity of food that is way smaller than the capacity of the dehydrator, then consider cutting the food into thinner pieces where the process becomes faster, provided that you can still eat the food in that size.
- A timer for turning the dehydrator on and off would help you save energy and properly dry food without cooking it in case that you forgot to turn it off, and can save you money in case your energy provider offers lower electricity rate at certain hours (Time-Of-Use Tariff) where you can set the timer to turn it on once the off-peak hours start.
- A temperature range that covers the different temperature levels necessary to dry the kinds of foods you want to dehydrate with it. (Most dehydrators come within similar temperature ranges of 85-195 F (30-90 C).
- Once you have decided on the capacity and temperature range, and found multiple options that give you similar capacities and ranges, then choose a dehydrator that requires using a lower wattage in order to run.
- Research enough users’ reviews for the dehydrator before you buy it in order to make sure that you are buying a quality one that would last for a long time and make your life easier when you use it.
Conclusion – Are Dehydrators Worth it?
Food dehydrators can be worth it as they can help you preserve certain kinds of foods for long periods of time and enjoy them when they are not available in the market, or in case that you want to eat them as snacks, or add them to smoothies, salads, …etc.
For these purposes, food dehydrators don’t use a lot of electricity when used properly, and don’t cost a lot on the electric bill.
And if you want to make money through drying and selling different kinds of foods, then dehydrators can also be worth it as they allow you to dry food properly, efficiently, and at a relatively fast pace compared to natural food drying methods.
But make sure to estimate and add the cost of using and maintaining the dehydrator in case you want to use it for commercial use, and buy a reliable one that has a lot of positive feedback and comes with the necessary warranties.
If you still have other questions on the energy consumption of food dehydrators and their running cost, please, tell me in the comments’ section below, and I will do my best to help you out 🙂
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