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Thread: A stupid dehydrator question.

  1. #1
    Senior Member RandyRhoads's Avatar
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    Default A stupid dehydrator question.

    Ok don't laugh, but does a solar dehydrator work in the winter? Obviously it would work less efficiently, but will it work at all? Or does it need to be a blazing hot day where I feel like i'm dehydrating also.


    As with most DIY save money, dehydrating is costing a lot more money than it's saving. Running even a small electric dehydrator for a few days costs several dollars in electricity, for $2 worth of banana chips. WHY. WHY MUST EVERYTHING COST MORE THAN JUST BUYING IT. My favorite one is people saying use your oven left on for a week. DO they not realize how much that will cost in electricity to make some dehydrated fruit?! OR maybe, doing such a large batch at a time lets them save?


  2. #2
    Senior Member Solar Geek's Avatar
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    Randy, I only dehydrate things that cost a fortune organic or cost too much even when non-organic -- Examples: sun-dried tomatoes, all spices.
    I don't bother with anything that's cheap at the store.
    I also bought extra shelving so I can increase the efficiency of when I turn the dehydrator on. More gets done at 1 time.
    JMHO
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  3. #3

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    Your stuff has to not be frozen in order to dehydrate. If it's cold in your location think of a way to increase the temperature while also providing some air circulation.
    One of those tin-can solar heaters may work enough to circulate air in a small poly tent on a sunny day.
    Haven't tried it. I've never used a solar dehydrator. Just throwing it out there.

    We actually built one of those soda can heaters at work. You do have to baffle one end of the cans (to slow down the air) to get them to heat up and you can increase your throughput by attaching a small solar powered fan to the unit. They really do work.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member RandyRhoads's Avatar
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    So basically it's not cost effective to dehydrate regular stuff. Awesome.

    It's above freezing here 61 high 38 low. But not sunny. Cloudy a lot. Just curious if there was any hope or wait till summer

  5. #5
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Randy - I think your numbers might be off a tad on the cost of usage. My Excalibur has a 440 watt heater. That costs me about 2.2 cents per hour to run based on a 5 cent kWh cost from my power company. If I run it for 12 hours that's about 26.4 cents added to the cost of whatever I dehydrate. I have a 5 tray dehydrator so I can dehydrate quite a bit at one time. Your costs will probably vary based on your power company's rate and how much you dehydrate and the wattage of your dehydrator but that's certainly acceptable to me.

    You will have to raise your temperature up to at least 95F for herbs and as much as 155F for meats and jerky. You'll also have to maintain that temperature until your items are done. That's in the 8-12 hour range depending on what you are dehydrating. I hope that helps.

  6. #6
    Not a Mod finallyME's Avatar
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    On top of what Rick said about making sure your math is correct, also remember to compare apples to apples. An example for me would be eggs. I have my own chickens for eggs. When I compare the real cost of my homegrown eggs, they are much more than store bought mass produced eggs. But, if I compare them to the free range, organic eggs, then the price is about the same. In other words, my eggs are not the same as the cheap eggs in the store, so I shouldn't compare the cost with them. Store bought banana chips and homemade ones aren't the same thing, for the most part. Also, think about what you are dehydrating. If you are dehydrating food you bought at the store, then you probably won't save anything from just buying it already dehydrated. But, if you grew it, and then are dehydrating the extras, then you will probably save money. You would also do that in the summer and fall when the food is still good, so you would want to use your solar dehydrator to save on power costs.
    So, to recap, there are a lot of things that effect the cost of dehydrating your food. You can manipulate those things in your favor.
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