How much does it cost to run a dehydrator? It depends on your location, the machine's wattage, and more. I'll teach you how to quickly factor the cost (which may surprise you how little it actually is!)
When trying to decide if a dehydrator is an economical purchase for you, or which machine to buy based on its efficacy of running, here are some numbers to keep in mind.
There are numerous calculators around the internet if you don't want to do the math yourself. But it's important to understand the WHYs in those calculations and the variables in how to dehydrate more efficiently.
Wattage is the measurement of power that a machine uses to run. Since electricity is expressed in kilowatts, you’ll want to convert the machine's wattage into kilowatts.
We will use a 9-tray Excalibur as an example. It is a 600-watt machine. Wattage / 1000 (kilowatt) = .6
Multiply that number by the cost of electricity from your provider to determine how much it costs to run your machine per hour.
There are numerous calculators around the internet if you don't want to do the math yourself. But it's important to understand the WHY's in those calculations and the variables
Cost of Electricity
My local electricity rate is approximately $.09/kWh (kilowatts per hour). We are working in US dollars rates currently at the time of posting.
Wattage X kWh = $.054/kWh = $1.30/24 hrs = $.42
So my machine costs $.42/kWh to run. If I run it fully loaded with blackberries which take about 36 hours (minimum) to dry, that’s $1.94, plus the cost of the blackberries (which is why it is important to buy in season at the lowest possible price and do a year's worth if you can!)
So in comparison, a bag of freeze-dried blackberries is about $1.94/oz if purchased through Amazon right now. So for my 6 oz of blackberries (I always think in terms of how many flats I can do, but we'll go with the basics), I've just saved approximately $8.50 US.
Sure my time factors into as well - but if you're factoring it here, you need to factor it into your canning, into your freezing, and all other food preservation methods you do - including stocking up on groceries.
But remember some variables:
- Using the machine properly - follow all of the guidelines of your machine's manual about proper running. Most require it to be 6" away from any wall space for proper airflow
- Running it in the proper location. Running your machine outside in 40F weather and 60% humidity is going to make your machine work harder to remove moisture in these circumstances - and can affect the overall health of the machine in the long run. While running outside in more appropriate weather is fine (please check your manual), get the conditions right if possible.
- Packing the machine properly - fully loaded, but not overfull so that air cannot flow effectively
- Your electricity plan - do you have daytime vs nighttime hours, are you charged for excessive usage, do you get a kickback for solar, etc.
- What region you are in - some areas of the world have much higher electrical costs than others.
- Lower wattage machines may take more electricity to fully dehydrate a product, especially if it is dense produce vs herbs vs jerky. Higher wattage machines use more electricity up front, but dry more quickly.
Overall, well-constructed machines that are run as intended don’t cost that much to dehydrate. Plus, you’re building your pantry with food for your family!
So take these things into consideration when deciding to purchase a new machine.
Have more questions about dehydrating? I've got all the answers for you in the Dehydrating FAQ.
Beginner's Dehydrating Toolbox
A great resource for beginning dehydrators - perfect for gifting to encourage someone to start, too!