How Much Does it Cost to Use a Food Dehydrator?

A common misconception is that it is expensive, electricity wise, to operate a food dehydrator. This is not true, even though dehydrators use electricity to operate their heating system and fans for longer periods of time, sometimes up to twelve and eighteen hours.

Food dehydrators are used to dry various foods by eliminating the water within the food. The water content of food is very high, typically between 80% to 95% for various fruits and vegetables and 50% to 75% for different meats. In order to minimize dehydration time, best dehydration practices to follow include slicing food into 1/4 inch or less strips and evenly spreading the food throughout the unit’s trays in order to maximize the amount of the food’s surface that is exposed to the unit’s heat and air flow.

However, even following best dehydration practices, a food drying process can take multiple hours. One temptation is to try and speed up the drying time by increasing the dehydrating temperature. This is not recommended and can result in case hardened food; that is, food that is dried and hard on the outside but moist and containing water on the inside. Case hardened food will spoil due to microbial growth.

So what do typical dehydrators cost to operate? Obviously the costs depend on the state and local area that you live in, however, within the U.S., on average, running a 750 watt unit for one hour would cost about 8 cents. Cost per state, per hour, for the same 750 watt unit varies from about 5 cents on the low end in North Dakota to almost 22 cents in Hawaii.

A typical dehydrator may run for twelve hours. As an example, assuming a dehydrator user lives in the state of California, a food dehydrator calculator can be used to estimate electricity costs required to run a 750 watt food drying appliance for, say, 12 hours straight. In this case the electricity cost would be about $1.21. In fact, most food drying units power on and off during the drying cycle so this would be a maximum electricity cost.

If the same Californian user bought about 3.7 pounds of apples at $1.29 per pound and dried those apples during that 12 hour time period, the user would have about 1 pound of dried apples and the cost of the dried apples would be $4.77. The total operating cost for one pound of homemade dried apples would thus be about $5.98. This homemade cost compares favorably to a well known national brand of dried apples that was recently selling at a major grocery store chain for $2.79 for a 5 ounce bag or a cost per pound of $8.93. Savings for homemade dried apples, made with a dehydrator, versus store bought – about $3.00.

Dehydrate your own dried fruit, dried vegetables and jerky at home using your food dehydrator. You’ll continuously save money versus store bought dried fruit and jerky and obtain a return on the cost of the food drying appliance. Further, you can control the ingredients that go into your food (most store bought dried fruit and jerky contain excess sugars and salts) and make great tasting food.