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Best dehydrator?

 
pollinator
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Location: Denmark 57N
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Well I turned my 30 year old harvest maid on today to dry some orange slices and the fan gave up, it had been sounding like it was going too so it wasn't surprising but meh. What are the best ones out there? They all seem to be chest types now and I'm wondering how you clean in there, there's bound to be something that touches the back wall and sticks.
My old one is 1000w and most of the new ones seem very low powered 300 or so, does that make much of a difference? The old one could take 20 trays and I only had 4 so I'm thinking it was probably a bit over powered for what I was using it for. I would just replace it with a newer model but they don't make them for the European market anymore, I'm willing to go the step down converter route if I have too, but was hoping someone had a different model or type they could recommend? Looking around the $100-200 mark.

Just to say not at all interested in solar, I live in a cloudy damp environment at 57 N the sun has as much power as a damp squib.
 
pollinator
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the only one i have real positive experience with is called 'excalibur'. I'm pretty sure that's the brand and they have a number of different models. I believe that the cheapest one is around 200$ US but even the smallest one can support a pretty ambitious dehydration crop. The first one I saw was also around 20 years old and going strong.
 
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I've got the Cabela's 80L model, this one.  I've had it for a few years now, though mine is the older model and has 15 racks.  It's about 2' cubed, so it's big, but you can get about 10 lbs of jerky in it.  The temp goes from 70ish and up, so you can just use the fan and room temp if you'd like.

I'm very happy with it, as I am with Cabela's 12# sausage grinder.  I'd never hesitate to buy their brands.  When I got it, I was also picking up a 3500W generator.  At first I thought the biggest box was the genny, but it was the dehydrator, just to give you some idea of size.

Good luck!
 
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The two most popular brands for folks that do a lot of dehydrating appear to be Nesco and Excalibur.

Nesco dehydrators can be picked up for under $100 new (adjustable temp, you can buy extra trays to increase capacity etc...) and Excaliburs are the "Mercedes" of dehydrators at $300 or so.

If you want to be frugal check around on ebay/craigslist for dehydrators.  It is one of those things that people get as gifts, or buy to make beef jerky, and they use it once or twice then put it in storage until they eventually donate it or sell it cheap. I bought a nearly new Nesco for $30 on ebay, and recently picked up a new off-brand dehydrator at the thrift store for a few bucks (I don't think the thrift store dehydrator had ever been used).
 
Timothy Markus
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:The two most popular brands for folks that do a lot of dehydrating appear to be Nesco and Excalibur.

Nesco dehydrators can be picked up for under $100 new (adjustable temp, you can buy extra trays to increase capacity etc...) and Excaliburs are the "Mercedes" of dehydrators at $300 or so.

If you want to be frugal check around on ebay/craigslist for dehydrators.  It is one of those things that people get as gifts, or buy to make beef jerky, and they use it once or twice then put it in storage until they eventually donate it or sell it cheap. I bought a nearly new Nesco for $30 on ebay, and recently picked up a new off-brand dehydrator at the thrift store for a few bucks (I don't think the thrift store dehydrator had ever been used).



That is great advice about looking for a used one.  I try to buy used whenever possible, but the Cabela's was $100 less than the Excalibur when I bought it and I thought that the two were similar in quality.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Timothy Markus wrote:

Lucrecia Anderson wrote:The two most popular brands for folks that do a lot of dehydrating appear to be Nesco and Excalibur.

Nesco dehydrators can be picked up for under $100 new (adjustable temp, you can buy extra trays to increase capacity etc...) and Excaliburs are the "Mercedes" of dehydrators at $300 or so.

If you want to be frugal check around on ebay/craigslist for dehydrators.  It is one of those things that people get as gifts, or buy to make beef jerky, and they use it once or twice then put it in storage until they eventually donate it or sell it cheap. I bought a nearly new Nesco for $30 on ebay, and recently picked up a new off-brand dehydrator at the thrift store for a few bucks (I don't think the thrift store dehydrator had ever been used).



That is great advice about looking for a used one.  I try to buy used whenever possible, but the Cabela's was $100 less than the Excalibur when I bought it and I thought that the two were similar in quality.



The Cabela's dehydrator may be just as good as an Excalibur, Cabela's just caters to a different specialized market (outdoors men/hunters). I say "most popular" because I have watched lots of videos on dehydrating and such and Nesco/Excalibur are the two major brands used by homesteaders/preppers/homemakers that dehydrate a lot of stuff (which are mostly women that are big into food preservation).
 
gardener
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I'd give another thumbs up for the Cabela's 80L dehydrator. I still have my old Harvest MAid as back up but use the Cabela's for my dehydrating.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Thanks all, I had a quick look at the Cabela dehydrators, really good reviews and price on them I've not looked at shipping costs yet and as they seem to be only made for America they also require a transformer. I'll get onto it after Christmas Unfortunately second hand just isn't really possible here, there's not many who use dehydrators at all, and the only ones I have ever seen come up second hand are the small really cheap jobs. So far it's one of them or a new version of my old harvestmaid, as at least the trays and mats I have would fit a new one too!
 
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In Carol Deppe's book, she exhaustively recommends the Excalibur dehydrator. She dries out serious quantities of bulk food though. Dehydrators are often used for a season and then left to gather dust.

My advice is to make sure your dehydrating needs can't be met by a heavy-fan or house-draft or warm spot above fridge before purchasing.
 
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We got an Excaliber late this fall (early Christmas gift) and make a point to dry lots of food everytime when there's a cold snap. It's already clear that we'll need to make some kind of outdoor setup for it if we want to run it in the summer. It really keeps the house comfortable right now, though.
 
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Is there a chance you can replace/repair the fan?  That may cost much less and require less resources (metal and plastic to build the new one).

If folks are interested, please consider typing up a review for the Excalibur.  The ones above are great.  To put them into a format the gear review grid can see, I made a review "Summary" page here Excalibur Food Dehydrator Review.  Now it just needs some replies to make it really shine.  PLEASE start your review with the magic words "I give this gear X out of 10 acorns".  Then continue with your personal observations of the product.

Once there are reviews, I'll tie it to the Gear Review Grid.  That's a place for us to review the things we like (or don't like).  There are directions at the bottom of that grid that you can follow to make your own reviews of gear that isn't on the grid.  

Hint:  If you like apples, doing reviews with the proper "acorn score" often results in getting showered in apples :)  But they need to be on that new thread I created, not this one...
 
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