How to Find the Best Food Dehydrator: The Definitive Guide and Reviews

In search of the best food dehydrator which would fully meet your needs, we constantly bump into the reviews and articles which seem to be ordered by companies that produce them. It’s not surprising. Each of the companies is interested in boosting the sales rates and will definitely say that its product is the best.

After doing some research and going through numerous food dehydrator reviews available on the market (must tell you they are quite a few) I have seen that all of them are similar to each other and have their positive and negative sides. What really matters is to clearly understand what your needs are and make your choice based on that.

Why should you get a dehydrator?

First of all, let’s make sure you clearly understand what a dehydrator is for. It gives you numerous benefits of making home fried food with no preservatives or chemical treatment. Dehydrated foods can be preserved for much longer period of time than the fresh ones. Imagine making dried raisins, pineapples, apricots, cherries yourself – they will be totally different from the ones used to get in the store!

Making fruit leather is a healthy snack alternative. Mix the fruits you like in your blender and dehydrate it. Kids love this kind of “candy”! You can use dried vegetables in salads, bakery, soups, meat recipes, etc. Having a dehydrator you can create best snacks for travelling and save money by preserving the seasonal food.

Main features

After I have done some research I have outlined three leaders:

  • Excalibur 3900
  • Nesco FD-80
  • L’Equip FilterPro

All of them have strong and weak points, some features are shared while others are not.

Adjustable thermostat is the feature all three of them share. Temperature control is essential as you want to preserve the vitamins in your fruit when you dry them. And making a jerky, for example, requires higher temperatures. So it’s convenient to be able to adjust the temperature according to the food you’re drying.

Another useful feature is a timer. It enables you to do other things while your food is drying and not to worry about it. Out of dehydrators mentioned only L’Equip FilterPro gives you such an advantage.

Another thing to pay attention to is drying capacity. Dehydrators come in a box shape and round shape. I personally would go for the box, like the Excalibur. It provides more drying area than the round ones which have hole in the middle, like Nesco. L’Equip dehydrators are of rectangular shape but the trays are stackable which is not very convenient.

Top 3 Food Dehydrators Comparison

In order to decide which one will work best for you and meet your specific needs you need to compare their main features. Measure all the pros and cons of each product and make your conclusions.

Here’s the comparison of the key features of three chosen leaders along with their prices and Amazon rating.

ParametersExcalibur 3900Nesco FD-80L'Equip FilterPro
Price & Image
Amazon Rating
Customer Reviews939 Reviews27 Reviews88 Reviews
Wattage600 Watts700 Watts530 Watts
# of Trays986
Adjustable ThermostatYesYesYes
TimerNoNoYes
Product Dimensions19 x 17 x 12.5 inches15.2 x 10 x 15.4 inches18 x 13 x 15 inches
Weight22 pounds9.1 pounds14 pounds
Warranty5 Year limited warranty1 Year limited warranty12 Year limited warranty
Amazon ShippingFree ShippingFree ShippingFree Shipping
Our ReviewRead Our ReviewRead Our ReviewRead Our Review

Top 3 Food Dehydrators Reviews

See short reviews of the 3 selected products:

9 Tray Excalibur 3900 Food Dehydrator

9 Tray Excalibur Dehydrator

Excalibur 3900 offers a large drying capacity. You can dry a lot of food at the same time as 9 trays of 15 sq. ft. each enable you to fit everything you like. With the horizontal airflow you won’t have to rotate the trays during the drying process. Powerful 7″ fan dries the products quite fast.

Adjustable thermostat is available so you can set the temperature depending on the food you would like to dry. There is a drying guide you can use for reference right next to the temperature control.

Excalibur 3900 has mesh sheets for the trays so you can easily dry small fruits and vegetables: cherries, cranberries, corn, etc. They also make it more convenient to unload the dehydrator when the job is done as some food sticks to the plastic.

The trays can be easily pulled out when you want to check on the drying process. It’s much easier to dry liquid foods like fruit leather or mashed potatoes in the Excalibur as the trays are square and there is no hole in the center. Especially using Excalibur non-stick sheets which are called Paraflexx sheets. They are reusable and do the job much better than parchment paper.

Here are some of its main features:

  • Big dehydrating capacity – 9 large trays of 15″ x 15″
  • Adjustable thermostat, ranging from 95º – 155ºF
  • Horizontal airflow from back to front
  • Powerful 7″ rear-mounted fan, 600 watts
  • Plastic trays of high quality
  • 10 year extended warranty

Some users mentioned that it makes too much noise. But as to me, it can be easily solved by switching the Excalibur dehydrator on in the room where it will not disturb anyone.

Check out the Excalibur 3900B 9 Tray Deluxe at Amazon.com

Nesco American Harvest FD-80 700 Watt Food Dehydrator

Nesco Food Dehydrator

Nesco FD-80 has a medium drying capacity which can be expanded. this square-shaped dehydrator comes with 4 trays which provide you total drying area of 5 sq. ft. You can purchase additional trays and go up to 8.

The motor and fan are mounted at the top there’s no problem with cleaning. It’s quite powerful – 700 watts. The temperature control is on the lid of Nesco dehydrator and enables you to set different temperature depending on the food you’re drying.

Special feature of this dehydrator is the patented Converga-Flow® airflow system. It evenly spreads the heated air across the trays. Square trays are easy to load and clean, they are dishwasher safe and don’t contain any Bisphenol-A. The appliance works very quietly and will fit into any kitchen.

To outline some of its major features:

  • Expandable drying capacity
  • Patented airflow system
  • Top-mounted quiet fan
  • BPA-free plastic details

On the other hand, the absence of timer is a considerable drawback as you won’t be able to leave home while its working.

Check out the Nesco American Harvest FD-80 at Amazon.com

L’Equip FilterPro Food Dehydrator

Lequip Filter Pro Food Dehydrator

L’Equip FilterPro is a high-end dehydrator by L’Equip. It has rectangular shape and 6 stackable trays. Total drying capacity is 7.2 sq. ft. This appliance is the least powerful among the three – 530 watts. It has “Clean Air” filtration system. The air is filtered from dust and the flavors of the foods you’re drying won’t be mixed.

In this dehydrator the heater and fan are mounted at the bottom of the unit. One of its great advantages is a 24 hour shut-off timer which enables to dry food overnight. And it’s not necessary to babysit the dehydrator while its working. Digital temperature control will stabilize the drying environment if the temperature goes too low or too high. The drying capacity is expandable up to 20 trays.

Among the most prominent features of L’Equip FilterPro:

  • Digital LED time and temperature display
  • “Clean Air” filtration system
  • Expandable to 20 trays
  • Computer controlled heat sensor
  • 24 hour shut-off timer
  • 10 year limited warranty

It will work just fine as long as you don’t have big amounts of products to dry. Adding more trays will influence the quality of drying.

Check out the L’Equip FilterPro at Amazon.com

How to Choose the Best Food Dehydrator

But you don’t have to stick to the 3 options I’m offering you. You can make a list of your own favorites based on main criteria I was using to select mine. So the most significant points you should pay attention to when looking for the best food dehydrator are:

  • Price
  • Drying space & power
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Heat & air flow
  • Timer
  • Materials & quality
  • Warranty

What concerns price, people tend to look for the cheapest product to save some money. But I would rather recommend to see the correlation of the price and quality. As sometimes you may purchase a product which is cheaper but will be out of use in few months. Then you have to pay again and buy another one. Doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Nesco and L’Equip dehydrators are expandable while the Excalibur ones have fixed capacities of 4, 5, or 9 trays. But the extra trays are not included. You would have to pay approximately $20 – $25 per set of two. So make the counting how much it will cost to add extra 6 or 8 trays. Besides, adding too many trays can affect the drying consistency of the dehydrator. As the trays which are located closer to the heater and fan will dry faster than the rest. So most likely you will have to do some rotation during the drying process.

As for power, the dehydrator should have at least 500 watts to do the job properly. Among the more wattage there is – the better. Among the 3 dehydrators mentioned L’Equip is the least powerful (530 watts). Excalibur and Nesco are more powerful, 600 and 700 watts respectively.

But you should have an adjustable thermostat to control the temperature. An optimal range is 95° to 155° F. Vegetables and fruits are usually dried at 125°-135°, meat – at 145° to 155°. One of the most important things to consider when choosing a dehydrator is even heat and air distribution. When the heated air is not evenly distributed across the trays the food that is closer to the heater will dry much faster than the other part. Horizontal airflow, like the one in Excalibur, is definitely better as it eliminates the mix of flavors and even drying.

Automatic shut off timer is quite useful as it allows you to load the food to the dehydrator and be busy with what you want to do. Just set the timer and it will shut off by itself when needed. Definitely, when you purchase a dehydrator you want it to last.

The quality of materials plays an essential role here. Many people show the concern about plastic fumes or chemicals getting into foods. L’Equip and Excalibur trays are made of BPA-free plastic. So there is no need to worry.

And last but not least is the warranty provided for the product. Keep in mind that if something is broken you have to be able to have it fixed by the company. So the more extended the warranty is, the better.

Another piece of advice – see the reviews of the people who are already using it. You may find out a lot of useful information this way.

Conclusion

My personal opinion – I would go for the Excalibur dehydrator. It displays big list of advantages and few minor drawbacks. On top of that, it has around 300 positive users’ reviews which I’m definitely taking into consideration. Strong essential features and lots of great customer reviews lead me to the conclusion that 9 Tray Excalibur 3900 is the best choice! The other two dehydrators are quite good as well. They offer decent quality for the price. But I do think that Excalibur dehydrator deserves your attention more!

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