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re: food dehydrator; frugal or foolish?
25 apr 2000
"barb grajewski"  wrote:

> occurred to me that the dehydrator is basically a fan and a
> heater, powered by electricity.

i'm not sure the fan is needed, given enough space for airflow.

>since electricity is quite expensive in chicago, i began to wonder
>if what i save on food, i'll burn up in  electricity, with a net
>saving of zero, or worse.

a kwh of electrical energy is equivalent to 3412 btu, enough to evaporate
about 3.4 pounds of water in a perfect dehydrator, so dehydrating 34 pounds
of tomatoes might require 10 kwh, $1 at 10 cents/kwh. solar dehydrators can
work too, but it seems hard to keep the food warm enough at night or on
cloudy days. (solar-drying a dessicant licl solution all summer, then using
it to dry a greenhouse crop in the fall seems promising on a larger scale.) 

> (yes, when i finally do run it, i'll mark down what the electric meter
> says and then again after the batch is dehydrated to get a cost
> estimate...)

it might be hard to notice the difference.

>i'm just wondering what the general impression of these are,
>in the frugal community.

i have a circular plastic dehydrator, but hardly ever use it these days.
my electric oven set low does a better and faster job, with more food
sitting on cake drying racks on cookie sheets. if i dehydrated more
i'd add a humidistat to the oven to make it a more efficient dryer or
build an insulated drying closet with a couple of 100 w light bulbs at
the bottom and a humidistat at the top that might also be used for clothes. 

herbach and rademan (800) 848-8001 sell a nice
$4.95 navy surplus humidistat, their item number tm89hvc5203, with a
20-80% range, a 3-6% differential, and a 7.5a 125v switch that can be
wired to open or close on humidity rise. it might be wired in series
with their $2.95 tm92hvc2293 thermostat...


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