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Dehydrating Food Revisited

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Last week, I was in my basement digging for something and I came across my food dehydrator. If you have some kind of freaky memory, you may remember that I wrote Dehydrating Fruit for Fun… and Profit? last year. My conclusion was that it was a little bit of fun, and not that much profit.

However, I promised that when my son was older and able to eat dried fruit I'd give it another shot. My son is no longer 9 months old, but 21 months (they grow so fast) making dried fruit a healthy choice. I like it because it lasts a lot longer too.

So this past weekend, I fired it up and dehydrated a billion strawberries because they were on sale at Aldi for 99 cents a pound. I probably should have used some kind of gadget to slice them, but I couldn't find something suitable. I was left to build my skill chopping them manually. I started horribly, but by the time I was done, I might have qualified for below average.

I read the instructions and I had to dehydrate them for 12 hours. Leaving an appliance on and active for 12 hours sounds like dangerous thing for the electric bill. If I was a personal finance blogger, I might be curious to know exactly how much it is costing me.

Guess what? I am a personal finance blogger.

So I pulled out my Belkin Energy Cost Monitor and hooked it up to my Nesco Pro Food Dehydrator.

The Belkin Energy Cost Monitor has a cool feature of telling you how much money an appliance is going to cost you. So I was all set.

One problem. The Nesco dehydrator spends 25 seconds at 22.5 watts and then shoots up to 660 watts for 10 seconds. I'm not an electrical engineer so I don't know my watts from my volts, but I got a little mathy. (As always, feel free to check my math.)

During the 25 seconds at 22.5 watts it uses 562.5 (units for lack of a better term). During the 10 seconds at 660 watts it uses 6600 [units]. Together a cycle consists of 7162.5 [units] over 35 seconds or an average of around 205 watts.

I pulled out my electric bill and saw that I'm paying 6.953 cents/kWh. So 205 * .06953 = 14.25365 (per 1000). That .01425365 times 12 hours yields 17.1 cents.

If you can follow that math, congrats, you are better than me. I just know that it checked out when I used the Belkin to measure the power usage of other things. So I'm going to with it.

It turns out that two pounds of strawberries (~$2.00 worth) made 3.5 ounces when dehydrated. Add in 17 cents for dehydrating and it costs nearly $10 to make a pound of dried fruit. That's why it costs so much at stores.

My son and my wife loved them so much that I had to make another batch just so I could have some. That value was priceless.

Last updated on July 10, 2014.

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3 Responses to “Dehydrating Food Revisited”

  1. kosmo says:

    I’m not surprised the electricity cost is that low. Most consumer devices (excluding appliances) are pretty inexpensive to operate.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    I think I considered it an appliance (just a smaller one). I was equating it to everything else in the kitchen. If you were to run a small toaster oven for 12 hours that probably would not be cheap. Microwaves are often rated around 1000 watts. Blenders (good ones anyway) also generate a lot of power (moving parts will do that).

    One of the great things is that there are many trays, so I can do quite a number in one batch.

  3. kosmo says:

    That was a poor word for me to use. Basically, I mean things that are heavy and that are often sold with a house. Fridge, freezer, washer, dryer, furnace, AC, water heater.

    I was also assuming a standard usage pattern. 7 cents per hour for a microwave seems pretty reasonable. Average microwave use per day is maybe 5-20 minutes, so about 1-2 cent per day. Likewise for the toaster and blender. Sure, you COULD use them for 12 hours per day non-stop, but how realistic is that usage pattern?

    I’m turning you into to PETT (People for the Ethical Treatment of Toasters).

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