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Once notorious for poor performance and long drying times, hand dryers havecome a long way from the push-button model days. In fact, today’s electric handdryer manufacturers are working tirelessly to quash past negative stereotypes bymaking a concentrated effort on hand hygiene by improving drying times, loweringfacilities’ energy bills and embracing the green movement.

Going Green

Riding the industry’s green wave, hand dryer manufacturers have taken aninitiative to design and produce more energy efficient and fast, high-speed jethand dryers. These green hand dryers include design features that expedite thehand drying process, and at the same time have a major emphasis on loweringenergy consumption. These units are manufactured with efficient motors andblowers that consume less energy and at the same time shorten the dry time.Manufacturers have also fitted these units with automatic activation devices,which eliminates wasted run time.

New hand dryer models are designedwith energy efficiency in mind.  Atypical conventional hand dryer operates around 2,400 watts. Today’s high-speedunits operate as low as 1,000 watts. The units generally operate for a shortertime, drying hands in 10 to 15 seconds rather than the conventional 45 to 60seconds. Together, the lower wattage and shorter drying time result in lessenergy used.

Some of today’s newer, green hand dryers use 80 percent lessenergy than conventional hand dryers, according to manufacturers. These models,which conserve energy and protect the environment, also help facilities earnLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits by the U.S. GreenBuilding Council and meet GreenSpec standards.

Some green models allowfor the heating element to be turned off, so the energy usage is considerablyless (nearly 500 watts less) than a high-speed unit. As a result, facilities areable to save money on electricity usage. However, there is a tradeoff to usingless energy — the air temperature being blown out is nearly 50 degrees colderthan a high-speed unit that uses 1,000 watts of electricity. The coldertemperature will increase dry times.

On top of going green, hand dryermanufacturers have also been busy addressing other problematic areas to enhancetheir identity.

Noise Level

Hand dryers have often drawn complaints from building occupants because ofthe noise level emitted during use. Manufacturers have recognized that soundlevel is a concern for some consumers, and as a result, have made improvementsin both the sound level and quality of the sound with today’sunits.

Innovative hand dryer manufacturers have incorporated various and specificfeatures in motor technology, proactive and passive noise reduction techniquesas well as structure designs to improve and optimize the sound quality, reducethe sound level in use and provide flexible control options on the hand dryersso the consumer can tailor the sound level, hand drying performance and energyefficiency to their personal preference and environment.

Hand dryersmanufacturers today produce a range of sound levels — from just slightly abovenormal conversation sound level (in the 60s dBA) to sound levels similar to thesound of a vacuum cleaner in use (70 to 80 dBA). And with average air speeds of160 to 225 miles per hour in today’s high-speed units, it is understandable thatthere will be some noise.

With high-speed hand dryers, manufacturers sayfacilities want the best of both worlds — fast dry times and low noise. Some oftoday’s units allow facilities the flexibility to adjust the sound and speed.The tradeoff for a reduced noise level, however, is that the time to dry handsgets extended. However, manufacturers tout the dry times are still better thantraditional dryers.

High-speed hand dryers used to be big and loud, today’s units are more compact and quiet. What sets them apart is the abilityto adjust the sound and speed for the application. For example, a sports stadiumcan set the dry time to 10 seconds. A library might want to turn it down to aquieter setting without concern over a few seconds of dry time.

Promoting Hand Hygiene

Along with lowering energy consumption, another major focus by hand dryermanufacturers is on improving the personal hygiene of restroom patrons. Withtoday’s units, manufacturers are developing technology that promotes handwashingby making the units more appealing to use whether it be in its appearance orfunction.

Functionality speaking, lowered dry times coupled with improvedtechnology is making hand dryers more enticing to use.

  Electric hand dryermanufacturers have recently introduced hand dryers that tout drying timesanywhere from 20 to 30 seconds faster than their traditional counterparts — andactually do what they’re meant to do — dry restroom patrons’ hands.

Wethands have been known to transfer pathogens much more readily than dry hands orhands not washed at all, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC). And, studies have found that damp hands encourage thetransmission and survival of bacteria on hands.

Hand dryer manufacturershave responded to these studies and the rash of communicable diseases in recentyears by introducing units that utilize touch-free technology. Automaticactivation promotes hand hygiene by permitting hand drying without the risk ofcross-contamination by touching push-buttons that others may have touched withsoiled hands.

An automatic hand dryer, which easily turns on and off byuse of motion sensor, promotes cleanliness and usage. Unlikemany typical conventional hand dryers where the user tends to be left with asemi-dry and damp feeling, high-speed units actually dry your hands and do sowith speed and efficiency. No longer does one feel the need to wipe their handson their clothes in order to feel dry or push a button for a second attempt atdrying their hands. The high-speed hand dryer accomplishes the task in the firsttry.

HEPA filters, the same technology that vacuum manufacturers haveused for years has also been implemented by hand dryer manufacturers.  Becauserecent studies suggest that hand dryers can be unhygienic since they are suckingin and blowing out “polluted” restroom air onto hands, hand dryer manufacturershave introduced units that use HEPA filters. These filters clean the air beingsucked in by the units before air is blown onto restroom patrons’ hands. Thisanti-microbial addition captures and eliminates 99.9 percent of bacteria fromthe air used to dry hands.

Hand dryer manufacturers also offer optional filter assembliesfor today’s hand drying units. These filters capture at least 90 percent oflarge airborne particles and capture submicron particles that make up 99 percentof the particles in the air. The average life expectancy on these filters,manufacturers say, is up to two months, but may vary depending upon thefrequency of use and type of environment.

As technology continues toimprove, manufacturers expect more public restrooms to install hand dryers.Doing so goes a long way to show a facility’s commitment to improving publichand hygiene and its sustainable practices. 





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