How to Select the Right Dryer
Just because a dryer costs more does not mean that it is the right model for your needs. Nevertheless, dryers are a big investment, so make an informed decision before you buy a dryer.
The first thing to do is to become familiar with the terms used to compare dryers. Two terms that can be confusing are velocity or air speed and volume. Feet per minute (FPM) measures the air speed (velocity). This can be changed easily by narrowing the opening the air comes out of, similar to putting one’s finger over the end of a garden hose to increase the force of the water stream. Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is the amount (volume) of air a dryer can move. A dryer rated at 200 CFM will produce the same volume of air through a two and a half-inch opening as it will with a one and a half-inch opening.
Fans generate airflow. There are two basic kinds of fans used in dryers today. One type of dryer fan is the blower wheel, which is a flat disc with protruding vanes. It takes up less space but needs to be cleaned frequently, or it will become unbalanced and create excessive noise, wearing out the motor bearing. The other type of dryer fan is a paddle type fan, in which a number of flat surfaces are positioned perpendicular to the hub. Paddle fans require a larger housing but provide greater airflow and smoother operation.
There are also several different types of dryer heating elements. The two main dryer heating elements are calrod or coil wound. Calrod heating elements in dryers are similar to the burners on an electric kitchen range. They take longer to heat up and cool down, but they are very long-lasting and virtually unbreakable. The coil-wound dryer elements are like the heating elements in handheld human hair dryers. They respond quickly to temperature controls and have more surface area exposed to the airflow, so they produce more heat; but they may not be as durable.
Once you are familiar with the terms used to describe dryers, consider the various types available. The basic categories or dryers are stand dryers, forced air dryers and cage dryers. There are also hybrids that combine features of two or more categories of dryers. Other options include heating elements, multiple speeds, and regulators that control the heat.
The main function of stand dryers is to fluff dry, or table drying. The stream of air is directed at the dog while on the table, leaving the groomer’s hands free to work the coat. Because the nozzle on the end of the arm can be aimed in a specific direction, it can also be directed into the front of a cage for cage drying.
Force dryers have a very high velocity of air. This high-speed stream of air literally blasts the excess water out of the coat so that a groomer can take a damp, not dripping, dog out of the tub. Using a force dryer will cut drying time in half, enabling groomers to work on many more dogs in a day.
Cage dryers come with and without heat, single-speed, and two-speed. The Double K 560 has a regulator to control the heating element. The Air Force Cage Master and Edemco Cage Dryer have timers. Always try to aim the airflow toward the bottom of the cage and under the floor grate so that the air circulates through the entire cage to dry the dog in the shortest amount of time.
A very good example, although by no means the only one, of a hybrid is the Metro Top Gun Stand dryer. It can perform as a fluff, cage and force dryer, and does all three very efficiently. Some others are the Air Force Cagemaster Plus (which comes with or without a timer), the Force II stand dryer, and the ChallengAir 850 XL.
No matter which dryer a groomer selects, it is imperative to find out how many cubic feet per minute (CFM) it produces, what type of motor it has (some require more maintenance than others), and warranty information. And, of course, it is important to find out whether or not the electrical supply in the shop is capable of handling the amount of electricity (amps) your dryer requires. Some powerful dryers require 20 amp circuit breakers, 20 amp receptacles or both.
Once the decision is made and the dryer is in the shop, the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule should be read and followed carefully. The dryer should be cleaned often, and filters and carbon brushes should be replaced whenever necessary.
To see our selection of Dryers, please click here.