Excalibur has been manufacturing food dehydrators for over 40 years. They started off with only a handful of models but have now expanded to over 20 models. Including models with clear front doors, stainless steel models, full commercial models and models with funky colours and designs. Even after 40 years the internal mechanics and electronics of the machine remain pretty much the same, thus making them a work horse when it comes to dehydrating foods and for reliability. Their warranties have also increased throughout the years from 1 year to 5 years and now even 10 year warranties. When it comes to food dehydration Excalibur is the name that everyone looks for and trusts. That being said, there are now so many choices in sizes, options and colours that it is sometimes very confusing for someone who is not familiar with Excalibur and is looking to make a purchase. Not to worry though. We will simplify the process for you.
Excalibur has the economy (2000 series) models which start with the digit 2. For example the 2400, 2500 and 2900. The economy models come with 5 year manufacturer warranties. The next model up is the 3000 series which start with the digit 3 (3500, 3900, 3926T) and have a 10 year manufacturer warranty. The next model up is the 10 tray model and they only have one 10 tray model with a 10 year warranty the EXC10EL.
The following digit to the right signifies the size of the dehydrator. For example the 2400 (4 tray), 2500 (5 tray), 3900 (9 tray). In other words there are 4 sizes available according to the number of dehydrating trays: 4 tray, 5 tray, 9 tray and the new 10 tray model. The 4 tray model is the smallest and each tray has 11″ x 11″ of drying space. The 5 tray to 10 tray models have 14″ x 14″ of drying space per tray.
The next 2-3 digits signify whether or not there is a timer in the dehydrator. For example the 3926T has a 26 hour timer and the 3900 is without the timer. The 2400 does not have a timer option. The timers on the 5 – 9 tray models are analog. Meaning there is a dial you have to turn to set it and once it hits zero the dehydrator turns off. The 10 tray model has a digital display and the timer can be programmed up to 99 hours. The same goes with the temperature settings. The 4 – 9 tray models have a temperature knob which you can set your desired temperature to, while the 10 tray has digital temperature control on the front display.
The next digit on the 2000 and 3000 series indicates the colour of the unit. For example 3900W indicates it’s white and 3900B indicates it is a black model. Now here’s where things get a bit confusing. They also have stainless steel models in the 3000 series however they have changed the names and are calling them the D series. For example D500 is the stainless steel 5 tray model with 10 year warranty and the D900 is the 9 tray stainless steel model. Both come standard with timers. The letters on the end indicate whether they come with clear doors CD, HD for stainless steel trays, S for Stainless steel. For example the D900CDSHD is the stainless steel 9 tray model with clear door and stainless steel racks.
Now that you have a bit of info on all these numbers and letters, which one should you buy. The answer is not that simple. We always tell our customers to purchase the 9 tray as long as they have the budget and the room. We make sure they actually take out a measuring tape and measure out the size so that they are not surprised when they receive it. The reason the 9 tray model is recommended, is that when you are dehydrating most recipes typically are measured out for the 9 tray size. If you purchase a smaller size, then you will have to cut the recipe in half or split it up into 2 batches. Another reason for recommending the larger size is that there is a gap that is less than half an inch between the trays which means you may have to remove a tray if you are dehydrating thicker items. So your 9 tray will turn into a 4 or 5 tray and your 5 tray will be a 3 tray unit when dehydrating thicker items. Lastly, the dehydrator does draw some electricity so to save on energy costs we recommend filling up the dehydrator and running it full opposed to doing 2 smaller batches in a smaller unit or running it half empty. We typically recommend the 3000 series with the 10 year warranty since the difference in price is not much compared to the 2000 series.
In regards to the timer models, we don’t find that the timer is necessary. Food dehydration is a slow process unlike cooking food. If the food stays in the dehydrator for an extra hour or so it will not burn it. It may be a bit drier, but the drier the food, the longer it will stay preserved. We typically tell customers to put the food in and check it every few hours. If it is not dehydrated enough by the time you leave the house, then simply turn down the temperature all the way until you get back. This will keep the fan running with minimal hydro draw and your food will still be dehydrating but won’t go bad. Imagine what could happen if you set your timer and it turns the unit off and you come home and forget that the food was in the dehydrator. If it is not dry enough and you forget about it for hours, then there may be a chance of mold growing on your food. So we find it better to keep the unit running rather than setting a timer to turn the unit off. Plus, you will find that most recipes won’t give you the exact time to keep the food in the dehydrator. There are many factors that can determine the dehydration time including: how wet your recipe is, how thick your food is on the sheets, the humidity in the air, the temperature setting. All these factor could mean that you may have to leave the dehydrator running for double the time that is indicated in the recipe. A timer may be helpful for some people but we do not think it is necessary. Plus if you ever need a timer you can always purchase a plug-in timer afterwards that is less than the cost of the built-in timer.
Finally there is the question of the non-stick sheets. There are many models to choose from. We sell the generic brand, the Genuine Excalibur Brand both made from Teflon. Then there is the silicon type and the disposable type sheets. We typically recommend at least a few sheets to start with. They are great for dehydrating wet items or making fruit roll-ups or for easy clean up Start the food on the sheet them remove the solid sheets after a couple hours so that there is air flow on both sides of the standard mesh sheets that come withe the units. We prefer the Teflon coated solid sheets since they are easier to clean. We have some customers worried about the Teflon coating, but since you are not subjecting them to high heat there is no chance of the Teflon breaking down. Dehydration is a low temperature process unlike cooking or frying. We find the silicon sheets are harder to clean and attract dirt and particles easier than the Teflon coated sheets.
Hopefully, we helped clarify some of your questions about the various models available and helped you narrow down your choices. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them below, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call toll free 1-855-729-8341.