Hand Dryers

Hand Dryers vs. Paper Towels

Opting to install electric hand dryers has built-in cost savings and promotes sustainability at your operation. On average, choosing hand dryers over paper towels saves users between 90% and 95% simply because they require less attention. This switch saves on labor and maintenance, as well as the product cost of continually purchasing new paper towel rolls. Continually purchasing paper towel rolls is typically more expensive compared to the energy costs of running a dryer. You can use a cost savings calculator, like this one from Xlerator, to calculate and see for yourself how much you could be saving by installing a hand dryer, compared to how much you spend to replenish your paper towel stock.

In addition to cost savings, you can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the environment by making the switch to electric hand dryers. This is especially true if you choose energy efficient models, or those advertised as environmentally friendly. Paper towels’ impact on the environment extends beyond the mere usage of a disposable, non-renewable item. You must also factor in its packaging, transportation (specifically fuel energy consumption), and storage, as well as the labor needed to replenish supply, general maintenance, and the removal of bathroom waste.

When it comes to the matter of hygiene, there’s still some debate. Some argue that hand dryers are less hygienic than paper towels because the paper is fresh and clean whereas dryers recirculate air within the bathroom. However, many manufacturers have taken steps to correct this issue. Some units come with HEPA filters while others offer antimicrobial agents embedded into the dryer to prevent bacteria growth and spread.


Installing a Commercial Hand Dryer

Hand dryers can be surface mounted or recessed into the wall, meaning they will require a separate wall box (usually included) which will then be installed into a wall opening created during construction or renovation. It is highly recommended that an electrician come onsite to install the hand dryer correctly.

Your hand dryer model should come with spec sheets for the installation procedure with detailed step by step instructions. A certified electrician should be able to modify your dryer to plug into the wall if it makes it easier; however, this may void the manufacturer’s warranty, so it is not recommended.

When installing, you should also consider the guests who will be using it.

  • For a men’s restroom, it is recommended to install at 44 inches high.
  • For a women’s restroom, installation is recommended at 42 inches high.
  • For children, 32 to 42 inches is the recommended height.
  • For restrooms in compliance with accessibility guidelines, the recommended height for installation is 36 inches.

Control Type

The two main types of controls are push button and automatic. Push button dryers are typically more affordable than those with automatic sensors. There is also a perception that these machines are more durable, easier to fix, and less susceptible to vandalism. Much of this perception stems from the first generation of motion-sensor hand dryers. When they were first introduced, they had unreliable sensitivity to motion and a short life span, needing replaced too frequently. However, as technology has continued to improve, these issues are no longer as prevalent. Now, there are many advantages to owning a hands-free, automatic-sensor dryer that justify the increase in price.

For starters, automatic sensors are considered to be more hygienic than push buttons because you don’t have to touch it, thus reducing the possible spread of germs.  Another big benefit are additional energy savings. With many automatic machines, they only run for as long as they’re being utilized, shutting off immediately after the hands are removed. Push button dryers, on the other hand, are set to time intervals, which could waste energy if the unit is not being used for its complete time cycle. Automatic dryers also have fewer moving parts than push-buttons. Because of this, they are generally thought of as more reliable.

Dry Time

The speed of drying hands with electric hand dryers has historically drawn criticism because they’re not as fast as drying with a paper towels. In restrooms where a hand dryer is the only option to dry hands, some users may opt to forgo this step, thus dripping water over the floor and creating a slipping hazard. Manufacturers have taken this criticism to heart and continue to work on advancing speeds. Today, most models take between 10 and 15 seconds to dry hands, and they’re getting quicker each day. Some select models even boast dry hands in eight seconds or less.

Noise Level

Noise level is also a common complaint with electronic hand dryers. It may often feel like an unfair trade off. High speed dryers typically have a louder noise output, whereas ones that take a little longer to dry hands are quieter. Some brands have started manufacturing noise reduction nozzles as an add-on to their dryers. Many automatic dryers also have programmable speed options that allow the owners to the option to choose whether they prefer a quicker dry time or a quieter experience.

ADA Compliance

The American with Disabilities Act mandates that items in a passageway not protrude more than 4 inches from the wall. This serves to protect those visually impaired from bumping into something. The best practice is to mount your hand dryer out of the passageway at the end of the wall, usually near the sink or behind a partition. To comply with this regulation, many manufacturers produce recessed versions of their dryers, or have a recess kit available for purchase in which users can adapt their units to comply with this standard. There are some select vertical models that are more than 4” in depth but are still considered ADA compliant if mounted low enough that a visually impaired patron’s cane would come in contact first to warn them. For a complete list of ADA regulations, click here.