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Which hand dryer is best?

While frequent and thorough handwashing has become a mantra in the public health arena, the job is never finished until the drying stage. Some public restrooms offer single-use paper towels, while others rely on a cloth towel on a sometimes dubious roller. This is why many people seek out touchless and sanitary electric hand dryers whenever possible. Hand dryers used to be found almost exclusively in commercial buildings, but now they can be found in private homes as well.

Many modern hand dryers use advanced technology to provide a more economical and comfortable method for drying skin. A hand dryer doesn’t necessarily blow overheated air for minutes at a time these days. Some models can adjust the heating element and timer to meet the needs of individual users. Excessive noise from a powerful blower motor is also a thing of the past.

What to know before you buy a hand dryer

Ease of installation

Many commercial hand dryers found in public buildings are hardwired directly into the power supply inside the walls. Mounting screws may need to be installed by a professional carpenter. Models sold for private home or office use, however, could use a plug-and-play system, in which the hand dryer is mounted externally and plugged into an existing electrical outlet. A commercial-grade hand dryer can still be hardwired into a home bathroom, but homeowners will probably need to hire a licensed electrician.


The housing of a hand dryer protects all of the unit’s working parts, from the blower motor to the heating element to the automatic sensors. This housing must be durable as well as stylish since it will be fully exposed after installation. Consumers typically have two choices when it comes to housing material: plastic or metal. Housing made from an ABS polycarbonate is lighter in weight and easier to install. Metal housings are better suited for commercial uses in office or workplace locations.

Drying technology

A quality hand dryer walks a fine line between power and efficiency. The motor should deliver enough forced air (heated or otherwise) to dry the user’s hands within a few seconds. This means a higher wattage motor would be better. However, the unit should also be energy-efficient enough to minimize its run time. Some hand dryers have sensors that read the ambient air temperature and adjust the heating element accordingly. Others will activate only when hand motion is detected.

What to look for in a quality hand dryer


Although not a common feature, some hand dryers do incorporate an air filter into the blower motor to trap dirt, germs, and other contaminants before delivering forced air. These HEPA-quality filters should be easy to install and replace periodically.

Speed and timer adjustments

A hand dryer’s motor speed can also be a factor in its overall noise level. Some models allow users to adjust the speed and power of the blower motor to reduce noise or lower power usage. Likewise, the shutoff mechanism in certain models can be adjusted to increase or decrease drying time per session.

How much you can expect to spend on a hand dryer

While professional contractors can often order hand dryer units in bulk at a significant discount, the average retail price for a commercial-grade model is between $100-$200. There are smaller models for home use for as little as $25, but overall quality and power are major considerations.

Hand dryer FAQ

Do all hand dryers use heated air? I have small children in my home.

A. Many commercial-grade hand dryers do contain a heating element, but not all of them. This information should be available on the model’s packaging or product description. Some users prefer unheated hand dryers because they are more energy efficient, while others are more sensitive to the effects of heated air.

Can I install a hand dryer in my home without professional assistance?

A. It depends on the model you purchase. Some hand dryers can be mounted on a wall with a bracket and plugged directly into a standard household outlet. Others may require hardwiring into the home’s electrical grid, which generally involves hiring a professional electrician.

What’s the best hand dryer to buy?

Top hand dryer

Excel Dryer’s XLERATOReco XL-BW-ECO Hand Dryer

Excel Dryer’s XLERATOReco XL-BW-ECO Hand Dryer

Our take: For those who seek an affordable commercial-grade unit, the no-heat Excel delivers good hand drying power with minimal energy usage.

What we like: Draws minimal power per unit. Heavy-duty housing for commercial applications. Motor speed is adjustable.

What we dislike: Not recommended for unheated spaces. Excessive noise can be a factor.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top hand dryer for the money

Interhasa!’s Commercial Hand Dryer

Interhasa!’s Commercial Hand Dryer

Our take: This commercial-grade hand dryer is ideal for locations where noise could be a consideration. We like the inclusion of intelligent sensors.

What we like: Very quiet operation at only 50 decibels. Sleek design. Heating elements adjust to ambient air temperature.

What we dislike: Installation requires professional-level mounting and wiring.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Alpine Hemlock Automatic Hand Dryer

Alpine Hemlock Automatic Hand Dryer

Our take: A stylish, stainless steel option with seven different color options.

What we like: Touchless operation reduces contamination. Dry time is 10 seconds.

What we dislike: While it claims to be quieter than other options, users disagree.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Michael Pollick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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