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Automatic Hand Dryers vs. Paper Towels
Update: 2012-2-14

Why Use Hand Dryers
Hand dryers are used in many restrooms, and are slowly replacing paper towel dispensers. The biggest advantage to using electric hand dryers is they generate little to no waste, which makes them environmentally friendly. Another "green" reason to use hand dryers is the fact that they use few resources, as opposed to towel dispensers which use paper, which is a natural resource and generates a lot of pollution when they are created.


How Do Hand Dryers Work
Hand dryers consist of a heating element that is turned on when a button is depressed or an infrared motion sensor is triggered. The heating element is generally made of Nichrome (a nickel and chromium hybrid) that generates heat up to 50 degrees above ambient air temperature. Air is blown over the heating element which makes the air warm. The air is blown out of a tube that points downward and focuses the air onto the hands (or upwards onto the face if you turn the tube). When the warm air flows quickly over wet hands, the water evaporates and the hands are dried. Rubbing your hands gently under the air flow will speed the process up even further. There are also hand dryers that are purportedly even more environmentally-friendly and produce a higher rate of air flow, but do not produce the heat.


Advantages of Newer Hand Dryers
The first hand dryers were not as efficient as current models. Newer hand dryer models have infrared sensors and will not run if you do not have your hands under the sensor. This saves energy over former models that ran on a timer and were often left running after you were finished drying your hands. Newer models also generate a stream of air pressure that is higher than former models, which can dry hands in much less time thereby requiring less electricity.

 


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