Is a food dehydrator supposed to get hot?

Food dehydrators get really hot when running at high temperatures.

Food dehydrators have become a popular household appliance in many homes for making healthy, crispy snacks and also as an aid for food preservation. These machines essentially make use of heat and airflow to dry foods by removing much of their water content. Certain foods such as fruits and meats contain moisture levels that require your machine to reach high temperatures in order to be dried. Many first-time users may be concerned when the sides or shell of the dehydrator becomes very hot to the touch. Even those who have taken their dehydrators out of storage after a long time worry that their machines may not be working properly. Is a food dehydrator supposed to get hot? In this article, we provide a simple method for checking if your dehydrator is getting too hot.

Is it normal for a dehydrator to get hot to the touch?

Most dehydrators dry foods between 130°F to 155°F (54°C to 68°C), even reaching temperatures as high as 165°F (73.8°C). At these high temperatures, a dehydrator is supposed to get hot, including the sides of the dehydrator. It is a good indicator that your machine works. You should also be able to feel warm airflow from the vents which indicates that the fan is in good shape. In fact, if your dehydrator does not reach temperatures as high, it may be faulty and need repair. Testing the internal temperature of your food dehydrator is the best way to find out if it’s working as it should.

How to test the internal temperature of a food dehydrator.

Before running your dehydrator you want to make sure the temperature is working correctly. If you have been using your machine, but find that the drying time is unusually long or short, checking the internal temperature is a good start. Also, read the temperature and safety guidelines as per the manufacturer’s manual before operation. If you suspect a problem, use a simple thermometer to test the temperature. Even if a dehydrator is supposed to get hot, doing this periodically throughout the year, even if no problems are suspected, mitigates the risk of fire to a faulty machine.

TIP Choose a good-quality thermometer. Cheap ones are often faulty, causing users to think that there is a problem with their dehydrators, while the problem lies with the thermometer.

Follow these steps:

  • Use a thermometer inside a dehydrator that is empty.
  • Remove enough trays from the dehydrator for the thermometer to fit inside. This would apply when using a standing thermometer inside a dehydrator with horizontal airflow.
  • Place the thermometer a distance away from the fan. In the case of a horizontal airflow machine, position the thermometer closest to the door.
  • Set the temperature of your dehydrator to 150°F / 65°C for example and check the reading on your themometer 15 min later.

If the temperatures of the thermometer and dehydrator do not correlate check for the following issues:

  • Faulty thermometer.
  • Broken or faulty thermostat.
  • Internal fan is not working properly.
  • Air vents may be obstructed.
  • Trays are loaded too full restricting adequate airflow. Spread food out instead.
  • Not rotating trays often enough in a vertical airflow dehydrator, may cause the trays to melt.


Rubbermaid Commercial Products Stainless Steel Thermometer

Instant Read Oven, Grill, Smoker Monitoring

Use a thermometer to check if your dehydrator runs at the correct temperature.


ThermoPro TP16S Digital Meat Thermometer

Cooking and Grilling | BBQ Food Thermometer with Backlight and Kitchen Timer

Grill Temperature Probe for Smoker, Barbecue, Oven, Baking Oil

A probe thermometer may be used to check the correct temperature in a vertical airflow dehydrator.

Last thoughts on whether a food dehydrator is supposed to get hot.

Although a food dehydrator is supposed to get hot, issues may still arise. A thermometer is a handy tool to keep around when you suspect there may be a problem with your dehydrator. If you have an Excalibur dehydrator, you will be glad to know that they will send out replacement parts if your unit is still under warranty. Other companies may require the unit to be sent to them for fixing. Give the instruction manual that comes with your machine a good thorough read and follow the guidelines to get the most out of your dehydrator.

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Disclaimer and Cautionary Note: Sunny Life Mag is a digital magazine for entertainment. The contents of this website are for informational and entertainment purposes only and do not constitute expert advice. Not any of the products recommended in the articles have been independently tested for safety. Report all health and safety issues related to the products mentioned in articles to the manufacturer directly.

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Image credit: Daniela Paola Alchapar on Unsplash

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