How Dryers Work

A reasonable understanding of how dryers work can be very helpful in making an informed dryer selection. While there is no perfect dryer for the full range of drying tasks a pet professional performs, educated purchases can more than pay for new equipment in labor and maintenance savings. Separately, a business on a tight budget working with four or five dogs a day might choose a less expensive (but less effective) product than an establishment grooming thirty of forty dogs per day.

A large, thick coated dog can easily require several hours to dry with a human, hand-held hair dryer. That task could be reduced to 20 minutes with the proper dryer. Even drying a cocker spaniel with an appropriate product could save 20 to 40 minutes each time. It's easy to recognize that for anyone who bathes and dries animals regularly, the purchase of a proper dryer could result in substantial labor and financial savings. Even for experienced professionals, dryers can be complex and confusing, so knowledge of basic product principles can allow one to select the best products for their circumstances.

The determinants of an effective dryer are: Air volume, temperature/heat, velocity/speed and pressure. Humidity also plays an important role which will be outlined later.

Air Volume diagram showing a cube that is 12 inches across on each sideAir volume (the amount of air) production is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). This is a unit of volume measurement over time. This principle may be easily understood by visualizing the quantity of cubes -- 12 in. on each side (see diagram to the left) a dryer could fill with air each minute of operation. Air volume is critical in that the amount of moisture that is removed from a wet surface (dog hair) is determined in part by the amount of air flowing over or through it.

Dryers with the capability of producing heat, while predominant in the industry are the subject of controversy and we hope the following information is helpful. Temperature is defined as the increase in temperature over ambient (room) temperature. If a product produces 60° Fahrenheit above ambient and the room where your dryer is located is 70° F the dryer will produce 130°F. Temperature is important in several ways. Heat of course contributes to drying. All other things being equal -- the higher the temperature the more rapid the drying process. Heat also creates comfort for an animal being dried and protects it from hypothermia (excessive cold). All of us have experienced a cold "apparent temperature" if we have wet hair exposed to the wind. Similarly, wet dogs in a cool environment can be uncomfortable or at risk with dryers lacking any heat blowing room temperature air over their wet coats. This expresses itself frequently in cage drying situations where heatless dryers result in animals shivering in the cages. This condition can actually be fatal for older animals with predisposition to heart conditions, etc.

Excessive or unregulated heat creates even greater potential difficulty. Too much heat can be very uncomfortable for an animal, cause burns and can result in hyperthermic (excessive body heat) conditions which can be dangerous and even fatal.

All of these potential difficulties are easily avoided. Double K's Challengair line of animal dryers were designed to have the safest most effective temperature to air volume balance to protect animals. Moreover Double K's Model 560 Cage Dryer is the only portable animal dryer in the world which monitors and controls cage temperature to reduce the risk of both hyperthermia and hypothermia.

Velocity is the speed the air travels measured in feet per minute (F. P. M.). It can be measured in miles per hour also but is typically not. All dog dryers move air and by extension create velocity. The "forced air" dryers are capable of producing the greatest velocity in animal dryers with the cage dryers typically producing the lowest velocity levels. Higher velocities can be particularly helpful to penetrate thick coats or double coats and also as a styling aid for many breeds. There is a risk of eye injury associated with high velocity dryers which is easily avoided by not directing high velocity air at or near the eyes. We would note here with frustration that many of our competitors misrepresent their products performance characteristics which creates confusion and misunderstanding. Many single motor forced air dryers are represented as producing 28,000 FPM and dual motor forced air dryers as 58,000 FPM. These performance values are impossible and not achievable. A dryer producing 58,000 FPM would have velocity equivalent to 659 mph! If such a dryer as this existed it would peel the skin off of a groomers arm! We have for many years offered $10,000 to anyone who can get one of our competitor’s products to perform (58,000 FPM) as they claim.

Pressure is the amount of force pushing the air. Air pressure associated with the dog dryers is typically measured in "inches of water lift". The amount of pressure is measured in relation to how high it can push water up a one-inch diameter tube. While a relatively low pressure Cage Dryer might produce 3 to 4 inches of water lift, a two motor forced air dryer could produce 140 inches of water lift!

There are several categories of dryers distinguished by price and general capability. The least expensive products are essentially equivalent to human hand held hair dryers in price and capability. These are low air volume (10 to 20 CFM), low-pressure, low velocity devices which typically have some temperature and air volume control. The prices for this category range from about $27 to about $100. Double K does not produce any of these products

The remaining "professional" categories have price ranges from about $140 to about $600 depending on quality, the number and capacity of motors, sophistication and versatility.

The first are the "forced air dryers". These are high pressure, moderate to high air volume and potentially high air velocity dryers. They invariably have “commutation” type motor and fan assemblies requiring more frequent service and allowing shorter motor related life expectancy. These products typically have more limited temperature and air volume control but also have the capacity to "blow" water off of an animal and penetrate undercoats significantly reducing drying time and improving stylistic freedom.

There are also “stand dryers" with upright architecture and rolling bases that can be adjusted to allow for "hands-free" drying. While some stand dryers are also forced air dryers, most are moderate air volume devices with brushless motors with meaningful versatility.

Cage dryers are mounted on grooming, veterinary or travel cages. These products are generally higher air volume dryers with the most wide-ranging temperature and air volume controls. Double K recently introduced and the Model 560 Cage Dryer which is the only portable cage dryer to monitor and control cage temperature-- essentially eliminating the risks of both hyper and hypothermia.

A good product warranty from an established company with convenient serviceability beyond the warranty period is also an important consideration. Certainly an issue requiring consideration is that improvements in dryer efficiency generally result in direct and proportionate reductions in labor and increases in income.

On balance, dryer selection is one of the most critical decisions facing the discerning pet professional. Double K Industries is here to serve you for your dryer needs.