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Analysis: Hand Dryers in School Environments

Hand Dryers are used in a large percentage of schools in the United States - more and more all of the time. Restroom Direct supplies a number of school systems, including some that have switched their entire systems from paper towels to hand dryers. Below we discuss the best hand dryers for schools.

The hand dryer proposition is very attractive to schools for a number of reasons.

  1. COST: With the high cost of paper towels and the shrinking budgets of school systems, many schools simply cannot afford to keep their restrooms stocked with towels.
  2. HYGIENE: We have heard the following from a number of teachers: "Thank you so much for putting in hand dryers. We are always out of paper towels and the kids need some way to dry their hands."
  3. VANDALISM: Many hand dryers are made to withstand serious vandalism. Many of the most vandal-prone schools use hand dryers to lessen the opportunities for vandalism in the rest room.
  4. LITTER: Kids love to throw paper towels around the restrooms - and into the sinks and toilets.
  5. MAINTENANCE: Many schools experience frequent plumbing issues when paper towels are flushed down the toilet creating clogs, overflows, and other mayhem.
  6. ENVIRONMENT: Hand dryers are better for the environment when compared to paper towels.

Which hand dryers are the best for schools?

By our estimation, the number one hand dryer used in elementary, middle and high schools in the US is the World Dryer Model A hand dryer. There are three main reasons for the popularity of this hand dryer:

  1. The Model A with the cast iron cover, either the push button, A5 series hand dryer (such as the A5-974) or automatic, XA5 series (such as the the XA5-974 is built specifically with vandalism in mind and very difficult to vandalize. The cast iron cover is literally bullet proof and the porcelain enamel coating over the cover (like an old fashioned bath tub) is nearly scratch-proof. This product has undergone many tests throughout the years both in schools and the lab to make sure it is resistant to pretty much anything a teenage mind can think up. Some schools swear by the push button, others use the automatic. We like the automatic. (See: push button vs automatic hand dryers.)
  2. The Model A is durable and reliable. This hand dryer comes with a 10 year warranty, but often lives a life of more than 20 years. The Model A hand dryer can take a lot use without having to worry about it. It should be cleaned out once or twice a year, depending on use, the motor brushes need to be replaced every 4 years or so, and other than that there is not much much to do.
  3. The Model A dries hands quickly and efficiently. It's not a high speed hand dryer, but it is a solid, good hand dryer that is faster than many.

The second most popular World Dryer hand dryer for schools, is the AirMax hand dryer.

The AirMax is also our top pick for schools and we sell more AirMax hand dryers to schools than Model A's. The AirMax is a high speed hand dryer. It dries hands in 15 seconds and is about twice as fast as the Model A. The AirMax is identical to the Model A with the exception of the motor (and a couple of other parts) which runs about twice as fast.

So you get all of the benefits of the Model A listed above, but also the high speed. A high speed hand dryer not only is nicer to use, but it is more likely that the user will dry their hands more thoroughly (so it is more hygienic), it gets more people through the restroom with fewer dryers, and it is more energy efficient. In this case the AirMax draws the same amount of electricity as the Model A, yet since it dries hands about twice as fast, it uses about half the energy.

There are two other differences to be aware of with the AirMax:

  1. The warranty on the motor is 5 years instead of 10 years since it runs faster. (The rest of the warranty is the same) From our experience, the motors seem to last just as long, however.
  2. The AirMax is louder than the Model A. Therefore if you are in a noise-sensitive area, close to a classroom for example, then you are you might want to stick with the Model A, which is pretty quiet.

The XLERATOR® by Excel Dryer is another, increasingly popular, choice in school restrooms.

It is very efficient and even faster than the AirMax (about 25% shorter dry time). The XLERATOR® acts like an airhose, blowing the water off the user's hands. It is a little rougher, but most people really enjoy using it. As the air is focused, it is also louder than other dryers. Previously, this could be an issue as a lot of dryers are installed close to a hallway or a classroom.

To address this, Excel has enabled the dryer with both heat, and air-speed controls (located inside the dryer where mischevious hands cannot reach them). This has the benefit of allowing the speed to be set at the highest level that is also acceptable from a noise perspective.

Another initial issue for this dryer was the warranty, however, this has now been increased to 7 years and Excel Dryer's excellent customer service department stands firmly behind this product. This, together with it's flexibility of heat and speed controls allows us recommend it for use in almost any environment.

The model most often used in schools is the XL-W (shown above), which has a die cast zinc cover with white epoxy enamel finish, however, there are also several other options, including the XL-SB which comes with a heavy duty stainless steel cover. The brushed finish is easy to maintain, and allows marring and surface scratching to be repaired, many times, with just a steel wool or Scotch Brite pad.

For more information on hand dryers, please call us at (704) 937-2673, or email info@restroomdirect.com and we will be happy to help you!

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