This Excalibur dehydrator is definitely a crowd favorite if you go by the hundreds of positive comments I waded through online to get an idea of how consumers like it. From beef jerky to kale chips, crackers, granola and potpourri, you can literally dehydrate anything and in substantial quantities with this reliable and versatile 9-tray machine. It has been called the “king” and “Cadillac” of dehydrators, and in this post I’m going to tell you why.
Pros & Cons Summary
If you’re in a rush to get an idea of whether this dehydrator suits your needs, take a look at this summary:
Now let me tell you all the essential details!
Everything You Need To Know About The Excalibur 3926TB
Does It Have a Timer?
Yes, there’s no need to worry about falling asleep on the job or going out and returning to find that your jerky has turned to dust! 😊 You could set the timer just before bed and wake up in the morning knowing that everything will be dried to perfection. The machine automatically cools down when it has finished the job.
Do You Have to Rotate the Trays to Get Even Drying?
No need to fiddle with the trays at all. If you’re tired of having to watch your food and rotate trays every hour or so to make sure it’s all dried evenly, then you’ll love leaving that all up to the Excalibur now.
On the control panel, you’ll find a list of recommended temperature ranges for different types of dehydrated food products, so it’s easy to choose the appropriate setting for whatever you’re making.
The adjustable thermostat does a great job of keeping the temperature constant, and the horizontal airflow keeps the heat even throughout the dehydrator. So no more foods that come out hard on the outside but soft on the inside!
One thing that could cause the food to dry unevenly is if it’s cut into different sizes. So just make sure they’re the same size and you’ll be right.
How Do You Clean the Trays?
Pretty easily. You can use a vegetable brush to scrub off any sticky bits stuck in the mesh screens. Then wash the trays in warm soapy water, or on the top drawer of your dishwasher, but NOT on high heat.
If you purchased non-stick sheets, these should be wiped down with soapy water and dried. Soaking will damage them.
You might be wondering if there’s any pan at the bottom of the dehydrator to catch any drips? There’s isn’t one, so when all the trays are out, make sure you wipe the bottom clean. And since the motor and heater are set at the back of the dehydrator, there is no issue with drips getting in and causing heater failure as I’ve seen happen to round dehydrators in which the motor sits at the bottom, underneath all the trays.
Tip: Place the dehydrator on a waterproof surface, as some moisture may be released during deyhdration.
Are the Trays BPA-free?
The mesh screens carrying the food are made from Polypropylene #5, which is BPA-free.
The trays (which hold the mesh screens) and dehydrator case are made from Polycarbonate plastic, except for the back panel where the fan and heater are located, which is made of metal.
There are different kinds of polycarbonate, and according to the manufacturer they use a high-quality polycarbonate which has been deemed safe by the US Food & Drug Administration. If temperatures under 160 deg Fahrenheit are used, it should not give off any harmful fumes.
If you’re worried about plastic leaching into the food, you could get stainless steel trays (see next paragraph) even though there’s a bit of extra expense. You could even go for the Excalibur EXC10EL which is a full stainless steel unit, but prepared to pay extra.
Can You Get Stainless Steel Trays?
Yes, you can buy 15″ x 15″ stainless steel trays from the manufacturer. I’ve seen that sometimes you can get a pack of 9 at a good sale price, so watch out for that.
You won’t need to use plastic mesh screens with these trays, which are 100% 304 stainless steel – the same grade of stainless steel used in Excalibur’s commercial dehydrators, so you’re getting good quality.
If you’re a big jerky maker and you want to make sure you can thoroughly disinfect the screens between batches, then these trays are great. They can handle high temperatures and a heavy scrub.
What Are the Non-Stick Silicone Sheets For?
If you’re planning to make things like fruit leather or crackers, which tend to be a bit wet and might stick to the mesh, you could get some ParaFlexx™ Ultra Silicone Non-Stick drying sheets. These silicone sheets, which are BPA-free and odorless, have a finer grain mesh to handle more liquid foods. They are sold separately but are not horribly expensive. You can use them for baking as well as dehydrating.
Another option is the ParaFlexx™ Premium Non-Stick drying sheets, which are also BPA-free but for baking only.
And if you just want to keep in simple and cheap, you could use parchment paper, which works well too!
Can You Feel Heat Coming Off the Dehydrator?
Yes, you can feel some of the heat when you’re close, but not enough to cause any discomfort.
Is It Noisy?
It’s not silent, but the sound level is not annoying and doesn’t interfere with conversation, according to the majority of consumers. One described the noise as being slightly louder than a microwave, and others said it’s like the hum of a fan or a convection oven. However, there are a few consumers who DO think it’s noisy and have put their dehydrators in the laundry, garage, or even on the back porch!
How Much Power Does It Use?
According to the manufacturer, electricity consumption is approximately 3 to 6 cents an hour using the Excalibur.
Weirdly, there is no “Off” button on this machine. So you have to unplug it if you want to switch it off before the timer goes off. Not an issue for me, but it’s good to know how it works.
Why Is There a Clear Door Sold Separately?
This dehydrator comes with a solid black door, which is slightly opaque. If you really want to be able to see your dehydrating goodies while it’s running and you don’t mind the extra expense, you could buy a clear door to use instead.
What’s the Difference between the 9-Tray and 5-Tray Units?
Nothing except for the number of trays and therefore the size and capacity. The 9-tray dehydrator is about the size of a microwave (but square-shaped) and fits fine on your counter-top.
Because it’s so easy to dry anything and everything, even the nine trays in this machine won’t feel like enough once you get going. You could easily dehydrate a five-pound bag of sliced potatoes, as well as a few trays of other produce.
My thinking is that if I’m going to make the effort to do the prep work, I might as well dehydrate enough to last a good while. But if you’re really concerned about space, you could go for the 5-Tray, which is W17″ x D19″ x H8.5″. The 9-Tray is only higher by 4 inches.
How Long is the Warranty?
You get a good 10-year warranty on this particular Excalibur model. Just make sure to register your purchase on the manufacturer’s website after you receive it. And in case you’re wondering, Amazon is an “authorized dealer,” so you can still register for the manufacturer’s warranty if you buy through Amazon.
Something to note: according to the warranty’s fine print, you’ll have to pay a $25 handling fee if you do end up needing warranty work.
If you’re used to using an oven to make jerky and getting up every couple of hours to turn the meat and rearrange the trays, then you’ll find using this dehydrator super-easy and fast in comparison. If sliced thinly, you can dry about 6 to 8lbs.
You don’t absolutely have to buy the non-stick silicone sheets to make your jerky. Others have had success simply using the trays and mesh screens provided, or together with parchment paper.
To make the best banana chips, dry them at 105 deg F for about 16 hours. Cut them about 1/8-inch thick. When dehydrated properly, they shouldn’t stick together. You can store them in a glass jar or zip-lock bag, but you may need to dehydrate them for a bit longer if you find moisture in the bag after a day or two.
Dry pasta at 135 deg F for 2 to 4 hours. Just place the fresh pasta strips on the trays in single layers. You can even dehydrate cooked pasta if you want. Make sure to store in airtight containers. All you have to do to eat is boil for 2 to 3 minutes and voila!
Wow, herbs dry quickly and beautifully at a very low temperature. The quality and color is wonderful, with no issues with mold, dust etc., as opposed to drying them in the sun.
Learn on YouTube
YouTube has a whole host of fabulous videos to help you get started with your dehydrator. Check out some of my favorites:
- Dimensions: Width 17″ Depth 19″ Height 12.5″
- 9-tray, 15 square foot capacity
- Plastic Trays with mesh screen (BPA-free) measure 15″ x 15″
- 26-hour timer (lowest setting is 2 hours)
- Adjustable Thermostat 105°F to 165°F
- 7’’ fan, 600watts for increased air circulation
- 110 volts (not switchable to 220V)
- Color: Black 3926TB or White 3926TW
- Made in USA since 1973 – Sacramento, California
For International Customers
If you live outside the US and use 220V, you’ll need to buy a machine with a proper plug type from a local distributor. Warranty will vary by country. You could also check out Tribest’s Sedona Express SDE-P6280-F 220V Dehydrator.
Please note: it’s better not to use a voltage transformer, as the dehydrator’s motor will get worn out prematurely. On top of that, your warranty will be void if you don’t plug the machine into its intended voltage.
What’s in the Box?
Dehydrator unit with 9 plastic trays with mesh screens and a removable door (not see-through).
You’ll get a product manual as well as a handy Dehydration Guide in the box, but you can also download them if you like. The Guide includes the basics on dehydrating a variety of foods, plus a bunch of recipes to get you started. You’ll be up and running in no time!
Time to Decide
Honestly, there’s hardly anything to complain about with this dehydrator, except that it’s a bit pricier than similar models out there.
I spent days reading the experiences of others using this dehydrator, and the overwhelming majority are in love with the flavor, smell and color of their dried products. From enthusiastic jerky-making Grandmas to veggie patch growers and raw-foodies, as well as those who want to stay away from food preservatives and additives – they are all enjoying this Excalibur.
Yes, there are complaints here and there about noise and rattly doors, foods taking longer to dry than expected, extra space and expense etc. But in the main, these are not deal-breakers and consumers have been glad they took the plunge. Since my favorite kale chips at Whole Foods costs five to six bucks a packet, I know a quality dehydrator pays for itself in very little time – as long as you use it!
This Californian company has had over 40 years to perfect it dehydrator technology and they’ve mostly got it right with this model – especially with the timer, the adjustable temperature, the capacity, and ease of use. It’s top of the heap, hence the “Cadillac” description.
If you plan to dehydrate regularly, this time-saver machine is a no-brainer. But if you don’t need all that capacity, then go for the 5-tray model instead.
The only “but” in my book is the fact that it’s not all BPA-free plastic. So if it’s a big deal to you to stay away from possible plastic leaching, which supposedly only occurs over 160 deg F, then you have two options: 1) You could go for the complete stainless steel unit – Excalibur EXC10EL, or 2) Invest in the stainless steel trays.