How to Compare Food and Jerky Dehydrators
There are a few things to think about when you compare food and jerky dehydrators.
You'll look at size, shape, and drying method.
First, you'll need to figure out how much food you'll be drying. The round ones are expandable, so it can grow as your drying needs grow. However, extra trays are going to cost money. If you go with a 9-tray square, you can't expand it, but it should already be as much as you'll ever need.
Shape of the Dehydrator
The shape makes a difference when you compare dehydrators too. The round ones are heated at the bottom, and the warm air travels up through the trays. That means the lower trays are warmer than the higher trays. That can lead to uneven drying. But, there are now some round models, like the Nesco Gardenmaster, that have warm air forced up the walls by fans, which helps with keeping the entire unit an even temperature. The square ones, like the Excalibur 3526t, have warm air blowing from the rear, so all the trays dry evenly.
The other difference with shape is you can dry taller items in the square ones. That's done by removing trays above the food. With the round ones, your foods can only be as tall as the tray. Read more about round vs. square dehydrators.
Careful with Bottom-Mounted Fans
The drying method matters too when you compare dehydrators. Some units are heated from below, so you'll need to rotate the trays to make sure everything's drying evenly. And, if there's a fan mounted on the bottom, it can get messy with drips. Be sure to use dehydrator sheets for liquid recipes. With the square dehydrators, the fans are in back.
Compare and Choose
Those are the main things to look at when you compare food and jerky dehydrators. Although I think the Excalibur's are great, the round ones are going to be just fine. The important thing is to start drying, and with experience you'll known whether your machine suits you.