Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Excalibur Dehydrator Model 3900 – Review

I want to start this review by stating that this is not something that was sent to me to review. We purchased this dehydrator. I decided to post this review because I received a few emails asking me what we bought and if we would recommend it or not. I have good and bad things to say about this machine, but overall I am happy with the purchase. I will try to make it easy to see the pros and cons by making two separate lists with bullets.


The machine has a variable temperature control that so far it true to the setting. I have tested it using my laser temperature gun and the actual temperatures have been within 2 degrees of the setting. Pretty good I thought.
Nine trays give the machine a higher capacity than this family of two has needed yet. However in the summer when tomatoes are plentiful I imagine I will be giving this baby a work out.
Good warranty. We bought the model that had a 10 year warranty which is much longer than most small appliances.
Exterior remains reasonably cool so I am not worried about it catching anything near it on fire.
The teflex sheets are very easy to clean.
It is easy to remove a tray if you need to make something that is taller than the space between the racks.
All the trays are removable. This is nice so that you can remove one of two trays from the bottom and place a shallow container in the base of the unit and warm a sauce. I did this with the sun –dried marinara for pizza and it worked great.
BPA free plastic.  Always a good idea.


Price. This unit is not inexpensive. By the time we bought it and the teflex sheets it was over $250. A little more than I thought it should cost, but everything is getting more expensive these days, so maybe I am too frugal.
Much more noisy than I expected it to be. You constantly hear a very noticeable motor noise when it is on. This does tend to ruin my Zen mood on occasion. I have gotten used to it, but it did take a while. There is a constant hum when it is on.
Big. This unit takes up a lot of counter space. I don’t have that much room so I didn’t set mine up the kitchen. The nice thing is that you can set it up anywhere since it doesn’t produce heat or cooking grease like a stove. I intentionally photographed it next to my big coffee maker so that you can see how big it is. I couldn’t find a ruler but I am guessing it is 16 by 16 at the base and about a foot tall.
The Teflex sheets are coated with Teflon. I wasn’t too crazy about this, but without the sheets the machine isn’t that useful. Thankfully the sheets are cheap so if they begin to deteriorate they can be replaced at a low cost.

General Thoughts About the Machine:

I have learned that the machine is less noisy when you aren’t using the teflex sheets. But so far I have needed them for most of the things I have made.

While I haven’t used all the trays at one time yet, I have used 5 and had to remove two, for height reasons. I think having 9 trays is a good plan. I am happy I didn’t get one of the smaller dehydrators. I think I would have outgrown it quickly, and there are only two of us.

So far I have made raw burgers, bread, pizza, dehydrated onions, flax crackers and spiced nuts. I have just begun to scratch the surface of raw food preparation. With all the snow we have now I have not been too inspired to cook a lot of raw food recently. But we are trying to eat more raw food for nutrition so here is hoping the weather turns soon. I think this will be great to have come the heat of summer when I don’t feel like turning on the oven.

We did purchase this from the linked provider above. We also bought our juicer from the same place. Both items shipped quickly and were received in good condition. I would buy from coolshinystuff.com again.

If anyone has any questions on either the machine or the seller please feel free to ask, either by comment or email. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

I would recommend this unit but you should know both the pros and the cons. I was not prepared for the level of noise it makes and I considered returning it for that reason. I have gotten used to the noise, but it would have been nice to be prepared for it.


  1. Great review! I've always wondered about dehydrators! I don't think I'm in the market to buy one just quite yet, but it's interesting to read about the different options!

  2. Anna,

    Thanks. If you decide to get one and have any questions please feel free to ask. I am happy to share anything I have learned.


  3. Thanks for the review. I've honestly never thought much about buying a dehydrator. About the only thing I've dehydrated has been tomatoes. How valuable would it be for non-raw diets? Just trying to understand all the uses I guess.

  4. Thanks for the review. I've heard so much about this model that it's nice to see an objective review on it. I've got an ancient dehydrator that I'm beginning to use more and more now that I'm redipping my toes into raw food. If it starts to become too small for us, I'll have to consider upsizing to the Excalibur.

  5. Heather,

    If you aren't interesting in raw food then I don't know that a dehydrator is required. But here are some ideas. I used my old dehydrator to dry herbs, fruit and veggies. Kale chips are a favorite. It is great for making yogurt, due to the low temperature. If you like to camp (which I don't) I have known people that dehydrated veggies to make soup ingredients lighter to carry. I have another friend that uses her dehydrator to make yogurt covered trail mix. After that I am out of ideas other than raw food.


  6. Blessed Mama,

    Glad I could help. If you have any questions please do feel free to ask. My biggest complaint is the noise on this. If you can find somewhere nearby that sells it so you can hear it for yourself I would recommend that, just to be certain it doesn't bother you. According the research I did this brand was suppose to be quiet, I can only imagine what the others sound like.


  7. Thank you for such a great review, Alicia! It's good to learn more about new things but I don't think I need it.

  8. Your review of the Excalibur WAS very helpful! Very much indeed!

    I have been seriously considering purchasing one of these very models, so I appreciate your candid explanations. I have to save my money first. (I knew it wouldn't be cheap.) But at least I feel that now I know "first hand" what this unit is REALLY like!

    Just this Excalibur and also a VitaMix and I'll be totally ready for a raw revolution! Yeaaah! (I can just hear my bank account's hollow sound after I make my purchases...) :)

    Thank you, Alicia, for your honest help! Again, I love your blog! :)

  9. Thanks Alicia - that actually gives me ideas for dehydrating that I had never really though about.

  10. Oraphan,

    I never really thought I needed one either. But I also never expected to want to eat more raw food. I have to admit I do feel like my body feels better when I eat more raw. Never expected that to happen.


    Glad I could help. In case you were wondering why we bought the upgraded model that was the hubby. I know nothing about mechanical things. He is very handy and read the specs on both and thought the mechanical upgrade made sense. If you want details on exactly why let me know and I see if he can explain it to me in a way I can understand so I can share it with you. ;)

    I LOVE my Vitamix! We have had it about 5 years and it gets more use than my stove (and you know how much I cook). I can't say enough good things about it. I use it at least once a day, normally more. It functions as well as it did the day we bought it. If you belong to Costco they sell them once or twice a year at about $100 less than other stores.

    Thanks for the nice compliment. I really appreciate it. :)


    This year I plan to dry many baskets of roma tomatoes for the fall and winter. I think having those on hand will reduce my use of canned tomatoes, which I love. But with the BPA issues I do want to use them less.

    Glad I could give you some ideas for what to do with the dehydrator.


  11. I have been thinking about getting a dehydrator a lot lately- I am working on going more raw. Thanks for this review. I got the model with 5 trays. I am excited to start using it!

  12. Mary,

    I like the flax bread quite a bit, it is thicker than crackers and cooked less time so that is still chewy not crunchy. We make the dehydrated onions and add them to salad everyday. I would also recommend that you make raw pizza, which is just the raw bread with raw marinara and nut cheese. Surprisingly good.

    Can't wait to see what else you come up with.


  13. Thank your for the helpful review.
    Question: Do you have any thoughts about ordering an Excaliber model with the timer?


  14. Zuladad,

    I don't like to run small appliances when I am not home or sleeping. We know a fire fighter who told stories about house fires started in kitchens that cured me of using things like this when I sleep or aren't home. So, the timer wouldn't be useful for me.

    However, if you would want to use it when you aren't home it could have some value. The foods "cook" so slowly I don't think the timing is terribly critical. What I have made the shortest cooking time has been 4 hours, normally things are in the machine much longer. The foods that cook in 4 hours can be easily made after work and the 8 and 12 hour recipes could be made on the weekend or while you are at work without the timer. The items that cook a long time, aren't going to be time sensitive. An extra hour on those isn't going to make a difference.

    I hope that helped. If I didn't address something you were thinking about please let me know and I will try again.


  15. hi
    i just got the 9 tray model. The door does not seem to hang straight. would it be possible for you to post a side view pic of yours
    thx in advance

  16. Sasseym,

    Sure, I can take a more photos of mine. My email is on my profile page. Send me a quick email and I will send you as many photos as will help. The sun needs to be a little higher before I will have good ligt to take pics. But I will get to this in a few hours.


  17. Alicia, since I trust you so much (really!), I just ordered the smaller version of this deluxe model. Our strawberries and tart cherries are about to come in, so I will need it soon! :-)

  18. Cindy,

    I hope you like it as much as I like mine. I am still learning to use it but would be lost without the ability to make my own flax bread and crackers.


  19. I am very happy with this product and would buy one again in a heartbeat. 10 yrs and not one single problem with it. Excalibur dehydrators


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