Dehydrator review: Sedona vs Excalibur
If you are getting serious about raw foods, or if you have a garden with a lot of left over produce which you would like to preserve for the winter, then you probably want to invest in a really good dehydrator.
There are basically two consumer grade high end dehydrators on the market, it’s the Excalibur and the Sedona.
Looking at the specifications the Sedona will obviously be the best choice of the two. But how do they compare in actual practice?
Well, having worked with both of them both in a home environment and a production kitchen, I would like to share my view on the pros and cons of these units.
The Excalibur has been the standard dehydrator in the Raw Food kitchen for a very long time. This is mostly because in its category it had next to no competition until fairly recently.
The Excalibur is very simple in its construction. It’s basically a plastic box with a metal back plate and a removable front cover. Inside the box are eight trays with removable plastic mesh on top of them.
In the back you will find a heating element and a fan connected to a control panel at the top.
Like I said, this is a simple construction and the electronics is something that could just as well have been basic school project. But I think this is a very good thing and I’ll explain why further down.
As I mentioned, the Excalibur has had pretty much no competition for a long time. But as the raw food movement has been steadily growing this was bound to change at some point. And it has.
In late 2010 the Sedona dehydrator was introduced to the market and it attempted to solve a lot of the issues people have been having with the Excalibur. The main improvements being:
- Easier placement
- More energy efficient
- Lower noise
- Front control
The Sedona is made to be able to take the place of built in microwave ovens which is a very good idea. In fact, this machine looks very much like a microwave with a see-through door and digital front control panel.
It works by the same principle as the Excalibur. It draws air in from the back, warms it up and blows it over the food pushing moist air out of the unit.
Both machines are very easy to use. The control panel of the Excalibur is obviously the easiest since it only has one or two knobs depending on if you get a timer or not. But the Sedona has only a few buttons and it’s easy to get a grasp of. Once know the functions of the unit, you won’t need the manual.
If you have the Excalibur without a timer, then you will need to set the temperature each time you turn it on. This could be solved by using an external power switch though.
But the Sedona and the Excalibur with a timer can be set at a fixed temperature, which most raw fooders will probably want to do.
Using the machines couldn’t be easier. Put the food onto the trays, place them in the dehydrator. Set the temperature, time and turn it on. Wait.. And wait..
The door on the Excalibur is detaches from the machine, which many seem to have a problem with. And it’s most likely a way for the manufacturer to cut production costs. But working in a production kitchen I have personally grown to like this and would consider it a valuable feature.
In such an environment the traditional swinging door of the Sedona actually gets in the way a lot. And the fact that it turns itself off each time you open the door might seem like a nice energy saving feature, but I’m actually thinking that it might make it less efficient if you open the door often. I would actually prefer if it kept on going like the Excalibur.
The trays of the units also differ some. The Excalibur trays are slightly larger than the trays of the Sedona. And the latter have raised edges. This can be a good thing since it reduces the risk of food dropping to the floor. However, it also make it more difficult to easily spread things like flax cracker dough or to roll out pizza bases. It will also reduce the air flow slightly making it a bit less efficient.
All in all I can’t deny that the Excalibur is easier to work with, especially in a production kitchen. In a home environment it depends a lot on what you use it for.
The main advantage of the Sedona here is that it has the control panel at the front.
The only feature available on the Excalibur is the timer. And if you’re like me you could consider the detachable door a feature, but that’s a bit of a stretch.
The Sedona however has a couple of very useful features. As I wrote earlier, it can replace a built in oven in your kitchen.
There’s the night mode which will make it much more quiet (but also less efficient) as well as the ability to turn off half of the machine if you are only using a few trays.
Let me say that both of these units do a great job at dehydrating foods!
Based on my experience however the Excalibur does a slightly better job at it. It usually takes shorter time for the food to dry.
It seems that the airflow in the Sedona isn’t as good. But the difference is neglectable really.
When it was first introduced, the Sedona had some issues with the heating element sometimes not turning on and the temperature was constantly too low which made me think that it didn’t do the job very well. But now these issues have been addressed by Tribest and should not be a problem anymore.
It should also be noted that when running the Sedona in night mode the performance decreases since it’s not able to push out the air as quickly.
Now this had been my own major complaint with the Excalibur. It can be pretty noisy. So if you are living in a small apartment or if you are very sensitive to noise then it will be a problem.
You can imagine that I was excited when I heard that this was one of the things Tribest set out to solve with the Sedona. And they did not disappoint!
The Sedona is much more quiet than the Excalibur. I think this is due to a different brand of fans, but also because the box has a less resonant construction.
Best of all, it has a night mode feature that will reduce the fan speed making it even more quiet.
In a quiet environment you will still hear the Sedona, even with the night mode turned on. But with moderate ambient noise you will barely notice that it’s on. The Excalibur on the other hand is very noticeable in the same environment.
When testing both units fully loaded the Excalibur consumed on avarage 16% less energy than the Sedona. And taking into consideration that the Excalibur performs slightly better it is clearly more energy efficient.
What does that mean in terms of actual money? If you are using the dehydrator on avarage 60 hours per week the Excalibur will save you about $20 a year. Now, that’s not a lot but it’s something to consider, because with that usage the Excalibur will have paid for itself within 15 years.
To be fair though, the Sedona has as I mentioned the ability to run only half the dehydrator when making small batches. So if you aren’t using the machine fully loaded every time then it will most likely even out.
An energy saving feature I would love to see is for the machine to turn off itself when the humidity reaches a certain level, much like some modern clothes dryers work.
As I mentioned at the beginning the Excalibur is very simple in its construction which makes it very cheap and easy to repair. Most of the time you won’t have to send it in for repairs. They usually send you the spare parts which you can easily replace yourself.
The Sedona is much more complex due to the more advanced micro controlled electronics. Therefore you will have to send this one in for repairs if anything goes wrong with it.
Now, some people might prefer to do that, which I can understand. But personally I prefer a unit that is easy to fix yourself and can be repaired by practically any electronics repair service should the company cease to exist or the warranty run out.
Actually, there’s no obvious winner here. They are both great dehydrators!
Sure, the Sedona looks far better on paper but in actual use the Excalibur might be better for you.
It all comes down to individual needs, so I’ll try to define those.
Buy the Excalibur if:
- You are doing a lot of gourmet recipes
- You want to use it in a production kitchen
- Noise is not an issue
- You value easy and cheap repairs
Buy the Sedona if:
- Noise is an issue to you
- You want to replace your built in microwave
- You have a small kitchen
- You are often making smaller batches
Hopefully that will give you an idea of which unit is the best for you.
But either one will be a great buy!
Excalibur 3900 Deluxe
- 9 Polycarbonate Trays with Polyscreen inserts
- 7″ Heavy Duty Fan
- 600 Watts
- Adjustable Thermostat: 85º – 145ºF
- 1 Year Manufacturers Warranty – 10 Year Extended Warranty
- Made in the US