Most people use public washrooms without really thinking at all about the design or the fixtures that are put there for their convenience. There are plenty of experts who can design the entire thing, but facilities management will need to make some choices regarding the type of device will be used for drying hands.
Paper towels or hand dryers?
The continual discussion about use of paper towels or a commercial hand drying appliance usually centers around two things which is greener, and which costs less. The paper towels of course use no electricity, the holders are inexpensive, and every washroom visitor will feel comfortable using them. But paper towels have some big drawbacks, not the least of which is the continual waste they generate. Paper towels are not recyclable, and they pile up really fast. (But some are manufactured from recycled paper.) In addition, someone has to continually refill the dispenser, making that choice seem not so inexpensive after all.
How to choose a commercial hand dryer
Most modern washrooms now include a commercial hand dryer, though some facilities do include both a dryer and paper towels. (It seems that as washrooms are updated many proprietors choose to add a commercial hand dryer, but leave the towel dispenser where it is on the wall.) Once you have decided to use an electric dryer, there is wide array of choices. Features of commercial hand dryers include: touch-free or button operated; speed, direction, and temperature of the air; low noise or louder; and level of energy use. Other considerations are of course cost and appearance.
To start the selection process you should evaluate the number of patrons who will be using the washroom. A very high volume means that you should consider a fast dryer, which should keep people moving in and out of the facility. Constant use also requires a very sturdy and reliable machine.
If noise is an issue, look for dryers with a lower level, but most of these are an older technology. If you want really fast dryers, you may have to consider those that make more noise.
Energy efficiency of the unit is probably the next consideration. A study conducted by MIT showed that high-speed dryers do have a lower overall environmental impact than other, slower units. This will be especially true for dryers with a shorter dry time. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Life Cycle Assessment of Hand Drying Systems. September 19, 2011.)Cold air dryers are now available that use high speed to dry hands quickly, and so reduce energy costs significantly.
In an effort to control climate change the UK government created the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) Energy Technology List (ETL).Commercial hand dryers on this list meet requirements for low energy use which in turn mean lower costs to operate the dryer. This programme provides tax relief for businesses purchasing capital equipment on the list.
Durability and reliability is of course important. Washrooms with high traffic will create wear and tear on the hand dryers as a matter of course. Make sure to check on the life expectancy of the motor.
The last consideration may be the finish of the dryer. The three options are chrome, stainless steel, and white. If you want to leave a lasting impression with patrons, do look at appearance. Some dryers do provide a choice of a variety of covers that can give a look of class to the washroom.
About the Author
Chloe is a writer who works for PHS Washrooms, a company which offer washroom supplies including hand dryers. She currently resides in Cardiff in the UK.