Do Freeze-Dryers Use a Lot of Electricity?


Home freeze-drying has become a new and exciting way to preserve food. But, since freeze-dryers are a part of modern technology, they might exceed our budget. So, are they worth the money?

Freeze-dryers use more electricity than home appliances like dishwashers, fridges, or freezers. However, when counting total food storage ability and time, the overall cost decreases considerably because the food is shelf-stable.

  • Small and medium home freeze-dryers use a standard 110-volt outlet which costs between $1.25 and $2.80 a day, depending on the local area’s power costs.
  • When deciding to purchase a large home freeze-dryer, it uses a 110-volt, 20 amp outlet, and typically costs between $2.00 and $3.00 a day, depending on the local power costs.

Keep in mind that these costs are estimates. So, let’s get down to business and get the facts!

An image of a medium-sized black Harvest Right freeze dryer on a cart in a utility room

How Much Power Does a Freeze-Dryer Use?

On average, a home freeze-dryer uses anywhere from 990 to 1500 watts per hour, which can be between $1.25 and $3.00 daily, depending on local electricity costs.

There are other elements to keep in mind. For example, the total cost will depend on how often someone uses the freeze-dryer and what size it is.

When it comes to power demands, all Harvest Right freeze dryers (small, medium, and large) use a standard 110-volt outlet.

However, the large requires a 20-amp outlet. Consider having it on its electric circuit because it could overload the circuit and trip the breaker.

If you want to know if a smaller freeze-dryer is better, read this article I wrote: Are Small Freeze-Dryers Better Than Big Food Dehydrators?

How Much Energy Does a Freeze-Dryer Use per Load?

While running, a medium-sized freeze-dryer uses an average of about 30 kilowatt-hours (or $2.20 to $3.85 worth of electricity) per load. This might get as high as $5.00, depending on the local electricity cost and the cycle.

Check out this chart on how much energy a medium-sized freeze-dryer uses in kilowatt-hours. We have a medium-sized freeze-dryer, so that’s what we measured.

Freeze-dry cycleHoursEnergy used
Freezing1 hour56 kWh
Drying9 hours3.54 kWh
Final drying33 hours20.1 kWh
Complete cycle47 hours29.9 kWh
Table 1: How much energy a medium-sized freeze-dryer uses in kilowatt-hours.

It’s important not to overload the trays because it will increase the time for freeze-drying a batch. Instead, cut the food into small-sized chunks. If possible, slice the food thinly to shorten the freeze-drying process.

For more about loading trays for the freeze-dryer and other how-tos, read this article I wrote: How to Freeze Dry and Store Your Favorite Foods: Guide with Pictures.

How much electricity will the freeze-dryer use?

On average, a medium-sized freeze-dryer uses 1414 watts (or 19.8 amps) per load, assuming a load of 47 hours run-time. This may vary for different sizes of freeze-dryers and may vary if the load takes a different amount of time.

If you’d like to calculate exactly how much electricity your freeze-dryer uses, use an electricity meter. Simply plug it into the freeze-dryer, and it will give the exact information on wattage, amps, hertz, kilowatt-hours, and volt consumption while the freeze-dryer runs.

Here is another chart that shows the electricity consumption of a medium-sized freeze-dryer using watts and amps.

Freeze-dry cycleHoursElectricity
Freezing1 hour290 watts (5.2 amps)
Drying9 hours607 watts (11.3 amps)
Final drying33 hours1348 watts (14.6 amps)
Complete cycle47 hours1414 watts (19.8 amps)
Table 2: The electricity consumption of a medium-sized freeze-dryer using watts and amps.

Costs of freeze-dryer maintenance

The general principle is to change the oil every two to five loads. The same applies to the oil filter. Therefore, the cost can go up to $25 for the oil and the filter, though a bottle of oil may last multiple months or loads, depending on filtration.

Freeze-dryers have a vacuum pump that needs oil to run smoothly. Unfortunately, the more often the freeze-dryer is used, the more the oil becomes dirty and needs to be changed.

Want to know more about vacuum pumps? Please read this article I wrote: Complete Guide To Freeze Dryer Vacuum Pumps (Oil And Oil-free). In that, I’ll show you the parts you’ll need to make a DIY oil filtration system that will make oil changes a thing of the past. It’s been a long time since we’ve had to buy oil – even if we did buy it in bulk last time!

How Much Energy Does a Freeze-Dryer Use Per Tray?

On average, a freeze-dryer tray uses about between $0.55 and $0.97 worth of electricity. Costs per day range from $0.70 to $0.75, or per load electricity costs run between $0.55 and $0.97, depending on the tray’s contents, time to run, and other factors.

The entire freeze-dryer will cost about $2.80 daily – approximately 16 amps. Usually, it takes around 20 to 40 hours to freeze-dry a single batch. We can freeze-dry between 6 to 10 pounds of food in every batch.

If we want to reduce the time and energy, try to freeze the food in the freezer first. This is a good tip when we want to save energy consumption.

One of the main components of the freeze-dryer is a vacuum chamber that includes four trays. Try not to overload the trays with food.

Too much food on the tray will create excessive evaporated moisture. This will negatively impact the performance of the freeze-dryer’s vacuum pump.

Do you want to know more about how freeze-drying is different from freezing food in the freezer? I wrote this article: Freeze-Dryer VS Freezer – 7 Differences That Matter.

How Much Energy Does Freeze-Dryer Use Per Day?

Freeze-dryers are designed to run in the most effective way possible. A freeze-dryer uses between $1.25 and $3.00 daily, on average between $10 to $20 a month for low usage, or $35 to $90 monthly for daily usage. Costs ultimately depend on how often the household uses it.

We have some months (usually in the deep winter) where we hardly use the freeze-dryer at all, simply because we’ve processed everything we need to. During the harvest season, though, our freeze-dryer gets used practically constantly.

If we compare freeze-dryers to smaller household appliances like TVs, toasters, and refrigerators, running a freeze-dryer is more expensive. But to be fair, freeze-dryers are costly -like big household appliances like dishwashers or washing machines.

A freeze-dryer is definitely worth the money regarding energy use and long-term efficiency. The shelf life of freeze-dried foods is over 20 years when stored correctly.

A collage of various images composing of freeze dryer with different variety of frozen goods.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

Consider a freeze-dryer a long-term investment. Recently, home freeze-dryers became quite popular, especially among people who grow their food, preserve leftovers, or like to build long-term food storage.

A home freeze-dryer lasts for many years so it will offer us an excellent value for our money.

Let’s put it like this – on average, we spend $3.00 daily on electricity and then add additional maintenance costs for the oil, pump, and filter. So our bill would be between $1000 and $1100 per year.

Of course, this is an estimated annual cost. Everything depends on what size the freeze-dryer is, how often we use it, and our local power costs.

We encourage everyone to do the math to determine if a freeze-dryer uses a lot of electricity in their household.

In the long run, a freeze-dryer uses more energy, but the food lasts for over two decades. The freeze-dryer is very energy efficient when we compare the energy needed for storing food in the freezer.

If all of this information is financially acceptable, we suggest biting the bullet and going for it. Once someone has freeze-dried food at home, they never look back. Hopefully, we helped a little with this decision!

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If you’d like to shop for your own Harvest Right freeze dryer, this link will take you directly to their site to shop for current sales.

If you want to know more about freeze-dryers and other related topics, check out these other articles I have written just for you.

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Resources

It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our research to be more informed as homesteaders.

  • Harvest Right freeze dryer manual: https://harvestright.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Owners-Manual-DIGITAL-v042022.pdf.
  • “How Much Energy Does Freeze-Drying Use?” Harvest Right, 16 Nov. 2019, harvestright.com/blog/2016/how-much-energy-does-freeze-drying-use.
  • Starr, Kimberly. “How Much It Costs To Run A Freeze Dryer: The Complete Guide.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 4 June 2022, backyardhomesteadhq.com/how-much-it-costs-to-run-a-freeze-dryer-the-complete-guide/.
  • Utah State University. “Buying a Home Freeze-Dryer: What to Know Before You Go.” USU, Utah State University, 3 May 2022, extension.usu.edu/preserve-the-harvest/research/buying-a-home-freeze-dryer-what-to-know-before-you-go.
An image of Kimberly and her daughter gardening

About Us

I’m Kimberly Starr. My family has always loved being outside and gardening. Now we are building a backyard homestead and immersing ourselves in this wonderful new lifestyle. We’re learning as we go what works and what doesn’t. This website is where we’re sharing everything we’ve learned.

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