These days, people have been looking for ways to preserve their food without sacrificing its nutritional value or adding too much sodium or sugar to food. Freeze drying has become a popular way to preserve food because it is easy to prepare, store and consume. But what’s the best size freeze-drying unit to get?
The best-sized freeze-drying unit to buy depends on family size, food storage goals, outlet availability, storage space, and other factors.
- For families with an available dedicated 20 amp, 110-volt plug who need a lot of food freeze-dried, a large one is the best option.
- Most families who need a lot of foods freeze-dried but who don’t have an extra 20 amp, 110-volt plug will do best with a medium-sized freeze-dryer.
- Smaller families, or families who can do smaller batches of food, will get the best bang for their buck from a small freeze-dryer.
Now, there are all sorts of caveats, exceptions, and other nuances to this topic. So, let’s dive into all the scenarios where it makes the most sense to get the different sizes of freeze-dryers.
What Size of Freeze Dryer Do I Need?
The size of the freeze dryer you need depends on your family, how much food you want to freeze-dry, how much space you have, what kind of outlet you have, and dozens of other personalized factors. Choose from small, medium, or large depending on the results of your choices.
There are a lot of things you should consider before buying your very own freeze dryer. First, you’ll want to figure out why you would need one. Will your products be for your family’s use? Are you planning a business? Preparing for the (zombie) apocalypse? Or perhaps you want to preserve your food for your personal use.
Next, you should consider your budget and figure out if you have the spending capacity to buy the freezer dryer that you need.
Harvest Right is a brand of freeze dryers well known for home use, and their freeze dryer’s come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. You can choose the size of your freeze dryer depending on the amount of space you have in your kitchen and the amount of product you are planning to freeze dry.
For all freeze dryers, you have the option of pickup or delivery. If you live locally, you can pick it up to save on shipping. If you do select to ship, you can get standard shipping or pick the stainless-steel box option. The stainless-steel box option comes highly recommended so that nothing inside gets dented or damaged during shipping.
We live close enough that we just picked ours up.
Dimensions of the Small, Medium, and Large Freeze Dryer
I use and recommend Harvest Right freeze dryers. Harvest Right Freeze dryers come in 3 different sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. All three of these freeze dryers are great but let’s check out the dimensions to know which one can fit your kitchen or wherever you’re going to store your freeze dryer. Ours is in our utility room because it’s not silent and we don’t want it in the kitchen.
Small Sized Freeze Dryer
The small freeze dryer is 16.5″ W x 8.5″ D x 25″, about the size of a cabinet, which is perfect for you if you plan to have a freeze dryer small enough to fit on a countertop, cart, or table. The unit comes with three trays and weighs about 61 lbs.
The freeze-dryer and all its inclusion will get shipped to you in a single package that should weigh about 139 lbs. This way, you don’t have to worry about additional packages arriving on different dates.
Medium-Sized Freeze Dryer
The medium freeze dryer has overall dimensions of 18″ W x 21.25″ D x 28.5”, or the size of a large cabinet. This freeze dryer can still fit countertops, a separate cart, or even its table. We keep ours on a cart. The medium freeze-dryer has four trays. It weighs about 112 lbs.
If you choose to ship this from the official site, it’ll only come in one package, with all the inclusions fitting in a single package that would weigh 212 lbs, and you even have the option to ship it with a stainless-steel box instead. However, sending it in a stainless-steel case will bring your total weight up to 221 lbs.
Large Sized Freeze Dryer
The large-sized freeze dryer has overall dimensions of 20.25″ W x 23. 75″ D x 30.75″ H and needs to be on a cart or tabletop as it takes up a large amount of space. The large freeze dryer also comes with five trays with dimensions of 9″ W x 20.5″ x 0.75″ H to handle the most possible food at once, though it does require a 20 amp 110-volt plug.
Despite it being a large-sized freeze dryer, it can still fit a single page with a total weight of 253 lbs (or 274 if you choose the stainless-steel packaging). Unlike the other freeze dryers, this one needs a dedicated 20-amp circuit for power. It still only uses 110 volts, but it’s got to have the 20-amp outlet.
A 20-amp circuit uses a different-looking 110-volt plug, like the plugs you’d use for a washer, dryer, or electric stove. So, if you don’t have one of those extra, giant plugs available, then you can’t get a large unit. Well, you can – but you won’t be able to plug it in. So don’t buy one!
How Many Trays Does Each Size of Freeze Dryer Hold?
Each freeze dryer comes with its own set of trays and can only fit that set number.
|Freeze Dryer Size
|Number of Tray Slots
|Size of Trays
|7.75″ W x 14″ L x 0.75″
|7.75″ W x 18″ L x 0.75″ H
|9″ W x 20.5″ x 0.75″ H
If tables aren’t your thing, here’s that data again in a list.
- Small freeze dryers have three tray slots and trays are 7.75″ W x 14″ L x 0.75″ H.
- Medium units have four tray slots and trays are 7.75″ W x 18″ L x 0.75″ H.
- Large-sized units can hold five trays and trays are 9″ W x 20.5″ x 0.75″ H.
How Much Food Can Each Freeze Dryer Hold per Load?
Per load, this is how much food a freeze-dryer can hold.
- A small freeze-dryer can handle up to 4-7 lbs weight of fresh food
- The medium freeze dryer can load 7-10 lbs worth of fresh food
- The large freeze dryer can load 12-16 lbs worth of fresh food
So, before buying a freeze dryer, consider the amount of fresh food you want to have freeze-dried. We have the medium, and it’s a great size for our family of six, especially since we didn’t have an available 20 amp 110-volt plug.
How Much Do All Three Freeze Dryers Cost?
As of writing, the freeze dryers are currently on sale, but I will be providing you with their regular price.
- A small-freeze dryer is $2,495
- A medium-sized one is $3,195
- A large one is $3,895
- You can also upgrade the pump to the oil-free pump on any size unit for an additional $1,495.
Getting into freeze-drying is a considerable investment, so making sure your freeze-dryer is worth the cost is another thing you need to consider before getting one. Freeze dryers are easily thousands of dollars’ worth.
Thankfully, most units come with the required accessories to get started.
You can read more about the costs of running a freeze dryer in my article here: How Much It Costs To Run A Freeze Dryer: The Complete Guide.
Why the Large Freeze Dryer Should NOT Be Everyone’s Go-To Option
With all its capabilities, it seems like the Large-Freeze Dryer is the best option for most households with large families. However, it uses a 20 amp 110-volt plug, which is not usually used beyond outlets for washers, dryers, and electric stoves. Households without an extra 20 amp 110-volt plug should pick a different-sized freeze-dryer.
Another issue is the size. It’ll take a lot of counter room. If you live in a big home with a big kitchen, this wouldn’t be an issue, but if you live in a smaller place and would just like to preserve small amounts of food, you might not need a large freeze dryer, at least to begin with.
Next, you should also consider where you are going to store the food. Since a large freeze dryer allows you to freeze dry a large amount at once, you need to ensure you have the shelf and storage space to put the food after. If you aren’t planning to maximize your freeze dryer, you can save a little more by purchasing a medium or smaller freeze dryer.
Which Size of Freeze Dryer Should I Get?
The size of the freeze-dryer you should get will depend first on what you need (refer to the earlier section of this article) as well as your wants, goals, and dreams for food storage.
If you have a 20 amp, 110-volt plug and you are feeding a big family, then by all means, get the large freeze dryer. However, if you have a large family and do not have the necessary plug, the medium should serve you fine. Freeze dryers are made to last, so you can keep using your freeze dryer throughout the year without worry.
If you’re single or your family is you and a partner, then a small-sized freeze dryer should be enough to cater to your needs.
However, small and medium-sized freeze dryers might not be able to serve you if you plan on making a home business using freeze-drying. Instead, you can get the large one or look for commercial-sized freeze dryers that you can use.
Which Size Should a Family of 6 Have?
Our family of 6 has and uses the medium-sized freeze-dryer, as we don’t have an extra 20 amp, 110-volt plug. Our friends (another family of 6) have an extra 20 amp 110-volt plug and they use their large freeze-dryer like crazy.
A family of 6 is already considered a large family. Therefore, if you have the means for it, you can get the large freeze dryer as it’s more cost and time-efficient compared to the smaller ones. However, if you don’t have the large freeze dryer’s specific outlet, you can get the medium-sized one.
Even if you don’t plan on freeze-drying too often, a medium-sized one would be handed in times when you need to, especially given the family size. The small one is more for solo or two people use.
Why is A Freeze Dryer a Good Investment?
A home freeze-dryer is a good investment for any family who wants to store customized foods in their food storage pantry, especially if allergies or dietary restrictions prevent commercial options from being a great choice.
If you’re into preserving food for a long time or your hobbies will benefit from having easy-to-pack foods, getting a freeze dryer for yourself and your family will greatly benefit you. Freeze-dried food is also packed with benefits.
Home freeze-dried food retains most of its nutrients. It retains 97% of its nutrients compared to regular dehydrated and canned food, which only retains 60% and 40% of the nutrients, respectively.
Freeze-dried food also tends to have better taste and texture. Some people even prefer them over their fresh counterparts. In addition, they also have longer shelf life than most preserved food. Some freeze-dried food can even last up to 25 years.
It is also extremely lightweight because all the moisture is removed from the food. Dehydrated food retains a little bit of moisture compared to freeze-dried food. When you freeze-dry a food, the freeze dryer will be able to sense when the food is completely dehydrated and will only stop the process once everything is completely dry.
With the food lightweight as it is, it makes packing food for backpacking out with family or friends super easy. So if you are an active backpacker, a freeze dryer might be perfect for you.
You can read more about how to know if a freeze dryer is right for you in my guide here: Why are Freeze Dryers So Expensive? Are They Worth it?
How Do I Pack Freeze Dried Food for Long-Term Storage?
The best way to pack freeze-dried foods for long-term storage is to put them in Mylar bags or Mason jars with an oxygen absorber. Then, store the containers in a cool, dark room that’s temperature and light-controlled for optimal long-term storage.
Before you buy a freeze dryer, you need to consider storage. You can make your freeze-dried food last for years and years with the proper storage.
Having ready Mylar Bags at home is a great way to store your food properly. Some people even keep them in vacuum-sealed jars on a shelf as another way to store them.
Want to know more about storing freeze-dried foods in mason jars? Read my article – How to Safely Store Freeze-dried Foods in Mason Jars (vacuum sealer) next.
Other Things You Need to Consider Before Buying a Freeze Dryer
It would benefit you if you looked at several things before getting a freeze dryer, especially your living conditions. Here are examples of things you need to know before purchasing a freeze-dryer.
Factor #1: Space
Freeze dryers are enormous. Even the small ones take up a considerable amount of space. They are also heavy. So make sure you have a place for it before buying a freeze-dryer.
Factor #2: Noise
When you have something freeze-drying in the food, the machines tend to be on the loud side. They sound a lot like a vacuum cleaner, so make sure the noise won’t be an issue in the household if you keep the freeze-dryer in the kitchen. Some people keep their freeze-dryers in the basement.
If you live in an apartment or maybe even a condo. Make sure the walls are thick enough so that the sound won’t escape. The noise could potentially bother your neighbors.
We keep ours in the basement in our utility room. That way, we can close the door when it’s running. We can still hear it, but it’s not bothersome.
Factor #3: Maintenance
Make sure you are ready to maintain your machine to make sure it’ll work properly for years to come. For example, you need to change the oil after 5 to 7 batches of food. You also have to power flush the machine after 10 to 12 batches. Also, be sure to clean your device regularly.
Need more help with maintenance? Here are articles I’ve written on the topic.
- How Long Do Freeze Dryers Last?
- Complete Guide To Freeze Dryer Vacuum Pumps (Oil And Oil-free)
- Can You Make Your Own Freeze Dryer Door Pad or Pillow?
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Freeze-dried food maintains close to the same nutritional value as the food before it was freeze-dried. It’s hands-down the best method of storing shelf-stable foods long-term.
With all the benefits the freeze dryer provides, it’s hard not to buy one right now. However, I suggest before going out and buying your freeze dryer; you need to assess what size would benefit your needs the most.
There are about three sizes of freeze dryers, and all of them vary with how many trays they have and the time it takes to freeze-dry their contents.
This article is here to help you decide what size of freeze dryer you should get by comparing all three sizes, their capabilities, and their price range. Freeze dryers tend to be on the pricy side, so it’s best to always think about what you need and want before committing to the purchase.
We should also consider what you want to use the freeze dryer for, such as making a small business or for home use.
But if you don’t know which size to pick, we use and recommend a Harvest Right medium freeze dryer. It’s been great for us.
Need more info before you shop for a freeze dryer? Gotcha covered. Go read this next: Is a Home Freeze Dryer Worth it? How to Know!
Learning from your own experience is essential, but learning from others is also intelligent. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- “Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer.” Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer, Harvest Right, harvestright.com/product/home-freeze-dryer. Accessed 19 Mar. 2022.
- “Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Best Choice All 3 Size Comparisons – Large, Standard and Small Racks Trays.” Youtube, uploaded by InFlorida4252BettysHarvestRightFreezeDryersGroup, 18 June 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLGq9YIaHMw.