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High Efficiency Hand Dryers: What to do to avoid scaring children or disturbing adults.

Wall splatter below a dryer surface mounted on painted wall board. I

Wall splatter below a dryer surface mounted on painted wall board.

I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about toilet rooms at work. I’ve had meetings and dedicated to waterless urinals, pressure assisted toilets, and a variety of toilet room smells. The latest round of conference calls has focused on high efficiency hand dryers in several projects.

First, high efficiency hand dryers are the new-ish models that are popping up in restrooms around the country. They are powerful yet efficient, and dry our hands in about 10-12 seconds. Excel and Dyson are 2 of the major manufacturers. Using dryers is more sanitary than paper towel dispensers or push button dryers, and cleaning staff no longer need to clean wet paper towels off of the floors. With lower annual costs when compared to paper towels and lower energy use when compared to standard dryers, there are clear environmental benefits and they are (finally!) becoming industry standard.

Some of my clients are becoming reluctant to install them because of occupant complaints about noise and appearance. In my own travels, I’ve seen many poor installations, and I’ve witnessed quite a few small children cry at the sound of the dryer. After too many conference calls, I’ve come up with this list of easy steps to include high efficiency dryers in toilet rooms without scaring the children or disturbing the adults:

  • Include the noise reduction nozzle! This is an option when ordering the Xlerator dryer, and it significantly reduces the noise.  Without it, the device is likely to frighten small children or disrupt conversations in adjacent rooms.
  • Inform your users. Excel has a simple online calculator that determines annual cost savings and environmental savings. Many users who complain about the dryers are not aware of their benefits.  Use the calculator and include a small sign that shows the actual savings for your dryers. A sign may read:

“By using these dryers instead of paper towels, we eliminate 550lb of waste, save 12,331 gallons of water, save 10 trees, reduce our carbon footprint by 1278.58 kgs CO2 eq., and save $1,260.00 each year.”

I always carefully consider the tone of any signage and I craft it to be appropriate for the building, client, and users. Most occupants will appreciate being “informed” but will resent being “educated” in a public toilet room.

  • Ditch the paper towel dispenser. If you include both a dryer and a paper towel dispenser, many users will choose paper towels. This can negate the cost savings that you will realize if you only install the dryer.
  • Pay attention to the wall material. Many small toilet rooms have dryers that are surface mounted on painted wall board. With these dryers, the velocity of air is greater, and water from hands will splash on the wall. Some occupants complain about ‘unsanitary conditions’ when in fact, what they are seeing is this unsightly wall splatter.  I recommend including a stainless wall panel, tile, or other cleanable surface at the location of an Xlerator dryer and training cleaning staff to wipe the surface. The Dyson Airblade is self contained and usually does not have wall splatter problems, but because it is accessed from the top, different mounting heights may be needed in toilet rooms that serve both children and adults.
This paper towel dispenser is conveniently installed on a partition adjacent to the sink.

This paper towel dispenser is conveniently installed on a partition adjacent to the sink.

The Dyson Airblade is on the opposite side of the partition. Shame on them!

The Dyson Airblade is on the opposite side of the partition. Shame on them!

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