Review 2021 – Warner Howard Airforce Hand Dryer

The Warner Howard Airforce hand dryer has been the best-selling hand dryer in the UK over the last 14 years. Although its popularity has declined a little in the last few years it still remains one of the most specified, most requested dryers. The Airforce is available in black, polished chrome, brushed satin or white, all finishes are applied to a plastic casing. It has a unique design using 11 jets of air to provide an all-over drying experience. We ask, has the Airforce stood up to the test of time?

From £299.99 + VAT

Value

At almost £300 we think there are much better value hand dryers on the market. At the time of the Warner Howard Airforce’s launch in the mid 2000’s, high speed, energy-efficient hand dryers were sold at a premium. Fast-forward to 2021 and there are so many makes and models that perform better and are available at a lower price. The one redeeming factor is that this is covered by a 3-year on-site warranty which definitely adds value when you consider the cost of an electrician. There are however other dryers available with a 3-year warranty that will dry faster and cost less than half the price.

Dry Speed

The Airforce feels fast enough when you are using it, but we found that it isn’t actually that effective when put to the test. The big advantage of the Airforce is that it is enjoyable to use, giving the sensation of a gentle hand massage. Our test showed that it took consistently over 20 seconds to get hands, hygienically dry. The Dryflow® G-Force Mark II and Mitsubishi Jet Towel SMART are both around the same price and dry in half the time.

Energy Efficiency

Calculating the energy efficiency of a dryer depends on 2 things, rated power and the dry speed.

The Airforce Dryer has a rated power of 1.1kw and a per dry consumption of 6.7 watt/hours. This is good in comparison with traditional dryers that use 20-30 watt/hours per dry, but 60-70% more energy than the most energy-efficient hand dryers on the market. 1000 dries would cost approximated £1.10 which is a 90% saving vs paper towels.

Quiet Operation

80 dB(A) at 1 metre is the manufacturers stated noise level, which is at the higher end for a hand dryer. It is worth mentioning that hand dryers are often louder in real environments than the test data shows, this is because sound bounces off surfaces and amplifies to different degrees depending on the design of the washroom. High-powered dryers often get a little louder when the airflow comes into contact with the hands. In testing, the Airforce hand dryer didn’t dramatically spike, only rising to 84 dB(A) max. Due to the air dispersion across multiple outlets, the speed coming out of each outlet is not excessive but this certainly isn’t a dryer for noise-sensitive areas.

Vandal Resistance

The Airforce hand dryer is compact and shaped in such a way that it doesn’t allow any grip. It has security screws which make removal difficult for anyone who doesn’t know what they are doing. The plastic is tough and heavily impact resistant. These dryers have been situated in pubs up and down the country for years and have stood up well.

Life Expectancy

The Airforce has an 800-hour motor-life which is pretty poor given the cost of the unit, this is the minimum we would expect for a budget unit priced in the £80 to £140 bracket. 800 hours gives about 130,000 dries, which will still last many years in most locations, but there are similarly priced and cheaper dryers that will last well in excess of 500,000 dries. For £100 more you can buy a Mediclinics Machflow Brushless Motor hand dryer with a 20-year guarantee

Environment

The Airforce doesn’t have a great lifespan which means it will need replacing every 3-5 years in a busy location, this obviously means waste and manufacturing emissions being created. There are options at a similar price level that would last up to 20 times longer.

The embedded carbon in the Airforce is only about 17.2kg/co2 so it would start to generate Co2 emissions savings by the time it had been used just 1000 times vs paper. By 10,000 uses the Airforce will have created 1/3 of the emissions of using paper towels. Each dry generates 1.35 grams of Co2 based on the current UK grid mix, vs 15-25 grams Co2 generated by each dry with paper towels.

Conclusion

The Warner Howard Airforce is a decent dryer and lead the way as an affordable, high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryer for many years. It still has a really attractive design and often people buy on looks and familiarity rather than technical specifications. If we look at actual performance and value, there are just so many dryers that dry faster, use less energy, last longer and are quieter, for this reason, we suggest looking for better value before blindly buying another replacement.

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Warner Howard Airforce Hand Dryer
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