Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Airblades of Glory, or, blowing hot air

We all want to help the planet by consuming fewer resources, whatever those resources may be. We at DA have been hearing about energy-saving and resource-saving washroom accessories for a long time. We usually see these in two forms: one, an automatic paper towel dispenser that uses recycled paper in the towels and only distributes a certain amount of towel by the user waving their hand in front of a sensor; or two, a hand dryer that blows air and supposedly uses less energy and no paper at all. For the most part, the healthcare facilities I work with prefer the touchless paper towel dispensers. They've found that air hand dryers can't produce a hot enough blast of air to kill germs and keep people's hands germ free, and most folks find that these dryers don't fully dry your hands in set mount of time that the air blows--you end up drying your hands on your pants, which is hardly sanitary. Really, though, it's the mechanical action of rubbing your hands over each other that gets rid of germs. Hence, plain old soap and rubbing your hands together, then rubbing your hands with a paper towel gets them hospital clean. But the air dryers mean less work for your housekeeping facilities people--they don't have to empty that trash can once or twice a day.

Supposedly, Dyson--the company that makes those we-never-lose-our-sucking-power vacuum cleaners--has solved the problem of underperforming hand dryers with their Airblade hand dryer that uses super-high-pressure hot air to dry a person's hands, and the air will blast as long as it senses a person's hands. Supposedly, the high-pressure air blasts will dry your hands much faster than a regular air dryer that uses an electric eye to sense hands under it, thereby using less energy.

I recently saw one in a toilet room. It was even mounted low enough for someone in a wheelchair to use.

I put my hands in it (bottom picture) and let it dry my hands, and it was in fact really high-pressure air, and it was comfortably warm. Not bad. But I'm here to tell y'all that it made a helluva noise. A woman in the bathroom with me started asking me something, and all I was was her lips moving like she was a Weather Channel reporter standing in Key West with 110-mph winds blowing around her. The dryer mostly seemed to blow the air clean off myhands.

I walked out of the ladies' room, and Kellye was looking at me funny. "What the hell was that? Did you have one of those Airblades in your restroom too?" he asked. "It sounded like a 747 was taking off in there!" Bear in mind that he heard this through a couple of walls and a door. Evidently, there was one in the men's room he had just been in, but he didn't use it--they also had paper towels, which he gladly and unobtrusively used.

"It nearly blew my hands off," I remarked. "Christ, I know it keeps paper out of a landfill, but how much electricity does it take to power that jet engine?"

"Sutherland and I were talking about those," Norman replied. We three had been out to lunch, and Norman was the only one not to use the restroom afterwards, apparently having a bladder the size of Wyoming. "He said that the Airblade starts at $1500."

Kellye coughed painfully. "$1500?! For a hand dryer?" he sputtered. "Hell, I can buy blue jeans for $25 at TJ Maxx that produce the same result, and for about 80 decibels less."

I shook my head. "You can sell people anything if it plugs in and makes a whirring noise," I commented. "Just call it 'earth-friendly' and people will fall for it."

So, the Airblade does indeed dry your hands thoroughly and quickly, but it's so loud I'm having a hard time seeing its use in anything but a large commercial or institutional space. Otherwise, I say keep your pants on.

1 comment:

BaxtersMum said...

But my Dyson Vacuum cleaner is the shizzle, my friend. IT is the best thing ever - espesh if you have the kittehs.

So I'd be will to try the airblades of glory.

And I would like a Segway too, if you're shopping for me.