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Most hair dryers use bare, coiled nichrome wire wound around mica boards for insulation as their heating element.

Nickel and chromium are the two metals that make up nichrome wire. This alloy is found in the heating components of many domestic appliances, such as toasters and curling irons. Nichrome wire generates heat well due to two characteristics:

When it comes to conducting electricity, it’s not as good as copper wire. Because of this, the alloy has sufficient resistance to heat up from all of the current passing through it.

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Heat does not cause it to oxidize. At the temperatures seen in hair dryers and toasters, other metals, such as iron, rust very rapidly.

The design of the hair dryer shell forces the airflow produced by the fan through the heating element. Heat moves from the nichrome wire to the air when the air first enters the barrel because it is considerably colder than the wire. The cycle is repeated when cooler air replaces the air that was pushed forward by the fan and convection.

The following factors determine how hot the dryer’s air may get:

the amount of electricity used to heat the element. More heat is produced and released into the air by the heating element at higher wattages. Modern hair dryers may emit up to 2,000 watts of heat, drying hair far faster than their predecessors, which could only create approximately 100 watts of heat.The power supply is varied by hair dryers with high and low heat settings to adjust the airflow temperature. These types are wired such that the heating element’s supply circuit can be partially shut off by flipping a switch.

the amount of time the nichrome wire-heated air stays in the dryer’s barrel. The majority of hair dryers set a maximum of one and a half seconds to avoid overheating the air.

These days, hair dryers with a ceramic coating on the heating element are more common. Ceramic-coated heating elements are available in a range of designs and are said to heat more efficiently and uniformly. It’s also common to add elements like crushed tourmaline to the ceramic, which is supposed to promote ion formation and optimal heat transfer.

See all the safety mechanisms that are incorporated into hair dryers and how they work to avoid potentially fatal situations like overheating and fires by turning to the next page.

Safety of Hair Dryers

Hair dryers have a very simple core concept, but creating a large-scale product needs careful consideration of safety aspects. The potential abuse of their hair dryer must be anticipated by the manufacturers. Next, they strive to create a product that is safe under the greatest range of circumstances.

In addition to the ground fault circuit interrupters that were covered on the first page, hair dryers often possess the following additional safety features:

Safety cut-off switch: Temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit (around 60 degrees Celsius) have the potential to burn your scalp. Hair dryers contain some sort of heat sensor that shorts the circuit and turns off the motor when the temperature increases too much, ensuring that the air flowing out of the barrel never gets close to this degree. The cut-off switch on this hair drier and many others is a straightforward bimetallic strip.

A bimetallic strip is composed of two metal sheets that expand at different rates when heated. The strip warms up and bends as the temperature inside the hair drier rises because one of the metal sheets has become bigger than the other. It triggers a switch that turns off the hair dryer’s power when it reaches a particular point. Bimetallic strips are covered in more detail in How Thermometers Work.

Thermal fuse: The heating element circuit frequently has a thermal fuse installed in order to provide additional protection against overheating and fire. In the event of an abnormally high temperature and current, this fuse will blow, cutting off the circuit.

Insulation: The hair dryer’s exterior would get quite hot to the touch if it didn’t have enough insulation. It might burn your hand badly if you grabbed it by the barrel after using it. Hair dryers include an insulating material heat shield along the plastic barrel to stop this.

Protective screens: As the fan blades rotate, drawing air into the hair dryer, objects outside the appliance are also dragged in the direction of the air intake. For this reason, the air apertures on either side of the dryer are covered with a wire screen. Following prolonged usage of a hair dryer, a significant amount of lint will accumulate on the screen’s outside. The heated element in the hair dryer would burn this if it accumulated inside, and it may even jam the motor.You will still need to remove lint from the screen from time to time even with this screen installed. If the hair dryer’s airflow is obstructed by an excessive amount of lint, less air will be able to remove the heat produced by the nichrome coil or other heating element, causing the dryer to overheat. Some clothes dryer technology has been included into newer hair dryers, such as a detachable and easier-to-clean lint screen.

Front grill: A grill composed of material resistant to the heat generated by the hair dryer is placed over the end of the barrel. This screen prevents young children (or other particularly curious individuals) from sticking their fingers or other things into the dryer’s barrel, where they might burn themselves by coming into touch with the heated element.

Get your engine going on the following page with a plethora of intriguing links for additional details on different home appliances displaying their warm and fuzzy side, whether by toasting bread, drying clothing, or starting your automobile.