The Tool Geeks

Heat Gun vs Hair Dryer: Do You Know The Difference?

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You may be asking: Can I use a hair dryer instead of a heat gun?

I receive many questions and see many articles asking if a hair dryer can be used in place of a heat gun for certain applications such as shrink wrapping or paint drying. A hair dryer and a heat gun look similar and work in the same way of blowing heated air but the similarities end there. Each have key differences and uses that I explain below.

What’s The Difference Between Heat Gun vs Hairdryers?

Let's start by first talking about heat guns.

What are heat guns?

Learning what heat guns are is important. You can use them for a lot of projects. They look like a hairdryer, but the difference between a hairdryer and a heat gun is huge.

As I mentioned in my main Heat Gun article, heat guns blow air at much hotter temperatures towards a targeted area and require safety precautions to use.  Their typical temperature range is from 100 to 1300 degrees F / 37 to 700 degrees C.  Heat guns are manufactured as power tools and have a more durable fan and motor that can sustain a continual blowing of heated air for long periods of time.  And usually heat guns have more temperature and fan speed, or airflow, settings.  Plus, heat guns come with different nozzles designed to target air to a specific area.

Due to their hotter temperatures and durability, heat guns can finish a task such as paint drying, window tinting, and shrink wrapping in a much shorter time period.


What are hairdryers/blowers?

A hair dryer looks like a heat gun. They have the same concept but are used for different tasks.

Hair dryers are manufactured for drying hair with much lower temperatures, usually 70 to 140 degrees F / 21 to 60 degrees C, to avoid burns, and their fans and motors are designed to blow air for shorter periods of time.  Hair dryers usually have less temperature and fan speed settings as well.  Plus, they usually have a much larger nozzle designed to scatter air, which is the better way to dry your hair.

However, the hair dryer is a common tool that many people will have in their home, and since can a hair dryers’ maximum temperature overlaps with the minimum temperature of heat guns, I receive many questions about the use of a hair dryer for heat-based projects.

Can you use a hair dryer instead of a heat gun?

You can use a hair dryer for low temperature projects, such as:

  • Removing stickers and sticky labels
  • Removing wax from furniture
  • Removing crayon marks
  • Removing wallpaper
  • Some paint drying
  • Maybe some shrink wrapping

But be warned that it will take you double or triple the amount of time vs. a heat gun.  And continual use of the hair dryer will cause it to overheat and wear out its fan and motor faster.

But why use a heat gun instead of a hair dryer?  Again, the higher temperatures and the more durable fan and motor to produce sustained airflow.

Typical heat gun projects and their required temperatures are:

  • Paint drying, recommend at least 200 degrees F / 93 C
  • Shrink wrapping and molding plastic, at least 250 degrees F / 121 C
  • Removing or stripping paint, at least 700 degrees F / 371 C
  • Thawing frozen pipes, at least 1,000 degrees F / 537 C


Besides shrink wrapping and removing paint, you can use heat guns for cell phone repair.  And here you can learn how to remove paint with heat guns.  The point I make is that you only have to be a little creative and you can use heat guns for almost everything.

Now, this brings us to the digital heat guns. From my personal experience, I prefer heat guns that have an LCD display or digital display. Why? Well, because if you have the LCD one, you won’t need to put your hand between the object and the heat gun to check if the temperature is good for your project. With an LCD display, you can see temperature that is reached.

Going back to the main point of this article:  You can use a hair dryer for some of the lower temperature projects, if you don’t mind taking extra time to complete the project and possibly ruining your hair dryer.  But please don’t ever try the other way and use a heat gun for drying hair!

If you are now ready to buy a heat gun and keep your hair dryer for drying hair, see my reviews of the best digital heat guns and the best heat guns for paint removal.  And if you are working outside or in areas without a plug, see my reviews of the best cordless heat guns.


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