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Dalén was born in Stenstorp, in present day Falköping municipality, Sweden.

He managed the family farm, which he expanded to include a market garden, a seed merchants and a dairy.

In 1892 he invented a milk-fat tester to check milk quality of the milk delivered. Gustaf de Laval was so impressed by the self-taught Dalén that he encouraged him to start studying.

He was admitted to the Chalmers University of Technology where he earned his Master's degree and a Doctorate on leaving in 1896.

Dalén married Elma Persson in 1901, they had two daughters and two sons, Gunnar and Anders

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