Must buy a new vacuum sealer. Suggestions?

bellsmomJuly 9, 2014

I recently purchased a(rebuilt) basic FoodSaver vacuum sealer that is a dud. After sealing two bags, it quits and has to rest for 20 minutes. It replaced a Sous Vide Supreme that came free with my Sous Vide setup and worked well for several years.

I am looking for possible replacement for the FoodSaver, I am tempted by the Weston 65-0501-W, which Cooks Illustrated rates quite highly.

I don't want lots of bells and whistles. Just reliability and a strong vacuum and seal.

Any suggestions?

Here is a link that might be useful: the Weston on Amazon

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foodonastump

Foodsavers have warrantees ranging from 1,5,10 years to lifetime, depending on model. Doesn't answer your question but figured it worth mentioning.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 8:00PM
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dcarch7

"-----which Cooks Illustrated rates quite highly.----"

One thing about Cooks Illustrated reviews, they can't review reliability very well. Which is the most important consideration for a food vacuum.

dcarch

This post was edited by dcarch on Thu, Jul 10, 14 at 9:08

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 7:25AM
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arley_gw

I went overboard with mine, and I'm glad I went ahead and took the plunge. The Ary VacMaster Pro 305 is a heavy duty workhorse. I got mine through Web Restaurant Store via Amazon for around $250. It's comparable in price to the higher end FoodSavers. I've had mine for about a year and it consistently works well. I can seal a bunch of bags without having to shut it down to rest.

It's really heavy, seems to be built well. The site at the link has a lot of other vacuum seal stuff (bags in bulk, etc.) at reasonable prices. The VacMaster Pro 305 lists for $349 but is available at different places for around $250. So far, I'm really pleased with it.

Here is a link that might be useful: VacMaster Pro 305

This post was edited by arley on Thu, Jul 10, 14 at 9:12

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 9:03AM
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bellsmom

dcarch,
Yes, I know Cooks Illustrated doesn't/can't evaluate reliability. I've seen that weakness in their evaluations before--when I had first hand knowledge of problems. In this case, I can't find anything on the smaller Weston 65-0501-W (the one I am considering), not even a single review on Amazon, although several are listed there. It must be new? I hope someone here has first hand info about it.

Arly, thanks for linking the VacMaster Pro 305. I am willing to spend this much, and this is (just barely) of a size I can store. The reviews I can find speak very well of it. I had also read very good things about Lisa and Vacuum Sealers Unlimited. Definitely worth considering.

The device listed below is listed on their site. Nice, thought-out design.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vacuum sealer prep plate

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 10:36AM
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sleevendog

Frustrating when they fail after getting all set up. Or start showing signs of it over time.
I posted earlier when mine gave up and read to soak the two long gaskets for a few hours.
It worked perfectly until they dried out. New gaskets are 8 bucks on their website.
Bought another while i figured it out...i'll take the old repaired one to the summer home.

Never again though. Sometimes stepping up in quality proves worth it for so many appliances. (not always)...just most of the time.
Blenders, coffee grinders...
Most important is customer support in and out of warranty.
So many reviews are posted after a short time like dcarch mentioned. Easy to wade through the junk ones on Amazon. (those that don't read manuals or trouble-shooting advice)
I do like the side-by-side comparisons. Pointing out some things one would not usually experience.

Love WEBstaurant, if that is what was mentioned above. Zippy shipping. And 'as described'. Never needed to deal with a return so not sure about that.

Not much help but report back your decision and how you like it.

-I now have a quality blender and restaurant quality coffee grinder...both fantastic.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 12:23PM
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bellsmom

Arly
I just spoke to Lisa at Vacuum Sealers Unlimited. As I have heard often, she is VERY helpful.

I wanted comparison info on the VacMaster305 and the 260. She gave that generously and also explained that, although she is a Weston dealer, she no longer sells Weston merchandise and could not comment on the Weston sealer.

She is also a sponsor of Smoking Meats Forums and offers a coupon good on purchases to members of that forum, which I will list below.

I am currently leaning toward the VacMaster for several reasons: Arly's recommendation, excellent reviews overall; bought through Lisa, great support available both at VacMaster's site and at VacuumSealersUnlimited. The 305 is an inch or so shorter and narrower than the less expensive 260, and since I will store it standing on its side on the counter, that is desirable. The 305 has a transparent lid that allows exact positioning of the film. The 260 stores rolls, the 305 does not. (I don't particularly care to store rolls because I believe that the automatic advance is more wasteful of material.)

Still hoping for word from someone who owns the Weston, though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Smoking Meats Forum

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 12:44PM
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bellsmom

Sleevendog,
I missed your entry while I was typing the one above. I agree that sometimes it is best to upgrade. For me, this is one of those times. I'm good on blender and mixer, but still using the old Capresso bur grind coffee grinder. It is OK, but when it quits. . . .
I am curious. What coffee grinder did you choose?

I promise to post my vacuum sealer choice when I finally decide AND a follow up of my opinion after some use.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:52PM
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dcarch7

For a vacuum sealer, generally is is a motor driving some gears to push a small reciprocating piston to draw air out thru a one-way valve.

Unlike a blender, It makes no difference in performance whether the motor is very powerful or not, as long as it is powerful enough to overcome 15 lbs per square inch of atmospheric pressure of the piston size.

In other words, a 1000 horse power motor will draw the same vacuum as a 1 horse power motor.

dcarch

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 3:25PM
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bellsmom

dcarch--
That makes sense. I assume it might take longer with a smaller motor, but the end result should be the same, given the adequate initial power. But can you please explain how this affects my choices?

Which vacuum sealer would you choose if you were I?--for reliability (I want lots), features (I know of many I want), cost (I'm flexible, but don't want to go much over $200), space (no room for one of the big ones), support (from dealer and manufacturer), and anything else you can think of.

And, for that matter which would you choose (NOT build!!) if you were you?

What would you recommend? And why?

This post was edited by Bellsmom on Thu, Jul 10, 14 at 16:58

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 4:54PM
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dcarch7

I brought that up because they mentioned the motor is 210 watts.

The way to test is, if you can get to try one out. Using the suction tube, you put your finger to block the tube, and if you don't hear the motor slowing down significantly, that will mean the motor is powerful enough.

The three components which fail most frequently are the valve sticking, the vacuum sensor fails or the heating tape burnt out. Since most makers of vacuum sealers are just assemblers of parts made in the Far East, how good a unit you can buy depends a lot on luck also.

I got mine (second hand unit) from Goodwill for $5.00. It has been in heavy use for 10 years. Still going strong.

dcarch

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 5:11PM
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sleevendog

"...depends on a lot of luck also."

So true. And why researching a purchase can be frustrating. Estate sales/tag sales/thrift store finds can often be worth taking a chance for a few dollars. But that is just luck, finding what you want when you need it.
Stumbled, by chance, on a web/home shopping club hoarder that wanted to garden and learn to cook but failed at both. Garage full of gardening tools and kitchen packed. Sold at 5% of value. Crazy. Probably could have returned most of it. "nope, packing the car and moving to Florida."

My grinder is the Bunn LPG. Brilliant. Took an hour 5yrs ago to set the proper grind and our preferred amount for one pot of coffee. One tap of the switch and it does just that.
Sits on a pantry shelf at counter height. Hit the switch and hold for a manual amount of half a pot.
A shelf in the garage, the appliance graveyard, gets a grrrr and stink-eye....

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:28AM
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bellsmom

Dcarch,
A bit of luck indeed. Don't know where I can see, much less try out, either VacMaster or Weston. Guess it WILL be a coin toss.

Sleevendog,
A lovely treasure hunt you must have had with the hoarder's garage and kitchen! My seldom-used or upgraded appliances seem always to find a home with relatives or younger friends whose shelves have more open space than mine! When the wonderful KitchenAid stand mixer moved in with me, my 30-year-old stainless steel Sunbeam went to live with my DDIL. It was a workhorse when I bought it and still looked new and functioned perfectly. Wish vacuum sealers did the same.

Drat!! I much prefer making an informed decision rather than tossing a coin. Heads its VacMaster, Tails its Weston. GRRRRrrr and stink-eye (Thanks, Sleevendog for that useful phrase!), indeed.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 9:32AM
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dcarch7

Just a general concept:

When you buy a new car, they always tell you to go slow the first 1000 miles.

The same with any appliance which has moving parts.

It will make a big difference on how long the appliance will last.

dcarch

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 9:40AM
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bellsmom

Good guideline, Dcarch. I will follow it. Thank you.

I just SVed a beef tenderloin sealed with my current FS. It refused to get a really tight initial vacuum, and after cooking the meat moved around easily in the bags and pockets of air were visible in every package. Not acceptable.

I will probably place an order this afternoon. Hope someone who has hands on experience with a Weston will chime in.

Thanks again, Arley, for your sharing your experience with the VacMaster.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:22AM
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Islay_Corbel

Just t chime in - I have a modest foodsaver and it seems to be packing everything very well. It's a V2040. Hav only sealed about a dozen packages so far but I must say I'm very happy with it.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 12:30AM
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bellsmom

Thank you, islay.
I have liked the performance of some of the basic FS vacuums (which I prefer to the bells and whistles models), but I hesitated to buy another since so many seem to fail after a year or so. My last one stopped pulling adequate air, and I really did not like having to freeze a whole SVed ribeye that was sliced into meal-sized sections and vacuum packed with inadequate suction so that a little air remained in each. Better than I could do with a bowl of water and a zip lock bag, I guess, but not good enough.

And then there are those like Dcarch who can use a thrift shop sealer for years with no problem!

Ah, well. I decided on the VacMaster because its good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, Vacuum Sealers Unlimited's good price including a 10% discount and their excellent reputation for support. It is ordered and on the way. It is pricey, but I hope it will be worth it.

And I HOPE this is the last vacuum sealer I will have to buy. I will, as Dcarch suggested, break it in gently and treat it well!!
Maybe I'll be lucky :-) and have one of those fabled sealers that are still going strong after 20 years!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 7:54AM
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plllog

Congrats on your decision! I hope you'll give regular reports as you learn its personality.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:48PM
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gailmr

Bellsmom, which VacMaster did you end up with and were you able to whip it into shape!? We have had a VacMaster for a few years and love it. The nice thing is that it's not disposable and can actually be serviced.

I am trying to find one for a neighbor who wants to get one for his wife for Christmas. Mine is no longer available, so I'm searching and searching!!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2014 at 6:57PM
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bellsmom

So much for promising I would post an evaluation after I used my new sealer. I totally forgot to do so.

I splurged on the Ary VacmasterPro 305, buying it from their website. It was by far the best price I could find at the time. I preferred it to the 350 because I store it in a vertical position on my countertop where it takes up only 3 or 4" of space horizontally. I do have to store it carefully because the lift-up sealing section falls upon when it is stood upright on the back. Not a problem--that side goes to the wall which holds it together.

I do not think they still sell this model. The 350 is significantly thicker and would require as much as 7 or so inches of horizontal storage when stood on end. The 305 is not available on Amazon either so it may no longer be available.

I have used mine with the old FoodSaver and Sous Vide Supreme bags, with some bags I bought on line, and with the provided bags from Ary. No problems with any of them--although I did have to shorten the sealing (not vacuuming) time because it was melting all the way through the bags.

I cut bags from a roll to the length I want (or select a pre-used one) and seal one end, then vacuum and seal the second end. I waste far less this way than if I was using a machine with stored roll dispenser. I can seal the first end with about 1/2 of waste. (I leave less waste than the 305 video on the VacMaster website shows.) Then I cut the bag 6 or so inches longer than I need and use Dcarch's system of wrapping the food in an unused produce bag from the grocery produce department before inserting it into the vacuum bag. Finally I vacuum seal the second end of the bag, again losing about 1/2" of bag, wrap the excess bag over the food, and stick it in the freezer.

Because this vacuum sealer seals a double line instead of a single one, I usually do not bother to seal twice, as I used to with the FoodSaver and SousVide sealers.

No problems with losing vacuum while frozen. Hasn't happened yet, anyway. And no problems with re-using the bags when the current food is removed. A quick wash and dry and I store the used bags until needed. I often get three or four uses from a single length, each time losing an inch or so to the sealing process. Makes my stingy heart happy. These suckers are expensive.

Occasionally the inner bag leaks when I sous vide meat. Doesn't affect the vacuum at all, of course. These used bags are usually pitched unless the leakage was very slight because it is hard to be certain all of the gunk is washed out.

Overall I am very pleased with the sealer and would buy the same again.

Hope this info is useful, although I think it has all been said by others before.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2014 at 4:13PM
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