1. Chamber Vacuum Sealers
Vacuum sealers that contain chambers in which you place a bag with the items you wish to seal up are called chamber vacuum sealers. They differ, not only in how they look, but also how they function. The bag of perishables is placed inside and the air is pulled from the chamber. While they can typically produce a higher degree of vacuum, they are rather limited in the volume that can be sealed at a time (depending on if you get a counter top or professional grade model).
2. External Vacuum Sealers
As the name implies, external vacuum sealers do not use chambers and, in most models, barely touch the bag containing the food. While specifics may vary, the general concept is to pull the air from just inside the back before sealing it in some fashion. This means that they tend to be more flexible with how large a bag they can seal, but carry the common downfall of not getting as strong a vacuum as chambered models.
1. Size & Capacity
While most at home models, and many professional models, are designed to fit on the average countertop, the actual capacity of the vacuum sealer can vary. Depending on if it is a chambered or external style model, the limitation may not always be easy to determine. When shopping for a vacuum sealer, consider how much counter space you are able, or willing, to dedicate to it, or opt to purchase a model that is designed for easy storage.
2. Costs of the Bags
Outside of the size and style of the vacuum sealer, the types and costs of the bags used with it is a major feature that can really impact the value of a vacuum sealer. There are many different styles of bags, some are extremely cost effective, as they are sold in bulk at most grocery stores, while others only work with special, brand-only bags that can really add up in costs. When considering a model of vacuum sealer, determine how much you plan to use it and figure in the projected costs of bags. Don’t just look for something that seems like a great deal, look for something that in the long run won’t cost you too much money on bags. This video shows an easy way to safe money using less expensive bags for your machine:
Both home and professional quality vacuum sealers that do well in terms of customer satisfaction tend to have easy to clean setups. Being able to simply wipe off a small portion, if need be, or being able to access internal areas easily is a feature that many buyers do not think about until the need arises. When shopping for a vacuum sealer, consider how often a device lists as needing maintenance, or how easy it is to clean should a mess occur. Look for models that either rate themselves as “easy to clean” or that have bags with a good reputation for not failing.
One of the best known names in home vacuum sealing systems, FoodSaver has been around for over a decade. Their infomercial campaign is one aspect that many people are familiar with, as well as their reputation for delivering on the promise of saving and quality. They offer a wide selection of products, from very basic external vacuum sealers, to commercial quality models that handle a wider range of vacuum sealing, such as bag and canister sealing. They have multiple best selling products, including the FoodSaver V2244 basic system and their FoodSaver 4840 Two in One model, which allows for a wider range of sealing.
An interesting point to note about the Seal-A-Meal brand vacuum sealer is that it is produced by the same parent company as FoodSaver. While both are marketed as unique brand names, both Seal-A-Meal and FoodSaver brand vacuum sealers are backed by the Sunbeam corporation. What this means is that you have the same level of quality production in two different brands, but the Seal-A-Meal tends to be more economical due to its lack of a PR campaign. One thing to note though, is that the Seal-A-Meal vacuum sealer has two models that vary in size, but the standard and better rated model is their FSSMSL0160-000 model.
A well known name in kitchen appliances, Cuisinart’s VS-100 is comparable to FoodSaver’s V2244. While they do not expand their product line beyond a single model of vacuum sealer, they do follow the adage, “If you are going to do something, do it right.” Forgoing frills, the VS-100 considered a reliable and quality standard external vacuum sealer.
Ziploc is a brand well known around the kitchen for making sturdy and securely sealing storage bags and containers. They offer two variations of a vacuum sealing device, one that is a standard countertop machine (the white V151 and black V251). They also sell a small hand held device that is used only with a corresponding line of bags, however it is not really comparable to other vacuum sealers, as it is just a manual pump to help evacuate the air from specially designed bags. Their actual vacuum sealer is rated comparable to other brands, it is compatible with bags and rolls, and offers the option for attachments, which are features that many people look for in a standard machine.
Of all the brands for vacuum sealers, Weston is one that caters to both professional and home quality vacuum sealers. They have several models available, such as their popular home model (Weston Pro 2300), which tend to be more expensive than other brands, but delivers a professional quality machine for at home use. Part of how they manage to have such a successful line of products is the company’s dedication to food processing products. Unlike other companies that produce vacuum sealers, Weston’s entire product catalog consists of several types of food processing machinery. They may not specialize in just vacuum sealers, but what they do specialize in is making high quality products for the home and professional kitchen.
Another company that focuses on a single type of product, ARY Inc. is responsible for the VacMaster and Kapoosh brands of vacuum sealers. Unlike other companies that focus on vacuum sealers, the VacMaster brand has lines for home, professional, and both chamber and external styles of vacuum sealers. Their numerous lines of products are capable of meeting both small and large volume of vacuum sealing, and come with fairly high ratings from customers in general.
1. Attachments & Accessories
One key point that differentiates standard vacuum sealers (external and chamber style) from more professional quality machines is the ability to work with attachments and accessories. These typically include adapters that allow for canisters and jars to be vacuum sealed, as well as different types of bags. If you want the most versatility when it comes to storing perishables, look for models that include or can be used with different accessories that broaden the types of containers it can vacuum seal.
2. Drip Tray & Angled Surface
While vacuum sealing is really popular for solid foods, liquids and juicier types of perishables may require more than a basic vacuum sealing machine. If you plan to store liquid, or saturated solids, with an external style sealer, look for models that feature some type of drop tray to help catch excesses fluids that will inevitably be pulled out during the sealing process. (Almost all professional grade external vacuum sealers will have one.) For chamber style sealers, to accommodate liquid, or juicy items being sealed, look for models that have an angled surface on the interior (so the bag can lean upright instead of flopping over and spilling out).
3. Sealing Bar Size
For external vacuum sealing machines, the typical design will include a bar that is lifted to allow the end of the bag being sealed to pass through into the mouth of the vacuum, and closes down during the sealing process. The size of the bar not only determines the capacity of the bag that can be used with the machine, but also the type(rolls versus pre-cut bags). The average range for the sealing bar is between 5” to 16”, with some models being even longer. For the most variety, look for models that have at least a 10” sealing bar.
4. Single Versus Double Seal
Not only is the size of the sealing bar an indication for the machine’s capacity, it is also the point at which the bag is sealed once the air has been removed. All models will accommodate at least a single line of sealing, but what really differentiates professional and standard quality devices, are those that can provide a double line of sealing. Perishables that require a higher than normal degree of vacuum, should be prepared with a machine that can create a double seal. The extra layer of protection provides a superior lock against the seal being broken and air exposure. If you plan to pack foods that can be extremely sensitive to air, or if you really want to be sure your foods remained sealed away tight, look for models that have the option to create double seals.
5. Gas Injection
While all vacuum sealers are designed to pull the air inside a space out (in particular oxygen), some commercial chamber vacuum sealers, can inject specific gases into a bag. In particular, some perishables benefit from being sealed in with nitrogen, which can further extent the life and freshness of the item. The drawback to this type of feature is the hefty price tag. However, for those looking for a commercial machine for their professional use, series such as the VacMaster VP320 and above lines, are examples to look for in both vacuum sealing and gas injection.