If you're looking into buying a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer, chances are, you weigh which vacuum pump you should get. After all, the price difference between the two is double the vacuum oil pump, which can be too much for some. Now the Harvest Right Oil-free Vacuum Pump offers a certain level of convenience, making it its selling point. But is it worth the extra $1800?
What makes the Oil Free Vacuum Pump Special?
Before weighing whether the Harvest Right Oil Free Vacuum Pump is worth the investment, let's take a look at what it can do.
In a nutshell, the Oil Free Vacuum Pump takes out all the inconvenience you have with the regular Vacuum Pump. While it takes only three minutes to do the oil change in a regular vacuum pump, this process can be tedious for some, as there are other processes involved.
Oil-Free Vacuum Pumps also need less maintenance. You don't need to disassemble the vacuum pump for maintenance. Regular vacuum pumps, meanwhile, require periodic disassembly for maintenance.
You also use less energy when using oil-free vacuum pumps. Everyone wants to save power, especially as Freeze Dryers take anywhere from 20 to 40 hours of operation to complete a batch. You want to use less electricity to keep costs low and not skyrocket your electricity bill.
On the downside, the oil-free vacuum pump is louder than the oil-based pump. That should be a consideration if noise matters to you.
Comparing Cost of Usage
Each Harvest Right freeze dryer comes with a free Premier Oil Vacuum Pump. On its own, that already makes the cost cheap, since you don't need to spend extra for it. When you choose the oil-based vacuum pump, you also need to buy oil to go with it. For the most part, you only need around 600 ml of refined mineral oil. You'll probably spend approximately $25-30 per liter of oil.
With that in mind, you'll have to top up with another bottle when you consume your first load to meet the 600 ml needed. That should set you back by at most $60, but for three fills, or around $20 per change oil.
According to Harvest Right, you need to change the oil on their premium vacuum pump after every 20-25 uses of the freeze dryer. Others recommend changing the oil after every 100 hours of service since the dirt varies on the material inside the freeze dryer. But to help you decide when to change oil, if it starts looking dark brown or black, then it's time to change the oil. However, you can get more mileage with your oil by filtering it after every use. You might not make it go beyond 25 uses, but you can at least save a little more by not changing too early.
You get a return on investment after half a year
The main reason why one would buy a freeze dryer is to regularly have food preserved without any compromise in the nutritional quality. That said, if a family of four had a freeze dryer ready to eat meals in minutes for the weekdays, that would entail around 12 pounds of food for freeze-drying.
With that considered, you'll probably run your freeze dryer twice a week, which should fall under regular use. You are likely to change the oil after the 100th hour, approximately around four uses, or two weeks at 25 hours. With $60 of oil for three changes, that should get you around 6 weeks' worth of oil.
In a year, you'll probably spend around $480 in oil alone. On top of that, you'll have to take apart the vacuum pump for maintenance during an oil change. The process is easy, with a negligible cost, but you have to consider the disposal of the used oil, which can go as much as $15 per liter.
All in all, you're looking at $15 for every oil change that happens every two weeks or $360 a year. Add in the cost of oil annually, and you'll be spending $840 a year. When compared to the add-on cost of the oil-free vacuum pump, currently priced at $1790, you get a return on investment after half a year.
Now, is the Harvest Right Oil-Free Pump Worth It?
Home users who regularly freeze-dry will find the oil-free pump a worthy investment, considering that you cover the costs within a year. It may cost extra upfront, but when you look at the added benefits, such as lower power consumption, you have yourself a good deal.
If you're the type who only freeze-dries twice or even just once a month, then the oil-free vacuum pump might not be worth it unless you don't mind spending extra. The advantage is that you don't have to worry about getting oil, and you can quickly freeze dry food spontaneously.
Now, it's a different story altogether for the pharmaceutical and commercial-grade freeze dryers. An oil-free vacuum pump is highly recommended, as you want to lower your overhead costs. You're likely to change the oil more frequently, which entails more oil consumption. That said, the oil-free vacuum pump should be a must-have.
It's recommended to base your need on the Harvest Right Oil Free Vacuum Pump on the frequency of how you use your freeze dryer. If you don't see yourself using it regularly, it will gather dust and possibly break down if not used.
The added cost of the pump is quite a lot compared to the stock vacuum pump that comes with your freeze dryer. That's why you need to evaluate your needs before clicking that add button to your order.