A chamber vacuum sealer can cost hundreds (or even thousands) more than an edge sealer.
This is the reason why, when most people think of a vacuum sealer, they think of an edge sealer. A lot of people don't even consider the more expensive option of a chamber sealer.
Even so, chamber vacuum sealers have gained popularity in recent years for several reasons, including:
- People are more aware of all the options than they used to be (thanks to the Internet)
- People are tired of re-purchasing "throw-away" edge sealers and want something more durable
- The rising popularity of sous vide cooking
- The falling prices of chamber vacuum sealers.
Yes: the prices of chamber sealers are falling. With the growing popularity of chamber vac sealers, the market's gotten more competitive, and prices have come down.
When I got my chamber vacuum sealer about 10 years ago, it cost more than $1000, and was hard to find online. That same model is now available on Amazon for around $700!
In fact, today there are chamber vacs on the market that cost hundreds less--and most are excellent products that I can enthusiastically recommend.
If you're considering a chamber vacuum sealer, or just wondering what sets them apart from edge sealers and if they're worth the extra $$$, read on: my goal is to answer all your questions. (And if I miss something, please send an email, or ask in the comments section below--I'm here to help!)
"Chamber Vacuum Sealer Reviews: The 4 Best Deals on Amazon" was updated August 2018.
Chamber Vacs: The Best Deals on Amazon at a Glance
If you just want to do a quick comparison of the cheapest chamber sealers and/or see them on Amazon, here's a table with the important info:
FoodKing Vacuum Sealer
-10x13" max bag
-Maintenance kit included
-Poor customer service
-No accessory port
-12x14" max bag
-Works under upper cupboards
-Maintenance free pump
-No accessory port
-11.5x13" max bag
-Maintenance free pump
-No accessory port
Why Spend More on a Chamber Vacuum Sealer?
- To save money on your food budget
- They don't need a cool-down period between seals
- They can seal liquids
- They're more durable than most edge sealers
- They pull better vacuum than most edge sealers
- They're not a "throwaway" product--and they're east to repair (if necessary)
- The bags are a lot cheaper than edge sealer bags.
To Save Money On Your Food Budget
Just like edge sealers, chamber vacuum sealers will help you save a lot of money on your food budget.
You can buy more items on sale for long-term freezer storage that's free of freezer burn.
You'll also throw out less food: leftovers, lunch meats, dairy, and produce all last longer when vacuum-sealed.
Dry goods last longer, too: flour, sugar, rice, beans, pasta, baking items--they all last longer and stay fresher in air-tight bags.
In fact, the average American family can save up to $2500 a year with a vacuum sealer.
(Note: This figure is from the FoodSaver website.)
Even if you save only half that figure, any of the vacuum sealers reviewed here will pay for themselves in less than half a year.
Yes, all of these points also apply to edge sealers--but read on for the other excellent reasons to get a chamber sealer.
They Don't Need a Cool-Down Period Between Seals
If you've owned an inexpensive edge sealer, you've surely been frustrated by the cool-down period necessary between seals, and the increasingly poor seals if used for a long time, even with cool downs. If you don't allow the machine to rest, it will overheat and be rendered incapable of pulling a vacuum. This can cause bulk sealing jobs to take a really, really long time--with a lot of sitting around doing nothing while waiting for the edge sealer to cool off.
Chamber vacuum sealers are designed precisely for heavy-duty use like bulk sealing. They have powerful pumps with a cooling feature that allows them to run for long periods without a break.
They Can Seal Liquids (Here's How)
Yes, it's true: a chamber vacuum sealer can seal liquids. You can literally seal a bag of soup, without a mess, and without freezing it first.
A chamber vacuum sealer works by evacuating air from inside a chamber (rather than inside a bag, like an edge sealer does). This means that everything inside the chamber has the same air pressure (or lack thereof). Because the pressure is equalized inside and outside the bag, the contents of the bag stay put--including liquids.
If you've ever tried to chamber seal a warm liquid, though, you know that it can make a real mess. This is not the same problem as liquids getting sucked into an edge sealer. This is the result of liquids boiling due to the extremely low pressure inside the chamber.
The warmer a liquid is, the greater the chance that it will reach its boiling point in a chamber vac--so always make sure your liquids are room temperature or cooler before sealing.
Make sure liquids are room temp or cooler before sealing in a chamber vac, or they could boil over and make a mess. TIP: If you see a liquid start to boil, stop the vacuum process immediately.
Chamber Vacuum Sealers Are More Durable Than Most Edge Sealers
A chamber vacuum sealer is more durable than just about any edge sealer. Even an inexpensive chamber vacuum sealer is going to be well-built.
This is by necessity. Removing air from a chamber requires a lot of mechanical energy. A sturdy build quality is also important to make sure that air can't seep into the chamber during the vacuum process. Therefore, chamber sealers are big, solid, heavy machines.
A chamber vacuum sealer may not be the prettiest appliance in your kitchen, but it will almost certainly be one of the sturdiest ones.
This is true even if you buy at the low end.
There are certainly well-built edge sealers on the market (Weston is an excellent example of sturdy edge sealers), but the chamber sealers are in a different class because of their other capabilities.
They Pull More Vacuum Than Most Edge Sealers
Air pressure is measured in various units, but the most commonly seen unit in relation to vacuum sealers is "inches of mercury," or in-Hg (Hg being the element symbol for mercury on the periodic table).
Perfect vacuum is considered to be -29.92 in-Hg. It is not attainable in earth's atmosphere, but it is the standard by which vacuum pressure is measured. (And since vacuum is a given negative, the minus sign is usually not used.)
Many manufacturers do not supply this specification with their vacuum sealers. FoodSaver, for example, claims that this is proprietary information, not to be shared with the public. I haven't been able to find a vacuum spec on any FoodSaver product despite countless hours of research.
Thank goodness for YouTube geeks ("geek" meant in the most positive way here!), who have posted videos measuring the vacuum strength of inexpensive edge sealers. Here's a short one (about 2 and a half minutes) that finds the vacuum pulled by a FoodSaver to be around 22 in-Hg:
The obvious question is, "Is 22 in-Hg a lot or a little?"
The answer is that it depends what you're comparing it to. If you're comparing it to a zip-top bag or a plastic container, then it's good; food will keep a lot longer in the FoodSaver bag than either of these.
However, if you're comparing it to a chamber vacuum sealer (or even a more expensive edge sealer like the Weston Pro 2300 or the VacMaster Pro380), then it's not so good. These higher-end sealers pull a vacuum upwards of 26 in-Hg. This is a significantly higher vacuum.
I don't mean to pick on FoodSaver; they make a good product that's perfect for many people's needs. The point is only that as you go up in price, you also go up in vacuum strength.
The more air you can remove from the vacuum bag, the longer the food will stay fresh. So vacuum pull is an important consideration in a vacuum sealer. And by design, chamber vacuum sealers pull a stronger vacuum than edge sealers, even expensive ones.
And also, the more air you can remove from a bag, the better food will cook in a sous vide water bath--more air in a bag means more insulation, which means longer and less even cooking.
This is why sous vide geeks tend to prefer a chamber vacuum sealer to other methods.
The more air you can remove from the vacuum bag, the longer the food will stay fresh. This makes vacuum strength an important consideration in a vacuum sealer.
They're Not a Throwaway Product--And They're Easy to Repair
Okay; maybe "easy to repair" is a slight overstatement, depending on how handy you are. But they are really simple devices--and that's not really the point here.
The point is that unlike low-priced edge sealers, a chamber vacuum sealer is not a throw-away product. Most manufacturers make and sell replacement parts, and offer repair services should the sealer ever need it.
If you're handy, or know someone who is, you can find repair videos on YouTube and possibly on the manufacturer's site. So repair is totally do-able. Since there are only a few things that can go wrong (e.g., pump, sealing bar), you'd probably need only a small amount of mechanical know-how to figure out a repair yourself.
This is one of my favorite aspects of a chamber vacuum sealer. I love that it is not a throw-away product designed to be discarded if it stops working. Rather, it's designed to last for decades, and to be worked on by consumers if and when needed.
The Bags Are Cheap
Chamber sealer bags cost waaay less than edge sealer bags. Depending on the quantity you buy, they can cost as little as a fifth of what you'll pay for edge sealer bags. This means you'll save money in the long run on bags, too.
Here are 44 FoodSaver bags (edge sealer) for about $15, which comes to about 34 cents per bag. These are quart bags, or about 7x8 in.
Here are 250 VacMaster bags for about $45, which comes to about 18 cents per bag. These bags are 10x13 in., so much larger than the edge sealer (FoodSaver) bags above. (The large edge sealer bags can run upwards of 50 cents per bag.)
So even in small quantities, the chamber vac bags cost significantly less.
If you buy off-brand rolls of bags for your edge sealer, the price comes down, but the edge sealer bags are still a lot more than chamber sealer bags. You'll have to estimate based on how many bags you think you'll get out of a 50-ft. roll, but the overall cost is never going to be as low as for chamber bags. (To compare: a box of 250 10x13-in. chamber vac bags is about 270 ft. of bags. You do the math.)
Why the huge price difference in bag type? Edge sealer bags need a special lining that helps to "push" air out of the bags. Chamber sealer bags, on the other hand, don't need this. The equalized pressure inside the chamber takes care of this. So chamber sealer bags will always be cheaper.
Because edge sealer bags need to have a special lining that helps "push" air out of the bag, they will always be more expensive than chamber sealer bags.
What to Look For in a Chamber Vacuum Sealer
- Size, weight, and portability
- Type of pump
- Extra features
Size, Weight, and Portability
There's no getting around it: chamber vacuum sealers are big. Some weigh upwards of 80 pounds. If you get one of these behemoths, you'd better know where you want it, because you won't want to move it again once you've got it settled.
Having said that: newer chamber sealers have been streamlined. They're designed for the home kitchen, so they're lighter and easier to use (for example, they open fully underneath upper cupboards).
In fact, 3 of the 4 cheapest chamber sealers on Amazon are low-profile and weigh under 60 pounds. So if you want a chamber sealer that you can move around, you have a few options that weren't available just a few short years ago.
Type of Pump
Chamber vacuum sealers generally come in two pump types: rotary oil and dry piston.
Rotary oil pumps are the most robust. They're found in industrial-grade sealers that cost several thousand dollars. They'll seal pretty much forever without overheating. They require periodic maintenance (depending on how much you use the sealer) to keep running smoothly.
Dry piston pumps aren't quite as robust, but they will also run for a long time before overheating or needing a cool-down period. They are more than adequate for most home users.
Dry piston pumps are maintenance-free, so they're excellent for the buyer who has few to no mechanical skills. (My chamber vacuum has a dry piston pump and in nearly 10 years, hasn't needed a moment of maintenance or repair.)
They're both excellent options, but if you want something a little more robust, the rotary oil pump is the best option.
Of the 4 chamber vacuum sealers reviewed in this article, the FoodKing is the only one with a rotary oil pump. The rest are dry piston pumps.
Extra Features (Accessory Port)
Chamber vacuum sealers do not typically have a lot of extra features. Their strong, durable vacuum pumps are what you're paying for.
However, some chamber vacs have an accessory port. With this, you can vacuum seal canisters and mason jars (with the right accessories, of course).
This is nice, but not nearly as useful with chamber vacuum sealers as with edge sealers. First, since you can seal liquids in the chamber sealer, you don't need to use special containers; you can seal liquids right inside the bag.
Second, you can also vacuum-seal mason jars inside the chamber--no accessories required. (Many chamber sealers will accommodate half-pint and pint jars, but not quart jars. My VacMaster VP210 is big enough to seal two pint jars at once, plus some half pint jars, but not big enough for a quart jar.)
Putting mason jars right inside the chamber sealer is a great trick. It's an easy way to seal dry goods and leftovers in reusable containers.
Bonus: You don't need to find space to store accessories!
What Are the Drawbacks of A Chamber Vacuum Sealer?
In a nutshell:
- They're expensive
- They're large and heavy (it can be hard to find a spot for them).
The drawbacks of a chamber vacuum sealer are pretty much the same things that make it such a robust machine: it's a big, bulky, heavy, expensive piece of equipment.
Until recently, you couldn't find a chamber vacuum sealer that weighed less than 80 or so pounds. That is a lot of bulk to have sitting on your kitchen counter!
Another drawback is the tall design: because of the open height, you couldn't put a chamber vacuum sealer below an upper cupboard--so your placement spots were limited. (I know people who kept a chamber vac on their dining room table for about a year because they just couldn't find anywhere else to keep it. They finally built a custom stand for it--on wheels--and couldn't be happier.)
Today there are more options. VacMaster makes a few sealers geared toward the home user. At over 40 pounds, they're still not exactly easy to move, but easier than the older models are. And, they are designed to fully open even below upper cabinets. This makes finding a spot for them no more difficult than finding a spot for a coffeemaker or a toaster oven. (And speaking as someone who owns an older model, it's absolute genius!)
Three of the four chamber sealers reviewed in this article are new designs from VacMaster.
Upshot: If you're in the market for a chamber vacuum sealer, be sure you have a place to keep it before purchasing. You really don't want to be moving it around anymore than you have to.
Other than the bulk, a chamber vacuum sealer is a joy to have in your kitchen. It's dependable. It's powerful. It's cheap to use. It saves food! And have I mentioned that it performs better than just about every edge sealer on the market?
Since 3 of the 4 cheapest chamber vacs on Amazon are VacMaster products, I thought I'd include some details about the company.
The VacMaster company is owned by ARY, Inc. and is formally known as ARY VacMaster, Inc. They are a small American manufacturing company located in Overland Park, Kansas (near Kansas City).
VacMaster has been around for almost three decades. In the last decade (perhaps with the rise in sous vide popularity for the home chef), they've shifted focus from commercial to consumer products, though they still make several commercial products, as well.
However, with their background in commercial packaging and vacuum sealing, VacMaster products tend to be more durable than many products designed for the residential market.
VacMaster's chamber vacuum sealers are some of the sturdiest, yet most affordable, available for home use. Many of their competitors make sealers that cost 5 times what you'll pay for a VacMaster, with little discernible increase in quality.
You can check out VacMaster's website here, but be forewarned: their products are a lot less expensive on Amazon.
The 3 Best Chamber Vac Deals on Amazon
Here they are: the 4 cheapest chamber vacuum sealers on Amazon.
Note: These prices are approximate and subject to change.
FoodKing Vacuum Sealer
The FoodKing Vacuum Sealer is a fantastic bargain. At under $400, no other chamber vacuum sealer comes close. It even has a rotary oil pump like more expensive sealers. Yet consider carefully before you buy...
FoodKing sells an amazing variety of products on Amazon, including restaurant supplies, swimming pool pumps, stationery, chicken feeders, and more. They seem to specialize in low-end, made-in-China products that are sold exclusively on Amazon; if they have a website of their own, I can't find it.
This doesn't necessarily mean you should avoid this chamber vacuum sealer. Yes, it's made in China and has many of the issues Chinese-manufactured products can have: poor instructions, mediocre quality control, and questionable customer service.
But if you're handy and don't mind keeping this machine maintained without a lot of guidance, it's a decent, inexpensive option.
- Rotary pump
- Pump maintenance kit included
- Adjustable seal and vacuum time.
Color: Stainless with clear polycarbonate lid
Size (WxDxH): 22.4 x 16.9 x 19.2 in.
Weight: 77 lbs
Chamber: Stainless steel
Housing: Stainless steel
Power: 120W (standard US 120V/60Hz outlet)
Sealing Bar: 10.2 in.
Maximum Bag Size: 10 x 13 in.
Warranty: 2 year.
- User's Manual
- Maintenance kit for pump.
This is definitely a "buy-at-your-own-risk" product, and I would recommend one of the VacMaster sealers over this one. However, if you want a cheap option and are handy enough to solve problems with the sealer yourself, then this could be a great sealer for you.
BUY THE Foodking chamber vacuum sealer ON AMAZON NOW!
VacMaster VP112S Chamber Vacuum Sealer
NOTE: Read the full review here.
The VacMaster VP112S Chamber Vacuum Sealer is an excellent machine, and has a new low price as of mid-2017. A year ago, this machine cost close to $700. I don't know why VacMaster dropped the price, but for a chamber vacuum sealer of this quality, it's probably the best bargain on the market right now.
The VP112S has the same internal components as the old VacMaster workhorse the VP 210 (see the 210 on Amazon). But it's designed for the home kitchen--lighter weight, with a full height of about 14 inches, making it usable below upper cabinets.
It also has a longer sealing bar--12-inches--and a larger maximum bag size than the old VP210.
Also: The VP112S replaced the VP112 in 2015. There were some quality issues with the old VP112, but those have been fixed on the new model. The old VP112 had an accessory port, while the VP112S does not.
The original VP112 had an accessory port, while the new VP112S does not. The VP112 is still available on Amazon and from the manufacturer, but because it had some quality issues, I don't recommend it.
- Light weight (just under 50 lbs)
- Can open fully underneath an upper cabinet
- Adjustable vacuum time of 30-60s
- Maintenance-free 2 cylinder dry piston pump (600W)
- 12-inch seal bar, removable for easy cleaning
- Extra-wide (4mm) seal
- Full-view polycarbonate lid
- Designed for repetitive sealing (no cool down periods required)
- Easy-to-clean stainless steel chamber with rounded corners
- Brushed stainless steel housing
- Adjustable vacuum level and seal time
- Digital control panel
- Marinate function (pulls intermittent vacuum for deep flavor infusion).
This is the VP112S control panel:
Color: Brushed stainless body, tinted polycarbonate lid
Size (WxDxH): 16x24x9 in. (14in. high when open)
Weight: 46 lbs
Chamber: Stainless steel, rounded for easy cleaning
Power: 600W (standard US 120V/60Hz outlet)
Sealing Bar: 12 inches
Chamber Size (WxDxH): 12x11x5 in.
Maximum Bag Width: 12 in.
Maximum Bag Size: 12x14 in.
Warranty: 1 year.
- User Manual
- 40 assorted chamber bags.
The VacMaster VP112S does it all. Given the recently reduced price and all of its great features, I would run, not walk, to buy this chamber vacuum sealer.
BUY THE VACMASTER VP112S ON AMAZON NOW!
VacMaster VP120 Chamber Vacuum Sealer
The VacMaster VP120 Chamber Vacuum Sealer is another low profile chamber vacuum sealer designed for the home cook. It is similar to the VP112S (reviewed above), with the same maintenance free dry piston pump and ability to operate under upper cabinets. It's more industrial looking, and it has a slightly shorter sealing bar (meaning that its max bag size is smaller).
It's about $100 more than the VP112S and at 630 watts, has slightly more power (the VP112S has 600 watts).
Some people have had issues with the timer, but overall it's a very well-reviewed machine.
- Maintenance-free 2 cylinder dry piston pump
- 11.5 Inch removable seal bar with single seal wire
- Stainless steel body
- Stainless chamber with rounded corners for easy cleaning
- Cycle Time: 30-60 seconds
- Adjustable seal and vacuum time.
Here's a short (3 minute) video explaining how to use the VacMaster VP120:
Color: Stainless housing with tinted polycarbonate lid
Size (WxDxH): 19.25 x 16.75 x 9.5 in.
Weight: 58 lbs
Chamber: Stainless steel, rounded for easy cleaning
Power: 630W (standard US 120V/60Hz outlet)
Chamber Size (WxDxH): 11.75 x 11.5 x 4 in.
Maximum Bag Width: 12 in.
Maximum Bag Size: 11.5 x 13 in.
Warranty: 1 year.
- 45 assorted chamber pouches (6x12 in., 8x10 in., and 10x13 in.)
- User Manual.
People love this sealer: it's compact and powerful, and great for a home kitchen. However, for about $100 less, you can get the VP112S (reviewed above), which has almost as much power, a larger chamber, and weighs about 10 pounds less.
Buy the VacMaster VP120 on Amazon now!
There you have it: the 3 best deals on chamber vacuum sealers on Amazon. The VacMaster VP112S Chamber Sealer is the best of the bunch: it's a dependable brand, and even though it's the most compact and lightest weight chamber sealer on the list, it still has a bigger chamber than the others, and even bigger than some sealers costing a few hundred more.
I hope I've answered all your questions and given you enough info to make a purchasing decision. If not, please check out my other vacuum sealer reviews (the dropdown menu at the top of the page is the easiest way to do this).
Do you have any input, questions, or ideas? Please share in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!