ARY VacMaster vacuum sealers (vacmasterfresh.com) are known for their high quality, commercial-grade chamber vacuum sealers, but they make edge sealers, too. They've changed their product lineup, so there are some new options to consider.
Are VacMaster vacuum sealers worth the premium price? If you preserve a lot of food or cook sous vide, we think they are. Vacuum-sealed food stays fresh longer and can save the average American family up to $2500/year in less wasted food. And if you have a big freezer, you can take advantage of sales and bulk prices, too.
Here we take a detailed look at the best VacMaster vacuum sealers for the home (and small business) market so you can decide if it's the right choice for you.
VacMaster Vacuum Sealers at a Glance
These are the VacMaster vacuum sealers we think are best for home and small business users. VacMaster makes more vacuum sealers, but they are huge, heavy, and expensive, and probably more vacuum sealer than most people need. (The largest sealer listed here weighs 185 pounds, and they just get bigger from there--though the bigger ones are on wheels, so if you're interested, see them at vacmasterfresh.com.)
An asterisk (*) indicates a model we recommend. The asterisked models have detailed reviews below.
We list these VacMaster sealers in order of cost, from low to high. On some models, prices vary quite a bit, so we give a link to the best price in the Features column (usually at webstaurantstore.com).
All VacMaster vacuum sealers have a 1 year limited manufacturer warranty.
NOTE: Table may not be visible in mobile view.
VacMaster Vacuum Sealer
-app. price $300
-16" seal bar
-Total size: 22.25x20x20"
-Pulse button (great feature!)
-Dual piston pump (for continuous sealing)
-Bag storage holds 20 ft. roll
-app. price $670 (webstaurantstore.com)
-Seal bar 9.25"
-Chamber size: 9.5x10.5x3.25"
-Max bag size: 9x12"
-Total size: 11x16x9"
-Power: 1/4hp (186W)
-Vacuum: 26-29.5 "Hg
-Single piston oil pump (oil changes req.)
-Accessory port (hose included)
-app price $970
-10.25" seal bar w/double seal wire
-Chamber size: 11.25x15.25x5"
-Max bag size:
-Total size: 14x20x15"
-Adjustable cycle time 20-60 sec.
-Dry piston maintenance-free pump
-No marinate cycle or accessory port.
-app. price $1040
-Seal bar: 10.25" w/double seal wire
-Chamber size: 11.25x14x5 in.
-Max Bag Size: 10x14 in.
-Total size: 14x20x15 in.
-Power: 462W (standard US 120V/60Hz)
-Vacuum: 27"Hg to 29.5"Hg
-Adjustable cycle time 20-40 sec.
-Rotary oil pump (oil changes req.)
-No marinate cycle or accessory port.
-app. price $1100
-12.25" seal bar w/double seal wire
-Chamber size: 12.5x15x5”
-Max bag size: 12x15"
-Total size: 15.5x19x15.75”
-Vacuum: Up to 29.5 "Hg
-Dry piston maintenance-free pump
-Adjustable cycle time 20-99 seconds
-app. price $1240 (webstaurantstore.com)
-12.25" seal bar w/double seal wire
-Chamber size: 12.5x15x5”
-Max bag size: 12x15"
-Total size: 15.5x19x15.75”
-Power: 1/2 hp (372W)
-Vacuum: Up to 29.5 "Hg
-Rotary oil pump (oil changes req.)
-Adjustable cycle time 20-99 seconds.
-app. price $2000 (webstaurantstore.com)
-16" seal bar w/double seal wire
-Chamber size: 16.75x18x7"
-Max bag size: 16x18"
-Total size: 22.25x20x20"
-Power: 1.5 hp (930W)
-Vacuum: Up to 29.75 "Hg
-1.5 hp rotary oil pump (oil changes req.)
-Adjustable cycle time 20-40 seconds.
VacMaster is a subdivision of ARY, a company established in 1992 with headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas, USA. They're a small, privately-owned company that makes commercial grade vacuum sealers geared primarily to the small business and home user market.
From VacMaster's "About Us" page:
VacMaster® was founded in Kansas City by a team of experts from the meat processing industry. We saw a market for a smaller, more affordable vacuum packaging machine that could be used throughout the foodservice, restaurant and home markets.
VacMaster also sells huge, industrial-grade vacuum sealers that we do not review here, plus vacuum bags, commercial-grade sous vide immersion circulators, and some other restaurant supply equipment. You can check out the ARY VacMaster website for more information.
All VacMaster products are made in China. The quality of their established products is excellent (for example, their best-selling VP210 and VP215 chamber sealers). There are some reviewer complaints about poor customer service, but Fakespot gives most VacMaster vacuum sealers an "A" rating (meaning no deceptive reviews); VacMaster the company gets a "B" rating overall for "mixed customer reviews."
At TRK, we like and enthusiastically endorse VacMaster vacuum sealers, and have had only good experiences with them--but this may depend very much on which product you buy. The best policy is probably to buy one of VacMaster's older, established sealers with all the bugs worked out of the design.
Do You Really Need a Vacuum Sealer?
If you want to save money on food and waste less of it, then, yes, you need a vacuum sealer. Americans waste up to 40% of all the food they buy, and one-third of all food produced globally today goes to waste. Those are staggering numbers!
A vacuum sealer won't save all of it, but it can do a fabulous job keeping food fresher for longer so you waste less of it. This is true for your fridge and pantry as well as your freezer: all foods can benefit from an airtight seal.
For more information, see our article Why Every Kitchen Needs a Food Vacuum Sealer.
How Does a Vacuum Sealer Work?
Vacuum sealers work by removing air from the food storage container. Most food pathogens require air to survive, so the more air you can remove from a storage bag or container, the longer your food will stay fresh.
In the freezer, removing air also eliminates the dreaded freezer burn that causes meat to turn white and lose its texture and flavor.
The removal of air is what allows vacuum-sealed food to stay fresh for about 5 times longer than food stored other ways; in the freezer, vacuum-sealed food can stay fresh for years.
There are two types of vacuum sealers: 1) edge (or suction) sealers, which pull the air out of an externally-placed bag, and 2) chamber sealers, in which air is removed from an internal chamber (including the vacuum bag or other container you've placed there).
Why Are Chamber Vacuum Sealers So Expensive?
Edge sealers are by far the most popular type of vacuum sealer. They're smaller, lighter, and most are much less expensive than chamber sealers. You can find an edge sealer for less than $50 on Amazon, and even the most expensive, commercial-grade edge sealer is probably going to cost less than the cheapest chamber vacuum sealer; this remains true even though there are some very affordable chamber vacuum sealers on the market now.
Here's why chamber sealers are more expensive than edge sealers.
Better Build Quality
Overall, chamber sealers are sturdier than edge sealers.
Pulling air out of a chamber requires a lot of mechanical energy, so chamber vac design is just inherently sturdier. They're built with stainless steel bodies and thick glass or polycarbonate lids.
And, since chamber sealers have traditionally been made for the commercial market, they tend to be designed for heavy use and continuous operation.
It's not true that all edge sealers are inferior in build quality to chamber sealers. There are many edge sealers built to commercial specifications that are also designed for continuous operation (such as the VacMaster Pro 360 above). But edge sealers sold to the consumer market--those that cost less than $150 or so--are mostly plastic on the outside and the inside; they are not built to last more than a few years, and cannot do more than a few seals without a cool down period.
There are a handful of new chamber sealers on the market today built for the consumer market. Some of them weigh under 20 pounds (compare this to a VacMaster VP210, one of our recommended sealers below, which weighs 72 pounds).
Will these lighter, less robust chamber sealers last? We don't know yet. But we think that for the home market, they're probably a great choice (more on this in a minute).
Better Vacuum Strength
Chamber vacuums have more durable vacuum pumps than edge sealers. (You can read more about vacuum pumps below.) This not only means longer life, it also means they can pull a stronger vacuum.
Here's what you need to know about vacuum strength:
Vacuum sealer vacuum strength is typically given in "inches of Mercury," or "Hg. This is a unit of pressure, and the one you will most often see associated with vacuum sealers. You may also see bar, kiloPascals ("kPa"), or even psi--but most often, you will see "Hg as the unit of vacuum strength. (If you want to convert other pressure units to "Hg or vice versa, you can simply ask Google to do the conversion for you.)
Perfect vacuum is -29.92 "Hg. This is the number against which all vacuum strength is measured. (Though it is negative pressure, the minus sign is usually understood and not used.)
So what's a good vacuum strength for a vacuum sealer? Most chamber sealers can remove up to 29.75 "Hg from a bag (that's pretty close to perfect vacuum).
Even the best, commercial-grade edge sealers can reach only about 28 "Hg. This is very good, but you have to buy a commercial grade edge sealer to get this amount of suction. Most FoodSaver-type consumer grade sealers pull 20 "Hg or less. This means that a chamber sealer can remove up to 30% more air from a bag than most consumer-grade edge sealers.
This is a significant amount of air! The result is longer storage, less spoilage, and better sous vide results.
Chamber vacuum pumps are not only more robust, they are also air-cooled, so they can perform many times more seals in a row without a cool down period.
Chamber sealers with rotary oil pumps can run pretty much continuously with no cool downs needed at all. Dry piston pumps can seal dozens of bags in a row (maybe more) before needing a cool down. (You can read more about these two types of chamber vac pumps below.)
If you've ever tried to do a large sealing project with an inexpensive edge sealer, you know what a great feature continuous sealing can be--it can save you hours of time on a bulk sealing project.
A commercial-grade edge sealer will also have an air-cooled pump (though not all of them do), and can also perform many seals in a row without a cool down. But typically, not as many as a chamber sealer.
They Can Seal Liquids
Chamber vacs can seal liquids--in a vacuum bag.
For many people, this alone makes a chamber sealer worth the extra cost.
No more weak vacuum pressure! No more freezing soups and stocks before sealing!
Because a chamber vac really can seal liquids--and with just as much vacuum pressure as for solid foods. This is because air is removed from the entire chamber and not just the bag: air pressure is equalized throughout the chamber, so the liquid stays put.
You shouldn't seal warm liquids, because they can "boil" out of the bag at low pressures and cause a mess. But as long as liquids are room temperature or cooler, chamber vacs really do seal them as well as they seal solid foods.
This may not be a reason why chamber vacs are more expensive, but it's certainly one of the perks of the more expensive design.
Chamber Vac Bags Cost Less
Like sealing liquids, this is probably also not a reason why chamber vacs cost more, but it's another perk of the chamber sealer design.
Edge sealer bags are textured on the inside to help "push" air out of the bags; without this texturing, a bag won't work with an edge sealer.
Because chamber sealers evacuate air from an entire chamber, this texturing is not needed. Therefore, chamber vacuum bags are smooth inside and out, are only one layer of plastic, and are less expensive than edge sealer bags.
In fact, they are quite a bit less expensive: even brand name chamber vac bags are cheaper than generic edge sealer bag rolls (rolls are the cheapest way to buy edge sealer bags).
So over the long haul, you can really save a lot of money on bags with a chamber sealer.
What About the New Generation of Chamber Vacuum Sealers? Are They Any Good?
Yes. If you're thinking about spending more than about $400 on a vacuum sealer, you should definitely look at some of the new, lightweight chamber sealers.
In the past few years, there's been a slew of what we're calling "new generation" chamber sealers on the market. Makers like Avid Armor, Waring, Nutrichef, and VacMaster are making chamber vacs that weigh less than 40 pounds; some of them even weigh less than 20 pounds.
This makes them easier to use than the traditional 80+ pound behemoths that have been around for awhile, and appealing to the home user in particular (because who wants an 80 pound appliance taking up counter space?).
But the million dollar question is, are these lightweight chamber vacs good quality?
While long-term it's too early to say, we can tell you that these small, lightweight chamber vacs are quality where it counts: they have the same robust vacuum pumps as the heavier machines and can pull similar vacuum, so in that sense they're just as good.
The housings aren't as sturdy, but they are sturdy enough to be safe and provide good performance, especially for the home user who doesn't need continuous operation. (Although some of these chamber vacs, like the VacMaster VP95, do have a rotary oil pump, so you can operate them continuously, just like their heavyweight cousins.)
One of our biggest issues with these new chamber vacs marketed to home users is that the chambers tend to be small and shallow: can you even seal a rump roast or whole chicken in a chamber that's only 3 inches tall?
So be sure to check the chamber size--and especially height--before you buy. The VacMaster VP95 (reviewed here) has a chamber height of just 3.25 inches, so more than an inch shorter than other VacMasters.
One "new generation" sealer we've found with a tall chamber is the NutriChef chamber vac--plus, it has an 11-inch seal bar. Unfortunately, the reviews aren't the best, with a lot of complaints about malfunctioning.
The upshot: Are you taking a risk buying one of the lightweight models? Maybe. But we think a few of them are a good bet, and a great option for home users who want the power and features of a chamber vac in a smaller, lighter package (check out our Avid Armor review for more information.)
Pros and Cons of a Chamber Vacuum Sealer
If you're reading this, you're probably trying to decide if a chamber vacuum sealer is worth the extra cost. Here's a summary of the pros and cons of a chamber sealer to help you decide.
So, Is a Chamber Sealer Worth It?
Our overall recommendation is that a chamber vacuum sealer is definitely worth the investment.
Here's some math for you: if a vacuum sealer helps you save $500 a year in less wasted food--which is a conservative estimate--and also helps you save money by buying in bulk and freezing, then even if you spend as much as $1500 on a chamber vacuum, you will recoup the expense in 2-3 years (maybe even less).
But you don't have to spend anywhere near $1500 now to get a good chamber vac.
And remember, chamber vac bags cost less, so you also save money in the long run on bags.
If you're trying to decide which type of vacuum sealer to buy, we encourage you to take the plunge and go with a chamber sealer. A commercial-grade edge sealer is also a wise investment.
But if you have the budget and the space for a chamber vacuum, you will not regret the purchase.
Do You Need a Vacuum Sealer for Sous Vide?
No--you do NOT need a vacuum sealer for sous vide. Which is a little odd, considering that "sous vide" literally means "under pressure" in French.
The original sous viders, back in the 1960s and 1970s, vacuum-sealed all their food before putting it in a sous vide bath (likely where the name came from). But in recent years, as sous vide has exploded in popularity, the makers of immersion circulators, in the interest of increasing sales, have devised ways to sous vide that do not require a vacuum sealer. The primary one is called the water displacement method, in which you basically let the water pressure push air out of the bag as you lower it into the water, then seal the bag for the cook.
This works, but it is not ideal, because you can remove a lot more air with a vacuum sealer, and the more air you can remove from a bag, the more even your cook will be.
Furthermore, vacuum bags--both edge and chamber--are more durable than the zip-top storage bags you'd use with the water displacement method (even those made for the freezer). So they're safer for sous-viding, especially for long cooks (over 6 hours or so), because they're less likely to fail during the cook.
Both great points. But here at TRK, we think the best reason to buy a vacuum sealer for use with your sous vide circulator is because of the huge number of other uses you'll have for it in your kitchen.
You'll waste less food. You'll save money buying in bulk. You can keep dry goods longer in your pantry. You can keep leftovers fresher in the fridge.
You can eliminate freezer burn.
And, you can also use a sous vide bath for thawing frozen food and reheating leftovers--and nothing makes this easier vacuum-sealed bags, which you can just pop in the sous vide bath.
For more info, see our article How to Save Time, Money and Food with Your Sous Vide + Vacuum Sealer.
About Vacuum Sealer Bags (What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Vacuum Sealer)
Bags are going to be your biggest long-term expense, so you should know what you're getting into before you buy your vacuum sealer.
Here's some basic info on vacuum sealer bags.
Do I Need Special Bags for an Edge Sealer or a Chamber Sealer?
Yes, you need special bags for both types of sealers. As we said above, chamber sealer bags are cheaper than edge sealer bags because of the special textured design on edge sealer bags.
So even though a chamber sealer is a bigger initial expense, you'll save money in the long run because the bags are substantially cheaper.
Do I Need to Buy the Same Brand of Vacuum Bags as My Vacuum Sealer?
No. Any edge sealer bags (or bag rolls) will work with any edge sealer, and any chamber vac bags will work with any chamber vac.
This means you are free to buy the cheapest bags you can find--as long as they're the right type for the sealer you own.
You may find that some of the cheapest bags don't work as well: they may fail more often in sous vide cooking, or not hold a seal in the freezer. But we still encourage you to try the cheapest bags you can find, because if they do work, you can save a lot over time.
Are Vacuum Bags Foolproof?
Unfortunately, no. There is some percentage of failure with all vacuum sealer bags. That is, occasionally you will get a bag that leaks or does not hold a seal. This is disappointing--and in the case of sous vide, sometimes disastrous--but the truth is that all vacuum bags, no matter which type or brand, are going to have a small percentage of failure.
This may be an argument for buying brand-name vacuum bags, but we haven't tested this theory, so we can't say for sure.
As disappointing as this fact of life may be, the truth is that there is a percentage of failure with all food storage containers. No system is foolproof--and vacuum bags are better than most.
If you're having a lot of failures--more than about 2-3 in 100--you may have other issues. You may have a problem with your sealer--such as a too-hot seal setting, which melts the bag--or you may not be creating a tight fit when sealing (which can be especially tricky with some edge sealers).
You could also have a bad batch of bags, or, if your food has sharp objects (such as bones), they may be poking through the bag and creating tiny holes during freezer storage (which makes the bag more brittle) or sous-viding (which makes the bag softer).
In the case of any bag failure, make sure it's not your error before blaming the bag--but know you will have a small percentage of failures with your vacuum bags.
Do Vacuum Sealer Bags Contain BPA?
No: no vacuum sealer bags made by reputable makers contain BPA.
Don't just take this for granted, though, especially with off-brand bags. If the maker doesn't specifically state that their bags are free of BPA, you should probably pass on them and buy a brand that does.
We're all for using the cheapest vacuum bags you can find, but make sure they're safe to use before you buy.
Are Vacuum Sealer Bags Reusable?
Technically, vacuum bags are not reusable. The makers of vacuum bags will tell you that you should not reuse their bags.
However, we've found that in some instances, you can reuse vacuum bags.
If you're sealing dry goods--brown sugar or pasta, for example--then you can cut open the bag and re-seal it for storage as long as there's enough bag to be re-sealed.
And if you can wash and dry a bag thoroughly, you can safely reuse it for another purpose.
We don't recommend reusing bags that contained raw meat or other foods with high bacteria potential. But in many cases, it's perfectly safe to reuse vacuum bags.
Probably the biggest problem with washing vacuum bags is that it's a just a pain to do, and probably more worth it for edge sealer bags, which are more expensive than chamber bags. Chamber bags are so cheap, washing and reusing them is often more trouble than it's worth.
Are Vacuum Sealer Bags Recyclable?
Yes--probably. But you can't just throw them in with your standard plastic items. They need to go in with your plastic shopping bags--and you need to make sure they'll be taken before you do this, too.
The biggest issue with recycling vacuum bags is that they need to be thoroughly rinsed out first. A dirty vacuum bag is gross, and you can't in good conscience toss it in with other recyclables as-is. And rinsing out the bags, like washing for reuse, is a bit of a pain. It's certainly easier to just toss them in the trash.
But if you want to recycle your vacuum bags, you probably can. Just be sure to check with your recycler before you start tossing your vacuum bags in with the other items.
This article has more information about recycling vacuum sealer bags.
Important Features in an Edge Vacuum Sealer
Here are the most important features to consider when buying an edge sealer.
This basically answers the question "Is it mostly plastic or mostly steel?"
The biggest advantage of a plastic--or consumer grade edge sealer--are that it's inexpensive. You can probably buy 3-4 of them before you've spent as much as you would on a steel--or commercial grade--edge sealer.
The disadvantage is that you probably will have to buy 2-3 of them within about 5 years' time, because they don't last.
In fact, another way to phrase this question is "Do you want a vacuum sealer you can repair, or a vacuum sealer you have to replace?"
We much prefer a sealer we can repair (it's much better for the world's landfills). But if you're only going to be an occasional user (a couple of times a week or less), an inexpensive consumer-grade edge sealer might be the right choice.
Better build quality also means better vacuum strength.
As we said above, a commercial-grade edge sealer can pull considerably more vacuum than a consumer-grade one: up to about 30% more. This means longer food storage without spoilage, staleness, or freezer burn.
Furthermore, a commercial-grade edge sealer will keep its vacuum strength over time, while a consumer grade one will lose its pull over time.
This is because the mostly plastic pump, which over time will stretch out of shape. Eventually, it won't work at all (and is why it's a throwaway product rather than a repairable one).
Ease of Use
In this category, all edge sealers can be problematic: that is, it can be tricky to get the hang of using them. They often require a fair amount of pressure on both sides of the sealer in order to "lock" and seal properly.
This can be true even for sealers that boast of having "automatic" or "one-touch" sealing.The sealer may sense when there's a bag in the channel and start to pump air out of it, which is great, but you still have to make sure the lid is locked down tightly.
If you read reviews, you will find this to be a common complaint for many edge sealers: they're hard to use, and can take quite a bit of practice to get the hang of.
Some sealers are easier to use than others. And it can be just plain hard to tell if this will be the case before you buy. One edge sealer we know is easy to use is the Avid Armor AVS7900, which has an easy handle lock feature that ensures the lid is closed tightly with one simple motion.
Our recommendation here is that if you have strength or ergonomic issues with your hands, it's important that you buy an edge sealer that's easy to use. But if you don't have these issues, you should just buy the edge sealer with the features you want, and you'll get the hang of using it.
And also, don't trust "automatic" or "one-touch" sealing to mean that the sealer will be easy to use. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes it isn't: you have to do more research to figure that out (such as reading the user reviews on Amazon, or asking the question of Amazon users--don't be afraid to ask questions; it's a great resource!).
Features and Settings
No frills edge sealers can have just a couple of settings, such as "Vac" and "Stop."
These are enough to get good use out of a vacuum sealer, but some other settings are nice too.
Some sealers have "Dry" and "Moist" settings, and "High" and "Low" settings, which basically control the speed and amount of vacuum pulled. "Moist" will pull a lighter vacuum to avoid sucking liquid up into the vacuum pump.
Some also have a "Seal" button that lets you seal bags with no vacuum pull at all. This is great when making bags out of bag rolls and for sealing up food bags when you're finished with them (such as potato chips or raisins).
Probably the best setting for an edge sealer to have is a "Pulse" button, which allows you to start and stop vacuum pull manually until you reach the level you want. "Pulse" offers the most control over the sealing process and is a great feature in an edge sealer.
But the truth is, you don't really need any extra settings to get the job done. Probably the most important setting is "Stop" or "Seal," which stops the vacuum pull immediately and seals the bag. All edge sealers have these basic settings, which allow you to monitor the sealing process and stop it if you're noticing liquid or feed being sucked up into the sealer.
You can even use the Stop button to seal without pulling vacuum--such as for sealing bag rolls--by starting the vacuum and pressing Stop immediately.
An accessory port allows you to attach a hose to the sealer and pull vacuum on external containers for storage, marinating, and even on wine bottles (if you own the right accessory).
This is a nice feature, and if you have it, you'll use it. But you don't need it to get your money's worth of use out of a chamber vacuum sealer. In fact, the bigger, more commercial-grade sealers tend to not have an accessory port, while those geared to the home user market do.
This is changing somewhat, and it's nice to not have to choose between powerful, commercial-type vacuum strength and an accessory port. VacMaster has added an accessory port to their smaller chamber vacs, including the VP95 and the now-discontinued VP200. We'll be happy to see more smaller models meant for home use that do have accessory ports.
Many edge sealers come with space for bag roll storage.
The advantage is that you can keep the roll right with the sealer--and these typically also have a built-in bag cutter, too.
The disadvantages are that 1) the sealer is bigger and bulkier, and 2) the storage space typically only fits small (20-foot) rolls.
Since longer rolls are cheaper, you may decide that bag storage isn't much of a perk.
A roll cutter is a great feature if you want to use rolls of bags (which are cheaper than individual edge sealer bags). This is especially true if you can't cut a straight line to save your life. Plus, you never have to look for a scissors.
While a roll cutter is convenient, it's not a deal-breaker for us if an edge sealer doesn't have one.
Important Features in a Chamber Vacuum Sealer
We already touched on many of these features above in Why Are Chamber Vacuum Sealers So Expensive? But if you're trying to decide if you want to buy a chamber vac, here are the important features to consider before buying.
Since chamber vacs are inherently sturdier than edge sealers--because sturdiness is required to evacuate a chamber of air--then the question to consider here is, do I want an old-school, commercial-grade, 80+ pound chamber vac? Or do I want a new generation, consumer-market, under-40 pound chamber vac?
There's no right or wrong answer. It's all about what works best for you.
The "new generation" chamber vacs have durable pumps, just like the old school chamber vacs. Their build quality just isn't quite as robust--which is what makes them appealing to the home user who doesn't want an 80 pound giant parked permanently on her kitchen counter.
The new chamber vacs haven't been around long enough for us to guarantee they'll be as good as an older, heavier model. But we think they're well worth the risk for most home users.
We do recommend buying the extended warranty through Amazon (or wherever you buy), because most of these sealers are only warrantied for one year. An extended warranty provides peace of mind and ensure that if you do have an issue with the unit, you'll be protected. (Of course, this is true for all expensive appliances--always, always get that extended warranty!)
Type of Pump
Chamber vacs can have two types of pumps: rotary oil and dry piston.
As you can see, both types of pumps are solid and well built. But they each have advantages and disadvantages.
Rotary Oil Pump
The advantage of the rotary oil pump is that it can run pretty much continuously with no cool down period needed, ever.
The disadvantage of the rotary oil pump is that it requires periodic oil changes. While this isn't a problem for someone who's even slightly mechanical, it can be tough to do an oil change on an 80 pound chamber vac. (Give that some serious thought before you decide to go with a rotary oil pump.)
Dry Piston Pump
The advantage of a dry piston pump is that it is maintenance-free: no matter how long you own the chamber vac, the dry piston pump will never need any sort of attention or maintenance at all (and should operate for at least a couple of decades).
The disadvantage of a dry piston pump is that it can't run continuously: it will need occasional cool down periods. However, it can typically perform dozens of seals or more before needing a break.
Our recommendation for home users is to go with the dry piston pump. Unless you are going to be doing continuous sealing on a daily basis, you don't need the robustness of the rotary oil pump. You can do bulk sealing jobs with a dry piston pump and need few, if any, cool down periods--and no maintenance (so you don't have to figure out how to get the 80 pound chamber vac away from the wall so you can change the oil).
All of our recommended sealers (reviewed below) have a dry piston pump. If for some reason you need a rotary oil pump, we recommend the VP215 or its bigger version (12" seal bar), the VP230.
Chamber Size/Seal Bar Length (How Big Is Big Enough?)
Since chamber size is the limiting factor of how much you can seal in a chamber sealer, it's an important consideration.
We think the two most important measurements are 1) seal bar length, and 2) chamber height.
Of course, overall size is important, too.
Seal bar length: The seal bar determines the maximum width of the bag you can seal in your chamber vac. The standard width is 10 inches; this is found on VacMaster's two most popular sealers, the VP210 and the VP215. (Actually, 10.25 inches, but the max bag size for a 10.25 inch seal bar is 10 inches.)
Some chamber vacs have shorter seal bars, such as the VacMaster VP95, which has a 9.25 inch seal bar. Some chamber vacs have longer seal bars, such as the next size up from the VP210 and VP215, the VP220 and VP230.
While a longer seal bar is nice, keep in mind that bags this wide are harder to find (and in fact, VacMaster does not include any bags wider than 10-inches with their bigger chamber vacs).
So while a 12-inch seal bar does open up more possibilities, you may not get a lot of use out of it. For most uses, a 10-inch seal bar is just fine. And you will find that you'll learn to divide your food into portions that fit in the size bags you have, without seeing it as an inconvenience.
So if you need the longer seal bar for a specific reason, you should get it. But if you just think it's a better option--well, it may or may not be.
Chamber height: Chamber height determines how tall an object can be and still fit inside the chamber.
Chamber height can vary from less than 3 inches to more than 5 inches, and can mean the difference between fitting a whole chicken inside the chamber or having to cut it into pieces before sealing.
It can also mean the difference between being able to seal jars--such as mason jars--inside the chamber or not.
(You may not think you'll seal jars, but it's actually a great use of your chamber sealer, and just like vacuum bags, a mason jar with air removed will keep food fresh a lot longer than one you've just screwed the cap onto.)
We recommend that you pay attention to chamber height, and to not buy a chamber vac with a too-shallow height, as it can make a huge difference in usability.
Overall chamber size: Pay attention to the overall chamber size, too (we list it for every VacMaster chamber sealer we discuss in this review). For example, even if two chamber vacs both have a 10-inch seal bar, they may have chambers of different sizes. Which means that the maximum bag size can be 10x13, or it can be 10x15--a fairly significant difference.
Again, you will become accustomed to using whatever size bags your chamber sealer can handle, but if all other things are equal, you should go with the chamber vac that has the bigger chamber.
Chamber vacs used to just mean super heavy duty build quality and a powerful vacuum. But more and more, they are available with some extra features, similar to edge sealers.
The two most common features are an accessory port and a marinate setting.
Accessory port: This is the same as that found on an edge sealer, and is used to attach a hose for sealing external containers. It's not quite as useful on a chamber vac because you can just put containers right in the chamber and seal them. But if you have a small chamber or want to seal exceptionally large containers, then an accessory port is a nice feature to have.
And, if you have old accessories laying around from an old vacuum sealer, they should fit your new chamber sealer.
Marinate setting: The other feature becoming more common on chamber vacs is the marinate setting. This setting pulls intermittent vacuum, which causes flavors to infuse more deeply and more rapidly in your food.
You don't need a marinate setting to do this, as simply vacuum sealing will also marinate food very well (and faster than other containers). But if you have the feature, you will probably like it.
Filler plates: Some chamber vacs have plates you can add for sealing smaller items. They take up room in the chamber so that it takes less time to evacuate the air. If a chamber vac has plates, they will probably be included with purchase (even if it doesn't say so).
Plates are made to fit a specific chamber size, so they aren't interchangeable among different sealers unless they have the same chamber size (such as the VP210 and the VP215).
Here's a filler plate at the VacMaster web site, and here's what it looks like:
Review: VacMaster VP210 Chamber Vacuum Sealer
The VacMaster VP210 is one of VacMaster's best-selling vacuum sealers and has been around for a long time. It gets rave reviews on both Amazon and webstaurantstore.com. Some reviewers have had this chamber sealer for years and it is still working flawlessly for them.
The price fluctuates, but you should always be able to find the VP210 chamber sealer for under $900.
The 10-inch seal bar is pretty standard for chamber vacs, as going up in size means bigger, heavier machines. A longer seal might sound appealing, but it's harder to find bags wider than 10 inches, and when you do, they're more expensive. So we think a 10-inch seal bar works for the vast majority of buyers, and that you'll get used to sizing your food to fit into the chamber.
If you have a restaurant or other small business and you'll regularly be sealing larger portions, then go to the next size, the VP220 (see our review below).
The VP210 is super easy to use. You just place the bag (or jar) in the chamber and close the lid. Vacuum starts automatically when the machine detects the closed lid. When done, the lid pops open automatically.
The sealer comes with 75 assorted vacuum bags, like other VacMaster chamber vacs.
The VP210 lacks extras like an accessory port or marinate feature, but if you want a super heavy duty chamber sealer that pulls a powerful vacuum and is built to last, the VP210 is the one to get.
VP210 vs VP215: The difference between this chamber vac, the VP210, and the VP215 is the pump: the VP210 has a dry piston, maintenance-free pump and the VP215 has a rotary oil pump. The rotary oil pump is more robust and can provide virtually unlimited continuous sealing. However, the dry piston pump is also capable of dozens of seals in a row without a cool down. So unless you're going to be doing continuous sealing on a routine basis, you should go with the maintenance free VP210. It's not only less hassle, it's also a less expensive sealer--and about 12 pounds lighter, too.
- 10.25" seal bar w/double seal wire
- Chamber size: 11.25x15.25x5"
- Max bag size: 10x13"
- Total size: 14x20x15"
- 72 lbs
- Dry piston maintenance-free pump
- Power: 462W
- Vacuum: 27-29"Hg
- Adjustable cycle time 20-60 sec.
- 1 year limited manufacturer warranty.
-75 assorted chamber vacuum bags:
25 6" x 10" bags
25 8" x 12" bags
25 10" x 13" bags.
Pros and Cons of the VP210 Chamber Vacuum Sealer
The VacMaster VP210 is a great chamber vacuum sealer. If you want the heavy duty build, this is the one to go with. It's a no-frills option, but it pulls incredibly strong vacuum, and the maintenance-free dry piston pump makes it super easy to use and maintain. You should get great service from this chamber vac for years to come.
buy the vp210 chamber vacuum sealer:
Review: VacMaster VP220 Chamber Vacuum Sealer
The VacMaster VP220 is the VP210's big sister: it's identical to the VP210 in every way except for its longer seal bar: 12.25 inches instead of 10.25 inches.
This also means the chamber is larger, so you can seal larger bags. The 5-inch tall chamber will also nicely fit a number of mason jars (quart-sized jars on their side).
Operation is easy: just position the bag (or jar) and close the lid. The vacuum starts automatically when the machine detects the closed lid.
The sealer comes with 75 assorted vacuum bags, however, this does not include any 12-inch wide bags, so to take advantage of the longer seal bar, you'll have to buy your own (like these).
12-inch wide bags are harder to find and more expensive--so be sure you need the extra length (over the 10" VP210 or VP215) and will use it before you buy.
At only about $100 more than the VP215 and 2 pounds lighter (though larger), we think this sealer is an excellent option if you need the extra length.
Just be sure you have a place to park it, and--again--that you need the extra seal bar length.
- 12.25" seal bar w/double seal wire
- Chamber size: 12.5x15x5”
- Max bag size: 12x15"
- Total size: 15.5x19x15.75”
- 82 lbs
- Power: 462W
- Vacuum: Up to 29.5 "Hg
- Dry piston maintenance-free pump
- Adjustable cycle time 20-99 seconds
- 1 year limited manufacturer warranty.
-75 assorted chamber vacuum bags:
25 6" x 10" bags
25 8" x 12" bags
25 10" x 13" bags.
Pros and Cons of the VacMaster VP220
The VacMaster VP220 is a great vacuum sealer. Its dry piston pump is maintenance free, and its 12-inch sealing bar allows you to seal bags up to 12x15 inches. It is also surprisingly affordable at only slightly more than you'd pay for the VP215. It doesn't even weigh that much more than its smaller sister, the VP210 (82 lbs vs. 72 lbs). If you have a place to park it and you want the ability to seal the larger bags, the VP220 should serve you for many years to come.
buy the VacMaster VP220 Chamber Vacuum Sealer:
About the VacMaster Sealers We Don't Recommend
Pro360 Edge Sealer
The Pro360 VacMaster edge vacuum sealer seems as heavy duty and powerful as their chamber sealers, but unfortunately, it doesn't get the great reviews that VacMaster's chamber sealers get. This sealer has too many 1-star reviews on Amazon for us to recommend this sealer.
Complaints include poor performance and poor customer service.
For these reasons, we don't recommend buying the VacMaster Pro360.
Another VacMaster edge sealer, the Pro350, gets better reviews on Amazon (though not by a lot). If you really want a commercial grade edge sealer, we recommend going with the VacPak-It recommended by webstaurantstore, or one of our other favorites, the Weston Pro 2300 or the Avid Armor A100.
This is a pretty chamber vacuum sealer and at just 42 pounds it's more portable than VacMaster's bigger units. But we don't like it for a few reasons:
- Short seal bar and small chamber limits sealing options
- The rotary oil pump needs oil changes; the maintenance-free pump is a better option for most home users.
This is one of VacMaster's best selling vacuum sealers, and it's a great machine. The reason we don't recommend it is the pump: it's got a rotary oil pump that requires periodic oil changes.
Even if you're handy and don't mind doing the maintenance, at 84 pounds, it's a beast to work with.
If you're buying for home use, you probably don't need the robustness of a rotary oil pump; the dry-piston pump will do dozens of seals in a row before it requires a cool down--and no maintenance, except for the occasional changing of a gasket or heat seal tape.
If you do need the super heavy duty performance of a rotary oil pump, then the VP215 is a fabulous vacuum sealer.
We don't recommend this chamber vac for home use for the same reason we don't recommend the VP215: this is the same sealer with a longer (12.25") seal bar, so it has the rotary oil pump, which most home users don't need. The dry piston pump is tough enough for the vast majority of home users. It will do dozens of seals in a row without a cool down.
Unless you're buying for continuous use, you should go with the VP220 for the longer seal bar (12") and the VP210 for the shorter one (10").
At 185 lbs, too heavy for home use. However, if you have a small business and will be giving a vacuum sealer continuous, daily use--and you have a spot to park this beast permanently--then it's an excellent vacuum sealer.
Final Thoughts on VacMaster Vacuum Sealers
VacMaster is an established name in chamber vacuum sealers and heavy-duty edge sealers. They have some new, lighter models geared to home users that are worth consideration, and their older models are built like tanks and are a sure choice for heavy duty vacuum sealing.
Not all the VacMaster models are worth equal consideration, and we've given our picks here, along with detailed reviews. This review should help you decide whether you want to go with a chamber vac, and if so, which one will be best for you.
Thanks for reading!
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