Sous Vide Cooking

Sous Vide Immersion Circulators Review – Part 1

by on Nov.20, 2017, under Equipments & Accessories

Dissna KW802, Vacmaster/Buffalo, Swid Premium, Melissa (Anova Counterfeit), Anova Wifi

My last review of the most known sous vide equipment of the market dates from 2011. In 2009 most immersion circulators were manufactured by Julabo (now German Fusion Chef), Polyscience (USA), Roner (Spain), Clifton Range (UK). All these machines were laboratories equipment used in kitchens. Then the US Sous Vide Supreme and the German Swid (Addelice) were launched as firsts sous vide equipment 100% devoted to sous vide cooking. End 2012 Nomiku started a sous vide project on Kickstarter followed by Sansaire and Anova…After that the Chinese have flooded the market with cheap and low quality products.

If you are interested in a sous vide immersion circulator, just surf on Alibaba, it is probably available for wholesalers at USD 40…you’ll find the same machines sold on internet with dozens of other trademarks at retail price between USD 100 and USD 300.

Example of "quality immersion circulator" Dissna sold on Alibaba at USD 39...

Some friends of mine have purchased different thermal circulators. They borrowed them to me to conduct this test. Unfortunately I couldn’t put a hand on a Sansaire or Nomiku which are not so popular in Europe.

- Anova Wifi: USD 130 to 180. This world-renowned device has been acquired in 2017 by the Electrolux Swedish Cie. Is this device so great?
- Melissa: EUR 80, Anova’s counterfeit available on the European market (no Wifi or Bluetooth). Is it worth saving EUR 80 compared to the Anova?
- Chinese thermostat sold under many trademarks such as Buffalo, Vacmaster, Lacor, Allpax, Steba, Metro…priced between EUR 230 to 300. Let’s call it Buffalo / Vacmaster. This device seems to be popular among professionals who don’t want to invest in an Addelice or Julabo/Fusion Chef. Is it a good strategic choice?
- Dissna KW802 (also sold under other trademarks): EUR 110. A new comer on the market. Is this piece of hardware promising and about to compete with Anova?
- Addelice: the Swid is very popular in Europe among professionals and amateur cooks. It has the reputation being a high performance and user friendly device. Price is high compared to the other devices (Swid EUR 400, Swid Premium 630 excl. VAT), nevertheless, I think it is interesting having a reference for comparison for the purpose of this test.

On this first post I have focused of the heat speed, temperature accuracy and stability. Other tests and information will be disclosed in future posts.

Test 1: Heat Speed

Power of sous vide devices can vary from 800w to 2,400W. Does the manufacturer’s information comply with the technical specifications? Is it worth it to have a lot of power to cook sous vide? What are the advantages and drawbacks?

The purpose of a sous vide device is to heat and stabilize the temperature of a water bath.
If you are an individual and use small containers (less than 10L) you definitely don’t need strong power. Nevertheless, a powerful device can help temperature stability when regulating high temperature (such as 90-95°C for vegetables), even in a middle size container. Drawback: a powerful immersion circulator in a small container can “overshoot” for some minutes. If the temperature controller is good the overshooting should vanish after some minutes.
If you are a professional and use big containers (as from 28L) power is very useful to reach fast the target temperature and stabilize high temperature in big containers up to 58L. For big containers it is essential, even with high power devices to, at least, insulate your container with a cling film or a custom made lid.

To conduct this test I have used a container filled with 7 litres (1.85 gallons) water only. The container was not insulated and not covered by a lid. Starting temperature was 20°C (68°F) and set temperature 55°C (131°F).

- Without any surprise the Swid (2,400W) is the fastest device. It took 7 minutes only to reach the target temperature.
- The Buffalo / Vacmaster took approx. 55% more time (11 minutes) compared to the Swid. Therefore we could estimate its power to approx. 1,300W.
- Anova took 24′. Compared to the Swid the Anova should be rated 700W (official specifications 800 to 900W).
- Melissa, the counterfeit Anova, took almost as long as the Anova, which is consistent with the 800W specifications.
- Dissna KW802 took 15′, then should be rated approx. 1,120W which is consistent with official specifications. I had some problems to assess the Dissna’s exact heating time. Indeed the temperature displayed on the immersion circulator and the actual temperature in the water bath are not fitting during the heating process. Dissna stopped heating full power at 52°C (while displaying 55°C on its display) and took really long to regulate until 55°C. Then I have done again the same tests but set the target temperature at 58°C. This way I could assess the real time needed to reach 55°C.

Test 2: Temperature Accuracy

Accuracy of the temperature is key for sous vide cooking. 1°C (1.8°F) of inaccuracy can have a great impact on the final result of a recipe! Most immersion circulator’s users don’t realise a sous vide equipment can become inaccurate after a while. Some times an immersion circulator can be inaccurate out of the box! To test the accuracy of an immersion circulator you need a very special thermometer. I have used a Greisinger GMH 3750 with accuracy ± 0.03°C and a Pt100 probe DIN B ± 0.10°C. This device, together with its probe cost approx. EUR 380! Just to say that you can trust in the accuracy of my temperature measuring.
If you make your own test with your immersion circulator and thermometer, you may find different results for the reasons as follow:

- Your thermometer probably sucks! Sorry but many people are relying on their digital thermometer without looking at specifications. I give you one example: This very classic kitchen thermometer is ranked with an accuracy of ± 1°C (± 1°.8°F which is already bad)! But this information is not enough. You need both the accuracy of the thermometer AND the accuracy of the probe. One data is missing, which means this thermometer can be even more inaccurate…
In addition, thermocouple type K thermometers can become inaccurate after some years. Professionals usually make them be calibrated each one or two years.

- For example a manufacturer indicates ± 0.3°C accuracy for his immersion circulator. Which means my device can be + 0.3°C off when yours can be – 0.3°C off, which is totally normal.

The above chart speaks for itself.

- Dissna KW802 circulator was the worst device tested. No comment!
- Melissa, Anova’s counterfeit, got an unacceptable accuracy above 67°C.
- Anova was very good until 80°C.
- Vacmaster / Buffalo Chinese machine was excellent until 80°C and acceptable until 90°C
- The Swid accuracy was excellent at all temperatures. We could not measure the accuracy above 90°C as the Swid can’t be set above 90°C. We asked Addelice why. Addelice said all Swids could set temperature up to 95°C as from mid 2018. In the meantime the Swid can be ordered with 95°C specification, on request. Addelice confirmed accuracy should remain excellent at 95°C.

Test 3: Temperature Stability

The “stability” criteria is the capability for an immersion circulator to regulate the temperature of a water bath which can be affected by external factors like an open window nearby the water bath container, or immersing 5°C pouches in the water bath…
Usually, stability of immersion circulators isn’t an issue.
I have used the Greisinger thermometer to check the temperature stability. The resolution of this thermometer is of hundredth of a degree and its display is refreshed each half second.

- Addelice Swid is very stable.
- Anova is very stable.
- Vacmaster / Buffalo stability is ok although confusing. The temperature stability of the water bath (checked with my thermometer) is ok but the temperature on the display of the Vacmaster circulator is constantly fluctuating of ± 0.2°C.
- Dissna KW802 stability is less good compared to the Vacstar / Buffalo / Allpax and suffer from the same “issue” than the Vacstar device. Fluctuating on the circulator display can raise up to + 0.3°C.
- Melissa (fake Anova): I was flabbergasted! I never thought a manufacturer could cheat that way! As soon as the set temperature is reached, the software of the immersion circulator freezes the display. In other words, if you drop ice cubes in the water bath you will not see any changes on the display…

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Sous Vide Chef Vs Sous Vide Professional (Vac-Star Vs Polyscience)

by on Apr.12, 2012, under

Published March 2nd 2012

Polyscience Sous Vide Professional
Vac-Star Sous Vide Chef
TypeImmersion Circulator, adaptatifImmersion Circulator, On/Off controler
Size98mm/187/358mm = 6,600 cm3
3.8"/7.3"/14,1"
95mm/170/352mm = 5,700 cm3
3.8"/6.7"/13.9"
Weight5.8 kg
12.7 lb
2.1 kg
4.6 lb
Power1,100 W1,300 W
Tank/vessel capacityUp 30 L
Up to 7.5 gal
Up to 20 L
Up to 5 gal
Water pump
12 L/min (not checked) but the Polyscience is more powerfull compared to the Vacstar's immersion circulatorNo clear information provided by Vac-star. Some distributors say 12 L/min some say 4 L/min.
SafetyLow liquid protection : overheating protection. No float switchFloat switch + overheating protection
StabilityExcellentAverage + due to the On/Off controler technologie known to be less efficient and a with shorter life expectancy compared to the technology used by Polyscience, Julabo and Addelice
Ease of use, comfort, silent

Very good except the noise of the motor that is loudGood but buttons of the panel are too small and the use of the timer is strange. Silent machine.
Maintenance, cleaningQuality of the plastic casing is much better compared to Vacstar but stainless steel metal would have been a better option. Heater element difficult to cleanAverage quality of the plastic casing used by Vacstar. Float switch (made of plastic and foam) and heater element maybe difficult to clean
Warranty1 year1 year
PriceEUR 627 excl. VAT+ shipping costsEUR 287 excl. VAT + shipping costs

COMMENTS

  • Size and weight: Polyscience SV Professional is more heavy compared to SV Chef of Vacstar. Proportions and design of both circulators are very similar. You can say Vacstar was not really inspired when copying Polyscience’s design. Even small details are similar but the finishes of VcaStar are not neat and the quality of the plastic used by Polyscience is far better. The big difference in weight could be explained by a more powerful motor used by Polyscience to mix water.

  • Tank/vessel capacity: Polyscience and Vac-Star have designed their immersion circulator for a similar vessel capacity (20 L). Polyscience indicates SV Professional can stabilise water up to 30 L.
  • Safety: a float switch is the best solution to alert cooks when the waterlevel is too low and pouches risk to float at the surface. SV Chef of Vac-Star benefits from this safety device, Polyscience don’t. The float switch of Vacstar is made of plastic and foam (see picture) that looks cheap compared to the metal float switch proposed by other trademarks. The overheating protection of Polyscience has not been implemented for food safety reasons but to protect the machine against fire in the case of low waterlevel. We made a test removing water below the “min” water level until the pump was not runing in water anymore. The SV Chef of Polyscience was still running and keeping the coil temperature as close as possible to the target temperature.
  • Temperature stability: Polyscience SV professional has an exceptional stability (± 0.06°C) which can be achieved especialy if containers are well insulated. Vac-Star SV Chef is using an On/Off controler as discussed in this interesting Egullet forum. This “technology” is wellknown since Seattlefoodgeek.com blog has developped a $85 DIY immersion circulator.  Some well informed poeple on Egullet pointed out that such equipment can’t last long because of a mecanical relay that could break : “… Assume a 1 million cycle life and 10S period. Relay life would be 1M cycles * 10S period/ 3600S/Hr = ~3000 Hrs of operation. Maybe longer if you increase the period or start skipping cycles entirely when you reach equilibrium… if you use a relays it will not break for some time when controlled “correctly” (though even 3000h are not that much considering the 72h cooking marathons those device have to withstand). I would not use one because of the scenario that might happen when the relays malfunctions and gets stuck, and the heating element run continuously on full power”…
  • Ease of use, comfort, silent: both immersion circulators are easy to use. Polyscience doesn’t have a timer. Vacstar has one but it is not really user friendly. Buttons of Vacstar are a bit too small in my opinion. Polyscience SV Professional is loud because of its big motor while Vac-Star SV Chef is silent but less powerful.
  • Maintenance, cleaning: immersion circulators must be frequently cleaned to remove the limescale appearing after some days of intensive use on the grid and heating coil. A sous vide pouch could also break during cooking process (badly sealed pouch). You need a screw driver to open the plastic grid and clean the device. The VacStar SV Chef is a little bit less practicle to open and to close compared to Polyscience. In my opinion both Polyscience and Vacstar heating coils are not easy to clean. The float switch of VacStar is cheaply made of plastic and foam. If not cleaned often this float switch may get stuck.
  • Warranty: 1 year.
  • Price: SV Professional of Polyscience is twice more expensive compared to SV Chef of Vac-Star (EUR 625 excl.VAT EUR compared to 285 excl. VAT).

SUMMARY

  • Polyscience immersion circulator is well designed and a wellknown American trademark. It contains the state of the art PID controler and gives a great feeling of confidence when having it in your hands. On the other hand SV Professional doesn’t have a timer, a float switch and is made of plastic, probably for costs reasons.
  • Vac-Star has launched the cheapest immersion circulator available on the market but can’t be compared, in terms of technology and quality, with Polyscience. It works fine but it seems the technology used by VacStar to control the temperature (a mecanical relay) has a limited life expectancy.

Back to “Sous Vide Equipments Reviews & Comparison Tests” parent page.

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Sous Vide Equipments Reviews & Comparison Tests

by on Aug.22, 2011, under

Sous vide equipment manufacturers or distributors are always presenting their products in the best way, emphasizing on advantages but never on drawbacks.

This section of Sousvidecooking.org blog is dedicated to reviews and tests of the most popular equipment used by professionals and sous vide enthusiasts in general.
For each piece of sous vide equipment I made a review (I). Each product is also compared in different pages with all the other products of the market (II). A summary of all products is also available (III). Comparison between two products is not an easy thing. Therefore, I have selected objective criteria that will be the same for all tests:

- Size: if you are an individual the place taken by your sous vide equipment is an issue, especially if you have a small kitchen. Will your sous vide appliance enter in one of your kitchen drawers?
- Weight: can you manage with a 5 Kg machine? If you are a professional, and you need carrying immersion circulators for demos, weight is important for you.
- Power: the more powerful your appliance is the faster it will heat the water contained in your water bath.
- Max. tank/vessel capacity: if you are a professional and doing catering, 50 litres capacity could be important for you. If you are an individual, 20 litres capacity is totally sufficient.
- Safety: cooking sous vide can take very long, from some minutes (fish) to days (special cuts of meat). Even at 50°C water evaporates. For food safety reasons a pouch must always be immersed in water. This is a reason why a float switch system is the best way to warn cooks about a low water level in a water bath.
- Stability: cooking sous vide is precise, 1.5°C temperature variation can lead to different results.
- Maintenance, cleaning of the sous vide equipment : key point if you are an intensive user or a professional.
- Warranty.
- Price.

I hope these pages will help you to choose the best equipment according to your needs.

I. Reviews

I.1. Immersion Circulator

- Addélice : Swid
- Julabo : Pearl
- Polyscience : Sous Vide Professional (coming soon)
- Vac-Star : Sous Vide Chef (coming soon)

I.2. Non stirred water bath

- Sousvidesupreme (coming soon)

I.3. PID Controller

- Freshmealssolution : Sousvidemagic (coming soon)

II. Sous vide equipment comparison (detailled)

- Addelice swid Vs Julabo Pearl
- Vac-star SV Chef Vs Polyscience SV Professional
- Addelice swid Vs Polyscience Sous Vide Professional (coming soon)
- Addelice Swid Vs Sousvidesupreme (coming soon)
- Addelice Swid Vs Sousvidemagic (coming soon)
- Julabo Pearl Vs Polyscience Sous vide Professional (coming soon)
- Julabo Pearl Vs Sousvidesupreme (coming soon)
- Julabo Pearl Vs Sousvidemagic (coming soon)
- Polyscience Sous Vide Professional Vs Sousvidesupreme (coming soon)
- Polyscience Sous Vide Professional Vs Sousvidemagic (coming soon)
- Sousvidemagic Vs Sousvidesupreme (coming soon)

III. Sous vide equipment comparison (summary) : clic on the image below to download the Pdf doc

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Sous Vide Equipments – The Ultimate Review (coming soon)!

by on Sep.22, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

Coming soon a review of the most representative sous vide equipment of the market (from the left to the right) on this page :

- SousVide Professional of Polyscience (Immersion Circulator)
- Sous Vide Chef of Vac-Star (Immersion Cirdulator) Swid by Addélice (Immersion Circulator)
- Pearl by Julabo (Immersion Circulator)
- SousVideMagic by FreshMealsSolutions + Bubbler (PID Controler SVM-FMM1500D)
- SousVide Supreme (Unstired PID controlled water bath)
- Sous Vide Chef of Vac-Star (Immersion Circulator)

JF

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Polyscience MX Immersion Circulator – What a beauty!

by on Mar.02, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

Polyscience launched on Youtube a video about their new Immersion Circulator, the MX version.

The design of this equipment is fantastic but will this immersion circulator be affordable for sous vide chefs and individuals? Except this video, no information is available on the net. If you have some, feel free to tell us!

Here is the Youtube video!

YouTube Preview Image

Jean-François

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