Sous Vide Cooking

Tag: immersion circulator

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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Unboxing of the Swid Premium Immersion Circulator

by on Apr.09, 2017, under Equipments & Accessories

I could not resist buying it!
In 2009 I was one of the first to buy the Swid and to test it. Since then, this marvel of technology has been challenged by equipment like Sous Vide Supreme, Nomiku, Sansaire and other Anova. These equipments have the advantage of being much smaller, having Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection and being much cheaper than the Swid. On the other hand:

- they are not professional equipment,
- they have low power capacity (but sufficient for most home use applications),
- price is attractive but, in return, do not expect a reactive after sale service, especially if you are located outside USA. No one repairs a machine at 150 €. Moreover, the warranty of these devices is often 1 year only… do not even consider returning these immersion circulator to the US with all the customs and tax problems that this implies …

I am particularly sceptical regarding Bluetooth or Wifi connections for sous vide devices. What is it (really) the use of being able to switch on your immersion circulator remotely from your work or to change the temperature from your phone when your are just close to the device? IMO this is pure gadget that causes more worry than anything else. Bluetooth is definitely more stable and reliable than Wifi that requires a connection on your router. Just surf a little on the internet to see how many people are complaining that they can not connect their phone to their immersion heater. This is even more problematic when your immersion circulator can’t be operate independently, without connection to your phone or tablet such as the JOULE immersion circulator, for example … Also, when you know how unhygienic is a display of a phone, it is understandable that this can be an obstacle to use such functionality, especially for professionals, while hygiene is at the center of the sous vide technic.

What am I looking for in an immersion circulator?

- power: I do not want to wait tens of minutes that my water-bath reaches the target temperature. Obviously putting hot water directly in the container saves a certain time…anyway it is all question of comfort!
- precision and stability: this is the basis of sous vide cooking,
- ease of use,
- reliability and service,
- the price.

The purpose of this article is to make a quick comparison between my Swid 1st generation which is now almost 7 years old and the new Swid Premium that was put on the market late 2016!

Already in 2010 I had made a presentation of the Swid and a global comparison with the other immersion heaters existing at the time. Since then, other tests seem to have confirmed that the Swid was an exceptional professional device: see Food Service Equipment.

Where to buy the Swid Premium?

Addelice does not sell directly the Swid Premium on their online shop. You will need to go through a dealer which official list is here. They are not many resellers at the moment and I bought mine on the site www.sousvideconsulting.com. This site is clearly professionals oriented.

How much does the Swid Premium cost?

The Swid is at 475 € incl. VAT while the Swid Premium is at 750 € incl. VAT. Addelice indicates that the difference in price is justified by the fact that the Swid Premium is an ultra-robust “war machine”, with oversized components for “virile” use and particularly suitable for caterers who need power. Indeed, the Swid Premium is the first and currently only immersion circulator in the world with a heating power of 2,400W.

Duration of the guarantee?

This has always been the strong point of Addelice which offers, since its beginnings, a global guarantee of 2 years. Since 2016 Addélice offers a 2-years warranty extension on the Swid, giving a total of 4 years warranty! I found no other manufacturer of immersion circulator to suggest this. Unfortunately this extension does not seem to be available on the Swid Premium. Here is a point of improvement for the Swid Premium ;-)

Visible differences between the Swid and the Swid Premium

What the 2 models have in common:

- The Swid and Swid Premium are looking very similar and have a similar weight and size.
- The functions and control panels are very close. If you are regular with the Swid then your grip of the Swid Premium will be immediate.

Apart from that there are a lot of new features compared to my old model:

- Since 2015 Addelice has integrated a Pt100 temperature probe into all its models. I admit that I did not know the difference between Pt100 probe and thermocouples before reading this article … the advantages in terms of accuracy and reliability seem to be very important! Strangely, the other immersion circulator’s manufacturers do not indicate anything concerning the technical specifications of their temperature probes…
- The design of the heater has changed. It is now helical while it was rather flat on my old model. Addelice indicates that this is justified by the search for power (2,400W). This new design will probably make it a bit more difficult to clean the heater which was particularly easy on the old model. Nevertheless, the cleaning will remain globally an easier operation compared to models like Vac-Star or Julabo Fusion Chef which are a nightmare according to the echoes I have had.
- The pump system to mix water is a great novelty! On my old model the pump was in a black tube that could cause some issue when a peel or a piece of plastic accidentally fell into water vacuumed in the inlet of the pump. This happened to me and I had to replace the pump. This operation It has been made quickly and kindly by Addelice. It should also be said that I had never cleaned the pump at that time … As I said the system to mix water is now radically different: the motor is located in the plastic casing, and only the shaft and the propeller are Immersed in water. What ultimately makes the Swid much easier to clean! The water stream is now done vertically (from top to bottom) instead of horizontally (as with the old model). I tried it in a 20 liters tank and the result seemed to be totally satisfactory. Addelice recommends, for large volumes (58 liters), when the water bath is heavily loaded with sous vide pouches thus limiting the circulation of water, to use a pastry grid to be placed at the bottom of the container. According to Addelice it is therefore impossible to have a “cold point” with this technique …
- Heating power: in 2009 my Swid was limited up to 1,800 W. The Swid Premium now benefits from 2.400W! hich makes it the most powerful immersion heater in the world. Obviously, It will not make a big difference for a cooking amateur like me. Nevertheless I imagine the comfort of use this can represent for a professional. It is also reassuring to know that this “Bad Boy », if needed, has plenty of power under the hood…

- The power cable is attached directly to the back of the Swid Premium. It is no longer removable with a plug, as on my old model. Addelice says this is necessary because of the high power of the device. In order to avoid any bad contact and overheating of the cable this component has been particularly reinforced.
- A large waterproof power switch has been added to the Swid Premium.
- An ultra powerful ventilation system has been added compared to my old model. The fan stirs a lot of air but is nonetheless very quiet.

My first feelings about the Swid Premium

Admittedly the price of the Swid Premium is higher than that of the Swid. But you can feel that the Swid Premium is a top range immersion circulator compared to my 7 years old Swid. Clearly the Swid Premium is a professional equipment, without concession, technically sophisticated and high performance.
And now enough spoken of the material, in kitchen !!!

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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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Julabo New Fusion Chef Immersion Circulator for Sous Vide (Part 1 – The Pearl)

by on Sep.12, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

Julabo is known as the European leader in manufacturing Constant Temperature Circulators used for research, science and industry with a reputation since 1967. Some weeks ago Julabo launched the Fusion Chef Immersion Circulator series devoted to sous vide.

I received some days ago the Pearl an Diamond immersion circulators and could not stand giving you my first impressions of these fabulous pieces of sous vide equipement. Today I’ll show you the Pearl and will post tomorrow about the Diamond. I’ll make a full review of these equipements during the next days and will share my conclusions with you.

The Pearl is a very simple and nice finish immersion circulator. The front display is composed of one screen and 4 buttons


Julabo’s immersion circulator is totally composed of stainless steal (casing and protection cage) which gives an excellent “feeling” about the machine.

The Pearl is sold with a protection grid which is a good point as protection grids are usually sold separatly at EUR 100 . The protection cage is fixed with 4 screws on the down part of the casing which is, in my opinion, not really practical if you want to proceed to a fast cleaning of the immersion circulator after each use.

Pearl’s price list is EUR 899 (excl. VAT?).

Main specifications :

  • Temp. range: 20°C to 95°C
  • Temp. stability: ± 0,03°C
  • Power: 2,000W
  • Circulation pump: 14 l/min
  • Low-level water alarm
  • Safety protection grid

JF


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Chef Touch System – The all in one sous vide cooking at home solution from KitchenAid

by on Aug.16, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

Today I saw an interesting piece of sous vide cooking equipment called Chef Touch System from KitchenAid. This concept gather a vacuum chamber sealer (a must in terms of vacuum that gives you the possibility to add liquids such as oil or a marinade in you pouch without destroying the machine) a shock freezer (very usefull and safe device if you want to keep meats in the freezer after you cooked it at low temperature) and a steam oven.

The concept of this all in one sous vide equipment gives an idea of what could look our kitchen in a close futur. The only weak point of this beautiful item is the steam oven. Why not replacing it with a PID controlled steared water bath?

Any idea of the price of the Chef Touch System and availability?

Information added October 23rd :

Thanks to N.Lavirotte, we now know the ChefTouch System is available since September in Europe. Official retail price are as follow :

-Vacuum chamber : 2,950 € incl. VAT
- Shock Freezer : 5,000 € incl. VAT
- Oven : steam ( 1,550 €) combi (1,850 € ) incl. VAT
- Kitchen high cabinet : 2,700 € incl. VAT

Total = 12,500 € (combi oven) incl. VAT (approx. 17,500 USD)

JF

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