ARY VacMaster VP215: Unboxing and First Impressions

It’s here!

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FedEx dropped the package off on my doorstep without ringing the doorbell, so I’m glad that the neighborhood strongman didn’t come haul it off before I could get to it.

The corrugated cardboard box that the VP215 shipped in is barely enough to contain the unit. Those flimsy handles held on for long enough to get the box indoors, but I wouldn’t depend on them for much more than a short move.

The package weighs every bit of the claimed 107lb/48.5kg shipping weight.

Unboxing

Peeling back the flaps reveals another box inside

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What’s this?

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With the packaging material removed, we get our first glimpse of the VP215

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Functional strength is important. I transported the VP215 to the island, where it will live

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The VP215 freed of all packaging material

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Oiling the Pump

Prior to use, the pump must first be filled.

Remove the back access panel to expose the inner workings of the VP215

vp215-internals

The instruction manual states only that an adjustable wrench be used to loosen the oil fill nut. On my unit, I found that a 14mm socket provided the best fit. A 9/16″ SAE socket would have worked in a flash, albeit with a little more wiggle.

Use the bottle to fill the pump with oil

vp215-oil-fill

I filled the pump until it was roughly 3/4 full of oil. By the time that I snapped this photo, some of the initial fill had migrated further into the pump

vp215-oil-level

I added more oil to bring the level back to 3/4

First Use

I thought I’d be clever and seal the oil bottle back into the pouch that I’d removed it from, but discovered much to my dismay that the chamber wasn’t quite deep enough to accommodate it 🙄 This was just as well, as I didn’t know what to expect with the recommended settings for the first run.

I had some chicken leg quarters on hand that needed to be bagged. I made bags from a Foodsaver roll and placed the chicken leg quarters two to a bag, making five bags altogether. The first two bags sealed beautifully.

For the third bag, I decided to lengthen the vacuum cycle to 45 seconds. This had the unfortunate side effect of blowing out the single heat seal that formed the bottom of the bag.

I reduced the vacuum time back to 40 seconds for the fourth and fifth bags. Both of these bags failed to seal properly because I did not keep the bags smoothed out where they met the heat seal bar.

I tried a couple more times with the Foodsaver bags, and was ultimately successful in getting a third one to form a proper seal. I cut open the two that weren’t cooperating and rebagged using the smooth-sided sample bags that were included with the VP215. These sealed without a hitch.

First Impressions

The VP215 feels like a $900 machine. It’s very heavy, and the stainless steel exterior is handsome

While one could use Foodsaver bags with this machine, it is neither practical nor economical to do so

The user guide states that the first oil change should be performed after 25 hours of use, but who keeps track of pump runtime? It would be nice if there were an indicator, but feature creep

I observed some leftover debris from manufacturing and assembly within the unit

The user’s guide is well-written, though some of the decals affixed to the VP215 are in need of rework
vp215-engrish

I was pleased to discover that ARY Inc. is based out of Kansas City, MO. This way, if anything goes wrong, I can urge ahopefulhobbit to lay siege to their offices

Concluding Remarks

The short wait is over, and it’s time to begin using this machine in earnest.

I have intentions of doing a writeup on how I came to select the VP215 in the days to come.

On Choosing a Chamber Vacuum Sealer

I found the following comment influential as I was choosing my first chamber vacuum sealer. Slight modifications have been made from the source to improve on clarity.

The three most important components that differentiate a quality vacuum chamber sealer are the pump, the pump, and the pump.

A dry pump will not pull nearly as high a vacuum as an oil pump.

An oil pump will last far longer than a dry pump.

All pumps slowly lose their maximum vacuum with use, but dry pumps will do so much faster than oil based pumps.

Busch pumps are at the top of the food chain, followed by DVP, followed by the VP mystery chinese oil pump, in terms of quality and maximum vacuum.

Serviceability is another major issue. Busch pump parts are widely available, and the pumps can be restored to “new” condition for about $375. The lower end Busch pumps (16 and 21 m3/minute) found in the smaller chamber machines are rated for 730,000(!) cycles prior to a rebuild. Good luck getting that VP pump fixed in a few years.

While price is not always an indicator of quality, it is worth noting that the smallest Busch pump (just the pump) costs more than a VP210.

Personally, I’d rather spend $2,000 on a Busch pump based machine that will, in a home environment, probably last forever, than $1,250 on one with a questionable, perhaps impossible to repair pump.

As to the other features like vacuum by percentage, vacuum by H2O sensor, soft air, gas flush, etc…they’re nice to have, but it’s the pump that matters most.

Source: GlowingGhoul on eGullet.org forums, http://forums.egullet.org/topic/137429-chamber-vacuum-sealers-2011–2014/?p=1853446

The only problem with following this advice is that you won’t find Busch pumps in entry-level chamber vacuum sealers.

They are featured in Henkelman’s vacuum sealers (http://www.henkelman.com), but these retail for several times the price of entry-level units. Such an investment puts the best pumps out of range for most home sous vide enthusiasts.

GlowingGhoul might say that I’m taking a gamble on my decision to order the VacMaster VP215. The good news about the VP215 is that there are replacement parts available for it. I can purchase a replacement pump to keep on hand for when the original pump does fail.

The comment is still useful.