Comparing our Different Vacuum Pump Options

Freeze drying does not happen unless there is a complete vacuum during the process. That is why all freeze dryers have to also have a vacuum pump. Harvest Right currently offers our standard oil pump along with two upgrade vacuum pump options. One of the most common question we are asked is “what’s the differences between the pumps?”

The Standard Oil Pump is what comes with the purchase of a freeze dryer. This pump can last years but does require some maintenance. New hoses have improved the vacuum process, but oil in the pump still needs to be drained and filtered after every 4-5 batches. Filtering the oil only takes a few minutes. Basically, you open a valve, drain the oil into the top of the included oil filter, wait a few minutes for the oil to filter, and then pour the oil back into the pump. The standard pump also runs at a volume of about 64 decibels.

The first available pump upgrade is the Premier Oil Pump. The Premier Pump still uses oil but rarely needs to have the oil changed or filtered. The pump has a gas ballast feature that makes it so water does not stay in the oil. Because of this, the oil in the pump will be pristine and clear, even after 30 or more batches. You simply won’t need to change the oil until you have run 20 or more batches. This pump is also lighter, more durable, and requires a little less power to run. It runs at 52 decibels. 

The final pump upgrade is the Oil-Free Pump. Like all these pump options, the Oil-Free Pump can be used with any size freeze dryer. It is quiet, fast, and easy to use. These pumps do not require oil changes and do not require regular user maintenance. It is the most maintenance-free pump available. The Oil-Free Pump runs at 62 decibels. 

When deciding which pump to purchase, the most important question to ask is how much maintenance are you willing to do. While filtering the oil is relatively simple, some people would rather not have to spend the time or effort it takes. The Premier Pump is a great idea for anyone that would like to have less maintenance or wants the quietest pump. The Oil-Free Pump is perfect for the person that wants almost zero maintenance. 

You can learn more about our different pump options by visiting our online store


The oil-free pump WILL require maintenance at some point. What is required and how much does it cost?

Vacuum pumps where I work are routinely serviced by college students. I can perform that task. Assuming it is a scroll pump, can we buy scroll seals and replace them ourselves?

We have an oil-free pump, and this raises some questions…

1. What is a “scroll seal”?

2. How do we know it needs replacing? (I assume the pump stops to properly pull a vacuum?)

3. Where can we get them?

It is a seal inside the vacuum pump that can wear overtime. It typically needs to be replaced ever few years and you will know it is ready because you won’t be able to achieve as deep of a vacuum. You can get them from Harvest Right.

In general the freeze dryer and vacuum pumps operate optimally between 40 – 75 degrees F. However, it will still operate well outside those temperatures.

After 20 batches on the premier pump it says to change the oil, can I just filter it? How many times can I filter the same oil? The oil is still clear and I’m actually on batch 21 as we speak.

OK, apparently mine is the Standard pump, not the Premier. Nevertheless it does have a “Gas Ballast” knob. Can I use that to extend the time between oil filtrations?

Why is the gas ballast not used with the standard pump? It is there so I would assume it’s for something. Also, how is the gas ballast used best with Harvest Right equipment?

Thank you!

The gas ballanst on the standard pump is not sensitive enough to work with freeze drying. It lets too much air in and you cannot achieve pressure. The gas ballast on the Premier Pump is best used by simply keeping it open all the time.

I have an oil free pump. After my first four or five cycles the machine tells me to change the oil. How do I make that notification go away? Thanks

The pump is not integral to the freeze dryer and can be upgraded at any time… well, almost. It appears at the time that I write this, the oil free pump is on back order (it seems to happen often, they’re quite popular) so if you’re looking to make the investment, it may take a bit of time before you receive the unit.

Swapping is as simple as “unplug & detach the hose, swap pumps, reinstall, done.”

Hope this helps!

I have been using my oil for some quite time (4 years now) and have passed the 100th use easily with the standard Pump, just keep adding new oil to have enough (in a gallon bucket).
Have done several tests with new oil from JB or Robinair and the pump achieves pretty much the same performance. Just filter every time your oil and keep clean your system.

With the standard pump we got, I’ve filtered the oil after every batch, we still haven’t finished using our new oil and the filter oil is waiting to be reused. During the standard maintenance time, I opened her up and things inside were as pristine as new. There was no cleanup.. we’ve probably done a couple hundred batches and never had an issue.

We are buying Robinair oil at the auto parts store. And it gets dirty/yellow fairly fast with dusty foods to be freeze dried.. So what you put in the machine can affect the oil..

My question is how long does the oil last ?? Can you filter the oil for years? I would imagine it does break down eventually.. But we are using the savings from freeze drying to save for a new pump eventually.

Dairyland oil is bad for the premier pumps and has a bad odor. However, it is okay to use with the standard pumps at the customer’s discretion.

When I was on the phone with HR today they told me you’d have to send it in and it was a $300 charge.

Is the new low profile oil free pump lower decibels then the premium oil pump? It just says it’s quiet on the description.

Are there any recommended customer maintenance procedures for the oil-free pump? I’ve read. Different opinions from Harvest Right Facebook groups. Some say they were instructed by Harvest Right Customer Service. There are no instructions in the manual and I haven’t seen anything on the HR web site.

The best thing to do is at the end of each batch. Open the door and run the pump to free air for 3-4 minutes. This will push any water/particulate out of the pump. If you do this it will keep the pump very clean.

so … to run the pump to free air, what do I press. I ended everything, cleaned it last night and turn the fd off. (just so you know where I am on the software)
I turn on the fd, open door with valve open I’m assuming… then press ? to run pump only with no food inside and door open…

I just received my Harvest Right FD with the low profile oil free pump. There are now instructions for the pump. I can’t even find a on/ off switch for the pump. I’m sure I must be over looking it. Can anyone tell where it is or if it has one?

There is not an on/off switch. It plugs into your freeze dryer and your freeze dryer will turn it on/off at the appropriate time.

Does the oil-free pump achieve faster batch cycles, compared to the oil pumps?

Can I reduce my processing time by using the oil-free pump?

I have the Premier pump, and although I carefully monitor the oil level, it started misting on me at the tail end of a batch. I assume the demister has oil in it now, but what can I do about it? Nothing in the manual except “don’t get oil in the demister”.

We just purchased our low profile oil free pump this last weekend. The air filter thing zip tied underneath seems to be really dirty and it appears to have leaked something that looks like oil or grease underneath that. What is this and is it a problem. We just purchased it and have followed the directions to the letter every time. Do we need to contact warranty repair or is this normal?

I had same issue after 3 batch, when I opened the valve on dry freezer a big mist of water came out of the muffler of low profile oil free pump. Is this normal?

Yes. That is how it is designed so that the water doesn’t stay inside the vacuum pump. This is only with oil free pumps.

I started out with the basic pump and it has been fine, I decided to upgrade to the oil free pump and have it hooked up. If I remember right when I first set up the freeze dryer it asked me what type of pump was I using, how do I reprogram it to the new pump?

It depends a little on what types of foods you are freeze drying, but, approximately 15-20 times. (You might start to see a slowdown around 15 or so.)

Hi! I have just purchased a large machine with a standard oil pump (the premier is not available over here in Europe, yet). The pump has a ballast valve. I have read that on the premier pump the ballast helps keep water out of the oil, I assume that the function of the standard pump is the same, hence the ballast will do the same thing. However I have found videos online that says to always leave the ballast closed on the standard pump. What is HR’s take on this?

Is there any difference in pump longevity or overall function between using different pump oils? Specifically I’m considering using Robinair or Black Gold. Either one last longer or better for the pump or not good at all to use in these pumps?

I have no option but to put the FD in my dining room. I am concerned about the sound of the vacuum pump in nearby rooms. Can the FD operate with the vacuum pump in a sound-dampening box?

I have a premium pump do you need to turn the pump off when you vent or after each batch or will it automatically shut iff and on?

It will automatically turn off when the process is complete. At that point you can vent and remove your food.

I realize this may be a dumb question but the power switch for the premium pump has a – and a O. Which one is the on side?

On a Premier pump what is the correct way of using the ballast? Do you turn it off for the first 10 minutes and then open it for the rest of the time or do you keep the ballast open all the time, and never close it, what is the correct way for the pump

Article states:
The standard pump runs at 64 decibels.
Premier pump runs at 52 decibels.
Oil-Free Pump runs at 62 decibels.

Is this accurate when it comes to the oil free or is this a mis-type? Is it truely louder then the premier pump?

For the quoted decibel levels, this will be measured at some standard distance from the pump. What distance was the noise level tested at that resulted in the quoted values?

Do you ever close the gas ballast on the premier oil pump and if so, when exactly is it opened and when is it closed?

I jus got my freeze dryer and i know i will loveI it I have a
medium one. What pump comes with them it was in the box I received? Can you only use 2 trays when
you Freeze or do you need to use all 4?Can you put
you canning Jars in with the Shelve out and seal the

I bought my Harvest Right medium freeze dryer used, it’s about 5 years old and works fine. It came with a 12 cfm Bhogart vacuum pump which I assumed was OEM but now I think it may be a replacement. I have a few questions about this pump. !). It has a ballast valve, should it be opened or closed? 2). How often should the oil be filtered? 3). Does the larger capacity in any way affect the operation during the freeze drying process? Thanks.

What is the difference between the XL Premier Industrial Pump and the Premier Industrial Pump besides the xl only to be used on the large and xl units.

What happens if you leave the gas ballast valve closed for several batches on the premier pump? How bad is that and can anything be done to mitigate the effects of this error?

I’m confused with my premium oil pump. I received an oil filter with it. So my question is when do I filter the oil vs when do I just completely change it. Owners manual isn’t helpful. Also one place says after 4-5 batches and another says 20 batches.

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