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.

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!

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.

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