When you’re shopping for freeze dryers, it’s totally normal to look at the price tag and wonder if there aren’t some better-priced options available. So what is the difference between freeze dryer brands? And is Harvest Right really the only option?
There are dozens of companies that make freeze dryers; however, most of those brands focus on making pharmaceutical or lab-grade freeze-dryers. Harvest Right is the main brand that also focuses on having a line of freeze-dryers available for home use.
And while that seems like a small, technical point for a difference? What that means is that buying a home freeze dryer, while not a small investment (it can cost several thousand dollars, depending on the model), it’s still not as expensive as buying a lab freeze-dryer, which is much bigger and ten times as expensive.
What’s the Difference Between Home Freeze-Dryers and Pharmaceutical Freeze-Dryers?
Home freeze dryers are smaller, slightly louder, and have a smaller temperature range than the larger pharmaceutical models. However, home units also cost a fraction of what pharmaceutical models cost. Home units can cost $2,000 to $7,000, while lab units can cost $10,000 to $1.5 million, depending on the model.
One of the first questions that come to mind when faced with freeze-drying machines is what is the difference between home versions and pharmaceutical ones.
In this regard, there are 3 main differences that you need to know.
- The first difference is in terms of size. In general, home freeze-dryers tend to be smaller than pharmaceuticals.
- The second difference is temperature. Home freeze-dryers tend to have a smaller temperature range than lab units.
- The last difference is price. Home units tend to cost a fraction of what pharmaceutical ones do.
For size, I don’t just mean that those lab units are physically bigger. That’s not only because of the number of products or food they have to produce but also due to other components the machine must have for lab purposes.
But beyond the physical size, we’re also talking about the capacity of these machines, normally home freeze-dryers have an average capacity of 3.8 to 15.1 liters while pharmaceutical freeze-dryers can go up to 35 liters. That’s up to 10 times more capacity!
The second difference between them is their temperature, home freeze-dryers can get to -40° C (-40° F) approximately, while pharmaceutical ones can get around -50º C (-58° F) to -105° C (-157° F). So, depending on your needs, that’s an important factor to take while deciding which machine you’ll invest in.
The third (and may I say, very important) difference is the price. Normally, home freeze-dryers cost a few thousand dollars while lab freeze-dryers can cost tens of thousands of dollars up to millions of dollars or more. This is even more so the case when you start to add all of the accessories you need.
Main Brands of Freeze-Dryers (Like Harvest Right)
Now that you know the main difference between home freeze-dryers and pharmaceutical ones, it’s time to get to know the main brands that manufacture freeze-dryers.
- Harvest Right: It has several sizes for both models and it ships internationally.
- Labconco: brand focused on lab and pharmaceutical freeze-dryers in several sizes.
- Siccadania: Also focused on lab and pharmaceutical freeze-dryers, this brand doesn’t offer so many size options, but they do sell a “factory setup” which can be interesting if you have bigger plans for the future.
- Parker Freeze Dry: they focus on pharmaceutical and commercial freeze dryers.
- Hudson Valley Lyomac: they also focus on lab, pharmaceutical, and commercial units.
If you want to read more about who makes freeze dryers in the USA, including more about the Parker Freeze Dry and Hudson Valley Lyomac companies, then read this article I wrote: Who Manufactures Freeze Dryers? Questions Answered.
Well, you can already see that one of the biggest differences between the three brands is that Harvest Right is the only one that sells the home freeze-dryer, but this is not necessarily the only point that may be against or in favor of your decision-making. Therefore, below we will list some differences between these sellers that we’ve mentioned above.
Harvest Right Freeze Dryers VS Labconco
Harvest Right makes home freeze dryers, while Labconco makes pharmaceutical-grade units. If you want to be able to freeze-dry food, the Harvest Right is the best choice for both size and price.
Even so, let me spell things out a little bit more, starting by comparing these two brands. First, it is worth saying that, to be fair, we are going to compare the pharmaceutical freeze-dryers from Harvest Right so that we will be able to look more equally at the two products.
To begin with, a big difference between the two brands is that when you buy the machine at Harvest Right, the price already includes the pump – whether it’s premier or oil-free – while on Labconco you have to buy the pump – which is a vacuum – separately (which increases the cost).
Warranty is a point where the two brands differ, while at Harvest Right you have one of 3 years on the product you bought, at Labconco this warranty is of 1 year from the date of installation of the machine or 2 years from the date of shipment, whichever happens first.
Both products have a touch screen display, but Labconco’s is more technological though. In addition to basic on and off functions and process information, they also show data such as collector temperature, vacuum level, and more optional information you can select.
This data log even stores and displays this information in a table or even a graphic format and you can export it via USB or Ethernet cable.
So, what is the best option between the two? It will depend on your space, investment, and especially your need. However, if your idea is to make only freeze-dried foods for your family (which ends up being on a small scale, even in a larger family) I dare say that Harvest Right is the best option.
Harvest Right Freeze Dryers VS Siccadania
Compared with the smaller SiccaDania, we have more or less the same differences as the ones pointed out above. A more complete touch screen panel that generates reports for you, and a vacuum pump.
However, some differentials that the brand offers are:
- It has optimized energy efficiency and is basically maintenance-free;
- As they promise this low maintenance, Siccadania provides it along with repairs and the purchase of spare parts for your machine;
- Their smaller size has 8 trays while Harvest Right’s medium size has 4.
But, as mentioned before they only have 3 size options, two of which are very large (more for laboratories), they’re probably more expensive either (no prices are listed, you’d have to “request a quote”), as they’re very technical and have this maintenance included.
Having said that, once again the conclusion we came to is that for home production and smaller spaces, the best freeze-drying machine is the one from Harvest Right.
About Harvest Right
Harvest Right specializes in freeze-drying machines and offers 3 different sizes of each type of home and pharmaceutical versions of their product. They also sell and produce 3 types of pumps: Vacuum Pump, Premiere Vacuum Pump, and Oil-Free Pump, and each of them has its peculiarities for your machines.
The main differences between these pumps are the frequency of oil change (or not using oil in the case of the “Oil-Free Pump”) and if it can be used on your machine because some of them may require an adapter, for example.
Talking about their home freeze-dryers, which are cheaper than the pharmaceutical ones, they come in more than one color (so it can match your kitchen or pantry design), and while all models (small, medium, and large) work on a 110-volt outlet, the large requires a 20 amp dedicated outlet. All of them have a detachable vacuum pump that stays outside of the machine.
Normally, with the purchase of your freeze dryer, it is already included the trays, some Mylar bags units for your storage as well as the oxygen absorbers, and an impulse sealer (you can also buy them separately after, as well as other accessories).
How Loud Is a Freeze Dryer? How Loud Is a Harvest Right?
Freeze dryers are usually between 52 and 64 decibels loud, which means the sound range varies from about that of a fridge to a vacuum. Louder models, while not dangerously loud, are less noisy if they can be stored in a well-ventilated room with a closing door.
A question that is often asked about these machines is how noisy they are. The good news is that they’re actually not that loud! The home version reaches 64 decibels, which is considered moderated noise (lower than a vacuum cleaner for example), while the pharmaceutical reaches 52 decibels (considered approximately the same noise as a fridge).
So, as long as you have a room with a door that you can shut while the freeze dryer is working, you should be 100% fine!
Is a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Worth the Money?
The best option for a home freeze dryer is the Harvest Right home model. The price point on the home models makes them the better economical choice for most households over even the Harvest Right pharmaceutical versions.
All this because it has the best cost-benefit on the market, in addition to being simpler and more intuitive to use, it also has a 3-year warranty, sells all accessories directly on the website (which makes your day-to-day easier if you need anything) has various colors and sizes to adapt to your home, and much more.
Of course, like any freeze dryer, it’s still a big investment so it’s always important to do the math and see if you’ll use it enough to make it worth it. But, if you’ve already decided and are sure you want to invest in this revolutionary way of preserving food, Harvest Right will undoubtedly make your day-to-day easier and be the choice on the market so far.
But if you want to know if it’s right for you, make sure you check out this article I wrote that will help you see if it’s the right investment for your family: Is a Home Freeze Dryer Worth it? How to Know!
Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- “Harvest Right Freeze Dryers.” Harvest Right, harvestright.com. Accessed 30 Mar. 2022.
- Labconco. “Freeze Dryers.” Labconco, www.labconco.com. Accessed 30 Mar. 2022.
- “SiccaDania Freeze Dryers.” SiccaDania, siccadania.com. Accessed 30 Mar. 2022.
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