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  1. Guys, I don’t know anyone in my small and limited circle who can AFFORD one of these, much less a $60 increase in electric cost per month.

    We here “down in the Boondocks” don’t have the bucks or revenue stream to support this item.

    just my .02

      1. Regarding vacuum pump oil source. This sounds like the oil I used in my vacuum pump when servicing refrigeration equipment several years ago. I purchased it by the gallon at the refrigeration equipment supply house when I needed to service the vacuum pump. Your local refrigeration service technician may be able to suggest a local source if you don’t want to order it online. I always compared prices for the best deal.

    1. It’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. And my income is very modest. But I will say that it’s not totally unaffordable if it’s a priority. How many long guns do you have versus how many you need? How many of those can you eat when the shelves have been bare for 6 months and a blight just decimated your garden? 2 quick sales of surplus bang-sticks nets more than a substantial down payment, and there layaway option takes care of the rest. Please note that I am NOT advocating leaving yourself disarmed in order to buy this. But if you’re like many of us, our redundancy efforts have left us with more than one commodity we could part with….

  2. For my first 18 years of life and the last 20 years, I have lived off grid. I know the capabilities of my power supply, and am quite sure this freeze dry operation is a no fit for the off grid living.

  3. We afford those things that are important to us in our lives. I live about a half-hour’s drive from the edge of nowhere (i.e., “the Boondocks”) and saw the need and value of one of these devices immediately.

  4. Draining issue:
    I set up my unit dead level on a counter in the garage. Believe me, you don’t want this in your kitchen. It is noisy and can be a little messy at times. But maintenance is no worse than most other machinery issues.
    I put a 1×4 under the front legs for draining for everything except liquids. I can easily place a 1×4 about 16″ long straight under the front of the unit as a lever, lift up a little and place a 1×4 under the legs. Remove the 1×4 when doing liquids so the unit is level and put the 1×4 back under when the liquids are done to drain.
    As for the vacuum pump: After every cycle I immediately place a 1×4 under the back of the pump so the oil & water will flow forward while still warm. I don’t drain it yet, let it sit for an hour so the water will flow forward. I also rock it back and forth gently from side to side to get oil and water off the top of the interior housing & shield. Then I drain the unit completely, rocking gently back and forth and forward to back & run the oil thru the Harvey Filter for reuse. I manually clean the pump after 20 or so cycles.
    All in all, I am extremely please with the FD and Harvest Right as they have been extremely helpful with any minor issues I have had-replaced the locking handle when I twisted it completely off the first time I used it because I didn’t think it was tight enough (no vacuum on it yet), replace one of the trays that was leaking in a corner when doing liquids.
    As for affordability, no-brainer. Just look at the contents of some of the commercial products. I can control the amount of salt, sugar, etc. to suit my diet vs. the cost of the commercial stuff. I guess it depends on how badly you want to be independent.
    Thanks survivalblog and Harvest Right.

  5. Freeze dried food is expensive but it really lasts a long time (25-30+ years). A #10 can of chicken is around $35 on sale while beef is around $50 on sale. I saved my pennies for 4 years and I recently received my new H.R. freeze dryer. I have only used it 3 times, testing it out on different types of food.

    I live in the country on the grid, but with backup off grid necessities. I have personally slaughtered and harvested all my meat and poultry grown on my property. My main reason for purchasing the freeze-dryer was to FD 400 pds of pork, 160 pds of chicken, 80 pds of beef, and 50 pds of rabbit currently stored in 4 freezers. In a full grid down situation, I would have to very quickly pressure can all the meat while I still had propane to run my propane generator.

    The expensive sacrifice to buy the freeze-dryer seems worth it when looking at the possibility of losing all that food. There are things I don’t like about the unit but they are small annoyances rather than show stoppers. Now that I have a better handle on oil changes and timing I will begin FDing the contents of my freezers. And, OBTW, my first full load of pork came out perfectly.

  6. Re: water in the vacuum pump

    There are many “air separator/driers” (desiccant dryers) out there. Have you tried getting rid of the free water/water vapor before it gets to the pump?

    1. The “air separator/driers” don’t work in a hard vacuum. After the initial pump-down there is no “air”. The system works by pulling a hard vacuum where the water will sublimate (change from solid directly to vapor). The only way to get it out at that point is to refreeze it. The chamber wall has a very large surface area and is cold enough that the individual molecules will attach to it (or other water molecules that are already frozen there.) Because the pump is what creates the vacuum, a small percentage of the water vapor is drawn into the vacuum line before it ever gets a chance to refreeze along the chamber wall.
      The reason the unit is relatively inexpensive is because it is this “single chamber” design. To be more efficient in refreezing the water before it traveled through the pump, you would have to have a separate refreeze chamber before the vacuum pump which would increase the cost of the unit. It’s a fair trade-off. You get a less costly unit with a slightly higher maintenance effort.

  7. I drain the oil from the vacuum pump immediately, while still hot. I drain it into 2 liter pop bottles. I noticed that after a couple of weeks, the residue settles into the bottom of the bottles and the clear oil can be poured off. I have been continually re-using the clear oil that I pour off with no problems and it avoids the filtering, but you can still filter if it makes you feel better. If I’m not going to used the FD soon after draining the oil, I leave the drain and filler cap open to let any residual water evaporate. When I notice more contaminants draining, I have poured a little clean oil into the the pump, rocked it back and forth, and drained again. So far, so good.

  8. We bought one of these (the newer mdl) about 6 months ago. The first thing noticed was that it’s VERY persnickety about the food prep. 1/2 inch and no thicker, and it must be in contact with the bottom of the tray.
    Aside from the power consumption issue, there is the matter of the special oil for the vacuum pump. I have followed the mfg’s instructions for draining off excess water, power flushing and replacement and have already used almost 2 gallons of the stuff @ about $4/quart. This oil is something I have to have ordered as my local auto parts store doesn’t stock it.
    The next issue is that this thing requires a significant commitment of time and energy. I have the 3-tray mdl and aside from maintenance and defrosting, it takes roughly 20mins to an hour to cut stuff up and place it on the tray.
    I can’t even imagine a project like patientmomma’s! Sorry but if I had to do it over, I’d take the $2K+ bucks this thing cost and just buy a year’s worth of FD food from one of the many companies that offer package deals.

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