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2014 Vacuum Pumps Survey Results

Vacuum pumps are an essential piece of equipment and are used in a wide variety of processes in most laboratories. Over the past 25 years, it has become apparent that vendors have made significant innovative improvements to vacuum pumps, with important developments in high vacuum technology, corrosion resistance, vacuum control, and improvements in the efficiency and ecological impact of vacuum pumps.

Trevor Henderson, PhD

Trevor Henderson BSc (HK), MSc, PhD (c), is the creative services director at Lab Manager.  He has more than two decades of experience in the fields of scientific...

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Top 6 Questions You Should Ask When Buying a Vacuum Pump

  1. What will you be using the vacuum for? Filtration needs modest vacuum. Evaporation requires deeper vacuum. Molecular distillation requires even more. Match the pump to the use.
  2. Can you use a dry (oil-free) vacuum pump? Oil-free vacuum pumps can support most lab applications. For the service advantages, choose a dry pump where possible.
  3. What is the pumping capacity at the intended vacuum level? Actual pumping speed declines from the nominal speed as depth of vacuum increases. The rate of decline differs among pumps.
  4. Do you work with corrosive media? Standard duty pumps have lower purchase costs, but corrosion-resistant pumps will have lower lifetime costs if working with corrosives.
  5. Should you invest in vacuum control? Electronics can improve reproducibility, protect samples and shorten process times when specific vacuum conditions need to be maintained.
  6. What is the lifetime cost of operation? Include purchase cost, service intervals, servicing cost, pump protection (e.g., filters, cold traps), and staff time for operation.

Types of vacuum pumps used by survey respondents:

Oil-sealed direct drive pump 31%
Oil-free diaphragm pump 19%
Oil-sealed belt-drive pump 13%
Central vacuum to bench turrets 11%
Compressed air systems 9%
Water jet aspirator vacuum 7%
Oil-free scroll pump 5%
Other 4%

Type of vacuum control used by survey respondents:

No control - just turn the pump on 37%
Manual adjustment of knob 20%
Electronic control on the vacuum application 17%
Central vacuum - on/off control 13%
Electronic control on pump 12%
Other 1%

Nearly 22% of respondents plan on purchasing a new vacuum pump in the next year. The reasons for these purchases are as follows: 

Addition to existing systems, increase capacity
Setting up a new lab
Replacement of aging pump
First time purchase of a pump

Top 10 features/factors respondents look for when purchasing a vacuum pump:

Durability of product 92%
Ease of Use 77%
Leak tightness 74%
Value for price paid 69%
Oil-free/Contamination free pumping 58%
Maintenance costs 58%
High suction 53%
Availability of supplies and accessories 53%
On-site maintenance/cleaning 51%
Low noise level 48%

Completed Surveys: 220

For more information on vacuum pumps, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit 

See the most recent survey results