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What to Look for When Buying a Vacuum Pump

Find out readers’ purchasing plans and more from the latest survey results

by Jason Kerkhof

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.

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 pump used by survey respondents:

Oil-free diaphragm pump51%
Oil-sealed direct drive pump39%
Oil-sealed belt-drive pump22%
Central vacuum to bench turrets20%
Compressed air systems14%
Oil-free scroll pump14%
Water jet aspirator vacuum6%

Vacuum pump applications as reported by survey respondents:

Vacuum or pressure filtration55%
Liquid aspiration43%
Mass spectrometry35%
Rotary evaporator31%
Freeze drying27%
Vacuum oven18%
Gel dryer8%

Nearly 51% of respondents are engaged in purchasing a new vacuum pump. The reasons for these purchases are as follows:

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

Top 10 Features/Factors Respondents Look for When Purchasing a Vacuum Pump:

Durability of product96%
Ease of use77%
Leak tightness77%
Maintenance costs64%
Safety and health features64%
High suction62%
Oil-free/Contamination-free pumping56%
High pumping speed51%
Low noise level51%

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

See survey results from previous years