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Best Sous Vide Setup for $400-$500?


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For what it's worth, I was in this exact position, and just opted for a SVS Demi and FoodSaver, both from eBay in close-to-new-but-slightly-cheaper condition. Everything arrived today, so I will post back soon with some results. If I weren't constantly moving (I tend to switch houses every 6 months or less, and will be on that schedule for another year or two) I might've gone for a multipart device (Polyscience Creative was high on my list) but the self contained, low hassle options seemed like it would mean it would mean sous vide would become a regular part of my cooking. I'm interested in the wonderful and bizarre things you can create with sousvide, but also wanted to elevate the very basics, like making 72 hour short ribs and doing a quick heat and sear with the Iwatini torch I also picked up so that Tuesday night dinner is incredible, not just leftovers...

Just my 2 cents on making sure equipment is simple enough to encourage frequent use.

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  • 9 years later...
On 2/22/2013 at 1:05 AM, PedroG said:

In short: I have the eiPOT and am happy with it (in a 28L cooler).

eiPOT™ Review

Here it is, my Xmas present:
eiPot as delivered.jpg
The eiPOT™, i.e. the SousVideMagic 1500E PID-controller and the new version of the FreshMealsMagic immersion heater/bubbler. The whole combo fits into a box of the size of two SVMs. Shipping from Hong Kong to Switzerland took 42½ hours (including 7h time difference).

The SVM 1500E is the same as the 1500D, except it has an integrated air pump (which makes it necessary to offer different versions for the 110V world and the 220V world), a top display instead of a front display, and adapters for wall mounting. So it can be placed in different positions:
1500E different positions.jpg

Rear panel:
1500E rear panel_2000px.jpg


As the controller contains an air pump which is connected to tubing that is being submerged, it is mandatory to place the controller above water level.

There seems to be a check valve in the air tube, but it is still safer to follow the rule to place the controller above water level.

BTW the air pump causes practically no vibration and a noise that is audibly weaker than usual aquarium air pumps.

The two NTC temperature probes that come with it have a metal plug instead of a plastic plug:
1500E Mits sensors old and new plugs_2000px.jpg

The new FMM has a flexible hose instead of the metal tube of the old FMM, long enough for 80cm submersion of the heater. Weight has been reduced from 1255g to 765g by omitting the air stone, and the flexible hose instead of the metal tube makes it less bulky for shipping. They ship it with the temperature probe mounted so that its tip is between the two metal plates and very near to the heating element; this is to prevent fools from setting their house on fire by powering it without submersing in water. In my experience this leads to severe oscillation, I prefer to place the tip of the probe about 5-8cm above the metal plate and on the opposite side of the hose, facing the wall of the pot to avoid contact with food pouches.I measured a resistance of 26.4 Ω which yields 2000W at 230V.

Now to set up a SV rig, I modified a 28L Campingaz beverage cooler by cutting a notch in the cover to accommodate the FMM’s hose plus the temperature probes of my Greisinger GMH 3710 high precision thermometer and of the Voltcraft K202 data logger, plus two notches to accommodate a skewer bent from 3mm steel wire with a sharpened tip for easy penetration of bags. If you do not have a supply of 3mm steel wire at hand, just use a hanger from the dry cleaning store.
Making a skewer.jpg

Cover with notches for eiPOT hose and skewer_2000px.jpg

Beverage cooler with eiPOT and skewer_2000px.jpg

Ramping up to 55°C from ambient 22°C took roughly half an hour which is in accordance with the calculated value, see my table “Water-bath ramping up time 22°C to 55°C”.

Autotuning results with SP=55°C and Ar=50% were P=3.9°C, I=1876sec, D=58sec.This resulted in a postdisturbance overshoot of 0.3°C and postdisturbance oscillation of ±0.115°C.

With very responsive systems with low thermal inertia (heating element in the water) I prefer using P-control only, as with a very narrow P-band there is almost no negative offset
which would have to be corrected by Integral action. In contrast, with rather inert systems like rice cookers, coffee urns or the like (heating element outside the vessel wall) large P-bands are necessary to avoid overshoot, resulting in the need to correct negative offset by Integral action.

So I did simple closed loop tuning:

Closed loop tuning with 25L water in 28L Campingaz beverage cooler:
SP=55°C, I=0, D=0

Closed loop tuning.jpg

I decided to use P=0.5 I=0 D=0.

A test gave the following results:

eiPOT 28L cooler P=0.5 I=0 D=0 SET=55_run2.jpg


Functionality of the new FMM is the same as the old FMM, but handling is more practical, and it is less bulky for stowing away.

SVM 1500E is made for professional use, and it has the advantage over the 1500D of a built-in air pump which on the other hand has the disadvantage that the SVM 1500E must be placed above water level, which might necessitate wall mounting. I clamped mine on top of my “tower” of SVMs (different software versions for testing and calibrating); I fear I will reach the ceiling before SVM 1500Z.

eiPOT testing laboratory_2000px.jpg

Hey, my eiPOT from 2013 ist still going strong, the temperature probe has been in the water 24/7/365 for 9 years without a failure. For short time SV I use the combi-steam oven, but for LTLT or when the combi-steam oven is occupied by veggies, I am still happy to use the eiPOT.


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Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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On 9/15/2022 at 11:25 AM, PedroG said:

Hey, my eiPOT from 2013 ist still going strong, the temperature probe has been in the water 24/7/365 for 9 years without a failure.


Awesome - the water in Switzerland must be pretty damn good!!

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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