You are probably reading this because you want to know how to choose a blender. There are a few important things to consider and this overview will help get you there faster. Here’s a list of the things you need to know about:
If you’re purchasing a high speed blender to be used for making smoothies and crushing ice then you need a powerful motor. This should be in the range of 2 to 3 horsepower. Blenders with this much power are designed for years of use and usually come with longer warranties. Not all blender manufacturers rate their blenders according to horsepower so it’s important to understand “wattage” and “peak” performance.
Wattage is just another way to rate the power of a motor. The more wattage, the more power it has to handle heavier blending loads. However, wattage doesn’t tell the whole story. Today, blender motors are designed to draw less wattage when blending. Blender motors can now “adjust” to the blending load. In the end this means a saving on electricity and less “wear and tear” on the motor.
The differences between wattage and horsepower can cause confusion when comparing blenders. For example, a 3 hp. motor may have a rating of 950 watts which is a considerably low wattage. However, it simply means it only draws 950 watts during peak operation. In the same way, blenders that come with a 2 hp. motor may not require the full horsepower when blending a smoothie. This is why the term “peak” is used in regard to performance. In simple terms it refers to the maximum amount of watts or horsepower the blender will perform at. Practically speaking, it refers to the maximum power available for blending heavy ingredients or crushing ice.
So “watts” it all mean? Don’t buy a blender that has any less than a 2 hp. or 800 watt motor if you want to crush ice or make “smooth” smoothies. Some blenders may be able to perform these tasks on a limited basis, but will eventually cause the motor to burn out. Crushing ice for smoothies requires a powerful motor and sharp blades. Also, if you don’t want a “lumpy” smoothie (if there is such a thing) then purchase a blender with a powerful motor that will last for years.
Shopper’s Tip: Vitamix, Blendtec and Omni blenders all come with powerful motors capable of blending the toughest of ingredients and crushing ice. For side by side “Vitamix vs Blendtec vs Omni Blender” motor comparisons click here on Vitamix vs Blendtec vs Omni Blender.
Most blender containers (also called jars or jugs) are made from high impact plastics which are both durable and light. Glass containers are less popular nowadays because of the durability of plastic. There are two common types of plastic containers. They are Polycarbonate and Co-polyester BPA free. Polycarbonate containers are used mainly for commercial use due to their high durability and NSF certification. BPA (Bisphenol A) is used to make plastics more durable such as in Polycarbonate containers. However, the US Food and Drug Administration and other international agencies have banned certain uses of BPA due to toxic concerns. These concerns have to do with the extreme heating of plastic containers or washing them with harsh detergents especially those that are acid based. The result can be the leeching of BPA into the liquid or food. However, blender containers aren’t normally used under these conditions. The only time heated ingredients are typically used is when making soups which aren’t heated to boiling temperatures. For washing, simple dish detergent is recommended. Since blender manufacturers are in the business of health they’ve chosen to avoid the BPA issue altogether and began producing BPA free containers.
Square vs. Round: Some blender containers are rounded while others are square. Rounded containers tend to be taller and may not fit under some kitchen cupboards. The rounded shape is designed to “funnel” the ingredients downward so that complete blending can occur. However, square containers can do the same thing and a tamper is rarely needed. By comparison there’s no difference in their blending ability. However, a shorter square container is easier to clean out if you have thick ingredients on the bottom that need to be spooned out.
Shoppers Tip: Vitamix blenders come with rounded containers which are BPA free. There are 3 sizes to choose from – 32, 48 and 64 oz. The 32 and 48 oz. containers easily fit under standard kitchen cupboards while the 64 oz. container is taller at 20 inches total with lid and jar mounted on the base. Blendtec and Omni blender containers fit under standard kitchen cupboards. Blendtec blenders come with square containers that are also BPA free. Omni blenders come with square containers that are commercial grade Polycarbonate. For side by side blender container comparisons click here on Vitamix vs Blendtec vs Omni Blender.
Some people like to press a button and leave the blender alone to do its work. For this kind of operation, automatic settings are ideal. However, others like or require the speed to be carefully controlled. For this, a variable speed control works for this type of use.
Shoppers Tip: Vitamix blenders come with a variable speed control while Blendtec blenders come with pre-programed cycles. Omni blenders come with push button automatic time and speed cycles. For side by side blender comparisons click here on Vitamix vs Blendtec vs Omni Blender.
Some blender manufacturers offer two kinds of blades. Wet blades for liquids and dry blades for grinding grains. The dry blades are designed to “pull” the mixture down which is important when grinding grains and mixing dough. The wet blades are for making smoothies and blending other liquid or “wet” ingredients. Other blender manufacturers make a “multifunction” blade which is designed to handle both wet and dry ingredients. Single use and multifunction blades have both been proven to be effective in grinding grains.
2 Blades vs. Multiple Blades: The purpose of a blender blade is to finely chop and emulsify fruits and vegetables into a smooth drink. The blade, when spinning, will create a “vortex”. This vortex ensures that the ingredients are being evenly blended. Blender manufactures have come up with various blade designs which essentially do the same thing. There appears to be no advantage one over the other.
MPH vs RPM’s: Blender manufactures rate the speed of their blenders according to Miles Per Hour or Rotations Per Minute. These refer to the number of times the blade will rotate in a given time. RPM’s refer to the number of times the blade rotates in one minute. These ratings of course are only estimates since no one can visibly count the number of rotations. There is some competition in this area since no manufacturer wants to advertise a “slower” blender. As a result, they are pretty much the same when it comes to their “claim” to speed.
Shopper’s Tip: Vitamix offers 2 kinds of blades – wet and dry. The dry blades are attached to a smaller 32 oz. container specially designed for grinding grains. Blendtec offers a two blade configuration available in 3 or 4 inches wide depending on the size of the container. Omni blenders come with a multifunction blade which has 6 blades. For side by side blender blade comparisons click here on Vitamix vs Blendtec vs Omni Blender.
Some blenders come with a pulse feature. This feature is a separate switch/button which causes the blade to turn at the highest possible speed immediately when used. It’s especially helpful when blending larger size ingredients. The blade begins to chop immediately rather than pushing the item upwards and causing it to “rise” to the top of the container. For example, when normally blending a whole avocado, the blades often “push” it to the top rather than chopping it. The result is an unblended avocado. Of course you could cut it up first, but the pulse feature saves you time and chops it up immediately.
Pre-programed Cycles: Some people like more control while others like simplicity. For simplicity, automatic time settings or pre-programed cycles are great! Pre-programed cycles allow the user to select a certain blend cycle ie. smoothie which blends the ingredients and then shuts off automatically.
Shoppers Tip: Blendtec blenders come with 6 pre-programed cycles while Vitamix blenders come with an on/off switch, hi and low switch and variable speed dial. Omni blenders come with 3 push button automatic time cycles (30, 60 and 90 seconds) and 3 push button automatic blend cycles – low, medium and high.
Most blender users get used to high noise levels when blending with a high speed blender. There’s no such thing as a “quiet” high speed blender. However, comparison tests show that some blenders are slightly louder than others. These noise levels are measured in “decibels” and average between 80-100 decibels. If noise levels are a major factor in your decision you may want to consider purchasing a sound enclosure. They greatly reduce the noise coming from the blender and are especially useful if you have infants at home or live in an apartment.
Years ago, most kitchen appliances came with a one year warranty. However, with newer technologies and design improvements they increased to three years. Today, top blender manufacturers offer a full coverage 7 year warranty. “Follow the leader” has been the story of blender warranties. Vitamix was the first to offer a 7 year warranty and the other blender manufacturers followed. This competition has been great for us – the consumer!