Author Archives: schoonover

Dry Vacuum Pumps and Less Electricity

A few years ago, I was able to make a sale to a Plant Engineer who told me that each year he was responsible for saving the company xxx amount of money and that year my project with him checked that off his list. From that experience, I realized that if you can get "ROI- Return on Investment" on your side, the sales pitch becomes a less necessary step.

I recently outlined the "Real Cost of a Vacuum Pump Oil Change" (CLICK TO READ ARTICLE) where I was able to detail the total cost in securing, changing and disposing vacuum oil. Oil is certainly one piece of the cost puzzle but may not provide that total ROI bump to start replacing vacuum pumps.

One other piece of that cost savings puzzle is in the electricity cost to generate that vacuum environment in your system or tool. If you enjoy reading dry pump literature, you will find one of the bullet points in most all literature to be "costs savings in electricity". But to know the true reality is hard to determine.

In research to answer this question, turns out the Department of Energy-Lawrence Livermore Labs has used tax dollars to research the validity of the claim. If you wish to review their entire report here is the link but I will highlight their research:

High efficiency dry pumps available today can provide savings of up to 60% over older conventional oil sealed vacuum pumps
Frequency control on modern pumps allow for turn down during process times that do not require full pumping performance . This idle/controlled mode results in energy savings.

High efficiency dry vacuum pumps produce less heat that results in less air conditioning needed and a reduction in cooling water costs.
Lower noise levels and smaller footprint in these dry pumps allow for closer integration to the tool or chamber resulting in less evacuation time.
Finally, lower power requirements allow for smaller electrical infrastructure in new plants.

In summary, if you can isolate the electricity cost of your present older vacuum pumps, the 50-60% savings in replacing older pumps with modern energy saving designs, can be documented with research by the Department of Energy. Adding in the factors like the cost of oil changes only add to that savings.

The ROI in vacuum pump technology may be closer than you think.

For more analysis on developing the ROI for your pumps, check out our Dry Pump ROI Calculator where you get data for your pumps and pump systems.

At Schoonover, we represent major vacuum equipment companies in technical sales and support. We also have our own Apex Vacuum Brand of high vacuum equipment. For more information visit us at and

The Real Cost of a Vacuum Pump Oil Change

The Real Cost of a Vacuum Pump Oil Change

In working with customers on whether they should make the change to oil-less or dry vacuum pumps, the low cost of the oil is usually a stumbling block to making the plunge to a more modern technology. The "Go Green" idea is met with great fervor but can it meet the cold water plunge when the boss asks "What is the cost to make this switch?"

To find the "real" cost of an oil change, one must consider more than just the cost of the oil. Taking the standard vacuum oil cost for a production size industrial vacuum pump (23 liter oil capacity) , the cost is a mere $323. But the oil did not walk itself to the plant and you can't send the old oil down the drain. So....there's more to this equation. What is the expense of the oil expense including all the extra's? A little research revealed.... 

  • Cost of issue of the Purchase Order for the Oil- Purchasing websites say
  • Freight Cost of the Oil to the Plant -Pittsburgh- Atlanta..UPS says
  • Receiving and Storing the Oil - 0.5 hr x $35 comes to
  • Labor of getting the Oil to the Pump another
  • Changing the Oil- The Dirty Job- 1 hr x $35=
  • Cost of Purchase Order for dispose of the oil another
  • Labor to prepare the shipment of disposed oil- 0.5 hr x $35
  • Shipping to Local Disposal Site- UPS says
  • Finally the Cost to Dispose of Dirty Rotten Oil- Cost from is $0.50 per liter or 

So add it all up and we get the real cost of $943 per oil change. If you figure 3 oil changes per year the total yearly cost is $2,829.


Replacing perfectly good vacuum pump out  to save oil costs may not make sense from a pure dollar standpoint(in some applications it would), but the days of "wet" or oil vacuum pumps are numbered for most processes.  Today you can get a "dry" or oil-less vacuum pump for 25% additional cost or in this example chosen about $6,000. So for new installs, going dry is an easy payoff. For existing pumps, I hope this gives some insight of the "real" cost of oil changes.

For more questions about this subject or other vacuum equipment questions, contact Schoonover Inc. at 800-331-2808 or online at

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The Real Cost of a Vacuum Pump Oil Change

Return on Investment- Go with New or Rebuilt?

Return on Investment- Go with New or Rebuilt?

Return on Investment- Go with New or Rebuilt?

Today, I was doing a return on investment (ROI) for a customer looking to purchase a new Polycold for his vacuum coating chamber.  In my mind, I was running the numbers to see if I had a strong case for selling him my rebuilt Polycold instead of the manufacturers new Polycold. Rough numbers were $28K for new and $12k for my rebuilt Polycold (with a 12 month warranty). Another known variable was that I knew if the customer had to send the unit in for service, today that would be about $8500 to completely rebuild the Polycold unit. 

Most of the time I know if the unit has a new mechanical compressor, that is the major expensive moving part that will dictate a large repair. Once I sell this unit, I would not expect to see it come in for the next rebuild for 8-10 years.

So lets run the numbers.... a $16,000 price difference and the rebuild cost every 8 years is a about a 15 year ROI new over rebuilt. Even if they are rough on equipment, I would not expect to see it before 5 years. That makes the new Polycold a 9 year payback. And that is assuming the new Polycold never has to be rebuild. I think that is a pretty poor assumption. 

So maybe keep the future rebuild cost in mind when deciding to purchase new or rebuilt vacuum equipment. 



Buddy Do You Have a Spare?

Apex Mass Flow Controller TFT Screen Option

Spare Equipment – good or bad word??


Is a SPARE a good or bad thing to have around??

Answer to this simple question is could be either.

If you have a piece of equipment down, it is good but if you have capital tied up in lots of spare equipment, it is bad.We are going to look at how your spares situation can be optimized in the next series of blog posts starting with mass flow controllers.

At Apex Vacuum our mass flow meter or controller can provide a low cost spare for all your mass flow controllers (or meters) with one spare unit. 

So if you have a competitor unit or an Apex MFC/MFM, one Apex can provide  a spare for many units. Simply choose the gas on the gas library and you're done. With our high accuracy calibrations, it is possible to cover extended flow ranges with this spare. For example, our 500 sccm units can measure down to 2.5 sccm and with a high accuracy version, the inaccuracy can be managed.

For details, call us at 800-331-2808, email to or visit online at or


Avoid the Lemon- 10 Factors to Consider in Choosing a Helium Leak Detector

Leybold Phoenix L300i Helium Leak Detector

Avoid the Lemon- 10 Factors to Consider in a Helium Leak Detector

Avoid Buying a Lemon – 10 important things to consider when----

-Choosing a Helium Leak Detector -

Or otherwise known as what I have learned from my customers that ask the right questions.

  1. What warranties are available with the unit- Manufacturers provide warranties to either meet market demand or if they are convinced the warranty will never be claimed. For example, helium leak detectors with filament warranties are there because the manufacturers know their failure rate is zero for the first few years. So a warranty can be an indicator of known quality and we all love a good warranty!
  2. Roughing pump size- This can be important if you need to evacuate a volume to begin the leak check. Of course , if your system pumps handle the evacuation, then you might want a smaller pump for portability and compactness. Provide the volume to your technical contact so the roughing capability can be evaluated.
  3. Popularity of the unit- There are not a lot of models out there anymore so choosing the most popular brands is a good idea….everyone can’t be wrong can they? Choose models with a long history with lots of helium leak detectors of that model or linage.
  4. Helium pumping speed – Especially important if used in production applications. More helium pump speed helps for faster helium clean up which improves production.
  5. How compact is the unit- Do you want to have to lug around a cart, separate rough pump and leak detector- enough said.
  6. Wireless Remote- Does the helium leak detector have one and is it any good? Hiring someone to stand by the leak detector and holler out a leak is so 1990’s.
  7. Age of the present design- I told you earlier to buy a popular model as everyone can’t be wrong. But watch out for the model that is 5 years old as good chance a replacement is on the fast track for development. Parts and service are only available for a period of years after the unit becomes obsolete. So buy the new model in a linage of a great leak detector and you might have 12 years of factory parts and service. Buy the old geezer and 7 years you’re scouring Ebay for that board you need.
  8. Support – Ask who to call if something goes wrong because it will at some point. Call your sales person on his cell at 6pm and see if he answers. Of course evaluate the service network.
  9. Evaluate the components – If the company is known for making less than stellar vacuum equipment, don’t expect the same parts to work any better in your leak detector.
  10. Buy from the better looking salesperson- Good luck meeting this criteria in the vacuum or helium leak detector market.

 If you have questions about helium leak detection, we are glad to assist. Just call 800-331-2808 or contact us at Visit our helium leak detector page page online at :