Buying a green smoothie blender – Vitamix vs. Blendtec

Vitamix vs. Blendtec blendersDuring the last couple of months, I have really gotten into drinking green smoothies. I have done a lot of research, and the more I learn, the more benefits there seem to be for making green smoothies a part of my life. For example, pretty much everyone knows that getting lots of green vegetables into their diet is good. We also know that cooking vegetables can take away some of the nutrients. My challenge is that I do not love eating raw greens, especially a lot of them. So, for years I have tried to increase my green intake, but have only made small strides forward. Now, in comes the green smoothie. Within four minutes, I can drink a 40 oz green smoothie that has at least ten servings of raw fruits and vegetables and I like it – it is WONDERFUL! Now, to expand my smoothie options, I want a better blender.

We own a basic, 700 watt blender with a 40 oz pitcher. It does the job OK, but my smoothies are more like sand-ies, and I usually get a few frozen fruit lumps. When I try to blend foods with seeds, such as blackberries, they don’t get chopped up and end up as a pile of seeds at the bottom of my drink. Another minor annoyance is my pitcher is too small. I want to make at least 60 ounces of smoothie at a time so I can drink some immediately and have some for later. So, I started on my quest to find a new blender.

Initially, I was tempted by brands such as Breville and Ninja, because these were highly recommended by the first videos on choosing a blender I found. I continued my  research and soon two blenders surfaced at the top: Vitamix and Blendtec. These both had great reviews and quite a following. These were also some of the most expensive blenders, and cost is a concern. So, which one is better for me? For every review I found that preferred the Vitamix, I could find another that preferred the Blendtec. I went through more and more reviews and was still not seeing any clear winner. I created a comparison table so I could keep track of all information I was collecting.

After completing my table, it was close but I decided on Vitamix. Here is what I preferred about the Vitamix over the Blendtec:

  • The Vitamix has a slower minimum blade rotation speed for when you want to go slow and a higher maximum speed when you want things to really get chopped up.
  • Although both standard pitchers are about the same size, you can fill the Vitamix one to 64 ounces, where as the Blendtec one you are only supposed to fill it to 32 ounces. (Note: Blendtec has a wide mouth container that seems to address this.)
  • The Vitamix lid has an opening and tamper, which allow you to push things down while the blender is operating. The Blendtec has no opening but maybe it does not need one as often, but there are still those times.
  • The Vitamix requires less power. This sounds funny, but the Blendtec uses over 1500 watts of power. Run it along with maybe another minor appliance on the same circuit and you can easily trip the fuse. I do not want my blender at that limit if it does not need to be and the Vitamix is at around 1300 watts and seems to do just fine.
  • The Vitamix has old fashioned knobs and switches. I know this makes me sound like a Luddite, but our current blender has touch sensitive buttons and I cannot always hit them in the right spot quickly, so I like having the real buttons sitting on the Vitamix.
  • The Vitamix is reported to be quieter, although both are really loud and the difference probably does not matter.
  • Finally, in interviews I saw of several hard core, serous, green smoothie drinking “experts,” almost all preferred the Vitamix over the Blendtc, and this includes several that have tried or owned both. I consider this my intangibles vote. Some factors are hard to always identify and so when a lot of users just say they prefer the Bitamix, it means something to me. Things cannot always be measured by numbers.

Now, in fairness to the Blendtec, here are the things I like about it:

  • You can grind a cell phone, gold balls, and a broom handle with it. As an engineer, this really appeals to me, but I won’t be grinding these items, so I guess this does not count.
  • You can blend wet and dry with the Blendtec standard container. With the Vitamix, you need a different containers.
  • The Blendtec fits underneath my cupboards. Neither the older 5200 nor the newer 750 series Vitamix will fit underneath my cupboards.
  • The standard and wide mouth Blendtec containers are relatively wide. This makes it easier for ingredients to fall down to the blades. The new Vitamix models come with a wide container, but the older models do not. There is one bad hing about wide containers; they can make it harder to make small amounts of things because of the amount of ingredients needed to get over the blades and have them work effectively.
  • Many of the Blendtec models come with programs, so you can just push one button and have what you want made for you. With Vitamix, only the high end versions of the older and newer models have programs. Programs may or may not be useful, depending on what you want to do.

So, I made my brand choice. Now, which Vitamix to buy: the older 5200 or the new 750? Without question, if money were no object, I would go for the newer model. The newer one has the short and wider container, a bit more horsepower, less noise, a better cooling system, and some other design improvements. The only negative I found was that in some situations, people were finding small black pieces getting into the pitcher, like they were coming off of a part. If you check prices, you might say the difference in price is not that much – only around $30 – $50. So why not go newer with all the better features? The reason is that as I was price shopping, I discovered refurbished blenders, and there is a huge difference. Here is what I found:

  • New 750 – $530
  • Refurbished 750 – $430
  • New 5200 – $500
  • Refurbished 5200 – $300

For me, both the new models were too much to spend. If I had to buy new, I would need to consider some other options, such as the Blendtecs which are less expensive when you find them on sale. And the difference between $300 and $430 makes it an easy choice for me – the 5200. The wider container and other benefits do not justify that much more money.

Let me mention here that the refurbished models have a great warranty, but it is only 5 years verses the 7 years on the new ones. If you are really nervous, you can pay an extra fee and extend the warranty on any of the blenders.

So, now I have my blender. I an enjoying truly smooth smoothies and look forward to the health benefits I hope will come to me and my family. The larger container than on my old container has been great. The greater blending speeds have made all my drinks smoother. The higher power motor and great warranty eliminate my fear of breaking my blender with really tough jobs, like lots of frozen fruit and high blending speeds. I also like the tamper, which makes it easy to give the ingredients a shove. The Vitamix can also do so many more things than smoothies, such as soups, ice creme, and so on which I look forward to trying. All-in-all, I look forward to many years of happy interactions with the newest member of our family.

UPDATE (two weeks after getting the blender): I had to contact Vitamix customer Support to register my blender and learned while on the phone that if I eve have a problem during the warranty period, they cover postage and repair costs. This is great. Also, I am happy with my blender but have noticed that the narrow container on my model does tend to cause a bottleneck with food falling down to the blades, more so than I thought would occur. I think if I had to do it again, I would still get this model because $130 is a lot of difference in price, but a year or so down the line, when I assume the price of the refurbished 750 will drop, I might get it instead.


Green smoothies – my giant step forward and back,

My two year green smoothie journey
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May 7, 2015Permalink