When I smoke salmon or cheese, I usually have 50-100 pieces that I want to vacuum seal.
I've gone through 4-5 store-bought vacuum sealers, ranging from $50 to $150 in price. The biggest problem was they dont have a cooling mechanism which causes the units to shut down after an hour of continuous use (you have to wait maybe 10 mins after a couple seals to do another couple). So in the middle of a big batch, this is a pain in the butt.
I researched different seal-a-meal devices, looking at reviews and specs... none of which are suited for continuous duty. There are some Weston commercial ones which cost $600, which I seriously considered.
Finally I found a commercial chamber vacuum system. Rather than going into great detail of how it works, all I will say is that it is a completely different concept of removing the air from the bag. The entire bag is put into a chamber, the entire chamber goes under vacuum, the sealing bar is within the chamber. Foodsaver systems suck air out of the bag, the bag is basically left in the open, and the air is pulled out.
Here's the comparison:
Time: both take the same amount of time to perform the vacuum
What can be put in the bag: the foodsaver type doesnt work well with anything warm or that has a liquid, it also doesnt like dusty things. The air drawn out actually sucks out the liquid/dust and makes a mess where you want it to seal. Chamber systems can handle hot liquids, dust, or anything, the concept basically allows you to put anything you want in the bag and it will be sealed in there.
Bag quality: Both foodsaver bags and commercial chamber bags can be boiled after, both freeze well.
Bag cost: Foodsaver bags are available everywhere and cost around $15 for 100. That is 15 cents each. Chamber bags cost about $30 for 1000. That is 3 cents each. Consider how many seals you will do in 2 years, multiply that by the bag cost, and now you know the running cost of using that device.
Sealer cost: Foodsavers cost $200 for a good one and the bags cost you 15 cents each. Commercial vacuum sealers cost $500 and the bags cost you 15 cents each. A portable commercial chamber system will cost you $650 and the bags will cost you 3 cents each.
Benefits of a Foodsaver machine: low entry cost, fits in a closet, simple and quick.
Downside of a Foodsaver machine: bags are 10x the price, cannot run continuous (more than maybe 40 bags at a time), breaks down in a couple years. Not designed to handle hot, moist, or dusty products
Benefits of Commercial Weston machine: fits in a closet, simple and quick, can run continuously
Downside of Commercial Weston machine: high cost of entry, bags are 10x price. Not designed to handle hot, moist, or dusty products
Benefits of chamber vacuum system: bags are very inexpensive. can handle liquids, hot and moist product, and dusty product. can seal multiple bags at a time (as long as they dont overlap on the seal bar). full control over vacuum level and seal times
Downside of chamber vacuum system: high cost of entry, very heavy (the Vacmaster VP112 weighs 60lbs).
Good luck if you are facing sealing problems. Do your research and if you are packaging alot of product, do the math in bag cost. My chamber system will pay for itself in 3 years. I would be happy to answer any questions if you ask.