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Small Appliances

Refurbished Vitamix blenders: Are they really a good deal?

You could save hundreds of dollars, but at what cost? We investigate.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Hear the name Vitamix, and you probably think of fancy, pricey blenders. In 2012, though, Vitamix began to sell select refurbished models at discount.

For instance, you can scoop up a Vitamix Explorian for $220. That's a far cry from a brand-new $620 Ascent 3500, the company's latest, greatest and most expensive machine.

Over $200, however, isn't pocket change. So the question is are these refurb blenders worth even that much cash? The answer depends on what you expect to get in return.

In this guide, we dive into what these repurposed Vitamix blenders can and can't do. We'll also explain where these appliances come from, and why Vitamix says they're a solid buy.

The Vitamix Explorian offers a basic blending experience, yet supposedly is powerful enough to crush nuts into nut butter.

Vitamix

Vitamix's refurbished models and prices

Here's a quick snapshot of current (as of August 2018) refurbished models Vitamix offers. According to Vitamix, the list changes periodically, depending on available inventory.

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Good as new?

To get a handle on what sort of appliances Vitamix sells, I spoke with Holly Hacker, Vitamix's director of Brand and Customer Experience. According to Hacker, Vitamix frowns upon the term "refurbished."

Instead, the company prefers to call its refurb blenders "reconditioned." Hacker went on to say that the repurposed machines are "as good as new as we can make them."

Similar to a certified preowned car, they're subjected to a 17-point quality checklist. On the list are major parts such as the blades, motor and controls. Vitamix also looks for any signs of external damage like dents, scratches or chips. If anything is not up to snuff, it's either replaced or the appliance is disqualified outright.

Hacker explained that in most cases these blenders are hardly used at all. The majority of the products stem from returns made at major retailers. She confirmed that Costco and QVC are the primary sources, and the blenders have been owned for less than two years.

Blenders that ultimately pass inspection are ones Vitamix concludes will last at least 5 years. Vitamix covers each machine with a long five-year warranty, too.

The one exception is the entry-level Vitamix Explorian. Reconditioned versions of this model come with a shorter coverage period of three years.

Vitamix says that its refurbished blenders meet its high blending standard. For one, that means whipping up batches of creamy, hot soups.

Chris Monroe/CNET

A blending experience, not appliance

Vitamix also sells general blender products. They have names like "certified reconditioned standard programs" ($380) and "certified reconditioned next-generation programs" ($500).

If that sounds confusing, you're not alone. I had trouble deciphering them, too.

Essentially, though, they're a way for Vitamix to sell you a particular blending "experience," not a specific model. In other words, Vitamix won't commit to reserving an exact blender model for you. What it promises to provide is a collection of blending features and controls.

Each blender collection, or "experience," is organized by its level of sophistication. The higher the price, the more automatic blending modes and settings you expect. No matter which blender you get, it should do the job. In fact, Vitamix says the real difference between its blenders boils down to usability and control.

That's because most of the company's blenders rely on the same 2.2-peak horsepower motor and basic internal components. As a result, they all provide the same baseline performance.

They can all tackle easy tasks like whipping up smoothies, plus difficult ones such as prepping hot soups or pulverizing nuts into creamy butters.

The old Vitamix 7500 blender model performed very well on our tests. 

CNET

Are they worth it?

If the $220 Vitamix Explorian really can do as good a job as $620 Ascent 3500, then yes, absolutely. I suspect, though, that's not quite the case.

Still, it's possible you could enjoy the level of blending power and abilities we loved on the $530 Vitamix 7500. If the refurbished S780 manages that (or does better) for $110 less, that's a tempting deal.