Home cooks are still in the early days of affordable sous vide devices. Most immersion circulators are in the first couple generations, and manufacturers are still learning what features we all need to make these devices functional and affordable. Two industry leaders are the Chefsteps Joule and the Anova Precision Cooker. Both of these devices are excellent sous vide machines, but each one has advantages over the other.
The Joule is much smaller than any other immersion circulator on the market. At 11 inches tall and under 2 inches in diameter, it can easily fit in the average kitchen drawer. It weighs only 1.28 lbs. The Anova, however, is much larger at 14.75 inches tall, 2.75 inches in diameter, and 2.5 pounds.
The Joule requires very little water, only 1.5 inches,because the pump pulls water from the bottom of the unit. The Anova needs 2.5 inches of water to function, but it doesn’t work very well at that level. This difference is not a major problem, however, because of the nature of sous vide cooking. Unless you are cooking very thin foods, you will need a water level that’s deeper than 2.5 inches to submerge anything you cook.
Both units have adequate power for most cooks. Anova has a 900 watt heater and Joule has 1100 watts. If you need to heat large amounts of water, Joule is the way to go. It can handle up to 40 liters (10.5 gallons) in an insulated container. Most home chefs don’t need that kind of power.
Both provide connectivity by bluetooth and WIFI. Anova, however, gives you the option of a bluetooth only connection at a discount of $50. If you don’t need WIFI connections, that’s the way to go.
Anova boasts a variance of .01° while joule has .1℉/.2℃. The Anova’s smaller variance isn’t enough to make a difference in actual cooking outcomes.
Here’s where Anova has a clear advantage, because the joule can only be controlled by the app. Anova has the option of manual control.
Joule has a magnetic bottom, which makes using small stainless steel containers much easier than most models. Simply set it in the pot, and joule will stay put. Anova, however, uses an adjustable clamp. But the nature of sous vide cooking, submerging food in water, means that this difference does not translate into a large benefit for the home cook.
Both the Anova Precision Cooker and the Chefsteps Joule are excellent purchases for the home cook. They both offer great functionality at an affordable price. The biggest advantages the Joule has are just a little more flexibility, power, and size. Anova’s advantage is that the bluetooth model costs 25% less, if you don’t want WIFI, and you don’t need an app to control it.