I would highly recommend Hilliard. I have two 250lb machines. One I purchased new in 1993. And the other was a used machine that I purchased a few years later.
They are reliable, accurate and easy to use.
Cleaning is a snap. All you have to do is remove the bowl.
They hold their temper unlike some of the smaller tabletop machines.
They are also relatively quiet, again unlike the smaller table top machines.
I have tested many machines over the years and I think that Hilliard is by far the best.
If you need to add a conveyor and cooling tunnel Hillard has those as well. They are located in Mass.
If I can provide anymore info, please reply.
The difference in price is more of a fundamental difference in function between the machines.
The Selmi, as a continuous tempering machine, will keep the chocolate in temper throughout the working day without needing to slowly raise your working temperatures during the day. This is achieved with a closed refrigeration/heating loop that as the name suggests, continuously de-tempers and re-tempers the chocolate.
The JKVs are wheel machines, normally with light bulbs as a heat source and forced air for cooling. They use seed chocolate for tempering, and as such will need some attention through the day. The chocolate will thicken and you will need to gradually raise your temps until it's no longer in proper temper. Then it's time to stop and re-temper.
So, you're paying that extra money for extra throughput and added convenience. On the other hand, if you're a DIY type, these machines (Selmi) are much more difficult to fix yourself.
I personally like Linda use Hilliard's machines and they are certainly up to the task. They are rugged and simple to operate and maintain (they use light bulbs/forced air too). I was lucky enough to find all my gear used for an unbeatable price. For me it was an easy choice because of the DIY aspect, since I do most of the maintenance/repair work myself.
Hi: To reply to cheebs. Only the small table top Hilliards cooling/heating is done with light bulbs.
The larger machines use electric heating and cooling elements.
Being very mechanical I have been able to change elements when they wear out. This has only happened once in 20 years.
It also keeps it's temper perfectly throughout the day and chocolate can constantly be added to the back where it melts. As the bowl rotates, it is transfered to the front keeping a steady tempered quantity for production.
I would not be comfortable with a machine that has it's most crucial parts invisible.
Not sure if I'll be of much help, but here are my thoughts. We opened our shop in March and are currently using 3 Hilliard machines. We bought them used and sent them back to be refurbished last year. They are doing a fine job, but they are not a Selmi. We have looked at and drooled over the Selmi for sometime now and once we can afford one we will purchase it. We have heard from several other chocolatier's that the Selmi keeps temper extremely well, can switch chocolate relatively easily and has a small footprint. The enrober is what we are really looking for because the production boost of the Selmi versus the Hilliard system is like night and day. Also the enrober is a quick dis-connect and can be stored in a small space in the upright position. I have not used a JKV but I have heard that they are harder to clean and that the wheel can sometime be problematic. Again, that is second hand info. Last, the Selmi has very good service and support where we have heard not so good reports on JKV. That's my two cents worth. Like you, would love to hear from others.
Actually, like the JKV machines, with the Prefamac you temper the chocolate once and don't have to retemper throughout the day. As the chocolate thickens, you just notch up the thermostat a couple tenths of a degree to break crystal down. You can temper once and just, as mentioned by cheebs, keep an eye on it throughout the day and adjust as necessary-but not retemper. I also like that the Prefamac is built like a tank, easy to fix if necessary. I've been running mine nearly daily 2.5 years without a hitch. My Prefamac doesn't have light bulbs over the top for additional ambient heat but has ceramic heat lamps-all heat but no light.
I too agree, you're paying for more bells and whistles. As Michael Reccchiuti said to me about his Sollich enrober, the machine does nothing for you, you have to do everything for the machine. I think the final quality of your product is far more dependent on your skill as a chocolatier than anything-it's like photography, you can have the best equipment in the world and still take sucky pictures if you don't know how to use it. Or, have a lousy camera and take really great shots-if you know what you're doing. Not to say that JKVs, Hilliards, or Prefamacs are lousy-but they may require a bit more "operator" knowledge and skill.
Well that's absolutely true Jeff, but you also have to employ people who have experience tempering, otherwise should something go wrong with a machine, they would most likely not be able to handle it.
Hand tempering is a crucial first step in understanding and working with chocolate. One of the first tasks I do with a new employee is teach them how to hand temper the easiest and cleanest way that does not require a slab and a mess.
Hi Linda/Jeff.. would You be happy to explain your method of hand tempering?
I have an 80# Hilliard and have loved it for 30 years:-) I also have 3 Savage 50# temper/melters. If I had to give one up, it would be the Hilliard. Just depends on what you are going to do with it. If you are molding, the Savage is wonderful. If hand dipping, the Hilliard is great.
I had a chance 2 weeks ago to see the Selmi in operation at Tomric. It is a wonderful machine. I have a Perfect enrober that uses a wheel to temper. As I looked with envy at the Selmi, I decided it was a Mercedes to the basic Ford of the Perfect. They both get the job done, but the Selmi does it looking so much better:-) The mechanics of the enrober are basically the same on both machines. The Selmi tempers much easier, but for the $10,000 saved on the Perfect, I can do a little work.
Hi, i have been working with Selmi and prefamac, and i can tell you that if you want to speed up your work and achieve an higher consistency, the Selmi-style machine is much better than the old wheel machine.
Tempering is achieved in no time and consistency of temper is key factor. Like you i consider Selmi a bit too expensive so i turned my eyes to another italian company, Fbm Boscolo. they build similar machine (not that stylish)and at a fraction of the Selmi price. Definitely i'll never buy a wheel machine again, it takes forever, you must keep an eye continuously on the machine and is not efficient at all (30kg capacity=15kg/h out put Vs Selmi/Fbm boscolo 25kg capacity=100kg/h output)
I think another advantage of the Selmi (or similar designs, other brands we've looked at like Chocolate World or Gami make nearly identical machines) over the wheel is that you can keep feeding it with melted chocolate for a truly continuous production.
What happens is that with a wheel machine you have to temper the chocolate in the beginning and then keep it in temperature and motion so that it doesn't solidify. In the Selmi you have a 'tap' and a 'sink' (although I think they call it a tank, but it's actually open like a sink. Between those 2 is a circuit that pumps the chocolate from the sink and spits it out through the tap. Unlike in a wheel machine, the tank just contains melted chocolate, not tempered chocolate and the tempering process (cooling at a precise temperature) actually happens in the circuit between the sink and the tap: that's why you get tempered chocolate coming out of the tap, and as you use up the content of the tank you can add more chocolate pellets or more melted chocolate from a kettle. The result is much higher productivity, but the extra cost can probably only be justified if you have the quantity to match.