Choosing Between Electric and Manual Can Openers
Hands down the area I spent the most time on as I was researching the best can openers had to do with the differences between manual and electric models. I’ve been using manual can openers for as long as I can remember, and I was pretty dissatisfied with the results. However, I wasn’t quite ready to jump into buying an expensive machine that would have to sit on my countertop all the time, either. If you’re on the fence when it comes to can opener styles like I was, then read on to understand the key points of each type, and hopefully co
me one step closer to making the right purchase.
When it comes down to a basic, head-to-head comparison as far as ease of use, electric can openers are going to win pretty much every time. This is because electric can openers don’t require you to do any of the work. The specific operation methods are going to be different on each model, but most involve placing the can in front of the opener and pressing it into a locking mechanism. You might need to press a button or hold down a lever, but the machine is going to take care of holding the can, turning it, and cutting the top off for you.
There are definitely some manual models that are very easy to use, with special gears and different blade configurations that mean you don’t have to put in as much effort as those troublesome older models like I used to use. The biggest consideration here comes down to the type of cans you plan on using, since some electric can openers can’t handle heavy cans or cans with different shapes, requiring you to hold the cans in place or simply not working at all with them.
Manual can openers definitely have a bit of an advantage in terms of durability over electric models, since they are
usually made of sturdier metals. Since manual can openers don’t have to hold the cans up, they can also handle cutting through thicker cans without running into issues, whereas electric can openers often only work with standard can sizes and weights. Both manual and electric can openers can experience rust, though, which means that you need to pay special care to cleaning both types. If you plan on opening a lot of heavy cans pretty frequently, then odds are that a manual can opener is going to offer more durability over time compared to an electric unit.
Based on what I’ve found, electric can openers can be slightly more prone to breaking and facing malfunctions compared to manual can openers. As you would expect, electric can openers have motors and other mechanical parts inside that are simply more delicate. Most manual can openers, especially those made of solid metals, are going to be able to handle more use and are less likely to break while you’re in the middle of opening a can.
Another major consideration when it comes to reliability is the fact that electric can openers need a constant power source. This might not seem like a big deal, until you find yourself in a power outage. My family and I were once without power for several hours right around dinner time, and I was incredibly happy that I could still open up our canned goods and heat them up on the stove. An electric can opener isn’t going to have a manual backup mode, so without power it’s just not going to work.
In terms of cleaning, manual can openers definitely win out over electric can openers. After you use a manual can opener, you can toss it into the sink, scrub it clean, and set it out to dry without any special work or extra attention. Unfortunately, you can’t do this with an electric can opener (unless you plan on breaking it, which is exactly what is going to happen if you get the motor or electrical parts wet). To clean an electric can opener, you’ll have to carefully wipe down the blades and the surface, and you might even need to use a cotton swab to get into the inner areas without hurting the mechanisms.
I will say that there are some electric can openers that are much easier to clean, with some even offering detachable blade heads that you can safely clean on their own. This is a very handy feature that I didn’t even know existed, since I was always afraid of accidentally getting the base wet and shorting it out.
After you take everything else into consideration, you have to think about the price difference between electric and manual can openers, which can be pretty big in some cases. Most electric can openers are going to cost more than manual models because of the motors and electric parts. If you’re focusing on your budget, it is possible to find some functional and affordable electric can openers, but they’re still going to cost you more than most manual models. Another factor to consider is that an electric can opener is going to be more expensive to repair or replace, especially in comparison to a manual can opener.
The Final Call
Making the decision to go with a manual or electric can opener can be a difficult one, so to create the most realistic picture I recommend really thinking about all of the factors I mentioned above. While it seems like manual can openers have more benefits over electric can openers, the electric models are just simply easier to use, and for some people, that convenience can make all the difference.