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Spectra S1 vs. Spectra S2: Which Is Better?

Updated
Which Spectra pump is best for you?

You may think that the Spectra S1 and the Spectra S2 are simply two breast pump models of the same design, but there are some key factors to consider when trying to decide between the two.

We have lots of personal experience with Spectra pumps and have spent hours listening to the opinions of more moms than we can count. We’ve thoroughly researched the two designs, comparing prices, purposes, features, pros, and cons.

This practical guide outlines our definitive take on the Spectra S1 vs. S2 debate, so you can make the best choice for your needs.


Product Comparison Chart

Product Spectra S1 Spectra S2
Price Check Price Check Price
Weight 2.9 lbs 3.5 lbs
System Closed Closed
Double or single? Both Both
Timer Auto timer with digital display Yes
Modes 72 2: Letdown/massage & expression
Vacuum levels 12 12
Cycle speed (Letdown) 70 cycles/min 70 cycles/min
Cycle speed (Expression) 54, 50, 46, 42, 38 cycles/min 54, 50, 46, 42, 38 cycles/min
Settings selection +/- push buttons +/- push buttons
Display Digital Digital
Bottles 2 with lids, cap discs & nipples 2 with lids, cap discs & nipples
Milk storage bags Available separately Available separately
Cooler Included Included
AC adapter Included Included
Batteries 1 Lithium-ion battery Batteries are not required
Car adapter Available separately Available separately
Warranty 2 years 2 years

Product Overviews

These are the key similarities and differences between the Spectra S1 and the S2.

1. Spectra: S1 Electric Breast Pump

The Best For Portability

The Spectra S1 combines the standard Spectra technology with a built-in battery pack. This battery pack makes the S1 an excellent choice for traveling, visiting family and friends, or days out — with or without your baby.

The quiet motor and integrated night-light make this a solid choice for nighttime feeds and pumping sessions, and the raised icons on the buttons make it easy to find the right one, even when you’re bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived.

We especially love the settings and modes on Spectra pumps. You can choose between letdown mode to get your milk flowing or the expression mode, which pumps a higher volume once your milk flows freely.

You can buy the Spectra S1 without the tote bag and cooler, and spare parts are readily available from Spectra or online retailers like Amazon.

Pros

  • It has a built-in battery that lasts for up to three hours.
  • Both speed and pumping strength are adjustable.
  • All parts that come in contact with milk are BPA-free.
  • Built-in night-light for easier pumping at night.

Cons

  • Requires a pumping bra or Cara Cups to be genuinely portable.
  • Even with a pumping bra or cups, you need to carry the pump.
  • Doesn’t reset to letdown mode after use.

Product Specs

Weight 2.9 lbs
System Closed
Double or single? Both
Timer Auto timer with digital display
Modes 72
Vacuum levels 12
Cycle speed (Letdown) 70 cycles/min
Cycle speed (Expression) 54, 50, 46, 42, or 38 cycles/min
Settings selection +/ – push buttons
Display Digital
Bottles 2 included with lids, cap discs, and nipples
Milk storage bags Available separately
Cooler Included
AC adapter Included
Batteries 1 Lithium-ion battery included
Car adapter Not included — available separately
Warranty 2-year warranty from date of purchase

2. Spectra: S2 Plus Electric Breast Pump

The Best for At Home Pumpers

The Spectra S2 has both a letdown and an expression mode designed to mimic a baby’s stimulation and feeding patterns. You can adjust how hard and how many times per minute the Spectra pulls, making it a highly comfortable pumping experience.

A clear digital display tells you exactly which settings you are using, making it easy to reuse the settings you find most comfortable.

The Spectra S2 also has a built-in night-light with two brightness levels, so it’s easy to use it in the dark without disturbing anyone. Meanwhile, the noise levels are low for a breast pump, making it usable at night and discreet during the day.

You also can buy the Spectra S2 without the cooler and tote bag, and spare parts are readily available.

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Pros

  • Slightly smaller than the Spectra S1.
  • Much cheaper than the S1.
  • Both speed and pumping strength are adjustable.
  • It can be made more portable with an external battery pack.

Cons

  • No built-in battery for on-the-go pumping.
  • Mobility hacks might void your warranty.
  • Doesn’t reset to letdown mode after use.

Product Specs

Weight 3.5 lbs
System Closed
Double or single? Both
Timer Yes
Modes 2: Letdown/massage and expression
Vacuum levels 12
Cycle speed (Letdown) 70 cycles/min
Cycle speed (Expression) 54, 50, 46, 42, or 38 cycles/min
Settings selection +/- push buttons
Display Digital
Bottles 2 included with lids, cap discs, and nipples
Milk storage bags Available separately
Cooler Included
AC adapter Included
Batteries Batteries are not required
Car adapter Not included — available separately
Warranty 2-year warranty from date of purchase

In-Depth Feature Comparison

When it comes to features, which Spectra pump tops the charts?

Settings

Both pumps are essentially the same when it comes to the actual pumping process, but we’ll explain what we love about Spectra’s settings.

After assembling the washable pumping parts and holding the pump against a breast or both breasts, you begin with the letdown mode. This replicates the fast, shallow sucking of a baby at the beginning of a feed. After your milk is released, switch to massage mode for maximum milk expression.

However, while some other pumps may have this basic distinction between two types of pumping, the Spectras take fine-tuning your pumping experience to a whole new level.

You can choose between 12 vacuum levels, so you can adjust the strength of the “suck” to a level that is effective for drawing milk and comfortable for you. This minimizes the chance of sore nipples and prevents you from feeling like the pump is trying to suck your entire breast off.

The pump has only one cycle speed in letdown mode, but massage mode includes an additional five. This allows you to adjust how many times per minute the pump sucks, mimicking the differences in a baby’s feeding style at different times.

With 72 possible vacuum and cycle combinations in all, it’s easy to find the right combo for you, no matter what stage of breastfeeding you are at or the quantity of milk you are producing.

Since both pumps have the same system, this face-off can only result in a draw!

Winner

A draw

Portability

The Spectra S1 has a built-in, rechargeable battery pack. It takes four hours to charge the S1 fully, and on a full charge, you will have up to three hours of pumping time. The total amount will depend on the setting you use.

Battery power allows you to use the S1 on the go — sort of. There are two issues with the S1 and portability.

  • You still need to hold the breast pump against your breast or breasts, so if you want to move about or go hands-free, you have to buy a pumping bra or Spectra’s Cara Cups to keep the pump in place.
  • If you have a pumping bra and want to move around while using the Spectra S1, you have to carry it with you by the handle. While this is fine, it’s not practical for moving around a great deal. However, there is a standard hack for carrying the S1. Simply thread a belt through the handle, fasten the belt, and loop it over your shoulder. This helps but isn’t a very secure setup. However, a company called Idaho Jones makes an S1 bag that looks like a fanny pack, in which you can carry your S1 breast pump with you (1).

The Spectra S2 doesn’t include a battery, so you must be within six feet of an outlet for every use. The only way around this is to pick up an external battery pack. With one of these, you can use the S2 in the same way as the S1, although Spectra does not endorse this solution.

Also, you have to ensure you purchase a battery pack with the correct specs, or you will damage your pump.

Winner

The S1

Accessories

It is easy to find replacement parts for both Spectra pumps, and they are readily available directly from Spectra or most major online retailers.

These are our favorite accessories:

  • Car Adapters are available for both the Spectra S1 and the S2, so you can use either pump in your vehicle. We find this convenient for days out, road trips, or even just a few hours away from your baby.
  • Cara Cups are mini milk collection cups that connect to the pump and sit within your bra. You can pump into the cups, then transfer your milk to a bottle or storage bag. These make the S1 more portable and are excellent for using when you are working from home. You can use the pump and cups during an online meeting without anyone noticing a thing — as long as you angle the camera to avoid your boobs!
  • The Milk Collection Kit attaches to the pump where you would typically attach the bottle. You can pump directly into the bag and store the milk without the messy bottle-to-bag milk transfer hassle. You can also attach the bottle top and nipple and feed your baby directly from the bag, although it’s not as comfortable to hold a bag as a bottle when feeding.

Winner

Draw

Ordering Through Insurance

If your insurance will cover a Spectra breast pump, your options may be limited to the S2 as the S2 generally costs $40 to $60 less than the S1.

If you are not worried about portability, you can go straight for the S2. But if you want the mobility the Spectra S1 provides, there are two ways around this.

  • You can contact your insurance provider and ask if they will allow you to pay the difference between the S1 and the S2. Some insurance companies are happy to let you do this.
  • You can order the S2 and use an after-market external battery pack to provide that extra level of flexibility. The downside to this is that using an aftermarket hack may invalidate the warranty of your breast pump. In turn, this could mean your insurance company is unable or unwilling to pay for a replacement if yours breaks.

Winner

The S2


Spectra S1 vs. Spectra S2 Conclusion

When it comes down to the wire, which Spectra do we recommend?

Spectra S1

The Spectra S1 has Spectra’s unrivaled flexibility of settings, a clear digital display, a handy two-level nightlight, and a built-in battery for a degree of mobility.

However, if you want to do more than move from room to room, you’ll need a pumping bra or Spectra’s Cara Cups. You’ll also need to carry your pump in your hand, which isn’t the most convenient option when you have a baby in tow.

Spectra S2

The Spectra S2 has the same setting options, night-light, digital display, and noise levels as the S1. It is an excellent pump for anyone likely to do most of their pumping at home in a seated position.

Spectra S1 vs. S2: Who Wins?

If you want a degree of portability, then the Spectra S1 is the better breast pump for you. Although it is not a pump you can skip carefree through a meadow with, it will allow you to move around your home, giving you a degree of mobility.

For moms who don’t want to move about while they are pumping, the Spectra S2 is the better option because it is more affordable than the S1.

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About the Author

Patricia Barnes

Patricia Barnes is a homeschooling mom of 5 who has been featured on Global TV, quoted in Parents magazine, and writes for a variety of websites and publications. Doing her best to keep it together in a life of constant chaos, Patti would describe herself as an eclectic mess maker, lousy crafter, book lover, autism mom, and insomniac.