Spectra vs Medela

Spectra vs Medela Comparison – Which Pump is Better?

Spectra and Medela are two of the most popular breast pumps for mothers who breastfeed. Here’s our in-depth comparison of the Spectra vs Medela breast pumps.

Last Updated on March 4, 2021

There’s a lot of factors that go into selecting a breast pump that works for your specific situation. Things like pump noise, comfort, portability, power source, weight, and suction speed settings are all important to consider depending on how and where you’ll be pumping.

You won’t always be able to breastfeed when you or the baby needs to since our busy lives often get in the way. So having the right breast pump nearby will ensure your baby still receives the precious nutrients from your milk, where and whenever they need it. 

Spectra S2 and Medela Pump in Style are two of the most popular breast pumps on the market. These pumps have a lot of similarities, but they also have some key differences that may make one more appealing to you than the other.

We’ll compare the Spectra vs Medela in detail to help figure out which of these popular pumps is right for you. 

Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style Side-by-Side Comparison

Below, we provide a visual comparison of features for the Spectra and Medela breast pumps to highlight some of the main differences.

First things first, it’s important to note that there are different models of Spectra and Medela breast pumps. We previously compared the Spectra S1 vs S2 and Medela has the Pump in Style with MaxFlow and Advanced models. 

We’ll be focusing today’s review on the Spectra S2 and Medela Pump in Style Advanced (PISA) pumps, but we’ll also provide information on the other pumps as well.

FeaturesSpectra Breast PumpMedela Breast Pump
Pump CapacitySingle and Double Breast PumpSingle and Double Breast Pump
Max Pump Strength270 mmHg240 mmHg
Plug-in vs Battery PackSpectra S1: Plug-in onlySpectra S2: Portable battery packPlug-in or 8 AA batteries
Speed SettingsSeparate speed and vacuum strength setting for comfort customizationSingle knob controls both speed and vacuum settings
System TypeClosed system pumpPump in Style with MaxFlow: Closed system pumpPump in Style Advanced: Open system pump
Modes2 phase expression technology and massage modes2 phase expression technology mode with let-down
Accessories2 breast shield sizes2 tubes2 valves2 backflow protectors2 storage bottles with nipples, cop, disc, and lid1 power adapter2 different sized PersonalFit breast shields; includes backflow protection2 tubes2 valves4 storage bottles with lids1 power adapterCooler BagCarry Bag
Noise LevelAbout 45.0 dB46.0 – 58.0 dB
Weight3 lbs1.18 lbs
ScreenLCD screenNo screen
Night LightYesNo
ColorSpectra S1: White and BlueSpectra S2: White and PinkWhite and Yellow
Warranty2 years for the pump, 90 days for the accessories1 year limited on the pump motor, 90 days for other Medela parts and accessories
PriceSimilar in priceSimilar in price
PlasticBPA FreeBPA Free

As you can see, these Spectra and Medela breast pumps are similar in features, but there are a few noteworthy differences between the Spectra and Medela pumps. 

Differences Between Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style

There are several key differences between the Spectra and Medela breast pumps. You’ll want to assess your personal needs against what these two pumps do and do not offer.

Pump Controls & Screen

There is a clear difference between the Spectra and Medela PISA when it comes to controlling the vacuum strength and pump speed. The Spectra has a screen with separate controls for vacuum strength and speed, which means more customizable settings.

The Medela PISA does not have a screen and only has a single dial that controls the speed and strength together. The settings are preprogrammed based on research Medela has done on breastfeeding and pumping. This greatly limits you from being able to find the right strength that works for you.

Advantage: Spectra S2 since it has an LCD screen and provides the ability to control the suction and vacuum speed separately.

Closed System

The Spectra pumps are completely closed systems that keep harmful bacteria out of the milk supply. It also prevents milk back up that can damage the pump.

The Medela Pump in Style is an open system that can introduce bacteria without proper cleaning and disinfecting. However, the Medela Pump in Style with MaxFlow is a closed system breast pump if you want one that is more of a hospital-grade pump.

Advantage: Spectra S2 since it is a fully closed system to prevent contaminants from getting into the breast milk.

Hospital Grade Breast Pump

The Spectra has a powerful and quiet 270 mmHg motor that has earned the Spectra a hospital-grade label. 

The Medela PISA is not considered hospital-grade due to it being an open system and isn’t quite as powerful as other pumps often used in hospital settings.

Advantage: Spectra since it’s a hospital-grade pump.

Weight

This is where Medela shines. The Medela Pump in Style comes in at just 1.18 lbs, which is incredibly light for an electric breast pump. This makes it easy to carry in a bag for long periods without feeling like you’re hauling bricks around.

The Spectra comes in at nearly twice the weight at about 3 lbs.

Advantage: Medela PISA since it’s nearly 2 lbs lighter.

Noise Level

This may be the most important difference for many breastfeeding mothers. When you’re pumping, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself with a loud noise coming from the pump. 

The Spectra’s max noise level is around 45.0 dB, which means it can only be heard within a few feet. This is ideal for pumping at work or in public since it won’t draw the attention of everyone around you.

The Medela PISA is a bit louder at 58.0 dB and is clearly more noticeable by people in the same room or just outside it.

Advantage: Spectra S2 since it’s quieter than the Medela by a decent amount.

Battery Power

A battery means that the Spectra S1 allows for far more flexibility in terms of when and where you can pump, so you are free to use the Spectra breast pump no matter where you are. I know that many mothers like to have park play dates, so this allows them the ability to pump while they play. 

The Spectra S2 requires an electrical outlet to use the pump as it is powered by a plug-in connection. This limits your freedom to pump from any location, but considering that most public spaces, including some parks, have outlets, you still have a lot of flexibility with the Spectra.

The Medela PISA is primarily intended to use while plugged in, but it does have the option to run on AA batteries. The Spectra S2 does not offer this flexibility for mothers that aren’t always close to an electrical outlet.

Advantage: Medela Pump in Style since it can be used with 8 AA batteries. However, the Spectra S1 comes with a rechargeable battery which is incredibly convenient for travel.

Color

The Spectra S2 only comes in pink and white. The Medela PISA comes in yellow and white.

Advantage: Tie since they both only come in one color option. It’s just a matter of preference.

Warranty

Spectra pumps come with a two-year warranty on the pump motor and 90 days on other pump parts and accessories. The Medela pumps only come with a one-year warranty on the motor with 90 days on pump parts.

Advantage: Spectra’s two-year warranty on the pump motor is great if you end up needing it.

Spectra S2 Plus Breast Pump Review

Spectra S2 Plus Breast Pump

The Spectra S2 electric breast pump is ideal for single or double pumping at-home and features adjustable suction levels.

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The Spectra S2 from Spectra Baby USA is a portable, lightweight, single or double electric breast pump with a slew of excellent features to facilitate breast milk storage and extraction. Weighing a mere 3 lbs, this Spectra breast pump is ready when you need to pump at a moment’s notice. 

The Spectra has 12 suction strength levels and a strong 270 mmHg motor that makes it a hospital-grade breast pump. However, the pump is actually very quiet and doesn’t get louder than 45 dB, which is silent enough to pump near sleeping babies and co-workers in the room next door.

If you need portability, the S1 model comes with a battery pack so you can pump in a bathroom, an office, at home, or outdoors. There’s no need to stick close to an outlet with this pump model.

Another crucial feature the Spectra has is backflow protection, which ensures that bacteria or other harmful outside material will not infiltrate your milk. There is a timer and automatic display that documents pumping time and efficiency to help you plan your pumping schedule.

WHAT WE LOVE

  • Adjustable speed and vacuum with 12 levels of suction power means less time pumping
  • Strong and quiet motor that is ideal for public pumping
  • Closed system with backflow protection to prevent milk contamination
  • Lightweight design for portability
  • Provides silicone inserts for the flanges to make pumping comfortable (and less painful)

WHAT COULD BE BETTER

  • S2 does not come with a battery like the S1 model
  • Only comes with 2 bottles for breast milk storage

What is the difference between the Spectra S1 and S2?

Read our Spectra S1 vs S2 review for a detailed comparison. However, the main differences are the S1’s built-in rechargeable battery, blue color, and higher price.

Other Spectra Pumps

  • Spectra S1 Plus: This is effectively the same pump as the S2, but it comes with a battery which also bumps the cost higher. 
  • Spectra 9 Plus: This is the most compact Spectra double pump. It doesn’t have as much pumping customization and the suction is not as strong, but it’s lightweight if you need to get one for traveling.
  • Synergy Gold (SG): This pump has ultra-quiet dual motors that let you adjust the settings for each side of the pump independently.

Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Review

Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump

Medela PISA is a double electric pump with adjustable speed and vacuum settings plus a battery power option.

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The Medela Pump in Style is one of the most popular breast pumps on the market due to its weight and convenience. While many use the Medela, many moms say the noise level is annoying, especially if you plan to be pumping in the same room as your baby. 

You can also pump hands free with the Easy Expression Bustier which can be worn separately or with a nursing bra. This is perfect for new mothers that need to work at their computer or get tasks done while they’re pumping. 

Also, while the pump has limited customization, it does have a one-touch let-down button to get the breast milk flow started.

This breast pump will serve you well if you’re a working mom who doesn’t have the luxury of taking more than a day or two off each week to pump. However, if you’re a working mom who is frequently pumping throughout the day, this pump will be a tough sell due to the noise level and limited controls.

WHAT WE LOVE

  • Fast, continuous pumping even at the lowest setting with a one-touch let-down button
  • Option to use batteries to power the pump when traveling
  • Very lightweight design is ideal for taking with to work and to pump on the go
  • One dial to adjust the suction strength and speed
  • Single or double pump option
  • Pump is relatively easy to store with the included On-the-Go Tote
  • Can be used hands-free with the separate bustier

WHAT COULD BE BETTER

  • Noise level is noticeable by those near where you’re pumping
  • Open system could contaminate milk supply without proper cleaning
  • No night light for pumping in the middle of the night

Other Medela Pumps

  • Freestyle Flex: This is Medela’s most portable closed system pump that’s incredibly compact and silent. Includes a built-in USB rechargeable battery and connects to the Medela smartphone app.
  • Harmony: This is the popular manual breast pump that’s low cost and great for occasional use.
  • Sonata: Medela’s double electric, hospital quality breast pump that’s designed for moms that pump frequently.
  • Symphony: This rather expensive model is Medela’s hospital grade pump that has dual membrane units and is very quiet for use any time of day.
  • Swing: This single electric pump is ideal for pumping on the go due to its small size and lightweight design. It’s powered by either the included AC adapter or 4 AA batteries.

Similarities Between Spectra S2 and Medela PISA

As you can see from the previous descriptions, the Spectra and Medela pumps have many differences. There are actually very few features that the two pumps have in common.

Customization

Both the Spectra and Medela come with all the accessories that allow for either single or double pumping.  They also support customization of pump speed and vacuum settings that help find a strength that’s more comfortable for you.

Suction Modes

There are two suction modes (Expression Mode and Massage Mode) on the Spectra pump to adjust the settings to mimic the nursing patterns your body responds to the best. 

Expression Mode has different speeds and vacuum strength levels which can be used after letdown starts and milk is flowing.

Spectra vs Medela Pump: Our Recommendation

We have to give it to the Spectra S2 Plus pump. 

What Makes the Spectra S2 better than the Medela Pump in Style? The pump is super quiet, is a fully closed system to prevent harmful bacteria buildup, and provides more options when it comes to adjustable suction speed and vacuum strength.

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