Centrifugal extractor is based on the same principal of a centrifuge. The frame is rotated in order to throw out the honey of the super. As a beginner you may be able to borrow one or rent one from the local association. If you are planning on making a purchase of one, you will have some choices to make. You can choice a tangential or radial, plastic or stainless steel, and manual or electric.
Let's look at tangential first. In a tangential machine the frames lie almost against the barrel of the drum. The outer side of the frame is part that empties when spinning. The machine is evenly loaded. Then it spins until about half the outer side has been extracted. You will be able to see tiny dots of honey flying from the frame and hitting the barrel. Turn the frames around so that the other side of the frame is facing outward. The spin the machine again until all the honey has spun out. The frame is turned one last time and spun for the final removal of the honey. This method prevents the combs breaking from the middle being full and the outer side empty. Each frame does have to be handled four times and the machine stopped and started 3 times.
The handling time using this machine is a disadvantage; however, the extraction of the honey is more thorough than other machines. It is the most compact extractor available, so therefore cheaper than other machine. If you are extracting heather honey, this is the only type of machine to cope with it.
The frames sit between rings, arranged like the spokes of a wheel in a radial machine. The extraction takes place on both sides at the same time, so there is not need to move the frames once they have been loaded. The radial machine is larger than the tangential machine. This is to ensure that the frames are far enough from the center to extract evenly. Because of the size of the machine it is capable of handling a lot more frames than a tangential. In both machines there is not major difference in rotation direction, but the electric radial machines have a reverse position to remove a little more honey from the cells and dry out the combs.
The traditional material used in the construction of the machines is usually tin-plated steel. A good quality tin-plated steel will last for many years unless it starts rusting. Once the machine starts rusting there is very little to be done about the rust. The barrel can no longer be used for the processing of a food product. The tin-plated extractors have been replaced with plastic and stainless steel barrels. If you get a choice, stainless steel is more durable than plastic.
If you are only extracting honey from two or three hives, a manual extractor will do the job. If you have a considerable amount of hives, the manual machine can become extremely tiring to use. When it comes to making a choice, it may depend on the money available, the stamina and the outlook of the beekeeper. The electric extractor will not only save you labor, but also reduces the time taken. The beekeeper could be uncapping while the extractor is running with the previous load.