Which dust collector is best?

If you have a home workshop, you know how much of a menace dust can be to your breathing, comfort and especially health. It’s imperative to properly handle the dust created by even the most basic woodworking. Dust collectors are the simplest and best way to maintain a healthy workshop.

The best dust collector is the Powermatic PM1300TX-CK Dust Collector. It’s powerful and has an excellent two-micron filtration system, plus it’s built with the sturdiest all-metal ducts.

What to know before you buy a dust collector

How it works

Think of dust collectors as special vacuums that hook up to most woodworking workshop equipment, and use a motor to draw in air containing dust particles. They collect small particles in filters and canisters and large particles in big bags before sending the cleaned air back into the shop.

Size and capacity

Size and capacity go hand in hand with dust collectors, and you need to balance your available space and needs carefully when shopping.

  • Small collectors tend to be wall-mounted units with five cubic feet or less capacity. If you only have one or two pieces of woodworking equipment inside a small garage, these are your best bet.
  • Medium collectors have up to twice the capacity of small wall-mounted units and tend to be placed on wheels so they can be taken to each machine as needed. These are perfect for non-commercial workshops.
  • Large collectors have 15 or more cubic feet of capacity but take up the most space. These are best for commercial workshops.

What to look for in a quality dust collector

Filtration

Filtration is the most important aspect of your dust collector. It’s measured in microns, with the smaller the microns, the better the filtration. The starting point is typically 30 microns, though these filtration levels are designed for use in commercial settings with multiple air filtration systems working together. Most non-commercial dust collectors have at least five-micron filtration systems, with many having finer filters. Some can be as fine as a single micron.

Horsepower and CFM

There are two dust collector power measures: horsepower and cubic feet of air per minute, or CFM.

  • Horsepower: The higher the horsepower, the more powerful the motor. However, it’s rare to find a motor without enough horsepower to run efficiently. It’s best to focus on CFM.
  • CFM: CFM is a measure of how much air will pass through the dust collector every minute. The higher the CFM, the more dust it processes and the cleaner your workshop remains. Home workshops should aim for 500-1,000 CFM, while commercial workshops should aim for 1,000-plus CFM.

Noise

Like most workshop equipment, dust collectors make noise. Most create 70-90 decibels worth. Anything higher, and you should use ear protection while using it.

How much you can expect to spend on a dust collector

Dust collectors typically cost $200-$1,000, though they can cost more. The most basic models cost $300 or less, while ones in the modest range are available for $300-$700. The best ones usually start at around $900.

Dust collector FAQ

Is a dust collector really necessary?

A. Technically no, as you could get by with a shop vacuum. That said, dust collectors are far more effective, efficient and healthy. For example, they can run while you’re working, so there’s no need to vacuum up large piles of dust later, and they can prevent dust particles from gathering in your airways or your paints and varnishes.

Can I leave my dust collector in one spot instead of moving it?

A. If your dust collector is strong enough and you have the gear to create a piping network, then yes. Keep in mind that this can take up a large amount of space, so it may not be feasible in cramped conditions like small garages.

What’s the minimum filtration level for safety in a home workshop?

A. The smallest particles are the deadliest, so it’s recommended to have the best filtration possible for your budget. Consider five-micron filtration levels as your starting point for home workshops, and go lower if you can.

What’s the best dust collector to buy?

Top dust collector 

Powermatic PM1300TX-CK Dust Collector

Powermatic PM1300TX-CK Dust Collector

What you need to know: It’s among the most powerful dust collectors.

What you’ll love: It has a remote-controlled timer that can be set up to run for up to 99 minutes and dual 4-inch dust ports for simultaneous dust collection from two machines. Its collection bag has a 10-cubic-foot capacity to decrease the rate of bag changes.

What you should consider: It’s among the most expensive dust collectors. Some consumers reported receiving damaged products caused by poor shipping preparation. Others said it was louder than anticipated. 

Where to buy: Sold by  Home Depot

Top dust collector for the money

Shop Fox W1685 Duct Collector

Shop Fox W1685 Duct Collector

What you need to know: It’s plenty powerful despite the low cost.

What you’ll love: It has a 1.5 hp motor that can pull 1,280 cubic feet of air per minute. Its bag has a 5.4 cubic foot capacity and a bag filtration of 2.5 microns. It’s easy to move, thanks to a wheeled base.

What you should consider: Some customers had issues understanding the instructions, particularly for measurements only given in metric units that require conversion to customary units.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Worth checking out

Jet DC-1100VX-5M Dust Collector

Jet DC-1100VX-5M Dust Collector

What you need to know: It’s powerful and has some useful features.

What you’ll love: Its motors are enclosed for protection and are fan-cooled, lubricated and rated to last through continuous use. Its base has four swivel casters for maximum mobility. It compresses dust to increase the time before bag changing is needed, plus quick-connect bags make changing them simple.

What you should consider: It’s a little pricey and loud. Some purchasers had issues understanding the setup instructions. Others found the frame to be a little flimsy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
 

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