Author Topic: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?  (Read 970 times)

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Offline I Nam

  • Posts: 4
Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« on: January 09, 2019, 08:52 AM »
First post although I am an experienced Festool user and a frequent visitor to forums.

I am in the market for a new portable dust extractor.  My work is renovation involving sanding, chasing, both with old plasters and timbers. While I don't deal with hazardous dusts (e.g. asbestos, lead, mould,etc ) in a controlled way, dealing with older properties means that hazardous dusts are inherent to the job on daily  basis. Its not building site work so there is no direct outside control - i.e. there is no requirement what I bring on the job.

Right now my main selection criteria is:
- minimise exposure - looking at H class (or Hepa) DE due to dealing daily with hazardous dust
- good reliability - good warranty and support.
- good productivity - making sure it sucks dust and continues doing at good rate as it fills up (and I do understand drop off etc).

Cost is important but not main consideration.

Choices I have narrowed to are:
- Starmix H1635 - 1600W H-class. Looks great in specs, internet feedback is good, 'crazy' youtube videos etc. Main negative is support - 1 year warranty and limited presence in UK. After 1 year, I would be in uncertain waters with any problems. The DE itself looks good, ipulse, washable filters. I object to lack of guidance from Starmix on the longevity of filters (and the crazy cost!). Also some of their guidance made little sense - have to use fleece bag to protect the filters. My experience with autoclean 'functions is that it doesn't work with fleece bags, unless someone invents autoclean that cleans the bag as well.  So using both will just end up with bag clogging up and make ipulse redundant.

- Festool CTM26 . Good support, good trade feedback, well understood. Some of the things could be better, more suction, wider standard hose, but overall it works and will give me at least 3 years of worry free usage. Only problem is - its not H class, not even near (e.g. HEPA). So its out.

- Festool CTH26 - This looks again good in specs. Not as good as Starmix on paper but lot of other positives - excellent support, great warranty, known brand. Problem is - I don't have any practical experience of CTH. Does it suck as well as M class or is it considerably lower. Can I use it as M class where I just keep filling the bag until it starts beeping? Any other gotchas?

So anyways, thats my dilema - all advice welcome :).
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 09:04 AM by I Nam »

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Offline Alex

  • Posts: 5759
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2019, 11:03 AM »
Why are you set on a H class vac? It seems overkill to me if you don't deal professionally with hazardous dust like asbestos. It's going to cost you a lot extra and you'll have more discomfort working with the vac than when you go for an M or L class vac.

Offline I Nam

  • Posts: 4
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2019, 01:02 PM »
Cost is not prohibitive. Looking at Festool, real world price difference is less than £100 from CTM to CTH. Starmix even less (~£60).

Second part of your statement - "more discomfort" is what I am trying to understand. I am after someone who has real practical experience of using H-class (e.g. Festool CTH) on daily basis who can share their experience and any discomfort!

Also, do I require one? Not from HSE perspective -  my work is not HSE notifiable. So its a personal choice. If you work with buildings which are 100+ years old, its a can of worms. First you have original materials, then you have years of subsequent coatings, laggings, etc to deal with. I am not worrying about it. My simple view is, I need a new dust extractor, get one with best filtration that will cover all the bases, then get on with the job. And this is why I am looking at H-class, I just really need to understand how different it is day to day from M-class.

Offline Gregor

  • Posts: 1167
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2019, 01:51 PM »
CTM differs from CTL in checking for enough airflow and having M certification.
CTH differs from CTM in using a HF CTH 26/48 main filter (78€), FIS-CTH 26/3 bags (58€/3) and having H certification.

I strongly suspect you can easily turn a CTL into an effective CTH (sans the certification and airflow control) by mounting the CTH main filter and using CTH bags.

In case cost is no issue:
You could well get a CTH and use normal HF-CT 26/36/48 main filters (34€) and SC FIS-CT 26/5 bags (40€/5) for when you don't actually have to deal with H stuff. And should the need arise to have a VAC with a certification you'll have one.

In case you plan to do much drywall stuff (and possibly the Planex) think about a CTx AC, and about adding a CT-VA to save on bags.

Offline Sanderxpander

  • Posts: 193
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2019, 03:31 PM »
I believe the iPulse tech is superior to Festool's AC but I don't have any real world experience with either. I like the mobility and compactness of the Festool range. Bluetooth, smooth hoses and easy hose storage are definite advantages to me. If they weren't I'd most likely go for a Starmix 1635 as I believe it has better suction and tech.

Offline I Nam

  • Posts: 4
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2019, 03:35 PM »
Thanks Gregor. I do a fair bit of plasters sanding. I pretty much use Mirka (Ceros/Deos) exclusively for all sanding including plaster / fillter and never had the need to change to Planex or anything of that size.

So coming back to dust extractors - yes, it does need to deal with plaster dust - not all of the time but some of the time. Festool with Autoclean (without fleece bag) has excellent workflow here but this is not what I am after. Again, I am prepared to compromise here with more frequent bag changes if I means improved filtration. I do not however know how much of a compromise it is in reality.

On the other point using CTM or CTL with H filter - that is something of interest to me. If anyone has done that and can share their experience, that would be really helpful. Other point of using CTH with standard (L/M) filter - this is of no interest but thanks for suggestion.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 04:09 PM by I Nam »

Offline I Nam

  • Posts: 4
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2019, 04:01 PM »
I believe the iPulse tech is superior to Festool's AC but I don't have any real world experience with either. I like the mobility and compactness of the Festool range. Bluetooth, smooth hoses and easy hose storage are definite advantages to me. If they weren't I'd most likely go for a Starmix 1635 as I believe it has better suction and tech.

I know what you are saying, Starmix does sound better. But its difficult to say how much of iPulse is better tech and how much is hype. The few youtube videos featuring ipulse were showing off sucking up beer, mud and hot coals. It reminded me of "Will it blend" videos - fun but not helpful. I could find no real reviews of Starmix, I can't really go see a demo, I have never seen one in use, so in reality I am spending £700+ on basis of forum posts and youtube. At least with festool, if its horrible, I got 15 days to send it back. On Starmix - I do believe Metabo is a re-badged Starmix and reviews for that are mixed to positive, not bad but certainly not indicating that its in any way superior tech to other dust extractors.  I also do wonder how I would fare with 1600W and power take off .

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 249
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2019, 04:10 PM »
I like the mobility and compactness of the Festool range.

While Festool CT vacs are mobile on a flat floor, compact or luggable they are not.  I have a CT26 and a Nilfisk Aero 21 HEPA that have similar suction, noise levels and performance...the Festool has more features like a tool triggered outlet, variable speed and Bluetooth.  But if I have to lug it up a flight of stairs I'd much rather carry two of the Nilfisks than one CT26 as the CT is bulky, heavy and awkward.  Oh and with Bluetooth it cost about the same as 2 1/2 Nilfisks.

Offline Sanderxpander

  • Posts: 193
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2019, 04:41 PM »
Fair enough, I was talking more in comparison to the Starmix. Add a hose garage to that and it seems pretty unwieldy to me. But I'd also rather carry a midi up the stairs than a 26.

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 5759
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2019, 08:37 AM »
So coming back to dust extractors - yes, it does need to deal with plaster dust - not all of the time but some of the time. Festool with Autoclean (without fleece bag) has excellent workflow here but this is not what I am after. Again, I am prepared to compromise here with more frequent bag changes if I means improved filtration. I do not however know how much of a compromise it is in reality.

I sand a lot of plaster. First thing you have to understand with plaster is that the material fills up the pores of your bags very quickly, often to the point you fill the bag only for 25% till suction is reduced to un unacceptable level. You say cost of the bags is no problem, well, I am sure that when you use those very expensive H bags you'll be going to change your mind very quickly. My CTL Mini bags only cost me €4 a piece, your H bags between €15-20 and you'll find you'll have to replace them just as quickly. 

The point with the whole H classification is to make sure close to NONE of the dust escapes to enter your body, and this includes wearing hazmat suits and respirators. If you're not going to wear special clothing and breathing equipment it is of no use to upgrade from an L or M class vac to H. The L and M vacs already offer very good protection.

Problem with dust collection is also the point of origin, not all dust is going to be caught by the vac, and the amount of dust that escapes right at the source is MUCH bigger than what the vac's filters let slip through. You want to make a difference for your lungs, wear a respirator. I often do, especially with sanding plaster because that stuff is spewed everywhere.


Offline Tom Gensmer

  • Posts: 649
  • Residential Remodeler in Minnesota
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2019, 10:22 AM »
I have a CT-26, Nilfisk Attix 44, and a Starmix 1600-watt vac and they're all great.

The CT-26 is great for general woodworking, and the fleece bags make disposal a breeze. Downside is that the pores of the bags tend to quickly clog with cementitious dust. I'm currently remodeling my home, and keep the CT-26 inside to keep up with the wood dust I create.

The Attix 44 (and 33) are great all-purpose vacs. There is a two-stage filtration system, the first filter has a pulse function that reverses the airflow every 15 seconds to release accumulated dust. Whatever makes it past the first filter then hits a HEPA filter. I started with a Attix 33, then later ordered the larger bin to turn it into a Attix 44, and keep it in my work shop.

Finally, I have a Mafell S-35M, which is a rebranded Starmix ISP 1600 watt vac. The electromagnetic filter cleaning is great, suction is amazing, and the compact size make this my "Go-To" portable job site vac.
CT-26, CT-MIDI, C-18, RO-150, RO-90, OF-1010, OF-1400 (x2), MFK-700, MFK-700EQ/B, EHL-65, DTS-400, LS-130, MFT/3 (x2), MFT/Kapex (x3), CMS-OF, KA 65 Conturo, Sprinter full of Systainers

Offline Job and Knock

  • Posts: 130
Re: Buying a Dust Extractor - Festool or another?
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2019, 03:05 AM »
On Starmix - I do believe Metabo is a re-badged Starmix and reviews for that are mixed to positive, not bad but certainly not indicating that its in any way superior tech to other dust extractors.  I also do wonder how I would fare with 1600W and power take off .
The Metabos are rebrands of Starmix products, as are Spit vacuums. Lots of other firms, especially in the concrete trades, seem to buy from them as well. I have two Metabos, an older ASR2025  fitted with M-class filters and a newer ASR35M. They are very good vacuums and easily outperform equivalent Hiltis (the one brand where I have long term side by side experience). The self-cleaning on the Metabos (Starmixes) is excellent. Both will happily switch and run a Kapex on 110 volt site power (UK). The one thing the ASR35M could do with is a conversion plate, like the older ASR2025 has (as an accessory), which allows you to fix a Systainer on top.
Simplicity is the embodiment of purity and unity
- Shaker Maxims