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Thread: Would you consider a central vacuum for small tool DC

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    1,776
    William,

    I don't know if all models of central vacs are separately air cooled, but the one that I have is. Mine came from a major home remodel to the home next to me. When I saw the homeowner carrying it out to the construction dumpster I yelled out to him "Hey, can I have that?" He brought it over and placed it next to my shop, saying "It doesn't work", and I replied "I'll fix it". Over the next week everything associated with the central vac, including the hose and attachments, all of the pipe, and all of the inlets, arrived at my shop as they were being removed from the home next door. A quick check of the Vacuum wiring found a bad control circuit transmitter, which was a doorbell transformer. I found one the right size but a slightly different configuration for $16 at Lowes and installed it that afternoon.

    Installation of the pipes in the walls and ceiling of my shop went well, but was quite a job. I used most of the used pipe and fittings, but ended up buying a few fittings and pipes for a total project outlay cost of less than $60. I added a ceiling light (one of those spiral bulbs in an orange color) to the shop ceiling, so I would be reminded that the central vac was running, and to keep me from leaving it on (I did this once, then added the light). Downstairs in the shop there is almost no vacuum motor noise and only the rushing air noise to let me know that it was working before the light was added. If paying close attention to the motor noise I can hear it, but it's very quiet.

    All of the electrical contacts in the inlet ports were connected, so the vac starts whenever a hose is plugged into an inlet port. I have the original 25' hose, but have now purchased a couple of used shorter hoses and leave one connected at my scroll saws, another at the sanders, and the 25' hose gets used for almost any other need. I have ceiling hooks to route this hose across the ceiling to the tool in use and because the shop ceiling is only 8' I can pull a loop in the hose and hold the center of the loop up to place it on a hook or remove it without the need for a step ladder. My nearest Vacuum sales and service store was my source for help, new pipe fittings and lengths of straight pipe, and they sold me the shorter used hoses very reasonably when I later asked about getting shorter hoses. The exhaust from my vac exits my shop just under the North facing roof soffit (Pipe above the vac in the photo). There are no neighbors North of me, except ducks and geese in the lake adjacent to my property, and I don't care if it bothers them. They aren't the best neighbors to have either. My next door neighbor has a pool located behind and to the East of my shop, so to test the noise level I went over to his pool while the vac was running. It could be heard and sounded like a jet plane, but one almost near the horizon and miles away, so both he and I agreed that this would not bother him or a pool party if I was in the woodshop working while he was having a party.

    Adding this central vacuum to my shop has made a significand difference in reducing the fine saw dust in the shop air, so it's doing what I was hoping for. The Dust Deputy is doing a great job, since there is only a trace of micro fine saw dust in the Vac's dust container stuck to the sidewalls. Nothing has ever been in there but that trace of saw dust. With the exhaust going to the outside of the shop, none of the even micro fine dust is ever getting back into my shop, so the shop air is much safer than before it was added. I have a window style 23,000 BTU heat pump mounted through the North wall of my shop for heating and cooling, and found that a 12 X 20 pleated furnace filter fits behind the face cover, so does a great job of cleaning dust from my shop air as well, and it doesn't need replacing as often now that the central vacuum has been installed.

    I am less worried about saw dust from my Unisaw and Jointer than from the fine saw dust producers in my shop, so I am now much less worried about the health hazards of working out there now.

    I hope this helps. Add a post here or send a PM if you have any specific questions.

    Charley
    Last edited by Charles Lent; 11-08-2021 at 1:32 PM.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    North Dana, Masachusetts
    Posts
    326
    Thanks, Charley. It sounds like you got an expensive set up for cheap.

    The Twin Cities people were out of used vacs, but it looks like they are available elsewhere.

    A Canavac has 114" of water lift. For the price of two shop vacs, or part of one Festool shop dust vac extractor, I could have a central vac, made out of metal, from Canada.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,887
    My old shop had a central vac unit I used for small tools. And I have a used one (free of CL) sitting ready to be hooked up in my new shop. So for me it has worked and I am in the process of repeating it. I like the small size of the unit, mounting it out of the way, and the fact that it exhausts to the outside through a small opening in a basement window.

    Neighbors dont notice/care about it.

    I 3-d print couplers as needed. Still 'learning' how much clearance to give since the printed material is a bit brittle, but have always gotten it by the second try. Very useable approach.

    I do have a festool shop vac I also use. If I could have only one, I would choose the festool since it is portable and gets used for a variety of tasks.

    ymmv

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    2,897
    My workshop in my new house happened to have a central vac on the wall about 4 feet from my drill press. I never used it around the house, even though it works. So when I received my Woodpeckers drill press table with the dust collection I hooked it up. Took slight modification of the electronics to add a manual wall switch to turn on the unit, and some ducting, but minor stuff.

    While it's very noisy and I do need earmuffs to use the drill press with it, the dust collection through that setup is superb.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
    - Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    1,776
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    I found a Shop Vac with whopping 6.5 HP Peak horsepower and the following:
    150 CFM and 370 Peak Air Watts which would mean about 21 in wg suction.
    Compared to a high performance Beam central vac with:
    142 CFM and 650 Air Watts which would mean about 29 in wg
    So I think in general, shop vacs may have higher CFM but central vacs have higher suction which seems to agree with Paul's post.
    When I first installed my Beam central vacuum with Dust Deputy attached to a 5 gallon plastic bucket, I had been using the Dust Deputy on my Shop Vac, and I never had a problem with the bucket collapsing when using it with the Shop Vac. When the Central Vacuum was being installed in my shop I installed the vacuum piping and inlet ports in my shop, and re-purposed the Dust Deputy and bucket to use it on the inlet to the Central Vacuum, still on the same 5 gallon bucket. The very first time that I turned on the Central Vacuum I decided to suck up the saw dust on my shop floor, and within the first 30 seconds I came upon a plane shaving that blocked the inlet of the vac hose. Immediately, I heard a big thump in the direction of the central vacuum and shut it down. On inspection, I found that the plastic 5 gallon bucket had imploded. I then searched for a better bucket and found that even the best plastic bucket, a 5 gallon pickle bucket from Firehouse Subs that was supposed to be the "Toughest Bucket" according to all of the information found in an internet search for the information. Then I realized that these pickle buckets had more ribs on their outside at the top 1/3 that made them a little less likely to implode than the white buckets, but this was after I had imploded 3 more of these red pickle buckets with my vacuum. So I stacked three of these red pickle buckets together and connected only the top bucket to the Dust Deputy. Tripling the bucket thickness and adding the additional ribs of these two additional pickle buckets gave me triple wall thickness and ribs all the way down the top most bucket in the stack. This solved my bucket collapsing bucket problem, until I could get a metal grease barrel from my son and make a suitable Dust Deputy lid for it.

    The only problem with using the stacked pickle buckets in your vacuum system is that when you run the Central Vacuum, the pickle smell in your shop makes you want a hamburger really bad. I have tried everything to get the pickle smell out and the only thing that really worked well was to leave the buckets and tops open and out in the Sun for about a week. Otherwise, you had better stock up on hamburgers before running the vacuum.

    Charley

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    New Westminster BC
    Posts
    2,109
    On the five gallon plastic bucket below my Dust Deputy I reinforced the bucket with a ring made by hand bending a length of 3/8" rebar and just taped it in place inside about half way with duct tape. The bucket doesn't collapse under static and the tape holds it in place when I dump the bucket. Not a perfect fit but doesn't need to be. And as a bonus I don't get a craving for a hamburger every time I run the shop vac.

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    1.5 hrs north of San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    816
    Our fairly large .NuTone central vac has significantly less suction and air flow than my 15-gal ShopVac, albeit through longer piping/hose, is noticeably louder than the ShopVac (it's in a utility closet off of my home office), has somewhat less capacity, and far fewer filter options. In addition, the ShopVac is "wet-or-dry", which I've used occasionally to empty the last few inches from the hot tub.

  8. #38
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,887
    Just FYI the central vac at my old shop used a three stage Ametek blower. If interested you may be able to look up the specs. They also make a two stage blower.

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    1,776
    Putting a Dust Deputy in the line ahead of the central vac eliminates vacuum filter clogging, since almost nothing gets past the Dust Deputy the suction of the vacuum remains the same. With my system I can use it for a year and the only thing inside the vacuum collection canister is some trace dust, so little that it's almost not there. Using an outside exhaust eliminates the need to even worry about this super fine dust getting into my lungs. Since nothing ever gets collected by the filter in the central vacuum no longer use any filter in it at all. This gave me increased suction and the whole system is working even better for me now. The Dust Deputy works so well that I have now replaced the one removed from my shop vac with a second Dust Deputy and 5 gallon bucket. So now 2 Dust Deputy units are now in my shop, keeping me from having to clean vac filters and enjoying long use of the vacuums with no loss in suction from plugged filters.

    Charley

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Redmond, OR
    Posts
    150
    Does the central vac have the capability to use bags? The filter in my shop vac plugs quite quickly if I don't use a bag in it. Without the capability to use a bag in a central vac I would worry about fine sanding dust plugging the filter quickly enough to make it not very productive.

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    North Dana, Masachusetts
    Posts
    326
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Schuch View Post
    Does the central vac have the capability to use bags? The filter in my shop vac plugs quite quickly if I don't use a bag in it. Without the capability to use a bag in a central vac I would worry about fine sanding dust plugging the filter quickly enough to make it not very productive.

    A central vac with a Tangential Discharge Bypass Blower Motor filters the dust with a cyclone, and the fine dust goes out with the exhaust. The motor is cooled with room air, not dusty air from the air stream.

  12. #42
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    1,776
    My central Vac had a fabric filter when I first installed it, but with the Dust Deputy separating the saw dust before it even reaches the central vacuum, I recently removed the fabric filter from the central vacuum to increase the flow rate. It wasn't doing anything anyway. What was getting past the Dust Deputy was too small for even the fabric filter to catch, so why have it in there at all. Having the exhaust vented to the outdoors lets this micro fine and hazardous dust vent to the outside air and never get back into my shop or my lungs. The vent is about 14' above the ground, just under the eave of my shop and aimed at an adjacent lake, so the noise and dust have no neighbors to upset. In that direction. my nearest neighbor is over 1,000 ft away on the other side of the lake. With a Dust Deputy I have no bags to change and now not even a fabric filter. All of my saw dust, and anything else picked up via the vacuum stream ends up in the container under the Dust Deputy. I had initially been using a 5 gallon bucket, but because of vacuum implosions, I stacked 3 buckets together to get stronger walls of the top in-use bucket. Some time later my son found me a 20 gallon steel grease barrel (the grease comes in a plastic bag inside the barrel, so no mess to clean out) and I made a barrel top to fit by cutting two circles of 3/4" cabinet birch plywood, one just small enough to fit the inside diameter of the barrel, and the second, about 3" larger in diameter. A hole was drilled through the center of these to match the Dust Deputy bottom dust port and holes were drilled for all of the mounting bolts. I used rubberized caulking between these pieces of plywood and between the top plywood and the Dust Deputy to prevent vacuum leaks. I used a strip of closed cell Weather stripping 1" wide around the bottom of the larger diameter plywood and against the lower plywood to form a sealing gasket with the top rolled edge of the metal barrel. This worked perfectly on the first try. I don't even have clamps to hold this top on the barrel. Gravity holds it in place while not in use, and the vacuum
    holds it down tight when it is being used.

    Charley

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    1,023
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Schuch View Post
    Does the central vac have the capability to use bags? The filter in my shop vac plugs quite quickly if I don't use a bag in it. Without the capability to use a bag in a central vac I would worry about fine sanding dust plugging the filter quickly enough to make it not very productive.
    Some cent. vacs have a bag option. Nutone is one that comes to mind. Some have cyclones built in. Some have fabric filters. Some have cartridge/ pleated filters. Some are wet pickup capable. Some have sound attenuation built in.

    There’s something for everyone , just depends on what you want and are willing to spend for.

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    League City, Texas
    Posts
    1,643
    I tried a ducted central vac initially, and it was a miserable failure. I found that for my application, a 4" to 2.5" reducer makes for as good or better than vacuum collection on my benchtop tools, HOWEVER for the handheld small tools such as sanders, a 2.5 to whatever reducer off of the vac / trash can separator works a LOT better...
    Trying to follow the example of the master...

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