This is 12 Huge Reasons You Should Buy Several Smaller Dust Collectors Instead of One Large Central Dust Collector. There are tons of advantages to using several smaller collectors, and I’ll show you everything you need to know. Enjoy.
Using Multiple Dust Collectors
The alternative came as a fairly simple solution to this problem, and that was to use several smaller dust collection units instead of the one big unit. Not only did this solve the problem of expense, and also solved the problem of it taking up a lot of space.
After a while, the benefits to having multiple dust collector units that were all a little smaller instead of one master unit kept revealing themselves. I’ll tell you all about each one of these benefits as you read further through the post.
Here is the list of benefits to start with, and I’ll go into each one of them in greater detail to show you why they are important to you, and your shop.
- Less expensive
- Easier to repair or replace
- Less tubing and fittings
- No need for a switch system to turn on the vacuum
- Less cfm needed because the vac is so close to the tool
- Smaller dust bags easier to empty
- Faster install in the shop
- Less noise from smaller unit
- Doesn’t take up as much space
- No tubes in your way, on ceiling or walls
- Less permanent, you aren’t stuck with the layout
- Easier to move when you change shops
Smaller Dust Collectors are Less Expensive
Even when you factor in that you have to buy several of them to power all of your tools, smaller dust collectors in general are less expensive than buying one large unit. This is an obvious advantage, and it can save your budget.
Spending less money on your collecting set up means that you have more money to spend on other tools, and materials. Woodworking does require several tools, and you can always buy more wood to make things with.
Saving money wherever you can is definitely a good plan, and buying multiple dust collection units is just one way to save some money on something that is important for your shop. Depending on what you order, you might even be able to get beefier units for the same cost.
Easier to Repair or Replace
Another hidden benefit of using several different units is that your repair cost and your replacement cost are going to be much less. It’s also going to be easier to wait on a repair if you end up needing to order parts.
This doesn’t really come into play until one of the units breaks. If your main unit breaks, your entire shop shuts down. If one of the many dust collection units brakes, only that one tool is down temporarily.
In a case where it’s a tool that you use quite often, you can always take the dust collector from another tool that’s not used quite as often. In this way, you can move the collectors to where they’re needed the most.
With the freedom and versatility to handle when a unit goes down, you never really have to worry about your shop going down. In almost every case, there’s at least one tool that you’re not using and you can move the dust collector.
See Also: My New Favorite Dust Masks
Less Tubing and a Fittings
In contrast, smaller collection units don’t require nearly as much to get connected to your tool. They also require a lot less tubing, because they sit so close to the tool that will be making the dust.
This means extra savings for you. The less accessories, tubing, and couplers that you have to buy, the more you save. It also takes less time for you to install everything, because there’s just less going on in general.
No Need for a Switch System to Turn on the Vacuum
Another great thing about using individual dust collection units is that you don’t need to buy a switching system for your collector. Many times, with a large collector, automatic switches are purchased and installed. Not with individual units.
The main reason for most people who use these switches is so that they don’t have to walk all the way over to the collector every time they turn on a tool. All you do is flip a switch on your tool, and the dust collector on the other side of the room turns on as well.
When you have individual units, you can place your dust collector right next to your tool. At that point, the switch is within a couple feet of the tool itself, and is easy to turn on without needing to walk anywhere.
Switching systems can be fairly expensive depending on what you get. This cost savings means more money in your pocket for other tools and materials.
Less CFM Needed Because the Vac is so Close to the Tool
When you set up a large central vacuum system, you end up running a lot of tubing, and there are a lot of bends and corners in those pipes. Every time you go around the corner, or make a bend, or travel a long distance, you lose suction.
Depending on the setup, you can lose more than half of your section by the time the tube actually gets to the tool. In cases like this, the gigantic power of that vacuum is greatly reduced, sometimes to the point of not being very useful.
With a system of smaller collectors, and each one of them being very close to the tool, this problem is minimized. Instead of a long run of pipes with several twists and turns, you just have a single direct run from the tool to the collector.
This not only saves in tubing and fittings, but it also means you get to keep that suction power instead of lose it to the plumbing. In the end, better section means better dust removal, and an overall better job.
You also won’t have to overcompensate in the cubic feet per minute rating on your dust collector, knowing that you’re going to lose some of it in the plumbing. With the individual collectors being so close, you get to keep almost all the power.
Smaller Dust Bags are Easier to Empty
Have you ever let your dust collector bag fill up a little too high? Then you let it go a little bit longer because you were kind of dreading having to haul that thing outside? If you wait too long, you might need a wheelbarrow to get it out.
When you have a large dust collection system with large bags, it can sometimes cause a problem when the bag gets too full and has to be emptied. Yes, you can solve this problem by emptying it more frequently, but nobody’s perfect.
Instead, smaller collectors have smaller bags, and even if you let them fill up quite a bit, they are still pretty easy to manage. This means less fatigue on your body, and an easier time maintaining your dust collection units.
Faster Install in the Shop
When you take into account all of the plumbing and installation that has to be done on a large dust collector, it can actually be quicker to install several smaller collectors. Especially once you think about all the plumbing.
In reality, it’s all of the plumbing and tubing take the most time. It’s not just a matter of snapping them together and calling it a day. You have to mount them to the wall, make them secure, ground them, tape all the seams, and install the blast gates.
When you think about it, you’re going to spend a majority of your time installing the tubing and the accessories. With smaller collection units, you spend a little bit of time mounting it, or putting it in place, and then you just connect your one tool.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, the plumbing might only be a couple feet long. That’s super easy, and if you really want to be quick about it, you can just do a flexible hose in a couple of clamps.
If you were to set up all of your collectors in this fashion, it may take a few minutes to get your tubing cut, another couple minutes to install it with the clamps, and another minute to place your dust collector next to the tool. Maybe a little longer for a wall-mounted unit. Still super fast.
See Also: How to Pick Out a Respirator for Beards
Less Noise from a Smaller Unit
One of the benefits of a smaller collection unit that’s not really appreciated until you get it into the shop is the overall volume. Giant dust collectors are extremely noisy, because they have very powerful motors that turn their impellers.
Over time, this continual barrage of very loud noises can cause hearing loss, which is definitely something that you want to avoid. Instead, smaller collectors are quieter, because the motors and impellers are also smaller.
Even if you have a couple units running at the same time, it can still be quieter than a large unit. In most cases, you’ll only ever run one at a time, especially in a solo shop. Less noise also means less irritation, and you’ll be able to hear any music or phone calls better too.
Doesn’t Take Up as Much Space
Though you’ll have to buy several of them, if you do it the right way your dust collection units don’t have to nearly take up as much space as a larger unit. The wall-mounted options are awesome, and they utilize a dead space in your shop.
If you walk out into your shop right now, odds are there is some wall space near at least a couple of your tools that isn’t being used. If you were to mount your small dust collector to the wall, it doesn’t take up any floor space, and it stays out of your way.
Dust collectors mounted to the wall effectively take up zero space, so the only ones you really have to count are any that you buy that stand on the floor. When you look at the numbers, I’m sure you’ll see that several collectors take up less space than a big collector.
See Also: 50 Woodworking Tips
No Tubes in Your Way
Especially when it comes to moving shops, or rearranging your shop layout, multiple dust collectors means no tubes that are running across your ceilings or your walls. This is awesome, because none of the stuff will be in your way.
As you work in your shop, you only have a certain amount of space. Most woodworkers are using either a garage, basement, or a shed for their woodworking. This means that space is already at a premium, and every inch counts.
When you have tubes running all over the place, it creates a clustered look in your shop, and can actually have an overall negative affect on your mood. You can feel like your shop is closing in on you, and it’s even worse because you did it to yourself.
Individual dust collection units don’t create this mess, and install cleanly next to each tool.
Smaller Collectors are Less Permanent
Another fantastic benefit to not having the tubes and pipes running all around your shop is that your layout is a lot more flexible. Your layout is also a lot less permanent, should you decide to move your shop somewhere else.
Anyone using a large dust collection system for a long time knows this all too well. You finally get everything set up exactly how you want to, and you spend several months working with the set up running just perfectly.
All of a sudden, you get the urge to buy a new tool. Now, where do you put it? Your perfect example of dust collector plumbing is no longer perfect, and you have to cut into it and branch off to service the new tool.
After you do this a few times, your system can look like a spaghetti plate of parts and tubing that lacks all of its original organization and detail. With smaller units, all you do is pick up another collector, and install it along with a new tool. It’s much easier.
Easier to Move When You Change Shops
Finally, when you move, remember that every single screw that you drove into the walls in your shop will also have to move with you. If you’ve never done this before, packing up a wood shop is a really big pain in the butt.
On top of it, packing up a wood shop that has 200 feet of tubing, all of which that is strapped to the wall, taped, and set up very rigidly is going to be a nightmare to remove. If you become frustrated, you can end up damaging things in your haste to pull them down.
A fully plumbed collection system can add several hours to your tear down, and also add several more hours in repairing and patching the walls. Unless you’re staying there forever, your wood shop is not permanent, and at some point you’re going to move.
Do yourself a favor in the beginning, and use smaller dust collectors that don’t require permanent plumbing attached to the walls. When it comes time to move, you pack up these collectors just like you would pack up any other tool.
Hook it on the dolly, and roll it in the moving truck. It’s that easy.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know all the benefits of using several smaller dust collectors instead of buying one really big dust collector for the entire shop, it’s time to take action. Hopefully you haven’t bought anything yet, because this puts you in the best position.
If you’ve already bought a bunch of stuff, are you already have a central unit installed and you’re looking to replace it, you have an opportunity to choose a better way. Whatever type of woodworker you are, smaller units will be better for your shop.
Take a look at some of the pricing, and you’ll be amazed at what you can get. You may even be able to do slightly larger units on frequently used tools like the table saw. Then, on tools that don’t require as much force, pick up a slightly smaller unit.
When you get them to the shop, plan their placement and install them. You’ll have the power tool switch and the power vacuum switch right near each other, and you’ll be able to flip them on and keep your shop a little less dusty.
If you have any questions on the benefits of using smaller dust collection units in your woodworking shop, please post a question and I’ll be happy to answer it. Happy building.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
- 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
- Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post. Join My Woodworking Facebook Group