What’s the Best Shop Air Filtration System?
A workshop has many safety hazards that require measures to ensure the health and safety of the people working there. The importance of air quality can easily be overlooked as it doesn’t pose an immediate danger, but there are health implications that go beyond the comfort of the people who work in the shop. Later in the article we’ll look at these health issues in more detail.
Woodwork shops are one of the obvious candidates for an air filtration system but there are many others that can benefit from a filtration system that removes dust and other particles from the air inside your shop. While you’re probably an expert in your field and understand the tools that you use, you may not be too clued up on air filtration systems. You probably know very well what is the best table saw, but what is the best air filtration system for your shop? You can’t be blamed for not knowing the answer to this question.
This article is going to review some of the top air filtration systems in a bid to help you find the best way of ensuring the cleanest air in your shop. We’ve considered price, ease of use and practicality among the criteria in determining which the best shop air filtration systems are. We’ve chosen the following four air filtration systems that we can honestly recommend…
Best Shop Air Filtration System —
There isn’t too much to consider when choosing the best air filtration system for your shop. All of these models have a great level of filtration – down to around 1-micron particle removal. When it comes to air volume, your Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) rating for the circulation fan is important in relation to the size of your shop. A larger shop will require a greater CFM. To this end, all the air filtration systems in this review are suitable for small commercial workshops, as well as home workshops. All of these air filtration systems are also the best for contractors who need a portable unit that’s easy to set up on any job site.
3-Speed Remote-Controlled. Best Shop Air Filtration System : Filters 400 sq.ft. room 7.5 times every single hour.
- Powerful 1/6 HP motor
- 50 to 60 dB of noise is comparable to a quiet office, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services
- Remote control with a 26 feet range
- Filters 400 sq.ft. room 7.5 times every single hour.
- Filter and prefilter are easily replaceable and are designed to filter 5-micron and 1-micron particles
- Features a timer that can be used to automatically shut down after one, two, or four hours.
- 120 V, 60 Hz, 1A motor
- Air flow speeds: 300, 350 and 400 cfm
- 1 micron inner/ 5 microns outer filters
- 3 Speed with remote control
- Ceiling or table mount
- 1, 2, 4 Hour timer
Overview | WEN 3410
WEN equipment is always a real winner when it comes to value for money. As the cheapest air filtration system in this review, the WEN 3410 certainly lives up to this reputation. Even though this is a very affordable air filtration system, it’s built to be rugged and dependable. If you’re familiar with WEN products, you’ll know what I mean. The combination of price and quality make the WEN 3410 one of the best air filtration systems for a home workshop.
VIDEO Overview | See it up close + Installation
It has a powerful 1A (0.17HP) motor that is exceptionally quiet, running at between 50 and 60dBA, depending on the fan speed setting. The fan can be set for three different speeds, creating an airflow of 300 CFM at low speed, 350 CFM at the intermediate level and 400 CFM when set at full speed. It can be controlled from up to 26-feet away by using the handheld remote control. It also has automatic timer settings for 1, 2, or 4 hours.
The two-stage filtration system uses a 5-micron outer filter to catch larger particles and prevent the inner 1-micron filter from becoming clogged too quickly. This ensures that the air is free of up to 99% of all airborne particles. The filters can be reused and are very easy to clean. You can find replacement air filters very easily and these are available from Amazon. It’s very portable, weighing only 31 LBs and has a handle for carrying. It also has four hooks on each corner for easy installation as a hanging air filtration system. You can just as easily stand it on any surface and it has rubber base mounts for this purpose. Dimensions for the WEN 3410 are 17” X 20.5” X 10”.
Buying the WEN 3410 comes with the reassurance of a nationwide network of service agents, providing all the service that you’ll need. This item comes with a 2-year warranty.
1000 CFM Air Filtration System, 3-Speed, with Remote Control
- Two-Filter System with Air Diffuser disperses outgoing air into a broader pattern
- Disposable Electrostatic Outer Filter attracts more dust particles than standard filters
- Inner Pocket Filter is removable for easy cleaning
- Easy Grip Handles allow easy portability of unit
- Four Eye Bolts let you hang unit from shop ceiling
- Remote Control has built-in timer with 2, 4 and 8-hour settings; automatically shuts system off at the end of the time setting
- Fully-Enclosed Ball Bearing Motor with Overload Protection for long, dependable service
- Rubber Feet prevent marring of surface when placed on workbench
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the JET AFS-1000B.
The JET AFS-1000B is the most powerful of all the air filtration systems in this review. This is a heavy-duty machine with a fully enclosed ball bearing motor and is probably the best for professional users who are going to be running the unit day in, day out. The heavy-duty nature of this air filtration system also makes it the most expensive out of all the models that we’re reviewing here.
Utilizing a 0.2HP single-phase electric motor, the Jet AFS-1000B beats all the others when it comes to airflow. At the lowest speed setting, it has an airflow of 556 CFM, climbing to 702 CFM at the second fan speed and an astounding 1044 CFM at maximum speed. This is incredible for an air filtration system that isn’t much bigger than the others, it measures 14” X 32” X 26”. It is quite a bit heavier than the others in this review, weighing 57 LBS. This extra weight can be attributed to the extra power of the machine and its heavy-duty design.
The Jet AFS offers excellent filtration with a 5-micron outer filter and 1-micron inner filter. These filters can be cleaned several times before they need to be replaced. Finding replacement filters for the JET AFS-1000B isn’t a problem and these are also available from Amazon. This air filtration system is as easy and convenient to use as the best of them. It has a remote control and timer settings for 2, 4 and 8 hours. It also has carrying handles and eyes for hanging installation. It can be used as a standing unit with solid rubber feet.
The JET AFS-1000 is built for the best durability with a powder coated steel housing and heavy-duty components. For hard working conditions, this machine is worth paying extra for and their 5-year warranty certainly beats all the others.
Tech Specs :
- Cycles Per Hour : (20′ x 20′ x 8′) 19.58
- Inner Filter Efficiency : 1
- Speeds (CFM) : 556 / 702 / 1044
- Timer Settings : 2/4/8
- Motor Power (HP) : 1/5
Best shop air filtration system for the money.
- Powerful, quiet, and efficient air filtration system
- Easy to replace filter; no tools required; Outer filter: 5 micron / Inner filter: 1 micron
- 3 speeds: 300/350/400 cfm
- Infrared remote control system. 3 timer settings: 1hr/2hr/4hr
- Includes : Hooks, hardware and chains for hanging
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Powertec AF4000.
Overview | Powertec AF4000
The Powertec AF4000 is an affordable and robust air filtration unit and is perfect for the home workshop, medium-duty professional workshop or for contractors that who will be using it on site. It compares closely to the WEN and Shop Fox models in this review.
Air filtration is on a par with all the others, it has two easy to change filters – one 5-micron filter and a 1-micron filter. The powerful fan has three speed settings for 300, 350, or 400 CFM. It has a similar remote control to the others and has timer settings for 1, 2, or 4 hours.
The system is contained in a sturdy steel housing with 4 hanging eyes and a handle for easy transportation. While it doesn’t have rubber feet like the others, it can function just as well when used as a standing unit.
The Powertec AF4000 weighs 35.1 LBs and measures 24” X 20” X 13”. So it’s just about as light and compact as any of the smaller units. It runs very quietly, which is something most users have commented on. I don’t have the noise level specs to make an accurate comparison to any of the others, but it seems to be one of the quietest.
This is a quality item and matches the other two smaller air filtration system in every aspect. It would be a tough call to say which one is the best. Your decision will probably boil down to brand preference or the price. That being said, there isn’t a huge price difference between the three cheaper machines in this review. The standard Powertec warranty agreement stipulates a period of 1-year for the warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee. I presume this applies to the Powertec AF4000 as I don’t see a separate warranty for this model.
- Timer settings: 1, 2, 4 hours
- Outer filter: 5 micron / Inner filter: 1 micron
- Infrared remote control system adjusts speeds, timer, and ON/OFF
- Easy to replace filters, no tools required
- Inner filter can be washed or blown out with compressed air
- Includes eye hooks and chains for hanging from the ceiling, or it can be set on a workbench
- ETL listed
- 1/8 Horsepower, 120-Volt, Single Phase, CSA Certified
- Airflow Capacity: 260, 362, and 409 CFM
- 3 Speeds: 1200, 1400 and 1750 RPM
- 20-Inch W x 17-Inch D x 10-Inch H
- Weight : 31 pounds
- PLEASE NOTE: This product cannot ship to California due to current state regulations
The Shop Fox is in the same league as the other two cheaper options and is also a robust little machine in a tough steel housing.
It has basically the same performance as the other two, albeit from a slightly less powerful 0.125HP motor. At low speed, it has an airflow of 260 CFM, 362 CFM on the medium setting and 409 CFM at high speed. The filters work in the same way with a 5-micron outer filter and a 1-micron inner filter.
The Shop Fox W1830 weighs 34 LBS and the dimensions are 17” X 20” X 10”. It has a remote control and has timer settings for 1, 2, or 4 hours. It also has hanging hooks and a carrying handle like the others. Changing or cleaning the filters is just as easy as any of the others and replacement filters are also easy to come by.
All-in-all, it’s a very similar machine to the WEN and Powertec equivalents. It has a 2-year warranty – the same as what you get for the WEN and better than the Powertec 1-year warranty.
Heavy-Duty Double Air Filter with Remote Control
- Set the duration and speed with the remote control from as far away as 45 feet
- Fan spools up to draw a massive 1400 CFM through the 5-micron primary filter and then through the 1-micron secondary filter.
- Fan speed options are 800, 900, 1000, 1100, or 1200 RPM.
- Changes the air in a 20′ x 20′ x 8′ room 26 times an hour.
- Hangs easily from the ceiling.
- Three pocket internal filter bag simplifies cleaning.
Important Facts about Air Filtration System
In a workshop that uses cutting, grinding and sanding equipment, dust in the air is inevitable. This is most common in woodworking shops where large amounts of sawdust and woodchips are released into the air as we work. Shops that deal with stone have a bigger problem because many stone products release minute particles that contain crystalline silicone and the health effects from inhaling silicates is particularly dangerous. This is also true for contractors who cut masonry and stone on site.
The main effects of dust or sawdust in the air is that they cause damage to the respiratory system, resulting from particles collecting in the lungs. These particles can be so small that our lungs don’t expel them through the normal breathing process. Breathing in any amount of dust over a prolonged period can cause irreparable damage to your lungs. Other health problems can be scratching of the eyes and, in some cases, skin irritation.
Most woodworking shops will use dust extraction systems that are connected to the machine – usually dust collection bags attached to a vacuum system. These systems are very effective and remove a lot of the wood-chips and sawdust released by the tools that we use. However, there is always dust that is not collected by a conventional dust extraction system. Small particles of 5-micron or less become airborne very easily and these particles are the most dangerous – causing the most damage to our lungs.
They are too small to see and will go by unnoticed unless they are in large volumes. This causes a fine mist in the air. Because most of the fine dust is not collected by regular dust extraction systems, a secondary air filtration system is of great importance. We also do many procedures, like hand sanding, that don’t use a dust extraction system. Not only are particles in the air a cause of health problems, but they can also have a negative effect when applying finishes and paint to the final product.
In the US, indoor air quality regulations are a legal requirement for employers in two states – New Jersey and California. In all other states, it’s very much up to the workshop owner to control the quality of the air that their workers breathe in. Despite the lack of federal legislation for air quality in the workplace, labor law does state that all workers have the right to a safe and healthy working environment. By default, this means that if the air in the workplace poses a health risk to your employees, you are in contravention of the law – no matter what the state laws are.
Whether it’s a home workshop or a professional one, clean air is a must. This is why any workshop that produces dust needs an air filtration system that is capable of removing dangerous particles from the air. This means that it needs to have the correct filters, normally removing particles of up to 1-micron in size. To give you an idea of what this is, 1 micron is 0.001mm or 0.00004”. That’s small, very small – we are not able to see a particle less than 50-microns.
For most shops, a 1-micron filtration system is fine for solid matter particles. If you’re using harmful or toxic materials, like solvents used in sealers and paint, you’ll require a higher level of filtration. To remove toxic material from the air, you should use a High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filtration system. An HEPA filtration system will remove particles of 0.3-microns.
What size air filtration system do you need?
Your workshop air filtration system needs to clean the air in the shop 6-8 times per hour. This means that the entire volume air in the area needs to pass through the air filtration system at least six times every hour. An air filtration system uses a fan to draw air through the filters and release it back into the atmosphere as clean air without any harmful particles. The volume of air passing through the filtration system is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). We, therefore, need to match the CFM of the air filtration system to the shop that we’re using it in.
To do this you need to calculate the volume of your shop (Length X Width X Height), you then multiply this by the number of times you want the air to be cleaned (6-8) and divide your final answer by 60. So if your shop is 25’ X 15’ with an 8’ ceiling (roughly the size of a single garage), you’ll first calculate your workshop volume: 25 X 15 X 8 = 3000 cubic feet. If we’re looking at an air filtration rate of eight times per hour, we’ll be multiplying our answer by 8: 3000 X 8 = 24000. Finally, we divide this by 60 to convert our rate per hour into minutes: 24000 / 60 = 400 CFM. So for a workshop of this size, you’ll need an air filtration system capable of 400 CFM to clean the air eight times per hour.
Installing and Maintaining an Air Filtration System
Installing an air filtration system is not complicated. You’ll be positioning it in the most convenient place and plugging it into a regular wall socket. Larger units may require a 240V circuit and may also require heavier mountings as these will be heavier machines.
Generally, people prefer to hang the air filtration system from the ceiling and most of the smaller models have eyes or hooks to make this easy to do. This is the most convenient because it’s out of the way and you are less likely to be caught directly in the draft caused by the fan. It doesn’t make too much difference whether you stand the machine or hang it, provided that the air intake or outlet isn’t obstructed.
Placing the filtration system too close to a wall or workbench will obstruct the airflow. You don’t want to blast the air directly into an obstacle and you want a free flow of air entering the filters. Ideally, you’ll be positioning the air filtration system approximately a third of the way down the longest wall, about 6-12” from the wall. This will provide the best air circulation around the room.
Maintenance of your air filters is critical to ensure that the system works properly. The filters collect all the particles in the air and these build up to a point where the airflow is restricted and the system won’t function as it should. There’s no telling how much matter collects in the filters, so it’s best to clean them regularly. Air filtration systems have filters that are designed for cleaning and are usually very accessible and easy to remove and replace.
It’s recommended that you clean the outer filter after a full day’s work. This can be done by using compressed air or a vacuum cleaner. The inner filter doesn’t need to be cleaned as often because most of the particles are collected by the pre-filter (the outer filter). You should check these filters to see how often they need cleaning, maybe with every third work session. Cleaning a filter more often than it needs, isn’t going to take up too much of your time, so it’s worth your while to this as often as you can.
A filter can be cleaned many times, but at some point, they need to be replaced. Outer pre-filters need to be replaced more often. You’ll notice the fibers of the filters will start to deteriorate after a while and this when they need to be replaced. Air filters are not expensive and are usually very easy to get. If you buy an air filtration system from a reputable brand, you should never have a problem obtaining replacement filters.