Unless you’re solely using old school hand tools, you’re going to be making a heck of a lot of dust.
Some of it you can see, some of it you can’t, but it’s all bad for your health – especially the smaller stuff that can get right down into your lungs.
To tackle the dust you probably have a dust collector installed.
But the truth is:
Your dust collector won’t catch all of the dust.
And that’s where the air filtration systems come in. They catch any remaining dust and keep the air you’re breathing clear of harmful particles.
In this article, we’re going to provide you all the info that will help you to choose the best shop air filtration system.
And that's not all:
We have also cut down your work by doing the research and list out the best air filtration system available on the market.
Let's dive right into it...
Things You Should Consider Before Buying An Air Filtration System?
An air filtration system is a very important part of what your set up should be.
But how do they work?
And what are the things to consider when you’re selecting an air filtration system for your garage space or home workshop?
Let’s take a look at those questions right now, and try to make the air, and the facts a bit clearer for you.
Capacity of the filtration system:
This is generally going to be indicated by how many cubic feet per minute your new air filtration system can process and filter.
That’s the standard way of measuring what these units can do.
They’ll also have a few speeds in most cases, and it can be useful to run these machines on a lower speed, because that will cut down on noise levels.
So, it’s wise to look for a unit that will have more capacity than you need so that you can run it quieter. Makes sense eh?
How do I know how much capacity I need?
This may sound complicated but it’s easy.
It’s just down to calculating the cubic feet of the space you’re working in.
That’s the overall area of the whole workspace – not just the locality of a particular machine or part of the area – because dust gets everywhere, so you need to filter the whole room or space.
Do the math: Taking the shop size in consideration -
Basically, all you need to do here is to multiple the height of your shop in feet, by the length of your shop in feet, and then by the width of your shop in feet.
Then divide that number by ten.
This gives you the cubic feet per minute rate that the unit you need can filter.
It’s that simple!
Like I said, I’d maybe look for a unit with 30- 40% more capacity than your calculation, because that will allow you to run at a lower speed.
But that’s up to you, and if you tend to wear ear protection all day, it might not be an issue.
Location location location: The best place to mount your dust collector -
The ideal place to mount the air filtration system will be up high.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to afford to mount this up high – ideally even on the ceiling and many of these units have mountings for this purpose.
If not, you’ll need to plan to make a space to sit the unit on a surface or bench – so allow and plan for this when selecting the size of unit you need.
This is extremely important.
I have to stress that a filtration system isn’t a substitute or a shortcut around having good collection on each machine.
Operating a filtration system on its own will not perform very well and your filters will soon clog and become useless.
It’s designed to collect the remaining dust in the air.
Also, look out for machines that have washable filters – that’ll save you time and money in the long run.
Wear a good mask and use air filtration as well as effective source collection to stay fit and well.
TOP 5 Shop air filtration system - REVIEWS
1. JET 708620B - Best overall
The Jet 708620B is a great unit for air filtration in smaller professional shops and in home workshops and hobbyist garage situations.
It does everything you need an air filtration system to do, and it’s ceiling mountable – which means it won’t take up too much space.
- Ceiling mountable
- Ideal size for smaller workshops and home use
- Collects 85% of particles even at 1-micron
- 3 speeds
- Remote operation and timer
This unit will easily clear even the smallest dust particles from smaller workshops.
It has an over-run timer that you can set for two-hour intervals so that when you leave the shop and close up for the night, you’ll arrive and start the next day’s projects in a healthy dust-free environment – and that’s what it’s all about.
The Jet also comes with a remote control unit as standard.
So, if you are lucky enough to have nice high ceilings in your workshop and you can mount this filtration system up high and out of the way, there’ll be no issues whatsoever with controlling it from the ground, whenever you need to.
A very nice 3-speed fan means that you van keep noise levels sensible but crank this beauty up when you need to.
This is a great unit!
The Jet is exactly the sort of unit we like here at Woodworker’s Lab because it’s a great hobbyist option and it’s reasonably priced. Safety is a big concern with woodworking and lung are often overlooked.
It’s great to see a manufacturer that makes the process of maintaining good woodworker health a bit easier.
2. WEN 3410 - An Inexpensive Alternative
The WEN 3410 Workshop air filtration unit is also a great option for hobbyists and professionals alike – under the right circumstances.
Well, this fan has a very similar specification to the more expensive Jet model and it’s comparable in many ways to it, with one big difference.
The Wen model we’re looking at here is a great little piece of kit when it comes to efficient and effective air filtration for a workshop.
But it does come second to the Jet unit in one particular aspect.
The capacity at which it can filter air is far less than that of the Jet model.
This unit just doesn’t have the same power and can’t compete on that front with the Jet.
Does that make it a no?
The answer to that is no.
Capacity is really only proportional to the area you need to clean.
If you’re working with machines in a really small area, then this unit may well suit you better than the jet.
Especially given the price difference, which is substantial.
Keep in mind, though, that even in a smaller workshop, you’d be able to run the Jet at lower decibel levels on a lower speed than the WEN unit.
Do we like the WEN?
The answer is yes.
In the right circumstances, it’ll do exactly the job you need it to do and it’s a great option that brings affordable safety and clean air to smaller working environments and hobbyists that are working on a tight budget and don’t need to cleanse a massive space.
Anything that helps hobbyists and opens up safe woodworking to all is a great thing, as far as this website is concerned!
3. Shop-Vac 1030000 - Best Budget
This is the Shop-Vac 1030000 Air filtration unit. And it’s tiny.
This does present possibilities for some people, though.
And the really low cost and weight makes it a great option to use as a second portable air cleaner that you can move around the workshop to aid safety.
Size is important:
This air filtration unit could be a very useful addition to your workshop, no matter how big that workshop is.
I think it’s necessary to look at this model in a different way to the first two units we have on this list.
This for me, is a complimentary addition to the workshop, and something that could be moved around to aid the main system with particularly dusty jobs.
It’s something you could have next to a lathe for example, when sanding.
What do I get with the Shop-Vac?
What you get is an extremely lightweight and portable little unit that only works on one speed.
It will be easy to take this air filtration with you when you move around the shop and it absolutely will help you perform many tasks safely.
Overall, I really love this little handy unit. It will solve many problems for a certain amount of people and it’s a specialised option for keeping air clean in workshop environments – which is a good thing! Great as a unit for portability.
The Best Of The Rest -
Best of the rest #1: Shop Fox W1830
The Shop-Fox W1830 is another unit that we just couldn’t leave off this list. It’s very comparable in cost, features and performance to our top two air filtration units and it’ll definitely do a very good job of mopping up excess airborne dust for you.
This unit has a cleanable internal filter, but like the fan below, you’ll need to buy replacement main filters.
Definitely worth a mention here!
Best of the rest #2: Rikon Air Filtration 400
This unit was well worth including here as an alternative to our top two units.
It has a cleanable internal filter, although you’d need to buy replacements for the main filter – but every little bit helps!
This unit has a great filtration rate, and most of the same features as our top two models
Which Air Filtration System Won Out Here?
Easy answer to this. The JET 708620B was our clear winner in terms of doing a job, costs and versatility and keeping woodworkers healthy and safe.
It’s a great unit that’ll keep a fairly decent sized workshop dust free, and we felt this was a great combination of size and price for the average woodworker or hobbyist.
Keep your options open:
We’ve also included a few more units here because we know that all you guys and gals out there have different needs in your own environments and projects, so please check all of these units out and above all else – mask up, filter up and stay safe!
Icon credit: Air Conditioner by DARAYANI from the Noun Project