Whether you’re a tradesperson, a DIY enthusiast or a metal working or woodworking hobbyist there’s a good chance you’ll agree with us when we say dust is one of the worst parts of the job.
As you’ll already know, dust is exceedingly harmful to your health depending on what you’re cutting, sanding or creating and it’s vitally important to make sure you’re correctly capturing and dispersing dust in a safe way.
With that in mind, it’s imperative to invest in the best extractor to get the job done and to make sure you’re not working in a space that’s slowly filling up with toxic dust or fumes, and in this article we’ll help you out.
Below we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about dust extractors, what you should consider and which models are the best on the market for you today.
All that said, let’s get into our selection of the best dust extractors for 2021.
Here’s How We Picked
When it comes to choosing a dust extractor, there are a few essential features or technologies you’ll want to look into. To ensure we were offering up the very best, we took a good look at the following categories and made sure all of the best dust extractors excelled well in these.
The Air Suction Test – Water
Off the top, one of the first things we took a look into was how powerful the suction on a dust extractor was. This gave us a good indication of the motor’s power and the product’s ability to extract dust effectively.
When it came to testing, the suction test was undertaken with a clear filter set, and then a dirty one. This was used to determine whether the suction and extraction process remained similar even if the filter was a little full.
Ideally, whether a full filter or a clean one, we would want to see plenty of extraction still happening.
The CFM or Air Volume
Often this information is provided by the manufacturer, however it’s still good to undertake some assessment and analysis of your own. The air volume and suction test gave us a good look at how powerful and how much cubic metres of air could be drawn through the extractor over the course of a minute.
Again, you’ll want to choose an extractor with a higher number here to make sure you’re getting the best chance of all the air in your space being drawn out and replaced with fresh as soon as possible.
As for the power use, and the extraction ability, it’s always good to invest in a model that’s going to offer as much power and suction with as little power used as possible.
It’s good to keep in mind that not only is this good for the environment, but also if you’re in a location or a shop/worksite that has a lower power output. If there’s an odd generator issue or you’re finding that your wiring and power set up doesn’t support more power-hungry tools, you’ll want a lower air-watt model here.
The testing was completed here, again, with dirty and clean filters.
The Noise Level
Another key consideration for us was how loud the extractor was. Of course, this shouldn’t affect the product’s ability to extract air, though in most cases a quieter machine is better.
That in mind, we tested and noted the products that were loudest and quietist when under load and went from there.
One of our final considerations was the cost of the dust extractors. You’ll always want to make sure you’re getting a good deal on your extractor, though sometimes affordability does impact performance.
That in mind, the cost of the machines did fall a little lower on our considerations list, though we still remained wary of the cost to feature ratio. A dust extractor that’s expensive for seemingly no reason did get bad marks from us and some didn’t make our list at all.
Features and Usability
To end, the final deciding factor for us was the added features and the usability of the extractors.
As we’re sure you’ll agree, what the dust extractor offers in terms of ease of use is incredibly important and so we took a look over a few things. These included how the hose and cord were stored, the length of the hoses, whether there were auto-clean features and power breaker switches. On top of this, the wheels, handles and other features and design perks came into consideration for us too.
In all, the machines that were the easiest to use, simple to pack up and store got top marks from us.
After all, you’re going to want a dust extractor that encourages you to use it, rather than simply putting it away and never touch it again.
With all of these things considered, we’re confident that there’s a good chance we’ll find the best dust extractor for your workplace. Rather than simply going off manufacturer claims, we dug deeper and really took a gander in understanding how each of these dust extractors worked and why they’re something good to consider for your workplace.
That said, let’s take a look at the types of bags you’ll want to consider and why.
Understanding Fleece Bag Filters
As we mentioned above, in a lot of our testing review processes, we undertook these with a fleece bag as our filter, and we have some things to note about why you might want to consider this for your own dust extractor.
Off the top, the suction, air-watt and volume and suction tests were undertaken with out-of-the-box extractors. This meant that they were all perfectly clean and in their best shape, which means that this was our baseline. Given that there’s a good chance these extractors won’t stay like this for much longer, this test isn’t exactly accurate or conducive to how they will perform in years to come.
That in mind, we then moved to using fleece bags.
One thing to note here is that when you are at a worksite or making heavy use of your dust extractor, you’re going to want to rely on a fleece bag filter. Without these, or without a bag, you’re going to find your extractor clogging really quickly and essentially failing to operate properly.
For the main testing process, we undertook a simple drywall test which required the extractors to extractor or suck up 9 kilograms of plasterboard powder — which might be something you’ll do on a routine basis if you’re cutting and preparing plasterboard for homes.
These tests then allowed us to see how all of the above features worked and whether we could rely on these extractors to capture a tonne of dust without clogging.
Of course, the results will, and did, vary based on the extractor, though these tests did give us some good insight into which models could handle this process with ease and which models couldn’t.
A Bit About Filters
Before we move on to our next comparison segment, there are a few things to note about filters and fleece bags.
These are the types of filters you’re going to want to make use of as your primary filter for your extractor. There are the pleated filters which are cheaper and sometimes included with your extractor, though these are far thinner and going to clog a lot sooner than fleece versions.
That in mind, you’ll be extending your extractor’s lifespan by going with a fleece filter too, given that it’s not going to ask too much of your motor, as clogging isn’t often an issue.
We’d also like to note that the fleece filter bags are drastically better at holding on to in-vacuum contents. This will mean that compounds such as lead paint and even silica are trapped inside the vacuum and not making their way out into the air for you to breathe in.
In all, the fleece products are the way to go and you should always do your best to work with these and these alone.
Testing Measurements for Dust Extractors
Getting into the nitty gritty now, and we’re going to take a look at how the performance is measured and what factors go into understanding the power of an extractor.
As we’re sure you’ll agree, these products can be quite costly and they are a bit of an investment for a hobbyist or even the manager of a workshop. However, they are still an essential piece of equipment to have, so it’s better off understanding the suction measurements to make sure you’re getting the right model for you.
Mentioned above, we worked with the air watt measurement or metric to give us a lot of information as it’s the standard measurement for most brands, and it’s used across the industry to set somewhat of a ‘baseline’ standard for understanding how your extractor works.
This air watt measurement essentially works by giving us some information on the suction power of an extractor by providing data on the amount of water or airflow in a column and how much of this material or substance can be sucked up within a minute.
The Airwatt or air watt is what gives us some much-needed insight into exactly what you’re going to get out of your extractor. With this noted, you’re going to be better able to understand how well a dust extractor will remove impurities from the air in your workspace and whether you’re going to need to invest in a bigger model.
For those who need some in-depth measurements, the standard for calculating this metric is Power or P = 0.117354 x (F) x (S).
To conclude, a range of tests were undertaken to calculate an accurate CFM measurement which would enable us to know a little more about how much volume an extractor could suck up within a minute.
As we continue further in our review, you’ll want to look for the CFM number and work to find the highest number here.
Noise Measurement for Dust Extractors
To add to our data collection, there were also tests of noise going into our considerations as we’re sure you’re not going to want to deal with an extractor that deeply roars by your head all day.
That in mind, there was a simple decibel test undertaken during the CFM test, which meant that accurate noise measurements were taken when extra extractor was working at its absolute hardest. This is essentially what gave us some insight into the extractor’s noise output whilst under load.
To add, this will mean that you’re getting an extractor that won’t get any louder than this in your workshop, which may be a big consideration for some of our readers.
Lastly, the decibel tests were also providing information on the noise output of the extractors when clean and dirty — further giving us some information on whether these were a good fit for your workshop.
A Few Airflow Comparisons
Before we delve into our list of all the winning dust extractors for Aussies in 2021, we have some metrics coming from the airflow and suction tests.
As we mentioned, these tests were the result of filling these extractors with a 9kg base of plasterboard compound, which would essentially work to test how powerful an extractor remained after being filled with a substance.
Below are the CFM measurements per-extractor when they were empty:
- Hilti offering up to 172.2 CFM
- Festool offering up to 159.5 CFM
- DEWALT offering up to 153.4 CFM
These were the results when each extractor was full:
- Makita offering up to 134.2 CFM
- Festool offering up to 129.7 CFM
- Hilti offering up to 111.7 CFM
With that out of the way, it’s quite clear to see that some models do offer a tonne of suction, though only when they’re entirely empty and operating under ideal circumstances. You’re able to see that the DeWalt model here entirely fell off the ladder and offered little to no suction power when compared to a lot of the other models.
That in mind, it’s always best to take a look at extractors that offer up information on how well they perform in un-ideal circumstances. You don’t want to be stuck at a site or halfway through a task without the ability to clean your extractor only to find it failing to work properly.
A Few Water Column Suction Results
To gain a little more insight into the suction power behind each of the extractors, the water column tests measured the amount of suction in inches drawn up through the extractor. Again, the same 9kg plasterboard measurement was used here, and both a full and empty filter.
This gave an overall good look into how these extractors performed and again, more insight into how they operated or failed to operate under a full filter.
The first test with a clean extractor was as follows:
- Hilti offering up to 97.8 inches
- Festool offering up to 96.3 inches
- Makita offering up to 93.4 inches
When the plasterboard compound was entirely sucked up, the test was run again with the following results:
- Hilti offering up to 99.4 inches
- Festool offering up to 97.5 inches
- Makita offering up to 91.5 inches
The good news here is that the results did essentially remain the same, meaning that these extractors do generally work great under a full filter and won’t reduce their suction power or effectivity any time soon.
A Few Air Watt Suction Results
On to the air watt testing now, and this test was undertaken in the same way with the plasterboard and empty or full filter combination to gather an insight into which models did perform the best.
Off the top, the starting results with a clean filter were as follows:
- Hilti offering up to 1,986
- Festool offering up to 1,801
- Makita offering up to 1,653
When the filter was full and the extractor was operating under un-ideal circumstances, the following metrics were produced:
- Festool offering up to 1,483
- Makita offering up to 1,440
- Hilti offering up to 1,302
Although there was a minor drop here, we are still going to stand by these as top performing extractors given that the fall wasn’t too severe and you’re still able to get a great result and operable suction level here.
A Few Noise Output Results
When it comes to operating noise, we’re happy to say that most of these models were quiet at all times. There wasn’t too much change in the clean and dirty models and you’re able to rely on just a slight hum here.
To add, a lot of older models are a lot louder than the more modern products of today and that means if it’s been a while since you’ve invested in an extractor, you may be pleasantly surprised by just how toned down and quiet these models are.
The noise results were as follows:
- Makita 76.3 db reaching up to 83.3 db under heavy load
- Milwaukee 79.8 db reaching up to 84.0 db max under heavy load
- Metabo 80.6 db reaching up to 89.4 db max under heavy load
With that out of the way we are quite happy to say that these models don’t change volumes too much, however, when you do reach a 90db maximum things to get a lot louder, so keep this in mind for the Metabo model.
You’ll certainly always want to wear hearing protection when working with any of these dust extractors.
With all of the testing and data above out of the way, we’re going to delve into the cost and affordability of all these extractors.
It’s good to note that none of the models which were tested were unaffordable and the most expensive remains just $949 — the Hilti.
That in mind, it’s good to note that you’ll be able to find a reliable and robust dust extractor with a price point of around $600 to $800 and not need to worry about how long these are going to last or operate for.
There isn’t too much pricing discrepancy with these products, and if you do find something that seems outlandishly priced, at around $2,500 for a simple hobbyist extractor, for example, we ask that you look the other way.
Keep in mind that the higher end pricing of $949 does offer great warranties and you’re able to be able to count on 3 to 5 years from most manufacturers here. That said, you’re going to be in good hands should anything go wrong down the line.
Design and Ergonomics
To end all of our considerations, design and ergonomics were considered here, and that meant things from handles, wheels, shape and more.
On top of this, accessories, compactness, hose attachments and even the auto-clean switches were considered here and this would ensure you’re able to rely on our list below to keep these things in mind.
All of our top choice dust extractors come with great designs as well as ergonomics that make it easy to move them around your workshop, place them in a car as well as keep them clean — so you’re always on top of your health and extractor maintenance tasks.
For a sneak peek, our overall winner for the ergonomics category was the Fien model given that its well-thought-out design was optimal for just about all users and generally the best out there so far.
Our List of the Best Dust Extractors in Australia for 2021
When all of the above factors were considered, compiling a list of the winners was quite difficult, however, we remain confident in our list and the ranking system used.
All of the extractors on our list below are great options for most users, and we’re going to say that all of these options are above average when it comes to usability, feature set as well as longevity and power.
That in mind, be sure to consider your own requirements for a dust extractor too, and you’ll be on the right track to getting an excellent model this year.
Our Winner — the Hilti
Taking out the top spot for all of the categories we mentioned is the Hilti.
This model is our favourite even considering that it is the more expensive option, though we’re willing to say that it is quite expensive for a reason. It offers up a fantastic 2-year unconditional period for warranty which means you’re covering basically everything — even if you cut the cable on accident!
Add to these the 20-year limited warranty that covers parts and manufacture defects and you’re right as rain when it comes to being taken care of by Hilti.
There’s a high powered motor in here as well as the assurance that the extraction power isn’t going to drop with a full filter.
To end, we’re happy to say that it’s design and ergonomics are a winner for us too given that it’s one of the easiest to move around and keep clean.
Our Runner-up — the Makita
On offer by the experts at Makita, their VC4710 model is taking out the second place for us and we’re glad to say that this one is the most affordable.
When you keep in mind that the VC4710 is packed with features, offers a great design and also a powerful motor that, again, doesn’t fail under load or with a full filter, you’re on to a winner.
As we mentioned it’s the most affordable on our list, and that means it’s an excellent model for the hobbyist or contractor on a budget.
We’d also like to point out that this model is one of the quietest out there too, in fact, it’s the more silent model that was tested, making it the winner for those who need something that will operate in a small space without too much of a rumble.
Final Choice — the Festool
To end our list, the third option we highly suggest you consider is the Festool 584014 given that it’s one of the more powerful out there.
As you’ll have noticed, all the models that dropped in suction power have been cut from the list, and the Festool did do a great job of remaining quite powerful at all times, even when circumstances weren’t ideal.
Something to note is that the Festool is a little costly, though, when quality and longevity are concerned we’re going to say that this model is going to have you covered for years to come.
The suction here was consistent and the durability and ergonomics also took out top points for us.
With all of our testing processes and our winning dust extractors out of the way, we’re sure you have everything you need to get your hands on a winning model this year. That in mind, be sure to take into consideration all of your own requirements and use cases.
Keep in mind that working with dust and other impurities in your workshop can be, and often is highly dangerous. You should always make use of a dust extractor where you can, and all of the models we’ve chosen above are designed to make this process easy.
You’ll find that all of these products are so simple and easy to use that they encourage you to make use of them and keep yourself safe while you’re at work.