When searching for a high-quality dust collector to enhance your work, there are several factors to consider beyond just the price. Professionals consistently choose the Festool CT 36 E AC for its exceptional performance and innovative features. So, what sets it apart from the competition? Let’s delve deeper into why the Festool CT 36 E AC is the preferred choice in the industry today.
Can a hose be a noteworthy feature? Absolutely! Festool includes a purposefully designed 11-1/2′ antistatic hose. While it may not be the longest hose available, this intentional decision prevents performance loss. The shortest possible hose offers optimal results. When using the Festool CT 36 E AC with Planex grinders, it comes with a 1-1/2″ diameter hose, which is standard for most oil extractors in its class. However, if you plan on using it with other Festool sanders, you’ll need to utilize their smaller diameter hose (27mm/1.06″) for the best performance in those specific applications.
Having a self-cleaning filter system is crucial for complying with OSHA’s silica dust rules. The Festool CT 36 E AC fulfills Table 1 compliance by incorporating a self-cleaning filter system and a HEPA filter (required in certain applications). Although the Festool CT 36 E AC can be optionally equipped with a HEPA filter, it does not include the self-cleaning feature. However, Festool’s focus primarily lies in carpentry, paint, and plasterboard rather than concrete-related tasks. So, rest assured, the stock filter effectively traps particles down to 1 micron.
The automatic cleaning system prevents filter clogging and maintains optimum suction performance. Since the filter captures particles, airflow can be impeded. The self-cleaning system effectively dislodges larger particles into the bag while preventing the escape of smaller particles.
The Auto Clean function operates in both automatic (power tool activated) and manual modes. By adjusting the power dial, you can initiate the automatic cleaning cycle whenever necessary. The other two dials control the interval between cleaning cycles, which can be set from none to every 12 seconds. Separate dials are provided for manual and automatic modes.
Most modern dust collectors feature a straight-through power plug. However, it’s essential to exercise caution when operating power-intensive tools like a 15 amp miter saw alongside a dust collector that also consumes 15 amps, as they share power. Festool recommends not exceeding 3.7 amps when using tethered tools to minimize the risk of fire. Unlike most other extractors, the Festool CT 36 E AC lacks a power dial to adjust the available power supply. Festool firmly believes that sacrificing suction performance for the sake of powering the CT 36 E AC through the tool is not advantageous.
If you still need convincing that Festool views the world through a systematic lens, take a glance at the top of the unit. With industry-leading wire and hose storage, Festool has a remarkable advantage. Wires and hoses can be neatly wrapped around the top, eliminating concerns about them falling off the sides of the unit. Moreover, Festool Systainers can be securely locked on top, even with hoses protruding into them.
CFM and hydraulic lifting
Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is a common metric used to measure the volume of air drawn in by a dust collector. Higher CFM is generally desirable. However, it’s important to note that not all manufacturers measure CFM at the same point. Festool CT 36 E AC boasts a CFM rating of 138, which is slightly lower than some of its competitors. Nevertheless, this should not be a cause for concern. Even Festool’s CT SYS Portable Dust Collector offers sufficient CFM for typical sanding tasks.
Hydraulic lifting capacity, another performance metric, quantifies the weight of water an extractor can lift. Again, higher numbers indicate superior performance. Since different extractors use various measurements for lift capacity, direct comparisons may not always be accurate. Festool CT 36 E AC scores a lift capacity of 81-3/4″, making it the second-best performer in our rigorous tests.
While performance with a clean filter is significant, it’s equally crucial to evaluate power retention after extended use. After subjecting the dust collector to cutting and sanding tasks for an extended period, including clearing the workshop floor of sawdust and grime, we observed minimal degradation in performance. The only discernible difference occurred when the automatic cleaning cycle caused a slight drop of approximately 2 inches in water lift.
Scientific testing is important, but real-world performance speaks volumes. Having personally used the Festool CT 36 E AC with various sanders, I can attest to its outstanding performance. Not only does it outperform competing options, but its feature set also makes it user-friendly. Cord and hose management is streamlined, simplifying setup and storage.
Compared to the other extractors we’ve tested, the Festool CT 36 E AC performs exceptionally well with miter saws. Admittedly, both applications utilize a smaller 1.06-inch hose, providing greater suction power. Stay tuned for updates on the capabilities of the 1-1/2″ hose when we complete our evaluation of the new Planex.
The Festool CT 36 E AC Self-Cleaning Dust Extractor serves as a testament to the notion that CFM isn’t the sole indicator of performance. With its impressive lift capacity, it surpasses much of the competition in effectively handling larger debris. Once the sawdust and shavings are in motion, the 138 CFM rating ensures they find their way into the collection bag without fail.
The self-cleaning feature guarantees sustained high performance during Planex sanding and plasterboard work. However, it’s worth noting that opting for the self-cleaning model increases the price compared to the HEPA-equipped version, which lacks the self-cleaning capability. Depending on your specific requirements, this should be a key consideration. For most professionals, a 1-micron filter effectively captures dust and maintains a clean workspace.
When it comes to performance, the gap between a $500-$600 dust collector and one priced above $700 is readily apparent. By incorporating the Festool CT 36 into your arsenal of Festool tools, you’re not just acquiring a streamlined system, but also gaining enhanced performance.
Festool CT 36 E AC Dust Collector Specifications
- Power consumption: 350 – 1200 watts
- Weight: 33.51 lbs (15.2 kg)
- Rubber Insulated Power Cord: 25 ft (7.5 m)
- Container/Filter Bag Capacity: 9.5 gal (36 liters) / 8.9 gal (34 liters)
- Filter Surface Area: 979 in² (6 318 cm²)
- Maximum Volume Flow: 138 CFM (3 900 L/min)
- Maximum Vacuum: 2.45 static water liters (24 000 Pa)
- Price: $875
- Warranty: 3 years