Dust extraction is something that Festool has traditionally done very, very well as a part of their system-oriented tool design. The new Festool CT SYS Systainer vacuum adds to their impressive line with some key differences compared to what you’re used to if you have another model. We’ll be looking closely at those differences and what they mean for you on the jobsite.
For many people, dust extraction is an afterthought. Simply hook up a Shop-Vac style system to your tool of choice and go back to clean up whatever is left over at the end. Others want as clean a workspace as possible and quality dust extraction is as important as the performance as the tool itself.
Then there’s OSHA. Our comrades at the Occupational Safety and Health Organization keep getting tighter with the regulations on what types of material must be collected to specific collection rates. While they haven’t forced us to use a HEPA-rated system for every job, it sure does seem like that’s where we’re headed at times.
So what does the Festool CT SYS offer and is there any risk of having it fall out of favor with regulations in the foreseeable future?
Festool CT SYS First Impressions
Take a look at the Festool CT SYS Dust Extractor and you’re likely to notice some physical differences right away. First, it’s small and doesn’t have any wheels. Hiding next to the cord and hose wrap in the top of the CT SYS, you’ll find a top handle and there’s a should strap on the side. This Festool dust extractor was designed to be more portable.
The CT SYS is housed in a pair of Systainers. The top Systainer holds the hose and cord along with the connection that seal off dust containment and helps earn HEPA certification. The bottom Systainer houses the motor, filter, collection bag, and a couple of hose attachments.
The CT SYS is basically a Festool Systainer vacuum. Looking around the outside of the CT SYS, you’ll find the control panel. This features an AC plug rated up to 3.7 amps. That plug is connected to an auto/manual switch to either engage when the tool is powered up or keep the unit running until you hit the power switch. And of course, there’s the power switch.
I had some sanding to get done which was the perfect opportunity to test out the Festool CT SYS in tandem with a pair of new sander Festool just brought to market (review coming soon on those!). I also hooked it up to my HKC 55 Carpentry Saw to get an idea of how well it collects with both course and fine debris.
With the sanders, the sawdust collection was no contest. The Festool Systainer vacuum left almost no sawdust on my workpiece. I was working outside, so there’s a chance that the gentle breeze may have carried anything left behind away, but I couldn’t find any evidence to support that.
When it came to the more course sawdust generated by the HKC 55, it left just a little dust behind right at the tool. It’s possible this would have been collected by the higher suction power of Festool’s full-size models. Still, the hose attachments included made that cleanup simple.
The Festool CT SYS Systainer vacuum comes without wheels and with a shoulder strap. It’s pretty obvious how they intend for you to carry it around. The boxy shape of the Systainer housing makes carrying it on your shoulder a bit awkward. You really won’t appreciate it if it starts bouncing against your side as you walk. I found that swinging it all the way around to my back made it easier to carry. That gave me enough balance to carry other tools in both free hands.
When I didn’t need both hands for tools, I found it easiest just to pick up the CT SYS by its top handle. At 15.2 pounds, it’s not so heavy that you have to stop halfway up every flight of stairs to rest. In the end, it’s a dust extractor you’re trying to carry on your shoulder. I’m not sure if there’s a “right design” to make it comfortable.
The benefit of the Systainer housing design is that the CT SYS is easy to set on the floor or workbench. It remains stable no matter where you’re working. As a Systainer, it stays out of the way. Once you’re done for the day, it’s easy to stack and store on its own or with other Systainers. Using it really does help give your shop a nice, clean, and organized look.
The Bottom Line
The Festool CT SYS systainer vacuum has suction power rated below the 130 – 137 CFM of its big brothers. Even so, dust collection proved adequate for the woodworking tasks I set it to. When it comes to airflow, you need air volume to collect fine dust and airspeed to collect coarse material. The CT SYS does a nice job with both thanks to the small diameter hose.
Being HEPA-rated right out of the box, you’re not going to run into any issues when it comes to certification of your dust extraction systems even if OSHA continues to tighten regulation over the next few years.
Describing the CT SYS as a portable unit is certainly accurate. It’s easier to tote around than Festool’s other models – though I wouldn’t say it’s a comfortable carry. This 15.2-pound box has edges that don’t exactly contour to your body. It can feel a bit awkward to carry around with the shoulder strap.
As a portable unit to move around worksites and shops, the Festool CT SYS is a solid winner, especially on tasks that create fine dust. If you’re working mainly with tools like the HK Carpentry Saws, TS 55/TSC 55 Track Saws, or Kapex, you may want to move up to a full-size extractor to get the extra suction power even though you can get the job done with this model. Regardless, at $400 the Festool CT SYS costs a pretty penny. We do find it another excellent extractor that many Pros will find helpful as a part of their Festool system.
Festool CT SYS Dust Extractor Key Features
- Very small, lightweight and compact, in a Systainer format for maximum mobility
- Convenient transportation whether using the handle, the shoulder strap, placed on top of your Systainer stack, or attached to your sys-roll dolly
- The integrated hose, cable and nozzle store mean everything is always available
- Compatible with T-LOC in a Systainer system for optimum workplace organization
- Extremely quiet thanks to the low sound pressure level of 67 dB
- Powerful 1000 watt turbine for 106 CFM of suction
- Full Unit HEPA Certification, full-sized performance, compact and lightweight size, and system integration
- All backed by our exclusive Service All-Inclusive that includes a 3-year warranty
Festool CT SYS Dust Extractor Specifications
- Model: Festool 584174
- Horsepower Rating – Peak (hp): 1.34 HP
- Power Consumption: 1000 Watts, 8.3 Amp 120V AC
- Max. Suction Capacity: 106 CFM (3,000 l/min)
- Maximum Vacuum: 80″ static water lift (20,000 Pa)
- Anti-static suction hose: 1-1/16″ x 9.8 ft (27mm x 3m)
- Capacity: 0.92 gal
- Power Cord Length: 5m (16′-13/32″ (16.4′)
- Housing Material: High-Quality Plastic
- Height: 10.625″
- Requires Bag: Yes
- Transport Handle: Yes
- Product Weight 15.2 lbs. (6.9 kg)
- Warranty: 3-year Limited
- Price: $400