You may have noticed a new Festool remote control module along with new Festool Bluetooth battery options have quietly made their way to the US market. With other smart tools and Bluetooth options from nearly every major tool manufacturer, is Festool just jumping on the battery tracking bandwagon?
Umm… no. That’s not the way they roll.
In this case, Festool is targeting a specific solution. If you’re familiar with the brand, you won’t be surprised that it’s the next innovation in their dust control obsession.
Festool Bluetooth Module
For the uninitiated, Festool develops their tools, accessories, and even consumables as a fully integrated system. They claim you get the best performance when you use their specific combination of products and in our experience, that seems to be the case.
At the heart of Festool’s wireless tool activation system is the Festool Bluetooth Module. This installs on your current CT 26, 36, or 48 module port to communicate with the new Festool Remote Control and Bluetooth batteries.
Installation is very simple. Just remove to the 2 bolts on the cover and swap it with the new module.
Festool Remote Control
The Festool Remote Control attaches to directly to your suction hose. 2 bands come with it so you’re covered no matter which hose you use with your CT. A simple press of the button and the extractor kicks on. It’s a handy way for you to get suction going without walking back and forth.
The benefit here is with your cordless tools. Since you don’t have a cord to connect to the CT dust extractor, you can’t use the auto tool activation feature. With the Festool Remote Control, you have an activation switch much closer to where you’re working. Using it means you can activate the vacuum even if you’re not using it with a Festool product on your CT or if you’re just using the vacuum accessories to clean up.
Looking forward there may be some benefits down the road as well. If Festool targets a cordless CT dust extractor, the remote will allow you to kick the vacuum on whether you’re using another cordless tool or a corded tool. Keep that in the back of your mind since that’s not something Makita’s AWS system is set up to do.
Festool Remote Control Key Features
- Model: Festool 202097
- Range: 23-ft
- Ideal for occasional cleaning tasks without having to change the CT Dust Extractor from AUTO to MAN mode.
- Start your CT Dust Extractor with the remote control directly on the suction hose.
- Retrofit set for CT 26, 36, 48
- Module for installation in the module slot (to be carried out by a qualified electrician)
- Remote operation via remote control (included in the set)
- Switch on the CT Dust Extractor directly from the suction hose (simple changeover to cleaning mode, even when the CT Dust Extractor is in AUTO mode)
- Warranty: 3 years limited
- Price: $80 (includes the Bluetooth Module and Remote), $45 (remote only)
Festool Bluetooth Battery
If you want true auto tool activation with your cordless tools, you can also take advantage of a Festool Bluetooth battery. The only function of the Bluetooth connection here is to tell your CT dust extractor to kick on when you press the tool’s trigger.
There’s no location tracking, lockout, or other features to go along with it. Festool, along with many of you, is clearly still deciding how effective all those other features really are. If they decide to expand the features of the Festool Bluetooth battery, they already have the chip integration sorted out.
Currently, you can get 5.2 Ah and 6.2 Ah 18V Festool Bluetooth battery packs for about $25 more than the non-Bluetooth batteries.
There’s no talk that we’ve heard of to develop a Bluetooth battery for the Festool hybrid sanders yet.
Festool Bluetooth Battery Key Features
- In combination with the SCA 8 AIRSTREAM rapid charger, battery parks are charged quickly and effectively with active cooling during the charging procedure.
- Communicates via Bluetooth with the Bluetooth module on the CLEANTEC mobile dust extractor (can be retrofitted as an accessory) and starts the CT Dust Extractor when the cordless tool is switched on.
- Integrated LED display on the battery pack provides you with the charge status at all times.
- 5.2 Ah or 6.2 Ah battery packs available.
- Bluetooth enables the CT Dust Extractor to be started automatically when the cordless tool is switched on (use of the Bluetooth module on the CT Dust Extractor is required)
Festool Bluetooth Battery Specifications
- Models: Festool BP 18 Li 5,2 AS-ASI, Festool BP 18 Li 6,2 AS-ASI
- Pricing: $110 (5.2 Ah), $125 (6.2 Ah)
How Does it Compare to AWS?
Makita’s AWS system was the first we saw to figure out cordless auto tool activation. It works by communicating between a chip in the dust extractor and a chip in the tool. Currently, there are 5 tools that are AWS compatible and 1 cordless dust extractor.
Festool’s system is a bit more versatile. By creating a module, you can retrofit your CT 26, 36, or 48 dust extractor with the communication chip. If you’re using the Festool Remote Control, you toggle the vacuum’s power with any corded or cordless tool that you have the hose attached to. Even if you’re just cleaning up your workspace, the switch is in a much more convenient location.
If you go with a Festool Bluetooth battery, one battery can communicate with the extractor no matter which Festool 18V tool you’re using. AWS’ tool-based chip means that every tool has to have its own chip.
The other side of that coin is that you have to have AWS tools – other models aren’t compatible. With Festool’s battery-based system, every 18V Festool product with a dust extraction port is cordless communication ready, including all future models.
The Bottom Line
Festool’s first move into smart tool communication isn’t about expanding into apps and features that may or may not be useful. It’s about intentionally targetting an area that closes the gap between corded and cordless tools – wireless automatic tool activation. Out of the gate, the system is the most versatile option currently available with the ability to retrofit your current CT dust extractor and make any 18V Festool product communicate with it.