Festool’s CT SYS dust extractor, 584174, gave rise to mixed feelings initially, but I’ve grown to really like its portability and versatility.
It’s a portable dust extractor fitted to 2 Systainers tool boxes. Technically, all you need is the bottom section – that’s where the vac system and dust collection bag live – but the top section makes hose management a lot easier.
There’s a long-life bag available, but I prefer to use the disposable bags.
It’s got a HEPA filter.
There’s automatic tool start, so you can connect a tool and have the vac turn on and off as needed.
It’s equipped with a Festool-standard tool dust port nozzle, and also comes with a small wide nozzle and a crevice tool. These work okay. I often find myself using my Festool cleanup kit ($93 via Amazon) with the CT SYS vac. I do most cleaning with a larger rolling vac, but the CT SYS is good for quick and small cleanups.
It’s highly portable, and comes with a carrying strap. I haven’t used the strap, I simply tote it around by the top handle.
There’s ample room (just barely) for hose and cord storage in the top compartment to allow for additional Festool T-Loc Systainers to be placed above. And there’s of course no problem connecting the CT STS on top of other Systainers and Systainer-compatible accessories.
It’s not loud, but not quite quiet either. I don’t like the high-pitched squeal, but 9 times out of 10 I’m wearing hearing protection since the vac is being run with or around the use of other tools.
Like most Festool products, the CT SYS dust extractor is expensive – currently $375. Is it worth it? I’ve wrestled with this question.
On one hand, I wish it was cordless. It’s portable but not cordless. Still, it saves effort compared to carrying my Festool CT 26 dust extractor up or down stairs, and it fits better in the car for on-location work.
And if it were cordless, there would be no automatic mode, which I find very useful. I’ve used the CT SYS dust extractor with my Festool sander and in testing their Domino joinery machine. For use with a router, circular saw, or other tool that creates lots more chips and dust, I’ll use a larger vac. As mentioned, I’ll also use this for quick cleanup tasks.
On the other hand, this vac has capabilities that others lack.
It’s HEPA-rated, which can’t be said for a lot of other compact portable vacs. Then there’s the automatic mode and tool connection port. If you’re already working with Festool tools or storage products, the Systainer form factor is going to be a big convenience.
It does also have a manual mode, which I use for cleanup work or non-auto tool use, such as with cordless tools.
So if these are features you need, you’ll cringe at the price once but the benefits will make it worthwhile. That’s how I see Festool tools. Very pricey, but sometimes justifiable.
Price: $375, will be $380 starting April 3rd, 2017
Bags are $20 for 5 or $80 for 1 long-life filter. The long-life bag can only be used for harmless dust. A replacement HEPA filter is $64, and it looks like there’s a cheaper filter for $22 if you don’t need HEPA-level filtration.
Would I have purchased one? Probably not, because I own a Festool dust extractor that sees a lot of use. I’ll bring a cordless vac when I need portability. But having this test sample available, I’ve been using it quite a bit, finding it to be quite handy. If If I was able to share my current experiences with my past self, prior to receiving the test sample, I still wouldn’t have bought one. It’s a convenient product, but it solves problems I don’t regularly have.
That said, I definitely do recommend it – if its features would be of strong benefit to you.
You have to ask yourself: Will this help my work? For me, the answer is not really, but I’m not a contractor and don’t do most of my work off-site or on-location. If for you the answer is a strong yes, cry once and enjoy the benefits over time. (That’s pretty much my typical pricey tool philosophy.)
I’ve been testing and using this vac for around 6 months. I’ll try to report back in another 6 months with any new impressions or experiences, and hopefully photos. (That’s why I’m calling this a quick review.)
If cleanup is your top priority, there are other corded and cordless solutions that’ll do about the same job but for far less money. Here are some HEPA-rated cordless and corded vacs I’ve posted about in the past:
Thank you to Festool for providing the review sample unconditionally.