Back in 2021, I posted about how desperately Festool needed a cordless dust extractor vacuum. Their CT Sys portable vac is a great product, but who wants to deal with power cords for portable dust extraction tasks?
Festool has finally launched their CTC Sys cordless mobile dust extractor!
There look to be some good aspects to the new Festool CTC Sys, but also some negatives.
I should be rushing out to buy one, given how fond I used to be for the corded model, but I’m not. Speaking as a long-time Festool owner, I find their new cordless dust extractor to be extremely disappointing. Let’s get into why.
The new Festool CTC Sys looks almost identical to the corded model, but with a slightly updated Systainer for the bottom, with DC battery power module and air vents.
Like its corded predecessor, the Festool CTC Sys cordless dust extractor has a recessed top handle, as well as a carrying strap.
Looking at its battery port, there’s room for the included 4Ah batteries, but with barely any clearance.
What if Festool comes out with higher capacity batteries in the future, such as to power larger dust extractor vacs? This doesn’t seem very future-proof.
It looks like the vac requires 2x 18V batteries to operate, and so it doesn’t seem like you can use higher capacity battery packs one at a time.
It enables virtually dust-free work without the need for a power outlet and excels with maximum suction power thanks to the 36 V turbine with 2 x 18 V battery packs
The “36V turbine” part confirms it – you must use 2 batteries to power the dust extractor.
Festool’s product description also says:
High-performance suction without a power cord with 2 x 18 V (4.0 Ah) battery packs
It’s strange for specific battery sizes to be referenced, but I think I know why.
Shown here is a Festool 18V 4.0Ah battery, similar to the ones that the vacuum is kitted with, and referenced in their product descriptions.
From the product images, the CTC Sys’s battery port looks to fit two 4Ah batteries with little clearance space between them.
With the CTC Sys cordless vac’s battery port sized as it is, there doesn’t look to be any clearance for Festool’s existing 5.2Ah battery packs.
Did you already splurge on 5.2Ah batteries to power a Festool circular saw or other such tool? Too bad, it looks like you’ll need to buy more 4Ah batteries.
Festool USA says:
No interruptions: Work continuously with four battery packs and a TCL 6 DUO rapid charger for most cordless applications
Notice “work continuously with four battery packs,” but you only get two with the kit. So, if you want to avoid downtime, you’ll need two more batteries, and only compact batteries that will properly fit the vacuum.
Festool’s owner’s manual confirms this – the dust extractor will only work with the brand’s 18V 3.1Ah and 4Ah batteries.
Festool 18V 6.2Ah batteries also will not fit the new cordless vacuum.
As with the corded version, you can remove the “hose garage” for easier transport.
Technically don’t need the top systainer at all times, except for neater transport and storage of the hose and accessories.
Unlike the corded model, the CTC Sys has a folding front handle, but only on the vacuum systainer itself. The top has the recessed top handle.
It doesn’t seem to be very convenient to carry both systainers boxes together from the off-center front handle, which is presumably why marketing images show only the vacuum part being carried with the hose in a neat coil around it.
The kit comes with the CYC Vac, wide nozzle, crevice nozzle, shoulder strap, disposable dust bag, hose, dual-port charger, 2x 4Ah batteries, and another systainer to hold the batteries and charger.
Festool CTC Sys Key Features & Specs
- HEPA filter
- 1.2 gallon container capacity, 0.9 gallon with filter bag
- 85 CFM max air volume
- 72″ static water life
- Weighs 19.40 lbs
- 3 levels of suction power
- 27 x 3m suction hose (~1.06″ x 9.8ft)
The CTC Sys can be activated manually, Bluetooth remote (included), or Festool 18V Bluetooth batteries.
Price and Availability
Price: $399 for the vacuum, $684 or $744 for the 2-battery kit
ETA: October 2022 or 2023
Festool USA says the new CTC Sys is “coming 2023,” but retailers are saying the vacuum (tool-only) and kit are both shipping in October 2022.
On the surface, it looks like Festool took everything I liked about their corded mobile dust extractor vac and simply added battery power.
The corded version performed nicely, but was almost always a bit awkward to use.
The performance and long hose usually make it worthwhile to grab the corded sys vac, as most other brands’ cordless vacuums or dust extractors haven’t matched this yet.
But, I’ve been using it less and less. Cordless vacs have proven to be more portable and convenient, and my corded dust extractor vac has superior suction and greater collection capacity. If I’m going to wrestle a long cord and hose, I might as well carry or roll a larger dust extractor vac to where I need it.
Maybe I’ve been using it wrong – it seems you’re supposed to wear the vacuum around your neck and shoulder while using a circular saw or other sawdust-creating power tools!
This seems extremely awkward to me – I thought carrying straps were only for transport and not intended for hands-free use.
The AC vacuum has a long hose (and power cord), and so I’ve always placed it near where I need it.
But, the form factor has always been cumbersome. You could leave the “hose garage” elsewhere, but then you’ve got a long hose to tame. It seems easier to detach the hose garage from the cordless version than the corded, which is a plus.
There’s no top handle on the vac’s systainer itself. The cordless version finally adds a folding front handle, but it’s telling that I haven’t seen any Festool product images that show both the vac and usually-attached hose garage carried in this manner.
The cordless vac very strongly resembles the corded version, which I suppose was expected since Festool would obviously adhere to their systainer form factor.
However, the battery situation is extremely disappointing.
Rather than Festool requiring use of a single higher capacity battery, such as the 5.2Ah battery, they require the use of two compact 4.0Ah or 3.1Ah batteries.
I presume this was for a power boost, but it likely also contributes to longer runtime.
At the time of this posting, Festool’s 18V 4Ah battery is $120 each at dealers, and their 5.2Ah battery is $130 each.
If you want to buy a pair of batteries, they have a 2x 4Ah battery kit, with dual-port charger and systainer for $299, and it’s slated for release in 2023.
Still, other brands’ cordless vacuums are more flexible. Milwaukee Tool’s M18 Fuel Packout-compatible vacuum, for example, can be powered by any M18 battery, big or small. It is HEPA-rated, has more than double the collection volume, and weighs considerably less.
Festool’s cordless vac comes with a long hose and a Bluetooth remote – something that ALL cordless vacuums should offer at least as an option.
There’s also no AC option, either for plug-in activation such as with a corded sander, or for powering the CTC Sys with an extension cord.
I rarely use plug-in activation these days, now that I mainly use cordless power tools with a remote-controlled corded dust extractor vac. I have yet to find a good-enough battery-powered dust vac to be able to retire my rolling corded vacs.
I feel that I might be overreacting. We waited so long for Festool to finally launch cordless vacuums, and *this* is what we get?
But on the other hand, the less fine-print when when dealing with cordless power tool and battery selection, the better.
Well, at least it’s not built into older-style systainers like the ones they still bundle with their premium vacuum clamp system. (Yes, I still feel sour about this! Festool shouldn’t be bundling tools with anything other than T-Loc systainers anymore.)
On one hand, they kept the systainer form factor. On the other hand, they kept the systainer form factor, and the battery selection is very constricted.
Let’s say you want to get spare batteries for a Festool cordless sander, circular saw, and this dust vac.
Well, you’ll need a proprietary battery for the hybrid sander, their latest cordless saw comes with 5.2Ah batteries, and you will likely want more of the same, and this vac requires specific pairs of batteries.
Let’s say you buy a spare set of 4Ah batteries. Oops, you forgot to charge the 5.2Ah batteries that came with your saw. So, you swap in the 4Ah batteries. You work on a few other tasks, and now your CTC Sys cordless vac is out of batteries, but your 5.2Ah batteries aren’t finished charging.
This all seems like a huge headache.
I like to be able to pair any batteries with any tool from the same brand, at least in a pinch.
Many brands have recommended tool and brand pairings, but less-than-ideal batteries will usually still physically fit and power the tool, even if at reduced performance. Here, you’re blocked from using higher capacity batteries.
I really liked the idea of a cordless Festool vac, but this isn’t what I had in mind – especially given the price point.
Are you more optimistic about the CTC Sys? Change my mind.