So you're ready to upgrade from your shop vac to a dust extractor?
Can't blame you, the benefits are substantial.
Lower noise, nicer hoses, HEPA filters, and features made specifically for woodworkers like variable speed control for sanding.
But then you get on Festool's website and get slapped in the face with a mountain of confusing verbiage and numbers.
We've been there. We've waded through it. And now we're here to help you do the same.
First off we'll show you every model in a table, then we'll get into the specific features to look for, and (if you want to jump ahead) our final recommendation is at the end.
Every Festool Dust Extractor Model Compared:
|Model||Container Capacity||Dimensions (L x W x H)||Weight||Hose Garage?||Anti-Static Hose?||Price|
CTC SYS I HEPA (Cordless)
|4.5 L||15.5" x 11.6" x 12"||15.65 lbs||Yes||Yes||$399 - $684|
CTC MIDI I HEPA (Cordless)
|15 L||21.6" x 12.6" x 19.5"||22.48 lbs||Yes||Yes||$679 - $978|
|CT 15 E HEPA||15 L||18.5" x 12.6" x 17.1"||24.69 lbs||No||No||$419|
|CT 25 HEPA||25 L||18.5" x 12.6" x 20"||26.46 lbs||Yes||No||$485|
|CT MIDI I HEPA||15 L||
18.5" x 12.6" x 19.5"
|CT 26 E HEPA||26 L||25" x 14" x 22"||30.64 lbs||Yes||Yes||$799|
|CT 36 E HEPA||36 L||
25" x 14.4" x 23.4"
|CT 36 E AC HEPA||36 L||
25" x 14.4" x 23.4"
|CT 48 E HEPA||48 L||29" x 16" x 40"||35.71 lbs||Yes||Yes||$935|
|CT 48 E AC HEPA||48 L||29" x 16" x 39.5"||37.26 lbs||Yes||Yes||$1055|
What Do the Festool Dust Extractor Model Names Mean?
You'll notice a lot of letters and numbers in the names of these dust extractors. For example: CLEANTEC CT 25 HEPA. So what does all of that mean?
- CLEANTEC - All the models include this, so you can ignore that
- CT/CTC - CT are the corded models and CTC (Cleantec Cordless) are the 36v battery-powered models
- 25/36 etc - The numbers refer to the size of the container that holds the dust bag (in Liters)
- HEPA - All Festool dust extractors have HEPA filters so you can ignore that as well
- AC - Some models contain AC in the name which refers to Autoclean. This feature automatically cleans the main filter which is great for drywallers or anyone working with super fine particles that can clog filters quickly.
What Are the Festool Dust Extractor Container Sizes?
4.5 Liters (~1.2 Gallons), 15 Liters (~4 Gallons), 25 Liters (6.8 Gallons), 26 Liters (~6.9 Gallons), 36 Liters (9.5 Gallons), or 48 Liters (12.7 Gallons).
The container size refers to how big the container that holds the bag is (yes, all Festool dust extractors have vacuum bags).
What size you choose is a balance between portability and how often you'll be needing to empty or replace those bags.
If your work is mobile, we'd recommend one of the 15L models.
If you're planning to use it with larger stationary tools like a table saw or miter saw, maybe spring for one of the larger units.
What Is the Hose Garage on a Festool Dust Extractor?
It's one of the best features! There's nothing worse than a shop vac hose that's always in the way (except maybe a shop vac hose with no vacuum hose clips 😁). You'll trip on it, step on it, glare at it, and hate it. Many Festool dust extractors include a compartment at the top where you can store the hose. The great part about it is that it's compact and you don't need to remove the hose to store it there. It's a must have feature in our opinion if you're going to buy a dust extractor.
What Is The Festool Smooth Anti-Static Hose?
It's another must-have feature on Festool's dust extractors! Rather than the hard plastic ribbed hose on most shop vacs, Festool offers a smooth braided nylon hose on most of their models. The benefit is that it's easy to stash away in the hose garage and it doesn't get snagged on things in your shop. All around, much nicer to use and worth the extra $ in our opinion.
Does Festool Have Cordless Dust Extractors?
Yes, Festool recently unveiled a new line of cordless dust extractors. These models (listed first in the table below) offer the ultimate in portability and are perfect for those of us whose work is mobile. While the tool-only versions of these models are priced similarly to their corded counterparts, the versions with the 36v batteries included come at a ~$300 up-charge. Well worth it if you don't always have easy access to 110 power.
What Is The Best Festool Dust Extractor To Buy?
In our opinion, the Festool CT MIDI I HEPA is the best Festool dust extractor for most people. It has great features like the smooth anti-static hose, the built-in hose garage for storage, optional bluetooth control, and a good balance of size/portability. And at $679, it sits right in the middle of the lineup.
So which one do you have in your shop? Are there other brands like Mirka or Fein you recommend Whichever dust extractor or vacuum you choose, it's important to use it! Our hobby/profession can be messy and dangerous and a dust extractor is one simple step to keeping your shop clean and safe.