Canadian Woodworking

Festool CLEANTEC CTC SYS cordless HEPA dust extractor

The ultimate in super compact, cordless jobsite and shop dust management.

It’s been seven years since Festool introduced the CT SYS compact corded dust extractor (#575280), at the time the smallest, and definitely the coolest, compact dust extractor on the market. If you’ve been waiting for a cordless version of the CT SYS, the wait is over. The new CLEANTEC CTC SYS frees you from being tethered to an electrical outlet while giving you the efficiency and performance that you’d expect from a corded tool.

If you have a small workshop, it offers a viable alternative for managing dust at source (directly from the power tool). Tradespeople, service persons and renovators are likely to find it especially convenient on jobs that don’t generate huge volumes of dust and debris, or where they have to work in small, confined spaces.

Manufacturer: Festool
Model: 576941 (Basic); 577390 (Plus)
Price
: $510.00 (Basic); $875 (Plus)
Made in
: Illertissen, Germany
SourceFind your dealer
Warranty: 3 years
Availability: The Basic version is available now; the Plus version with the Energy Set will launch in early 2023

 

 

Key Features:

  • 36V internal turbine
  • Runs on two 18V 4.0Ah battery packs
  • HEPA filtration option (requires #200340 filter)
  • 85 CFM maximum air flow
  • 72″ maximum water lift
  • 0.9 gal filter bag capacity
  • 3 suction levels
  • Bluetooth functionality for extractor, remote switch-on for cordless tools
  • Weighs 19.4 pounds (8.8kg)
  • Basic model includes: CT-FI remote control, dust bag, main filter, shoulder strap, hose, upholstery brush, crevice nozzle
  • Plus model includes: All the Basic model components, plus the Energy set #577108 (two 18V 4.0Ah Li-HighPower batteries, a dual – two battery – rapid charger and a SYS3 Systainer)
  • Optionally available: Standard cleaning set #577257 (7-piece accessory set housed in a SYS3 Systainer)

The CLEANTEC CTC SYS is available in two formats. Both are essentially small, portable cordless dust extractors housed in a SYS3 Systainer. The Basic model comes without batteries or charger and is the best option for anyone who is heavily invested in Festool gear. The Plus model comes with Festool’s Energy set (#577108) that consists of two 4.0Ah batteries and a dual fast charger.  This version is better suited for anyone who doesn’t already have Festool batteries and a charger.

The CT SYS measures approximately 15″ by 12″ by 12″ and weighs in at just under 20 pounds. It consists of a removable upper tray (a lid-less Systainer) that houses a 3 meter (9′ 8″) anti-static dust hose, upholstery brush and crevice nozzle. Below is a SYS3 Systainer, which has a folding front handle, contains the motor, filter and dust bag. For easier portability, there is an adjustable shoulder strap that you can quickly attach to either the top or bottom of the Systainer. You attach it to the top of the Systainer if you plan on carting the whole unit about, or, my preferred method, dispense with the upper tray and carry only the bottom Systainer.

Festool cordless vac
Removable top tray houses hose and 2 accessories
Festool cordless vac
Top tray removed makes it lighter and easier to transport and move around
Festool cordless vac
Shoulder strap makes it easy to transport the CTC SYS

The CTC SYS is powered by two 4.0Ah, 72Wh Li-HighPower batteries. The easy-to-use control panel is located on the left side of the Systainer. According to Festool, the slimmer 4.0Ah compact batteries deliver virtually identical performance as their larger 5.2 Ah batteries with only slightly less running time. The brushless motor has three adjustable suction settings so you can choose the right power for the job at hand. At the lowest setting the noise level is around 60 decibels. At the highest setting it’s noticeably louder – I measured it at around 67 decibels. Factor in the noise from whatever power tool you’re using and you’ll quickly reach for your hearing protectors.

Festool cordless vac
The CTC SYS takes 2 4Ah batteries
Festool cordless vac
Intuitive, easy-access control panel

The CTC SYS doesn’t have an AC outlet enabling you to use corded power tools (such as a Festool corded sanders, routers, planer, or Domino) with the CTC SYS. As well, it doesn’t have a built-in battery charger, which I think would have been very convenient – especially if you use a single battery charger. To be fair, no cordless dust collector of a comparable size includes a built-in charger. However, it does come with Bluetooth functionality. There is a remote Bluetooth switch that enables you to automatically turn on the CTC SYS when paired with a Festool cordless power tool equipped with a Festool Bluetooth battery (#202480). You can clip the remote to the tool end of the vac hose near the connecting sleeve.

And yes, you can use the CTS SYS with any other power tool that accepts a 27mm dust hose connecting sleeve.

Festool cordless vac
Bluetooth switch attaches to tool end of the dust hose

The CTC SYS is driven by a 36V internal turbine that produces 72″ of water lift and 85 CFM of air flow (suction). Given its size, the air flow and water lift stats are pretty impressive. For comparison, the mid-range Festool CT26 dust extractor has a 10-amp motor that delivers 138 CFM of air flow with a water lift capability of 96″.

The CTC SYS doesn’t have variable suction control, as found on Festool’s larger extractors, a feature that enables you to regulate the airflow to the tool you’re using. It’s not an issue that is particularly important to me. However, some people find that when sanding, too high a suction can pull the sander down tightly against the material, increasing swirl marks. If you find this happening with the CTC SYS use the slowest speed setting. If you still need to reduce suction there is a suction control gate on the tool end of the hose that you can open.

Festool cordless vac
A suction control gate helps control air flow

The dust hose has a press-fit connector that attaches very securely to the Systainer. In all the time I’ve been using the CTC SYS the connector hasn’t come undone. Another nice feature of this hose is the smooth outer skin that helps prevent the hose from becoming caught when sliding around the workbench or over stock. When you disconnect the hose from the Systainer there is a green plug that you use to seal the suction opening so that debris doesn’t fall out when transporting the CTC SYS.

Festool cordless vac
Tight press-fit connector

Open up the bottom Systainer to reveal the filter/dust bag carrier. I like that the carrier housing the filter and dust bag can be lifted out of the CT SYS. I can carry it outside the client’s home to remove the dust bag when full. The CTC SYS comes with a standard 1-micron filter (#500558). There is an optional HEPA filter (#500642), which removes 99.99% of particulate matter down to 0.3 micron.

I’ve found that Festool filters last a long time. You can clean the filter by knocking it against the side of a garbage can to dislodge fine debris, but Festool recommends that you don’t use compressed air to clean it.

Festool cordless vac
Motor on the left; carriage containing filter and dust bag on the right.
Festool cordless vac
Carriage is easily removable for access to filter and dust bag.

The dust bags are not reusable, but at around $7 each not overly expensive.  They’re available in a 5-pack (#500438) for $37. You can also purchase a reusable long-life bag (#500642) for $135. It might seem steep for a dust bag, but for most contractors and renovators it will probably work out to be much more cost effective than single use disposable bags in the long run. As with any dust extractor, you could configure the CTC SYS with a cyclone lid or a cyclone separator to extend the life of both the filter and dust bags.

Both the dust bag and filter are super quick to remove. Changing bags takes less than 30 seconds. The cardboard sleeve slips under two plastic tabs, and then latches into place. There really is no way the dust bag can work loose. A rubber seal on the cardboard sleeve wraps securely around the connector on the end of the dust hose for a leak-proof seal.

The dust bag holds 0.9 gallons (3.4L) of debris. Connected intermittently to a sander and track saw I was surprised at how long it took the bag to fill up. Once filled, the trick is to move the bag to a trash bin with a minimal amount of dust escaping the bag. Festool has put a simple cardboard handle at the mouth of the bag opening – pull the handle, and the opening is sealed. It works really well to keep the debris in the bag. The CTC SYS doesn’t automatically turn off when the dust bag is full – you’ll know that it’s time to change the bag when the extractor stops sucking up debris.

Festool cordless vac
A cardboard dust seal keeps things nice and tidy

The two cleaning tools that come with the CTC SYS are handy, but to take full advantage of this mini extractor you might want to ante up for a compact cleaning set (#577257), which includes all the accessories you need to keep a work site clean.

Festool cordless vac
The optional cleaning kit has a wider range of useful accessories

The CTC SYS has such a small footprint that it can be placed almost anywhere. In the shop it sits unobtrusively on a bench top or tucked underneath the bench, making it ideally suited for dust management at source.

Festool cordless vac
Place it just about anywhere in the shop

You wouldn’t want to be using the CTC SYS with your planer or jointer – it isn’t meant to be a replacement for a dust collector. But paired with a larger cannister style dust extractor, or a small cyclonic dust collector, the CTC SYS provides a viable option for a practical dust management system for the small shop. Likewise, it’s much easier to tote the CT SYS around a client’s home with the shoulder strap than it is to manhandle a larger wheeled dust extractor – it’s especially effective on small jobs that don’t require the dust and debris storage capacity of a larger extractor.

The CTC SYS has a lot going for it – decent suction, quiet operation, Bluetooth triggered tool activation, anti-static hose, HEPA filter (option), and it’s stackable (for those who use other Festool products). It doesn’t have variable suction control, an AC outlet or built-in battery charger. Still, it offers a heck of a lot more than it lacks. You’d be hard pressed to find a more compact, lighter, and functional dust extractor for use on a jobsite or in a space-challenged workshop.


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