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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi guys, it seems like the Harbor Freight 2 HP dust collector is the single most talked about piece of equipment on these forums by far. Questions about this thing just come up over and over again. So sorry if this review just seems like beating a dead horse, but I figure the continued and continuous interest merits a new review. And so without further ado:


image_12006.jpg


Numbers
Per the manual
HP: 2
amps and volts: 20 and 120
CFM: 1550
weight: 103 lbs.
filtration: 5 micron bag


Price
Harbor Freight: $150


Note that the “normal” price of this thing is stated at $250. However, since Wood Magazine has had a $150 coupon almost continuously for a couple years now, I feel honest in calling the price at $150.


Price Comparison
Delta 1 HP: $269
Delta 1 ½ HP: $420


Jet 1 HP: $360
Jet 1 ½ HP: $499


Rikon 1 HP: $280
Rikon 2 HP: $400


Grizzly 1 HP: $182
Grizzly 2 HP: $300


All these models are roughly comparable. All are bags and not canisters. I'm sure prices are variable depending on sales, season, coupons, etc.


Packaging
This baby was packaged up pretty tight. Lots of padding and tight styrofoam. I think it could have fallen out of the back of a delivery truck or two and not taken any damage. I picked mine up from the store, and there was no damage or concern.


Assembly
Assembly was easy... once I realized the instruction manual was useless. Seriously, I spent 20 minutes looking for non-existent parts! I think the manual was actually for an older model with a different base. When they upgraded the model, I don't think they upgraded the manual. It was actually pretty simple to assemble it by just looking at the picture on the front of the box.


There were no missing pieces in my box, thank goodness.


Fit and Finish
I honestly don't have a lot of experience with other dust collectors to act as a basis for comparison. My dad has a 1 HP delta, and the overall quality of of the Delta does seem a bit more solid. But the Harbor Freight really doesn't seem too cheap by any means. In fact, it looks absolutely IDENTICAL to the 2 HP Rikon that's on display at a local Woodcraft store. It also looks quite similar to pictures I've seen of comparable Grizzly and Jet models. Overall, it handles pretty well and doesn't seem like it'll be falling apart any time soon.


People say that one problem with Harbor Freight is that their quality control sucks. It's not uncommon to get a lemon. Luckily (?) if if you get a bad one, they tend to break down quickly, and within the 30 day warranty period. You also have the option of an extended service/warranty plan. Many people seem to be OK paying for this since the product price is pretty cheap. I chose not to, and I think I got away with it since I've had mine for about 4 months with no problems. Your mileage may vary.


Performance
As stated above, the performance rating of this baby is stated at 1550 CFM. I have no way of measuring the accuracy of that statement. The most chip spewing machine I have is easily my planer, a Dewalt 734. The HF dust collector keeps up with it easily, with only a few random chips ending up on the floor or the planer tables. When it's on, the cyclone action in the collection bag is pretty impressive to watch.


The impeller has a 5 inch port, with a Y adapter. Both sides of the Y are 4 inch ports. I have one port hooked up to my machine and, oddly enough, it seems to perform better when the other 4 inch port is uncovered.


The 5 micron bag does allow very fine dust through. The toolbox I have sitting next to the dust collector gets covered in a very thin layer.


Accessories
I have a tiny shop, and I have no intention of spending the time or money putting together a full system of pipes and dust ports for each of my machines. Consequently, this quick release port system from Rockler was a great buy. I bought it on sale, but I think it's worth the full price just for the convenience. http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=30200


My plans for the future include an aftermarket 1 micron canister filter from Wynn, and possibly a home made Thein separator. This guy on Lumberjocks seems to have a pretty good set-up. Maybe I'll just copy him. http://lumberjocks.com/projects/29578


Overview
At the end of the day, is this thing worth it? Heck yeah! I don't think there's anything that's comparable for the price. As I stated, I don't have a lot of personal experience with dust collectors, but I have no idea what a more expensive single stage dust collector could do that this one can't. This product comes with a high recommendation from me, and it's a pretty big improvement over my old shop vac based system.


Well, thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful to someone. This website's been great to learn from, and it's nice to be able to give something (hopefully) useful back. Feel free to ask questions.


Have fun,
Matt
 

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Nice job with the review. It's got to be the most popular HF machine they sell.

There are a few drawbacks that are worth a mention though. The last I knew, the HF "2hp" unit had a 10-3/4" impeller, which is larger than any of the 1hp units listed above but smaller than any of the 1.5 and 2hp units listed above that have 12" to 13" impellers, thus moves less air (the CFM rating is likely in the range of 50% overstated). Also, unless things have changed, the motor on the HF unit isn't convertible to 220v operation (it's also been measured at closer to a true 1.5hp motor...still enough oomph for the task, but perhaps a little small to power some cyclone upgrades if that's in your future).

At the end of the day the HF "2hp" unit seems capable of it's basic job for most hobby shops, and @$150 is a better bang for the buck than most.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info. The impeller size I was not aware of. I have read in lots of places that the motor specs and CFM were overrated, but it's all been anecdotal so far and there's no way for me to verify it on my own. Have any of the woodworking mags done a real analysis of it that anyone's aware of? That would be an interesting read. The identical appearing Rikon only claims 1250 CFM, which is considerably less than the HF claims. And the people who have done the cyclone mods have for the most part reported favorable results and no loss of suction. That may be because they've mostly also upgraded to the Wynn cannister. The performance improvement due to the greater surface area of the canister may be enough to offset the performance loss due to the cyclone mod. Or at least that's my guess.
--Matt
 

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When I bought my HF 2HP collector, I wasn't too worried about the advertised CFM VS actual. I knew from seeing a friends work that it would do the job for me. (One unit at a time with a 35 gal trash can and homemade lid to catch the chunks)
Eventually, I modified the unit and dispensed with the bags, directing the sawdust directly out side, through the wall.
It seems to suck a lot better, now. Very little dust (read almost none) accumulates outside.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info, Gene. Could we get a picture of your mod? IT would be nice if the people who read this thread could see many different configurations.
--Matt
 

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Thanks for the info, Gene. Could we get a picture of your mod? IT would be nice if the people who read this thread could see many different configurations.
--Matt
Here ya go.
Used a 4" stove vent pipe to go through the wall.
Sure saved a lot of space.
004 - Copy.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Gene. Ha, you weren't kidding. That is a space saver.:laughing:

And omextreme, good for you. I think you'll be happy with it. Let us know your impressions.

--Matt
 

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LOL...I wonder what my neighbor 35 feet to the west of me would say! :laughing:
I can barely hear the DC, standing next to the vent outside. With the trash can and cyclone lid, there's hardly any debris that escapes to the outside. I'll bet your neighbor wouldn't even notice.
One could vent to an outside container. NO sound and NO debris.
 

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I have (or more correctly had) the 2hp unit from HF. I originally had it set up with my own uneducated version the the Thien baffle. My longest run was about 20' in a 4" pvc pipe. It worked adequately. I took the plunge and built a Bill Pentz cyclone. Although Bill's website recommended not use a motor as small as mine (I never did listen very well to instructions) I went ahead and used the HF 2hp unit. I found that when I did not restrict the exhaust that I had excellent air movement. I exhaust my unit directly outside. The unit has a slight whine when on but is not offensive. Or at least no one has complained yet. The cyclone does such a great job of removing the wood that after over a year of use the most I have seen is a slight dusting on the ground. I have picture of my cyclone in my album. The whole thing from bottom of the barrel to the top of the collector is about 8'.

Bob
 

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Great write up, but one correction that needs to be made. The inlet port is 5" not 6"...

I wrote up a review of this on another forum, and I advised readers the same way I am about to advise you... Don't leave it stock...

At the very least add a 1 micron dust bag, and a Thien Baffle, Jet Vortex type Wok baffle, Neutral vane or similar device to keep the dust in the lower bag. Better yet, a separate Thien separator or cyclone body separator, and a Wynn Filter...

I have mine rigged with a Wynn 35A filter, and a separate Thien separator based on a 55 gallon drum with a 5" outlet and side inlet. It works far better than I can tell you. I have had it for a couple of years, use the tar out of it, and have yet to need to clean the filter, or empty the bag... I just dump the drum and I am done...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ah, you're right. I just measured and it is a 5 inch port. Thanks, and I just corrected it in the original post.

And how about a picture of your setup? :smile:

--Matt
 
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