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Advise for indicator light on dust collector

by Goat0311
posted 08-07-2016 05:55 AM

12 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


7603 posts in 2811 days

#1 posted 08-07-2016 06:00 AM

A simple 120v indicator light wired in series with the DC would work fine, but depending on the logistics, might make placing it someplace visible a bit of a challenge. Alternatively, a low voltage solution would work – wire a small transformer inline with the DC and run low voltage wiring to wherever you want the indicator.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 2004 days

#2 posted 08-07-2016 11:13 AM

I read the title and came here thinking this would be about an indicator light for the DC being “full” and needing to be emptied.

Seriously? You can’t hear it from inside the shop?

I have mine mounted to the outside wall of my shop. While it is seriously lower in volume than when it was inside the shop, there’s no problem hearing if it is on or not.

How far away from your shop is the “building” with the DC in it?

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View Redoak49's profile


4360 posts in 2601 days

#3 posted 08-07-2016 11:32 AM

You should be able to tell by putting your hand near an open duct or hose.

You might want to tell us what dust collector you have.

View gwilki's profile


330 posts in 2086 days

#4 posted 08-07-2016 12:04 PM

I plugged my DC and a lamp into a power bar, which was plugged into the remote control unit. The DC was outside my shop. The “lamp” was just a light socket mounted on the wall of my shop.

The clicker turned on the power to the power bar, and both the DC and the lamp turned on/off.

Of course, this simple solution only works if the DC is 110V.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

View Goat0311's profile


13 posts in 1352 days

#5 posted 08-07-2016 12:08 PM

I have an onieda air systems DC, XXP020100 . I really can’t hear it, (My hearing is shot- 5 years in the Marine corps infantry), and I usually play music in the shop. I could feel all the ports for air, but a light would just easy to look over and see. Thank you.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1532 days

#6 posted 08-07-2016 03:37 PM


Since my idea is non-electrical and you may really want the in-the-shop indicator light, you may not like this alternative idea. The alternative is to install a shop made Pitot Tube/Manometer. This alternative offers several advantages. It keeps you from messing around with the dust collector’s electrical circuitry. It allows you to determine at a glance whether the dust collector is on or off. And you can do some system performance monitoring, including receiving an indication when it is time to clean the filer.

The Pitot Tube consists of ¼” ID clear tubing. One end is inserted into the main duct leading to the dust collector so that one end of the tubing more or less in the center of and is perpendicular to the air stream in the main duct work leading to the dust collector. The tubing is mounted to a piece of plywood in the shape of a U. Some colored water is added to the tubing. I used food coloring.

As air rushes past the end of the tubing that is in the air stream, a vacuum is created in the tubing, drawing the colored water up the tubing toward the main duct. The colored water on the opposite side of the U drops. The difference in the heights of the columns of colored is an indication of air velocity within the main duct. When the dust collector is off, the water level on in each leg of the U is the same.

While mine is used only to monitor system performance, I can also look at the Pitot Tube contraption and know whether the dust collector is on or off. I got the idea from and built mine based on the design detailed at

entitled “SNW45- Woodworking dust collection upgrades- MAKE YOUR OWN MANOMETER filter monitor!”.

The only deviation from Stumpy’s design was ensuring that the Pitot tube extends at least 1” into the exhaust air stream. The positioning of the end to the tubing in the air stream seems to make a difference in the power of the vacuum, so playing around with its positioning can optimize the performance of the device.

It cost only a few dollars and maybe an hour to build.

View WhoMe's profile


1568 posts in 3855 days

#7 posted 08-07-2016 03:59 PM

Thanks for starting this thread. I’m getting ready to put an external dc by my shop and I was thinking about some kind of indicator. Especially since I figure I’ll not be able to hear it too.
The idea of a power strip/relay for the remote is a good one. In my case I’m looking at a physical light switch or something similar to control that specific plug for the dc as I still need to run the that point, I have switched power to connect some kind of indicator as I see fit.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View REO's profile


929 posts in 2686 days

#8 posted 08-07-2016 11:06 PM

I think when “series” is said in previous posts “parallel” is intended.

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


7603 posts in 2811 days

#9 posted 08-08-2016 01:29 AM

I think when “series” is said in previous posts “parallel” is intended.

If you were referring to my post above – I did mean in series… however, it could be done either way. An indicator could be placed in series (on one power leg only) any place in the circuit, either before or after the DC power control switch. If you wanted to place it in parallel (across both power legs), then it would need to be located after the DC power control switch:

To use low voltage instead, just substitute a transformer where the indicator lights are in the above drawing. The only drawback to placing it in series is you would need a device (indicator or transformer) that could handle the current flow…. placing it in parallel would remove that requirement.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View REO's profile


929 posts in 2686 days

#10 posted 08-09-2016 01:55 AM

In series the power at the dust collector would be reduced by the resistance of the light filament. multiple outlets and lights are typically wired in parallel unless they are designed to be run in series such as rope lights and Christmas lights. An isolation transformer (for same voltage in and out) or a step down transformer to a low voltage light would have to be fairly large to handle the current throughput for the dust collector. a simple light bulb and a bulb socket in parallel would be adequate. Of course if you wanted to get really slick make your own CT with several turns of wire and an Ne-2 bulb or nowadays an

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6055 posts in 3021 days

#11 posted 08-09-2016 02:15 AM

I have a small red light bulb in a fixture in the ceiling. The unit is outside so no I cannot really hear it. Has worked for years and the DC is probably 30 years old, never an issue. When I cut the lights off the red light makes it look like some alert deal on Star Trek in the shop. If the bulb ever burns out I plan on getting a LED and calling it a day, 15 years and still going so no complains. LOL

I did like the Pitot tube idea.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Jim Dawson's profile

Jim Dawson

114 posts in 1444 days

#12 posted 08-09-2016 02:16 AM

Putting a light bulb in series with a large electric motor would be a really bad idea. If it had a filament large enough to handle the current of the motor it would present a large resistance to the motor.

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