For The Money Unlikely To Be Beat, But Must Have Sense Of Humor When Assembling

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Review by MattMcC posted 01-02-2011 02:50 AM 8047 views 4 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
For The Money Unlikely To Be Beat, But Must Have Sense Of Humor When Assembling For The Money Unlikely To Be Beat, But Must Have Sense Of Humor When Assembling For The Money Unlikely To Be Beat, But Must Have Sense Of Humor When Assembling Click the pictures to enlarge them

So, we will be moving into a new house this summer and I will be moving my woodworking tools to the basement from the garage, where opening the garage door and running a shop vac provided adequate ventiliation and dust collection. Not so in the new basement, so I decided I would invest in a dust collector. After reading many reviews, it seemed that the Harbor Freight 2HP DC unit was a fair value. I decided to take the harbor freight plunge given the cost of name brand units and with my fingers crossed that I wasn’t throwing money down the drain. I was able to get the sale price of $189, plus used a 20% off coupon. Final price: $151. Thats a fraction of the cost of the comparable Delta unit. I will invest in a Wynn canister once we move, since Im not too jazzed about the 5 micron dust bag. A wynn retro fit costs about $130 and gets me 0.5 micron. Thants a $280 investment for 0.5 micro dust collection. Not bad, I would say, provided the thing works.

Be forwarned! You must have a sense of humor when you assemble this thing. The instructions are garbage, including things like referring to nuts that are not required (and don’t exist) or instructing you to put the bags on BEFORE essembling the handle to the dust collector plate. The platform upon which this thing is mounted is also cheap sheet steel. Flexes somewhat, but no big deal. On the other hand, the motor and fan housing seemed substantial and the finish not too bad for a $151 unit. I was pleasantly surprised, and was prepared to accept somewhat less. Got the thing put together, plugged it in to a 15 amp plug, turned it on, and budda bing! It works. Have no frame of referece for noise level, but compated to shop vac it is demonstrably more quiet.

I am curious about things like were the bolts go in to the cyclone unit between the two bags. No rubber grommets or other means of sealing the connections. Wonder how much this leads to leaks and dust out these bolt holes with the bolts securely fastened in them. But this is the kind of things I could modify myself at little cost. With the motor on, I can also feel a little air down by the fan, but not sure if this is just the fan in the motor itself pushing air out the motor housing. I believe that to be the case.

Overall, for $153 I don’t see how this was not a great deal. I need to by some hose and connectors/blast gates but I fully expect this to be FAR superior to by my shop vac. And with another $130 invested in a cannister, I expect this thing to be the ideal for my small shop. Its rated at 1550 CFM. Doubt it achieves that, but don’t care. Im sure Im doing over 1000 CFM, and with cannister in place should see a big jump in efficiency.

I will post additional thoughts once I put this through its paces, but right now I think this thing is great. Give it 4 and not 5 stars given the guess work with the assembly, but thats almost a given in light of where I purchased from. Its just part of the Harbor Freight experience.

Anyone else have this unit? Recommendations on hose / ducts?

View MattMcC's profile


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22 comments so far

View Routerisstillmyname's profile


763 posts in 4277 days

#1 posted 01-02-2011 03:38 AM

This is a same collector others sell for much much more. the difference is the paint and dust filter.
HF also sells the best 4 inch hose but you can only get that on line.
I’ve been extremely impressed with this collector even with the stock bag style filter. I can see much more improvement with a good filter instead of bag filter. it does lose suction now so it’s a good thing it’s 2 Hp.
You will need to use some kind of sealant on that front dual port attachment.

-- Router รจ ancora il mio nome.

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5777 posts in 4000 days

#2 posted 01-02-2011 04:00 AM

It comes with instructions? Yes I am kidding. But typically, Harbor Freight instruction sheets are utter garbage. I think the worst one to date is the 32208 band saw, if assembled per instructions, the motor will not bolt on… (the motor mount plate is shown backwards in the instruction sheet).

Honestly, I didn’t bother with the assembly isntructions as it was obvious how it went together… At least to me it was.

It’s not the best performer on the market, but it isn’t the worst either…. The upgrade to the Wynn makes a huge difference, as does using a separator in front of it…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View brtech's profile


1068 posts in 3691 days

#3 posted 01-02-2011 04:01 AM

I have this unit, and agree with everything you said. It’s an outstanding deal.

For ducting, you have two basic choices: flexible duct with quick connect, or hard ducting with blast gates.

The former uses a 10’ length of flex hose, and an adapter that many vendors sell which will allow you to easily move the flex hose to your different machines one at a time. It’s cheap, easy, and maintains the most suction. It’s also a pain to have to keep moving the DC and the hose when you switch machines.

For a permanent install, you use 4” or 5” main line. 4” is usually PVC S&D pipe, but you can also use 26 ga snap lock metal HVAC duct. For 5”, the only thing that is practical is metal.

You always use 45 degree elbows and Y’s, never 90 degrees or Ts. You run a main line from the DC up (or down) and across your shop, using the Y’s to branch off to your machines, with 4” drops. Again, 45 degree elbows only, with a short straight section between them. You put a blast gate in line with each machine’s dust port and the drop.

Look into a Thein separator. Easy to make and install inside the HF DC.

Do get the Wynn filter. 5 micron is a joke.

View mathom7's profile


69 posts in 3679 days

#4 posted 01-02-2011 05:06 AM


you mention a Thein separator inside the DC. Do you mean putting the seperator between the filter and the collection bag, using the existing tangential input port?

this is what I was thinking about doing, cutting out the cone shaped portion of this and installing a seperator in it’s place. Is this what you’ve done? If so any picture or pointers?

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 4022 days

#5 posted 01-02-2011 05:31 AM

I have the same model with the Wynn and it does quite nice. I too doubt the 1500CFM claim. Mine leaks around the bag, or at least that’s what I thought. I’ll have to see if it’s leaking around those bolts.

Be mindful of the 5×4 Y on the fan, it can be a little fragile. I broke mine and had a tough time finding a replacement. If you plan on moving it between tools, you may need to replace those casters. Mine don’t seem to roll all that nice but mine’s a fixed installation and never moves so ….

I added a Thein separator to mine before I even assembled it so I don’t know it works w/out one but it does a good job with the Thein.

I’ve sense upgrade to a preseparator with a Thein Baffle. Much MUCH better now.

This is the way to go IMHO.

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View Lochlainn1066's profile


138 posts in 3545 days

#6 posted 01-02-2011 05:50 AM

+1 to ChunkyC. Not only do you have a solid container for the heavy stuff, but your impeller won’t get damaged.

-- Nate,

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 4035 days

#7 posted 01-02-2011 06:12 AM

heres how i have mine set up. added a thein seperator and it works great

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4000 days

#8 posted 01-02-2011 06:15 AM

IF you can manage it, and to elaborate on Chunkyc’s idea. My Thien separator uses 5” flex in and out, and is set up with a side inlet, the 5×4x4 wye from the dust collector is on the separator, so everything has to go through the separator. Yes the wye is fragile. The separator does a fantastic job, and is very easy to build. The side inlet however, is a bit trickier…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3817 days

#9 posted 01-02-2011 03:03 PM

I never understood the advantage of having a separator inside the dust collector.
I have one, as most people do, before the dust collector in a trash can and it works wonderfully.
When I install my permanent installation I shall buy a cyclone separator and do something similar to what Mike Gager did but mounted on a wall or a metallic bracket.

Chunk do you use two Thein baffles?
If yes, why?

-- Bert

View Big Ben's profile

Big Ben

87 posts in 3659 days

#10 posted 01-02-2011 08:21 PM

The directions definitely suck, I have not added a separator to mine yet but I have added cartridge filter, which really upgraded the air flow

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 4035 days

#11 posted 01-02-2011 08:58 PM

if anyone is curious here is the manual

View PCM's profile


135 posts in 3813 days

#12 posted 01-02-2011 11:10 PM


View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 4003 days

#13 posted 01-03-2011 12:37 AM

I’m with the other commenters here: I’ve had it for about a year now, and have been using it extensively the last few months. I keep it in an adjacent room in my basement workshop, with just the stock bag (5 micron) that comes with it. I have not noticed any dust buildup in that room, but I do see some of the dust tracks others have mentioned that make it look like a small amount of dust escapes underneath the band holding the bag. I’m running it through 30’ of flexible hosing, moving it from tool to tool, but I want to run PVC around the shop ASAP. I’ve talked about adding a Wynn and Thein for a while now, one of these days I’ll get around to it…

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3549 days

#14 posted 01-03-2011 02:55 AM

LOL..LOL…Just scanned the manual…ooohh my…8 FLIPPING PAGES OF SAFTEY CAUTION BEFORE ANY ASEMBLY STUFF !! And the abuse of the language !
Who hired the lawyers to draft that anyway ..had to quit just as they were finaly telling how to ..
and don’t drop your hose before you shut it off, it may inhale something YOU need…


My mother in law has a beautiful collection of similar stuff but hers goes back decades..thought the “newer” generation had some of that sorted out..

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View PhineasWhipsnake's profile


77 posts in 3816 days

#15 posted 01-03-2011 03:05 AM

I’m another happy owner of the HF unit. I have so little floor space that I’ve placed my DC on the Harbor Freight utility cart, added the Wynn cannister, and put a Thien baffle below the cannister. I’d rather have done it with a separate can for the big stuff, but don’t have any more space. The Thien baffle made a big difference with the dust & chips falling into the lower bag instead of constantly swirling up into the upper cannister. Plenty of suction capacity for my shop at a fraction of the price of the name brand competition. Like others have stated, this DC is probably made in the same factory in China as most of the others, just different colors.

-- Gene T

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