ClearVue - 1800LH (Rating: 5)

My Requirements and Purchase Decision. I used a ½ hp dust collector with an awful filter bag for about 10 years before I outfitted it with a shop made cyclone from the "ShopNotes" design in 1998. I used that machine up until August 2015, when I purchased the Clearvue CV 1800 cyclone bundle. It was a shop upgrade long overdue, but probably like many woodworkers, I would rather spend money on wood cutting tools than on a vacuum cleaner.

My decision to upgrade dust collection occurred earlier in the year, after which I began researching the purchase. I read three dust collections books, viewed Youtube videos, and read countless articles and reviews until I was sick of dust collection. I was quickly able to eliminate dust collectors that were not equipped with a cyclone. I also concluded that cyclones with a short funnels were only marginally effective in separating fine dust from course dust, so I eliminated these. It left four choices, Grizzly, Oneida, Penn State Industries, and Clearvue. All these companies' websites were informative and complete. I doubt that I would have gone wrong purchasing from any of these contenders.

Two of my constraints were size and power consumption. I pursue woodworking as a hobby, working alone in a two car attached garage packed with machinery. The entire dust collector had to fit under a ceiling that is 101" high and had to fit over a footprint of less than 34" deep and less than 60" wide.

Important considerations for me were 1) A Minimum of 800 Cubic Feet per Minute air flow at a high static pressure, 2) A Long cyclone funnel that tapered to a narrow outlet, 3) The footprint and height, 4) Maximized dust bin capacity, to avoid frequent trips to the compost pile, 5) The filter's ability to remove very small dust particles, and 6) Noise level.

I elected to purchase the CV 1800 bundle, because it satisfied all of my criteria except noise. It is very loud. I recall unabated noise levels reported in the range 90 decibels up to 105 decibels. A major plus with the CV 1800 is that, in addition to very good filtering performance, there is 300 square feet of filter area while others offered 1/3 of this surface area. I purchased the CV 1800 Bundle when it was on sale and the sale price included shipping.

Receipt. The CV 1800 arrived within a week or so of the purchase, including the Leeson 5 hp motor and the two Wynn Environment Filters (both shipped from locations other than Clearvue). All components were well packaged in several boxes and nothing was damaged. The motor was by far the heaviest box. The PETG plastic cyclone body and impeller housing were light weight. When I placed the telephone order, the sales agent provided me with her name and contact information with instructions to contact her in the event I had any problems receiving the parts. She also advised that all Clearvue employees are cross trained and also provide technical support during the assembly process.

The CV 1800 bundle included the CV 1800 unit (including the Cyclone Body, Impeller, Impeller Housing and two Filters), Fine Dust Collection Cleanout Box, Electric Control Box with remote, and Hanging Brackets.

Assembly. One problem some may have with the CV 1800 is the extensive required assembly. All parts must be put together and sealed (with the exception of the PETG plastic components themselves). The cyclone unit itself is a combination of 3/4" MDF and PETG plastic married to one another by the customer. The MDF was accurately machined to accept the PETG plastic bodies and provided fasteners. The MDF was painted blue and the painting was well done. After assembly, all joints had to be sealed with silicone. One tube of silicone was sufficient. The CV 1800 came without a main Dust Collection Bin. I purchased a fiber transport drum from Grainger and picked it up at a store (to save shipping costs).

I am retired but my Grandson spends 4 days a week with me. August is harvest time, and life otherwise happens. With these interruptions, I had the CV 1800 assembled and setting in its shop built enclosure in a month. I figure I could have assembled the enclosure and cyclone in 7 - 10 days without interruption. This length of assembly time would have been perhaps a day or two had I not built an enclosure and made modification to the Impeller Housing Transition; but simply mounted the unit to the wall with the Hanging Brackets.

The enclosure is a shop designed and built tower made from 2×3 construction lumber and ½" plywood. The enclosure is on casters (so the unit can be moved for service and any future repairs), and houses the Dust Collection Bin, the Cyclone Body, Impeller Housing, and Motor. The Impeller Housing Transition was lengthened so that the Filter Stack could set outside but next to the enclosure. The upper section of the enclosure is packed with denim sound abating insulation. The lower section is a sealed Dust Collection Chamber with a door. The Dust Collection Bin sets in the Dust Collection Chamber. The Dust Collection Bin is emptied by opening the Dust Collection Chamber door, sliding out the fiber Dust Collection Bin and then back into place.

Clearvue instructed that silicone be used to seal 1) the joint at transition from the Impeller Housing Transition to the top Filter, 2) the joint of the two Filters (secured by an included band clamp), and 3) the joint where the bottom Filter meets the Fine Dust Cleanout Box. I did not use silicone, electing to use 1" wide flat felt weather stripping to seal these joints. At some point the Filter Stack will have to be disassembled for cleaning with compressed air. If adequate seals could be achieved at these joints with weather stripping, cleaning filters would be much easier and faster. So far these joints appear to be adequately sealed with the weather stripping.

Problems. The impeller was mounted to the motor shaft. To do this I purchased a level arm torque wrench, required when attaching the impeller to the motor shaft using the included Baldor Taper Lock. I wanted to make sure the Taper Lock was installed correctly and according to manufacturer's torque specifications, hoping to avoid a hunk of steel spinning at 3200 rpm ever rocketing through the shop. While installing the Taper lock, I used an imperial allen wrench when securing the three Taper Lock lifting screws. I suspect that I damaged the end of one of the lifting screws by using an imperial allen wrench. This could have been avoided by checking the fit of the allen wrench before tightening the lifting screw. I used an imperial rather than metric allen wrench because wrench sizes in the instructions were given for imperial wrenches and the imperial wrench seemed to fit. The only problem this may pose is if the impeller ever has to be removed from the motor shaft. Hopefully that will never be the case - but then even Leeson motors can go bad.

Notwithstanding my comment regarding instructions below, the instructions for making electrical connections were clear. However, it took several false wiring starts before I had made the connections at the motor correctly. After finding the L1, L2, etc. labeling printed on the motor wires, I was fine. I did not see anywhere in the Clearvue instructions that the motor wire labels referred to in the instructions were actually printed on the motor wires. Perhaps this is standard, but then I do not wire motors every day.

I found the instructions somewhat difficult to follow. They lacked the detail I seem to need when putting things together. However, when I encountered a problem, the Clearvue technician responded promptly, often the same day. I asked most questions by email. Others may find the instructions perfectly fine.

Since I had no problems with the product, I can only comment on customer service related to help during assembly. It was excellent.

Not really a problem, but something to point out: the CV 1800 did not come with cabling or a 240 volt 10 gauge cabling to make the connection of the Electric Control Box to power. Clearvue appeared to anticipate a direct connection to power. I elected to make this connection with a cord and plug. That was perhaps another $60 to $80. The cord and plug connection makes more sense to me, should the unit ever have to be removed for service. All other cabling was included.

Performance. The CV 1800 is a screaming (double meaning intended) cyclone dust collector. It is both a loud machine and one that has a great deal of dust collecting power. The impeller is well balanced resulting in impressively little vibration. Chips and dust are effectively collected at machines. The Pitot tube I constructed and installed at the Impeller Housing Transition continues to show like-new air flow, and little (almost no) dust is in the Fine Dust Collection Bin. While only 80 gallons of dust and chips have been collected thus far, the cyclone seems very effective in separating wood dust and chips.

I was able to tame the noise level by including sound abating insulation in the enclosure, sound abating panels around the motor (leaving air vent channels), and applying sound deadening insulation on the walls in the corner where the machine sets. These efforts reduce noise so that the CV 1800 can barely be heard in the house and is far quieter than the table saw, jointer, and planer.

It was only in the last two weeks that I have come to appreciate the power of the CV 1800. After completing the assembly of the unit, I had 60 feet of duct work to run. 6" SDR-35 Sewer and Drain Pipe and fittings were installed to pick up dust at my various machines (9 drops in all). Running duct work took about 3 calendar months. Also 3 machine ports were modified and a radial arm saw and jointer dust ports were fabricated. The difference the CV 1800 has had over the replaced ½ hp system is like the difference of night and day. The shop is a whole lot clearer and very little, if any, dust floats around in the air. At any rate, that thin layer of dust that previously covered all shop surfaces no longer exists and there is far less cleanup after milling.

Would I do it again? Yes. It was a lot of work and a lot of money, but I expect to enjoy years of a cleaner and healthier shop.