The Best Budget Air Filtration System For Your Shop

If you have been woodworking for any significant amount of time, you’ve probably had a “close call” where something didn’t go according to plan thus finding yourself a split second from an accident. These near misses can cause help us to refocus our attention on safety. Many times, people will look for safety equipment that they can look at adding to their saws or tools to reduce the risk of that same accident in the future.

One area where safety is often overlooked, and second chances are not granted is when it comes to protecting our lungs while in the shop. Studies in recent decades have shown that prolonged exposure to saw dust, even in a hobbyist environment, can lead to increased risks in sinus, nasal and lung problems which can include cancer. For a more in depth look at the harm long term exposure to this dust can cause, please take a look at my article How To Avoid Sinus Infections From Woodworking.

Even if you are a small weekend hobbyist, there is no excuse to not have an air filtration system in place in your shop. The price of these units has decreased significantly over the past few years, so that everyone can easily have one in their workshop. This is why I love and strongly recommend picking up the WEN 3410 Air Filtration System. I’ve had this in my garage for about a year now, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t get it sooner.

Like many of you, I put the purchase off because I elected to spend money on the tools that were more fun to use. I was also concerned that adding an air filtration machine to my shop would increase the noise levels which was another turn off for me. Once I got the unit, I learned the noise was no problem at all, and I can tell a significant improvement in the air quality in my shop after cutting wood.

Features

Before I get into some of the user experiences from myself and others, I want to touch on some of the features that this unit offers.

  • Small Footprint – The overall size of this unit is 17 x 20.5 x 10 inches. This is about half the cubic volume of similar models on the market. Given that it can run up to 400 CFM’s, it packs a powerful punch for its relatively small size.
  • Lightweight – This unit weighs just over 30 pounds once you get it unboxed. It’s common for most people to hang their air filtration units from the ceiling in their shop. Given the relative light weight for this model, it makes hanging it MUCH easier.
  • 3 Speeds – The 3410 comes with a three-phase setting to allow you to increase the amount of air passing thru it if needed. It has settings for 300, 350 and 400 CFM’s.
  • Remote – Since most people hang these units, a remote comes in very handy. The remote is advertised as working up to 26 feet from the unit. Based on my experience, I’d say this range is pretty accurate. The unit has been very responsive, and I’ve had no issues with it picking up the signal from the remote.
  • Time Delay – This is a feature that I really like. When you turn the unit on, you can also set a timer that will automatically turn it off after a certain amount of time. The preset times are 1 hour, 2 hours or 4 hours. I really like this because I can set the timer to an hour as I’m cleaning up my shop to leave and let it continue doing its job of cleaning the air even after I’ve left for the day.
  • Fan Speed / Time Delay indicators – The front of the unit comes with 2 rows of 3 red lights. These lights will turn on based on the fan speed and time delay that you have selected. This is very helpful for those with less than perfect eyesight.

Personal Review

As I mentioned previously, I’ve had this unit for about a year at the time of this writing. I think the reason I didn’t purchase a filtration unit sooner is because I assumed the cost to get a quality unit was going to require me to spend $300-400 for a unit produced by some of the bigger and more popular names in the woodworking industry. I was very skeptical when I first saw the WEN brand. I automatically assumed it was not possible to get a quality filtration unit for under $150.

I’ve been accused of being “cheap” and “frugal” by my wife and friends before. There’s been many times I’ve been burned by trying to save a few bucks and picking up an unknown brand only to have the item to be lower quality. I can say with absolute certainty that this has not been the case with the WEN 3410.

Weight

The first thing that I really liked about this unit, was the weight. It’s NOT heavy at all. It weighs right around 30 lbs. I ordered my unit from Amazon. Being that it only weighed 30 lbs, not only was I able to get it moved from the porch to my garage easily, but I was also able to hang it with no issues either. I had my wife help me hook the unit to the chains that come with it and that was it. I was able to get it hung in the garage within about 15 minutes.

In addition to the unit being lightweight, it also takes up a relatively small footprint compared to other air filtration units. Several other units that I looked at took up 50% or more space.  This unit measures 17 x 20.5 x 10 inches once out of the box.

CFM

The advertised CFM for this unit is up to 400 CFM’s. CFM stands for “Cubic Feet per Minute.” The greater this number, the more air that the unit can pump circulate through the filter, thus cleaning the air in your workspace more quickly. Below is the formula for determining the CFM’s that you need for your shop:

Length x Width x Height x (Desired number of air changes per hour) / 60 minutes

In order to calculate the amount of CFM’s you need for your setup, the first thing you need to do is calculate the volume of your shop. This is much easier that it sounds. To get the volume of your shop, you’ll need to determine the length, width and height of your shop. In our example, we will assume our shop is 10ft x 10ft with 9 foot ceilings. That would give us a volume of 900 square feet.

Next, we need to decide how often we want the air to circulate in our shop. A low dust area, like the living area of your house should recirculate air at least 5 times an hour to be effective. High pollution areas such as spaces where people smoke or have substantial amounts of dust are encouraged to recirculate their air at least 12 times per hour. In our example, we will go in the middle and choose to recirculate the air 8 times per hour.

Now if we populate the formula from above with the numbers from our example we will have the following: 10 x 10 x 9 x 8 / 60. This gives us a needed CFM of 120. In our example, the 400 CFM output of the WEN 3410 is far more than efficient.

The great thing about the price of this model is that if 400 CFM’s isn’t enough, you can buy two of these units for the less than some of the large high dollar brands on the market that have higher CFM’s.

Noise

The other significant deciding factor for me in purchasing this unit was the low amount of noise it produces. Even though I do woodworking all the time, I hate loud noises. I have ear protection on almost constantly in my shop. Fortunately, with this machine, its barely noticeable.

I did a non-scientific noise test using a free app on my iPhone. Just standing in my shop with no tools on, it recorded at 35 decibels. Turning the air filter on it’s highest level, the noise in my shop increased to only 58 decibels. To offer some comparison, I turned on my mini Dewalt router and it measured 75 decibels.

In addition to the noise being so low, the hum of the machine gives off a sound like white noise (the static you hear on the radio that’s not picking up a station). This helps to cancel some of the other noise in the shop. I like the fact that I can turn this machine on and still make a phone call in the room with it and not having any issues hearing the person on the other line.

Drawbacks

As with most items you buy, there’s always one or two features that you would like to change if you could. For me, this would probably be the remote. Don’t get me wrong, the remote works great. I just wish it projected at a great distance. It’s advertised to have a range of about 22 feet. Again, not a deal breaker, just a nice to have change.

When I was researching this unit before I bought it, I saw a few reviews where buyers complained of the motor being very loud. Apparently, these were units that were damaged either during production or shipping because I’ve not had an issue with a noise at all. If you do happen to get a model that you feel is noisy, I encourage you to reach out to the WEN customer service. I’ve never had to contact them, but I’ve read great things about their customer service team.

Installation Tips

  • The unit comes with metal eyelets on each corner of the filtration box. This is to help you hang it from the joists in your ceiling. However, most homes in the United States are built with their joists at 16” apart. Don’t worry, the difference in the eyelets being 20” vs 16” does not cause issues. Your unit will come with 4 chains that allow you to easily connect the eyelets to your ceiling.
  • The power cord on the unit is about 7 feet long. Make sure you take this into account when choosing where to hang your unit. I was able to hang mine near the outlet used for my garage door opener. I was already using the two openings on my outlet, but picked up a 3 prong splitter like this one to get me an additional plug. If you have to go this route, make sure you pick up a 3 prong version and not just a 2 prong.
  • Make sure you angle the unit so that the front of the unit is pointed towards your shop so that it will pick up the remote signals. The unit requires straight line visible sight to the remote
  • If you are like me, it’s easy to lose a remote in your shop. I applied an industrial strength piece of Velcro to the back to the remote to keep it hung in the same spot. I lose everything and not once lost this small remote in the year that I’ve had it!

 Where to Buy

Pricing for the Wen 3410 remains very stable. In fact, it’s rather rare that it goes on sale at any of the retailers that carry it. Depending on how quickly you want the item, Amazon and Home Depot have been the best places I’ve found to pick up the WEN 3410. Pricing is generally the same or close on both sites.

Link to Amazon: WEN 3410 Air Filtration

Link to Home Depot:  WEN 3410 Air Filtration

 

**UPDATE**

WEN has released a higher powered unit which has advertised CFM rates of 1,044. This is more than 2.5 times the rate of the 3410 model which I wrote about above. I’ve not used the 3415, but the reviews look great for it. At the time of this article, Home Depot was selling the 3415 for about $275.

Link to Home Depot: WEN 3415 Industrial

Link to Amazon: WEN 3415 Industrial