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Central Vs. Single Station Dust Collection

Downdraft Workstation and Flex Hose

The average size lab in the US employs 5-10 technicians.  Most of these labs use a single or dual station dust collectors that are either integrated into the workbench or, more typically, located on the floor beneath or next to the workbench.  This type of unit is usually turned on and off by the main switch on the unit or with a remote switch.

Large labs with 20 or more technicians requiring dust collection most of the workday are candidates for a central dust collection system.  This type of system requires a detailed cost-benefit analysis in order to make a sound business decision. Some areas that must be analyzed are:


  • The installation of a central air system into an existing facility can be expensive. Single station dust collectors eliminate the need for retrofitting plumbing into the walls of a lab.
  • Not having the lab hard plumbed in the walls, gives its manager the ability to easily change the layout of the space. This need could arise from changes in equipment, personnel, or operating mission of the lab.

Electric Efficiency

  • For labs that only need simultaneous dust collection at a few stations, single units can provide a more efficient means as they do not waste power on unused stations. While there are “smart” central dust collecting units, they are generally more expensive than outfitting the lab with smaller units..
  • One issue with central units is the loss of efficiency with the large amount of plumbing. Friction along the pipe wall and bends create head loss which can create significant loses with long stretches of piping.
  • Many large central stations vent their exhaust directly outdoors. If the facility is air conditioned then the money and energy spent on cooling or heating the vented air is lost.


  • Single stations are often more simple to maintain. A technician with little mechanical knowledge could easily change the filter and even motor of a small, simple dust collector. Central station units require a professional with the skill to maintain the machine.
  • If central is shut down for maintenance, the entire operation is shut down.  Multiple smaller units allows the dust collecting to be compartmentalized and prevents significant down time.

Vaniman Manufacturing offers free plumbing and layout assistance from their engineers; visit our Design Center for help, or book a time to speak with a Product Specialist:

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