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Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System
Quiet, efficient and cool looking grilles, too!
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 8-17-2008
For whatever reason, woodworkers are wising up about air pollution in their shops. The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System brings unique engineering that results in super efficient filtration. That fact that the trick-looking grilles add a classy bit of bling to your shop is nice as well. But remember that its primary goal in life is removing dust from the air to reduce the chances of it contaminating your lungs and shop and it does that very well.
As you might expect, POWERMATIC unleashed their considerable engineering horsepower when designing the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System. One of their points of focus was balancing airflow volume and efficient filtration. If you look at the grilles and filter arrangements it is obvious that they meant business. They even designed special fin configurations to increase the efficiency of the blower fan!
One of the things I like about POWERMATIC is their straight-talking description of power and efficiencies. Most companies just say that their filter catches particles down to a certain micron size. What they don't tell you that really means it catches a percentage of that particle size. It is that
percentage that gives us a true picture of how effective a dust filtering machine really is because no filter is 100% effective. Filtering out 60% of 1-micron particles is relatively easy but catching over 80% of 1-micron particles is very difficult. Knowing the percentage of a specific particle size an air filtration system removes is very important to determining how it actually works in your shop.
The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System has two inlet filter stages. The outer filter captures 99% of 5-micron particles and the inner filter captures 85% of 1-micron particles. Of course, they could have just said it filters down to 1 micron and let you think it gets all of those particles like others are doing. It is to POWERMATIC 's credit that they give you the real deal.
The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System uses 12" X 24" X 1" filters on the intake side. If that size sounds familiar it is because they can be found at virtually any local home center. The diffusion filter on the exit side does not require replacement, just occasional cleaning with a vacuum or compressed air. You can do yourself a big favor by cleaning the filters once a month or so depending on how active your shop is.
POWERMATIC offers special filter elements for the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System. They have a washable (outer) intake filter #1791085 and a charcoal diffusion filter element (#1791084) that reduces non-volatile fumes.
One of the eye-catching features of the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System is the grille work on either end. They are decorative but have been specially designed to do more than look good and protect the filter elements behind them. The inlet grille helps straighten the air as it enters the filter elements behind it. The exit filter guard helps the diffusion element to disperse the air as it exits the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System. The plan for diffusing the outlet air is to eliminate high velocity "spots" that could blow around dust sitting on nearby surfaces.
Both the inlet and outlet grilles are easily removed and installed without tools. Both grilles on the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System grilles are secured with simple, finger-operated catches that make removing them simple but they stay put when the unit is in operation.
Controls and Remote
The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System has a control panel on its side that makes it easy to set it up for the conditions. A remote control is included that has all of these features available on it. The remote even has a LCD screen that displays graphical representations of the various functions and settings.
The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System uses a radio frequency remote control rather than the common infrared beam. A radio frequency remote works from virtually anywhere in the shop. Infrared beams have the line-of-sight limitation that can be frustrating in many shops.
The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System has three speed ranges - Low (547 CFM), Medium (706 CFM) and High 1196 (CFM). Using only the necessary speed for the current shop conditions lets you save energy.
The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System has a programmable timer that lets it run between one and nine hours to clean the air after you finish working. When the programmed time expires, the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System shuts down automatically.
The control panel has a pop out fuse that protects the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System from an overload or power surge. After three to five minutes, push the fuse button to reset it.
POWERMATIC also added a "change filter" light that comes on after 200 hours of use. This is more of a reminder to clean the filters than an actual indicator that the element is clogged. Your shop conditions actually regulate how often the elements must be serviced.
In the Shop
Like most air filter machines the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System instructions recommend installing it with its bottom surface at least 7 feet above the floor. That is tough in my 8-foot-tall shop so I picked a spot that is normally over my table saw where it isn't directly over my head most of the time. In the months since I installed the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System, it has performed perfectly and I have not banged it with anything. All is well in air filter land.
The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System really does work nicely. It seems to filter the air quickly without making lots of noise. I know it is running but its noise does not drown out normal conversation or my shop radio. Most of the time I run the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System on the low speed setting and that handles the dust levels quickly. The motor never seems to struggle to keep up which usually translates into a very long productive life.
The grilles are really easy to remove and install and let me clean the filter elements without a lot of muss and fuss. So far I have been using my vacuum or tapping the filter elements to clean them and they still do a very good job of cleaning the air.
If you don't already have an air filter in your shop, you need to wise up and get one. Woodworking is fun, contaminating your lungs (or those of the people around you) is not a good plan. The Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System is designed to remove substantial amounts of dust from the shop air and to continue doing it for a very long time.
With a street price of $445.75 (8-15-2008) the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System brings full-on air cleaning at a very reasonable price. The quality and longevity of the Powermatic PM1200 Air Filtration System make that an even better investment in cleaner lungs and a cleaner shop.
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