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iVac Switches

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  • iVac Switches

    When iVac came out with their automatic tool sensors and switches years ago I jumped right in with both feet. I was tired of chasing my handheld remote to operate my dust collector as I moved from one piece of equipment to another. At the time all they had was a sensor which mounts where the tool plugs into the wall and a switch that mounts next to the outlet of the equipment you want to control, which in a woodshop in most cases is a dust collector.

    So even though they were fairly expensive I bought one switch and five sensors. On the sensors I got four 120v and one 240v for the table saw. Any one of them can be programmed to command the switch to turn the dust collector on and then shut it off again after a programmable delay. The sensor turn the DC on a couple seconds after the tool starts so as not to exceed the starting capacity of any individual circuit in case bot the tool sensor and the switch are on the same breaker. When you turn on one piece of equipment if you turn on another then the switch stays on until the last sensor turns off. It's all been working fine for over 8 years until recently. My one and only switch unit gave out. I dropped back to using my old remote switch but soon grew tired of that and set about looking into what was up with the iVac system. I quickly singled out the switch as the culprit and ordered a replacement and I'm now back in business but $70 lighter. :

    Now jump back a couple years ago to where we were talking about vacuums and being able to control them with any tool. This was far enough back that corded tools still dominated the tool landscape. I dreamed out loud that it would be nice if someone made a device that could sense when a tool was running by sensing the current in the power cord and use that to control a vacuum. I was thinking of a vacuum with the controller built in, but iVac has come out with a sensor that works with any corded tool and can control their iVac Switch. You can find it on the store named after that big river and many other places including Woodcraft and other WWing stores for about $60. You need to shell out another $70 for the switch to control the vacuum or dust collector too. But at that point you can control any vacuum with any corded tool.

    You might say "Yeah, but now I need 27 more sensors to mount on the cords of all my other tools". Well yes, you do but there is a work-around. Put the sensor on a power cord that you plug your tools into. Maybe one of those with the triple outlet end on it. I believe RIDGID makes one or they did. Any brand cord will work though. Then whatever tool you plug into the cord will operate the vacuum.

    Now if they would only come out with one that you can mount on a cordless tool and operate the vacuum, then you've got something.

    I did spend a good chunk of change when I bought all those iVac pieces years ago. But over the years they have saved me countless steps in the shop and I don't regret it. Being able to move from the jointer to the planer then on to the table saw or bandsaw or to my sander without having to turn the DC on or off is awesome. Now I just have to operate the blast gate at each tool. That is now my current PITA. But guess what, since I first got my iVac system years ago they have come out with blast gates that operate along with the switch so now, if you have the cash, you can have it all. I would need 6 blast gates and they are not cheap at $125 each. I'm not willing to spring for that. Maybe for one or two for those tools I use most or the gates are not so easy to reach but not for 6. Of course if they wanted to give me a few I wouldn't turn them down.
    "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" ? Bob D. 2006
    "?ǝɹɐ sɹǝƃuıɟ ɹnoʎ ǝɹǝɥʍ ʍouʞ noʎ op `ʍɐs ǝlqɐʇ ɐ s,ʇı"