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Air Powered Combustible Dust Vacuums More Economical and More Powerful than Electric Counterparts

posted Nov 18, 2013, 7:29 AM by Ernest McCutcheon
Compressed air vacs have significantly lower upfront cost and lower yearly maintenance costs that quickly surpass the expense of compressed air production.

There is a prevailing perception in the industrial world, attributable to the higher costs associated with producing compressed air, that air powered explosion proof vacuums cost more to operate. According to David Kennedy, General Manager of VAC-U-MAX’s vacuum cleaning division, “that’s just a myth. Air Powered Class II Div 2 vacuums have lower operating costs over time, he says.” 

VAC-U-MAX, that manufactures both air powered and electric combustible dust vacuums, invented the world’s first vacuum cleaner for operation on compressed air in 1954. Its proprietary variable orifice venturi allows operation with the lowest air consumption in the market. 

Initial cost investment is one, if not the greatest, consideration when purchasing a piece of equipment. However, when it comes to air powered combustible dust vacuums that can cost around $4500 compared to significantly higher costs of electrical units that range between $8-10,000, initial cost is commonly overlooked. The reasoning behind this is the trend to be as efficient as possible running an air compressor due to cost. However, when comparing overall operating costs of compressed air vacs vs. electric vacuums for use in Class II div 2 areas, compressed air industrial vacuum cleaners are far more economical over time. 

Perhaps the myth stems from the fact that cheaper air powered industrial vacuum cleaners for use in Class II Div 2 areas that cost around $1800 do use significantly more compressed air than higher quality air powered combustible dust vacuums that cost around $4500. “It’s like trying to compare a quality tool to a tool you get at a 99 cents store,” says Kennedy. For instance, VAC-U-MAX’s air powered explosion proof vacuums use 35 CFM at 60 PSI where cheaper brands use 100 CFM at 90 PSI. This translates to a difference in yearly compressed air cost between brands, based on a conservative 10 hours of use per week at $.50 per 1000 CFM, of $546 per year for the VAC-U-MAX brand and $1560 per year for the cheaper brand—an annual cost savings of $1014. Yearly Maintenance Beyond the lower initial investment cost between the air powered and electric Class II Div 2 vacuums, air powered vacuums also have lower annual maintenance costs. Electric motors that are classified for use in Class II Div 2 areas use carbon brushes that wear out over time, needing replacement between 750 and 1200 hours of operation. Replacing motors that are certified for Class II Div 2 areas can cost upwards of $3000 per year; whereas air powered units that have no moving parts and generate no heat during operation need no replacement. Furthermore, VAC-U-MAX’s proprietary venturi’s carry a lifetime warranty—equating to zero cost. Other items to be considered in yearly costs are filters. Choosing Class II Div 2 industrial vacuum cleaners equipped with reusable washable filters further reduces yearly costs of disposable filters by a minimum of $1000. When equipped with a manual pulse filter system, operator exposure is reduced and maintenance time eliminated. 

For more information about industrial combustible dust vacuums or to learn about VAC-U-MAX pneumatic conveying systems, visit their website

*Article reposted from VAC-U-MAX Website