iVAC FAQ

 We’ve assembled answers to some of the most commonly asked questions in the iVAC FAQ list below. Read on, and remember that if you have a particular question or need, contact us!

Which iVAC Product do I need?

Choosing an iVAC automated dust control system is easy! If you’re a light hobbyist, weekend renovation warrior or a traveling trades person looking to improve your health, safety and convenience when working with power tools, we recommend the iVAC Switch Box. If you’re a serious hobbyist or woodworking professional with a stationary workshop, iVAC Pro System will meet all your needs for automated dust control, regardless of the type of machinery you use. Click here to get started.

Will my existing Shop Vacuum Work with the iVAC Switch Box for dust control?

Most commercially available light and medium duty shop vacuums operate from a basic 115V-15A electrical outlet – common in most all North American homes. If your shop vacuum works from a basic electrical outlet, then it will work with the iVAC Switch Box. If you’re considering a new shop vacuum purchase, check the electrical requirements of the unit.

I’m considering a high power dust collection system for my workshop. Will iVAC work?

The iVAC Pro family will meet your every need. We offer you a variety of interfaces that let you connect literally any power tool to an iVAC system, regardless of the electrical requirements. Click here to read more.

Can I put more than one tool on a Switch Box?  

Yes.  Plug a power bar into the Tool Power outlet of the Switch Box and plug your tools into the power bar.  Any tool will now trigger the Switch Box to turn on the vacuum. Remember though that the maximum current you can draw from the Tool Power outlet is 15 amps so you may not be able to run more than one tool at a time. 

How much current does it take to trigger an iVAC Switch Box?

The original Switch Box had a trigger threshold of approximately 300 milliamps (0.3 amp).  This was later changed to 500 milliamps (0.5 amp) so that the Switch Box would work with power tools that would trigger the Switch Box to turn on the vacuum as soon as the tool was plugged in.  If your Switch Box has a serial number of C046201 or higher then it has the 500 milliamp trigger threshold. 

What’s the difference between the metal and plastic 4 inch blast gates and why do you have both?

The only differences between the PBG-04-NA plastic blast gate and the MBG-04-NA metal blast gate are the price and the materials used to make them.  There is no difference in the quality, the life expectancy or the performance.  They use the same electronic circuitry, the same motor and the same software.
The reason that we have a metal one is that some regulatory authorities and some insurance companies will not allow plastic in the duct work of a dust collection system.  If there is a fire in the duct, plastic will melt and the fire will get out of the duct.

My Pro Remote will turn the dust collector on but not off.  What’s wrong?

After you press the ON button on the Pro Remote you must wait at least 5 seconds before pressing the OFF button.  If you don’t wait the OFF button press will be ignored. 

Will the iVAC Pro Remote (R115240NA) work with the iVAC Switch Box (SB-NA)?

No.  The Switch Box is not part of the Pro System and it has no radio capability so it will not work with the Pro Remote.

Can I control more than one iVAC Pro Blast Gate with one Pro Tool Plus?

Yes.  Set both blast gates and the Pro Tool Plus to the same System and Tool Addresses and the two Pro Blast Gates will operate simultaneously. 

Can I use a single Pro Tool Plus for two different machines?

Yes.  If you can clamp the Pro Tool Plus around both machine power cords the Pro Tool Plus will sense the current drawn by either machine.  If the two machines differ greatly in the amount of current each uses you might have to adjust the sensitivity of the Pro Tool Plus to make it work properly. If it works for the machine that uses less current it should work for the machine that draws more current. 

Can I make two Pro Tool Plus tool sensors control the same iVAC Pro Blast Gate?

Yes.  Set both Pro Tool Pluses and the Pro Blast Gate to the same System and Tool Addresses.  Either Tool Plus will open and close the blast gate. There is a small drawback to doing this.  If you run the two machines simultaneously, turning off either one will shut off the dust collector and close the blast gate even though the other machine is still running and making dust.  

How do I connect Nordfab ducts to the iVAC Pro Blast Gates?

Use Nordfab Quickfit Machine Adapters.  The stock QF-6 adapter will fit the MBG-06-NA iVAC 6 inch metal blast gate.  For the 4 inch metal and plastic iVAC Blast gates you have to use the Expanded QF-4 adapter and have Nordfab expand them as follows;
  • For the MBG-04-NA metal blast gate, the QF-4 must be expanded to an inside diameter of 3.96 inches.
  • For the PBG-04-NA plastic blast gate, the QF-4 must be expanded to an inside diameter of 3.94 inches.

What is the trigger threshold adjustment range of the Pro Tool Plus?

The trigger threshold of the Pro Tool Plus can be adjusted from approximately 0.5 amp to approximately 5 amps.

What is a Contactor?

A Contactor is a big relay with the capability to work with large voltages and currents. It consists of some contacts, an armature, a spring and a coil. There are terminals to connect power to the coil and to the input and output terminals. The iVAC Contactor has 3 poles, meaning that it has 3 sets of contacts and so can be used for either single or 3 phase dust collectors.

How does a Contactor work?

When voltage is applied to the coil it creates a magnetic field (it’s an electromagnet) that pulls the armature down thus closing the contacts.  When the voltage is removed from the coil the magnetic field collapses and the spring pushes the armature back up thus opening the contacts. 

How do I remove the knockouts from the iVAC Contactor enclosure?

What is a Magnetic Switch?

A Magnetic Switch, sometimes called a Motor Starter, is a Contactor with an extra set of contacts and a start and stop button.  Pressing the start (or On) button causes the Contactor to close and then latch closed so that the power stays connected when you release the start button.  Pressing the stop (or Off) button breaks the latch circuit and disconnects the output power. A power failure will also break the latch circuit and disconnect the output power.  The principal purpose of a magnetic switch is to prevent the device connected to it (your dust collector) from restarting automatically when the power is restored after a power failure.  Some dust collector manufacturers build their own electronic version of the latch circuitry rather than using the extra set of contacts on the Contactor.  

How can I tell if my dust collector has a Magnetic Switch?

Here’s a simple test.  Start your dust collector and while it is running pull the plug out of the wall socket.  When the dust collector stops plug the power cord back into the wall socket. If the dust collector starts again then you do NOT have a magnetic switch.  If the dust collector does not start but will start when you press the ON button then you do have a magnetic switch. 

How do I install iVAC with a dust collector that has a magnetic switch?

For iVAC to work with a dust collector that has a magnetic switch you must install the iVAC control point (either the Pro Switch or iVAC Contactor if you need one) between the magnetic switch and the dust collector motor.  See the entry Installing an iVAC Contactor in the Tech Corner area of our website.  Look for the section about installing a contactor with a dust collector that has a magnetic switch.  If your dust collector is small enough that you don’t need the contactor you can substitute the appropriate Pro Switch for the contactor.

One of my iVAC Pro Blast Gates doesn’t close or acts unpredictably.  What’s wrong?

Check to see if this Pro Blast Gate has Tool Address 1 (programming switch 4 ON, switches 5 & 6 OFF).  The Pro Blast Gate with Tool Address 1 is supposed to be open normally and close automatically if another machine at a different Tool Address is started.  To make the Tool Address 1 blast gate work properly you must set programming switch 3 in that blast gate to ON to select the 2 second close delay. (You do not have to set programming switch 3 in the Pro Tool Plus with Tool Address 1 to ON.)  If the Pro Blast Gate does not have Tool Address 1 contact iVAC Technical Support for help

What is the MRT (Minimum Run Time) option?

In order to accommodate the extended Minimum Run Time, BCTINT iVAC has optional
software (MRT Rev 4) that will provide the following Minimum Run Time and Turn Off Time
which can be set on the program switch of the iVAC Pro Switch S11515NA.

If we assume that the Minimum Run Time is set to 7 minutes then the following sequences will
take place.
1. If the power tool runs for 3 minutes and then turns off, the dust collector will run for a
further 4 minutes of Minimum Run Time and then one more minute of Turn Off Time.
2. If the power tool runs for 10 minutes and then turns off, it has already met the Minimum
Run Time requirement and it will run for 1 more minute to clear the debris from the ducting.

Where are terminals A1 and A2 on the iVAC Contactor?

The Pro Switch connects to terminals A1 and A2 of the iVAC Contactor using the supplied control cable. 

See the photos for the locations of terminals A1 and A2.  It does not matter which colour of wire goes on which of terminals A1 and A2. The green wire goes to the ground bar in the bottom of the contactor enclosure. 

Why are there so many electrical variants?

Power tools and dust collectors come in all shapes and sizes. Professional grade, high powered equipment typically requires more electricity to operate – much more so than what a standard home or office electrical circuit can provide. These tools may require 230V power (like your stove and clothes dryer do), 3-phase power, or high current circuits. As the world’s finest automated dust control system, iVAC has been designed with interfaces and product variants to accommodate such needs.

Are iVAC products certified?

All iVAC products are certified by the appropriate regulatory and standards agencies such as UL, CSA, FCC and IC. We are committed to designing and manufacturing products in accordance with the best standards and practices, and refuse to skimp on this important issue.

The Pro Switch MSC carries the CE mark for Europe but it is not listed by UL or CSA.  Consequently, the Pro Switch MSC must NOT be used with mains voltages (usually 115 volts ac or 230 volts ac) in North America.  In North America the Pro Switch MSC is suitable for use only with dust collectors that have low voltage (below 50 volts) control systems.  If you think the Pro Switch MSC is what you need, please contact us for advice before you order one for use in North America.

I just changed the Tool Address in my Pro Remote but it still won’t open the right Pro Blast Gate.  What’s wrong?

In the Pro Remote, the Tool Address is set with programming switches S3, S4 and S5, not with S4, S5 and S6 as it is in the Pro Tool Plus and Pro Blast Gates.  Reset your Tool Address using switches S3, S4 and S5. See the charts in sections 4 and 5 of the Pro Remote user guide to see how to set the switches for specific addresses.

I changed the Tool Address in my Pro Tool Plus but it is still opening the same blast gate. How do I fix this?

You must have the mode switch on the Pro Tool Plus set to the OFF position when you change the Tool Address (or the System Address) for the change to work.  If you forget to do this just move the mode switch to OFF and then back to Auto or On and the address will be changed.

Does the Pro Tool Plus work for both 115 volt and 230 volt machines?

Yes. The Pro Tool Plus is universal.  It works for virtually every machine regardless of the machine’s voltage and current requirements, the number of electrical phases it uses or its horsepower rating. The Pro Tool Plus will also work over aluminum conduit and aluminum armoured cable.

What is the range of the wireless devices?

The stated range between an iVAC interface and an iVAC Pro Switch is 40 feet, line of sight which will accommodate most all workshops. If the iVAC Switch is located centrally, this means the devices will operate comfortably within an 80 foot diameter.  You may even get much greater range – sometimes upwards of 100 feet – depending on your set up, electromagnetic obstructions and several other variables. Every shop will differ.

What is the capacity of an iVAC Pro system?

Each iVAC Pro Switch can receive signals from up to 8 power tools that have iVAC interfaces attached to them. And you can have up to 4 distinct iVAC Pro System switches in a workshop. Need even more capacity? Contact us!

Do you build iVAC products or just buy them from somewhere?

We’re proud to state that we DESIGN AND BUILD each and every iVAC product that we sell. Our staff includes some of the most respected engineers from the technology community in North America, and manufacturing experts who have dedicated their careers towards building better products of all types for clients all over the world.

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