Pros: Runs on 115 volts, wheeled for mobility, two 4" ports
Cons: 30 micron bags, 4" wye adapter fits poorly
I have had the Delta dust collector hooked up in my workshop for two years now with no problems encountered after initial assembly. I use it as a central system with "plumbing" to my tools. It just sits there and works until the bag is full. Emptying it is another story. I'll tell that tale a little later.
Types of Collectors
There are two types of dust collectors. The best type is a two-stage or cyclone collector. This type lets all, or at least most, of the larger pieces of material being collected fall out of the air stream before the air hits the impeller that makes the suction. The other type is a single stage which sucks everything past the impeller. The Delta 1 1/2 horse unit is single stage. You can convert one of these to two stage for about $40.00 by getting a special lid for a 30 gallon trash container and hooking it in just before the single stage unit's air intake.
The single stage collector uses bags to collect debris and to filter the dust out of the air. The best collectors have bags that trap sub-micron particles and exhaust, through the bag, only clean air. The thirty-micron bags that come with the Delta leave a uniform pattern of dust that escapes the bags on everything nearby. This can be fixed with after-market bags for around $90.00.
What the Delta Has
The Delta dust collector comes with the main unit that has a steel impeller that draws air at a rate 1150 cfm (cubic feet per minute). It has a flat metal base with casters to allow it to be rolled around if you want to move it to the tool in use. It has the two 30 micron bags and the hardware to hold them to the unit. It has a 6 foot piece of 4" plastic hose that hooks between the tool and one of the four inch outlets of the wye connector and, of course, a typical good Delta manual and a one year warranty.
It assembles in under an hour. The only complaint I had here is that the wye adapter that fits over the six inch inlet had a baffle plate in it that held it nearly a quarter-inch proud of the main case where the four self-tapping screws had to go. I got it hooked together but it wasn't fun.
The fit and finish is typical Delta quality. The assembly instructions are accurate and all parts are there. It can run, and comes wired that way, on a dedicated 15 amp 115 volt outlet. It can be rewired for 220 volt operation. The power switch is large and easy to reach. I use a remote switch, however, $55.00 extra and worth every penny. The two 4" ports allow easy hookup of two tools with minimal "plumbing" and the suction is plenty to run both at once. The metal impeller handles the occasional large chunk of stuff without being damaged, unlike the plastic impellers of some of the others. In short, it is typical great Delta quality.
The initial cost of this unit is in line with other similar units. Making it truly useful adds about $150.00 to that cost, plus any "plumbing". That is generally true of others of similar construction but runs the cost up to near that of a small cyclone unit.
Bag changing is not much fun. Getting a full bag off is pretty easy. Just pop the clip on the steel band and it will fall off. If it does, you can use your shop vac to clean up the spill. Once off and emptied, getting it back on is a three-armed job. I can do it by myself, but a helper makes it much less frustrating. The conventional wisdom is to leave the "cake" of dust on the bag. In other words, don't shake it too hard when you empty the contents.
How often the bag fills up depends on the tools it sucks from. If I'm doing a little board surfacing with my planer and jointer and a little sawing with the table saw and chop saw along with some sanding, I can usually get by for nearly a month. With the planer doing a lot of rough lumber surfacing it drops to under two weeks.
The Ugly (love those Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns)
With the original bags in place, the workshop gets a nice coat of under 30 micron dust pretty quickly. The lungs get their share of it as well if you aren't wearing a mask. When I changed to sub-micron bags, that problem quickly went away.
The noise of hunks of wood hitting the impeller is a little frightening. What if a piece of metal gets in there and makes a spark? It hasn't happened yet, but I have heard of cases where a smoldering spark later erupted into a woodshop destroying blaze. I haven't yet put the trash can lid solution on, mainly because I need two to cover both main ports and space is just not there to do it.
Before I installed a remote switch, it was tempting not to turn it on for a quick cut because of the need to walk to it, turn it on, walk back to the tool ---- you get the idea. Now with the transmitter on my belt and the plumbing in place so that the gates are at the tool, it's easy.
The Bottom Line
When I got the Delta I was comparing it to Jet and Reliant. It was about the same price as the Jet and a more expensive than Reliant. I also looked at the Penn State Industries unit. I got the Delta because of the name and I don't regret that decision. I at first used it as a portable collector, but that got old quickly and plumbing started to appear. With the sub-micron bags added, I am pretty happy with it.
If I was buying now, though, with permanent installation in mind, I would seriously consider the Penn State cyclone unit.