Belt mounted respirators

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Established Member
30 Dec 2011
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Not sure how best to describe them but I mean the powered respirator units with the intake worn on your belt at the back.

I'm rapidly turning my Saffir S300 respirator into triggers broom and I'm running out of spares despite having plenty of filters. That combined with for some reason seeming to become more sensitive to pollen and dust than ice been since I was a child has made me think it might be time for one of these. I'm not a fan of the pure head units for the extra weight.

Any recommendations on here? My searching only turned up the head units in past threads.

If you have the funds, then the 3M Versaflo usually receives good feedback.

I have not personally used it, as I could not justify its 5X price compared to the Trend Airshield Pro at the time when I was looking for a powered respirator. Besides, in my circumstances, a hose on the back would likely not work, as there is a high chance that it would keep catching on things.

I don't like the weight of PAPR that put the fan, battery and filters on your head.
Belt mounted are massively better for comfort and as there is then less of an issue with weight, everything is better built and performs better.
I've had the 3m versaflo - it is excellent but the headset is very robust. I kept the belt unit (lovely quality) and paired it up with an Optrel clearview grinding mask which is lighter - this required lengthening the hose and machining an adaptor as the fittings are different. I keep this for dirty work like grinding.
Best of all is the Sundstrom SR500 / SR540 combo. This has a brilliantly designed headset - the most comfortable - and takes screw in filters. As well as comfort, an advantage of the SR500 is that I can stack dust and vapour filter cartridges and use it for paint spraying which is useful to me.
The Sundstrom is the goto for woodwork, painting and made replacing loft insulation a much less evil experience.
Hose catching isn't an issue in practice. Even in confined spaces I'd rather have a hose behind than extra weight and bulk on my head.

Ashley Harwood, US woodturner uses the SR500.

There are a thread or two here on UKW about this gear and you will find photos of mine to help someone who was designing a 3d printed one of their own. That whole thread might be worth a read.
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Watch ebay. Versaflo and SR500 come up occasionally. If you wait long enough you'll learn the prices and get something decent for well below retail.
There are light weight hoods for the versa flow, more like a cloth cover with a clear visor at the front.
Sundstrom do loads of different styles as well.

I wonder if there is any reason you cannot use one brand of fan / filter unit and another brands hood as long as the hose fits.
You could totally mix and match but the hoses don't match in diameter, length or fittings and both ends are different, so you will need to take that on your own shoulders. Also, these are professional / industrial PAPR and if you start improvising, all the manufacturers design and test / certification goes out of the window. Professionally no one will do this but for private use, have at it ...

From my old post:

"3M hose.
ID of the end fitting (which is a couple of mm less than the inside of the hose), is 26mm dia

Here's the optrel face shield with my DIY aluminium adapter so the 3M hose will fit.
The ID of the connector on the Optrel visor is 25mm

I have a system going spare. It's designed for welding, but it only goes dark when the spark lights up. It's too small for my head.
I'll try and dig it out and get some pictures up in the for sale section when I get a chance.
I have an Airsheild Pro. I used it main when machining or sanding but now find I'm wearing/using it more after being diagnosed as asthmatic... Even when mowing the lawns. As a short term use tool - max wearing period around a hour it's OK now I have the head bands set right, much more than that it becomes uncomfortable.
Wearing and looking down it does have a tendency to fall forward.
Never ran out of breath using it - my sport is diving if you hadn't guessed so I would soon be sure that I was 'beating the fan (or pump)'. Battery life is around a full working day but takes asa long t charge up. It would be better if they changed the battery for a newer technology one.

after a couple of years use I now prefer a powered respirators over a dust mask.
I have the original PowerCap. Got to be easily getting on for fifteen years or more now and still passes the 'snot test'. The only thing I've replaced is the filter holders to take the newer filters and pre-filters. The battery which is still the original, is on a coiled cable that attaches to a belt or goes into a pocket so no 'battery weight' on the helmet. I'm considering re-designing the pack to 3D print. It's large and when I opened it up I saw that it's made so I can double the storage capacity. I don't need it so I might make a smaller version and take that opportunity to replace the batteries. I wear it so often that I don't notice it sometimes and it keeps you cool on warm days. It lasts a full day but probably longer on one charge - still. A drawback for most of the helmets is that regular over-the-head ear defenders or headphones won't fit or are awkward so 'in-ear' plugs/headphones should be considered. They pop up on eBay now and again if you're prepared to go 'used'.
As promised, I have put in the For Sale section a breathing helmet thingy with a belt-mounted battery.
BUT be warned, you need a small head to use it, one of which I apparently don't have.
That's why it's for sale.

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