Powered Respirators


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Established Member
27 Dec 2022
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The face shield ones such as Powercap

Anyone have anything good or bad to say on these. I'm thinking of getting one, but they seem crazily overpriced! How well do they last? face shields get scratch easily? how often do you have to change the filters (how longs a piece of string question)
If you follow the HSE advice on the correct rating, you are looking at a significant investment. Also worth bearing in mind is that things like visors have a shelf life. How many respirator owners change the visors at appropriate intervals?
I have a Powercap which i’ve had for about 4 years. I think you have to make sure that you change the filters etc regularly, and I usually brush mine down with a soft paint brush after each use. As for scratching the shield, this can be prevented by using Powercap produced stick on film. I change mine occasionally.
The only problem and criticism I have is that one of the clips on the battery broke off after about 6 months. It still clips securely on the helmet, however, and doesn’t affect the performance of the shield. In spite of that, I think that the battery clips could be made more robust.
I gave in around 12 moths ago and brought the Axminster APF10along with a spare set of filters and a pack of visor covers
I wear it every day I am in the workshop table saw, band saw, drum, bobbin and hand sanders, waxing and buffing.
As a long term asthma suffer it has improved my lungs significantly I wish i had brought one years ago
Battery life is great easily last the day and I charge it overnight the cab does need airing.
I am still on my first visor cover and my first set of filters I blow the filters out most days with compressed air and it comes with a useful airflow meter which takes a few seconds to use.
I actually found it comfortable throughout the warm weather as it streams filtered cool air straight down your face.
I know several people who also have them and have not heard any negatives about them.
I would say go for it 100%
I started work back in 79 at Thames Marine who built GRP yachts & industrial mouldings. The guys who trimmed the mouldings were issued with the then new Racal Airstream helmet powered respirator, I believe they were designed for the mining & other hazardous industries. One of them showed me this bit of kit & told me what a difference it made.
In 84 I set up on my own & bought an Airstream powered respirator. At that time it cost £200, I worked in most of the local boatyards & i think i was the only bloke who owned one. At times doing a lot of GRP repairs & wood machining & sanding I virtually lived in it.
It lasted 20 years then i bought another one. 15 years later that one was getting worn out, Racal was brought out by 3M who continued making them, i bought three of them secondhand stripped & cleaned them & bought a pile of parts to keep them going. Most of the parts are still available except for motors which i cant find.
One of those GRP trimmers (who refused to wear one) died of silicosis, Several other chippies i know died of Copd & several more are now having problems.
You cant buy new lungs so investing in a good respirator makes sense!
3M, Sundstrom & Martindale are three manufacturers that spring to mind.
A quick google finds the following, Air Fed Mask | Powered Air Respirators | Air Fed Respirator Mask ,
Make sure you are sitting down when you look at the prices!
As Keith says, respiratory masks are essential when working in dusty environments. They will help to prevent crippling lung diseases. However, for woodturning your mask/helmet must also provide impact protection.
There are two versions of the Powercap, one provides respiratory protection in dusty environments, and the other ,‘Powercap Active IP’ , also gives good protection from impacts resulting from e.g. disintegrating blanks coming off the lathe.
If you buy one make sure it’s the impact protector. (If you need any encouragement, see the recent posting on this forum ‘Sad News’.)
I have the trend airshield, it is effective but will give you neck ache if using it for longer than about half an hour at a time.
You can get tear off strips like formula one drivers have to protect the shield.
I also have a 3M one that is a better design because the battery and motor unit is all on a belt around the waist, with only the lightweight air hose attached to the hood part, this is better for longer periods of use.

To be honest I don`t use either very often and just stick on a gerson cartridge mask with ABEK filters if painting or a Trend stealth if its just sawdust.
Quick and easy to put on, so you actually do put it on.
I do like the airshield for turning ( which I don`t very often do ) as its a bit better protection.

thanks for all the replies - you have convinced me and have just ordered the powercap IP, with some spare isor covers.

I'm quite new to the woodturning and what I am finding that is different to normal woodworking in the time I spend in a dusty situation. My normal GVS p3 is fine to put on to cut some wood on the table saw, chop saw or bench saw, these types of job just take 10 minutes. But the turning can go on for hours.
Too late for the OP but to add to the thread for anyone coming after,

I've tried the trend style and the more expensive 3M versaflo and Sundstrom SR540 models.

I kept the Sundstrom. This is the one used by Ashley Harwood in her turning videos.

The headset is superbly light and comfortable. The belt pack filter is simple to use and takes easy to source dust and or fume filters so that I can use it for spraying too. Highly recommended and much better than having a head mounted fan.

The 3M version is very high quality but the headset is much more robust and so heavier. It cannot take a carbon filter so no use for spraying. I've adapted that filter unit to an optrel air fed grinding mask which combo is also v good for turning but not as comfortable as the SR540 which is next level.
Getting one with impact protection is a no brainer. I was wearing my Airstream the day a stone cutting disc burst on an angle grinder while i was cutting old engine beds out of a grp yacht, I was looking down on the edge of the disc as it blew, the guard kept some away but some ricocheted upwards & cracked the polycarbonate visor of the helmet right at eye level, another lump was stuck in the side of my hand.
It paid for itself that day.
I bought the "Trend D2 AIR/PRO Airshield and Ear Defender Pack AIR/P/6A" from Amazon about 2 weeks ago, link is https://smile.amazon.co.uk/dp/B096M7LSM9. This includes the ear defenders. This was to replace an original trend one I had from about 10-15 years ago and which is no longer up to spec and you cannot get the parts for anymore I believe. It has gone up by about £5 om Amazon since I bought it only two weeks ago!

The one from Amazon was about the best price I could find, cheaper even with the ear defenders than most places were selling it without. They are quite heavy but I don't find that a problem. I would say that it seems to be a much much better fit with the ear defenders than without, they seem to lock it onto your head so it doesn't move around at all so although I sort of got them by accident due to the deal, I am really glad I did.

Overall I am finding it really effective and OK to wear even for long periods.

I would prefer it if you could get the ear defenders as bluetooth ones so I could still listen to my audiobooks while wearing it.
Listening to something into your ears whilst working on something that demands a shield and ear defenders is not a good idea, it's an unnecessary distraction from something you should be concentrating on.
Understand your point Mike, and it is a good point. But I tend to put the mask on at the start and wear it until I leave the workshop. It is mainly to defend against dust so taking it off at the end of the operation is not the best thing to do, I have a dust filter and dust extraction but the filter takes time to clean the air. So I leave the mask on and hence would prefer to still be able to hear the audio book when I move onto more mundane tasks, the noise of the mask would stop me hearing it otherwise. I can easily tune it out when doing the actual cutut or whatever.
Its worth checking what protection you will be getting, some of the 'cheaper' models only have P2 filters. I've used the 3M dustmaster then the versaflo now I have the 6000 version of the versaflo which can take carbon filters for spraying. The older versaflos come up regularly and prices are alot cheaper than new
so what is better, a GVS with a P3 filter, or something like the powercap with a P2
The Trend Airshield Pro is good; I've run one for well over a decade. The downsides are that it's fairly cumbersome on the head and the clip-on ear defenders aren't that great. Protection class (at least the last time I checked) was better than the JSP Powercap.

A couple of years ago I picked up a used 3M Versaflo (and gave it a thorough clean, plus new filters, and added 3M clip-on ear defenders). It's a huge step up in comfort vs the Trend, but new they are very pricey.

As pointed out by others: you can't change your lungs. Plus the impact protection is very useful - I've been hit in the face with a chunk of wood whilst turning (when wearing the Trend) and barely even noticed. Wouldn't have liked to think what would have happened with no protection.
Worth remembering these should be used in conjunction with good dust extraction, not instead of.
I would have thought that was a given.

But getting back to my question - and with just regard to respiratory protection. How would a P3 filter in a GVS (half face) mask compare to a P2 in a powered unit such as the powercap. Clearly P3 i better than P2 but is the powered system more efficient?

Makes me wonder why the powercap does not come with a P3 filter
I would prefer it if you could get the ear defenders as bluetooth ones so I could still listen to my audiobooks while wearing it.
I find that ear bud headphones work with most ear defenders. I have Air Pods Pro which also have noise cancelling and I find to be sufficient alone for most hearing protection, but I put ear defenders on top of them when using my lunchbox planer as that thing makes a horrible din. The combined protection is really quite impressive.
I find that ear bud headphones work with most ear defenders. I have Air Pods Pro which also have noise cancelling and I find to be sufficient alone for most hearing protection, but I put ear defenders on top of them when using my lunchbox planer as that thing makes a horrible din. The combined protection is really quite impressive.
Same here. I use buds most of the time to listen to audiobooks too. I also put my ear defenders on over the top when I want that little extra protection. But, to be honest, I forget that I'm wearing them and leave them over the earbuds half the time. Also, I can wear my Powercap while wearing buds when woodturning and still listen to the books. My ear defenders or regular 'over the ear' headphones won't fit over or under the cap. I don't consider woodturning to be so loud that using earbuds over using ear defenders to be a problem. They cut out a sufficient amount of noise for most of my needs.