VAC90S
VAC140A with optional handle
VAC90A with L-Boxx on top.

Bosch recently introduced a new line of self-cleaning vacs, the VAC90 and VAC140 series dust extractors. They announced these tools at The World of Concrete (WOC), which makes sense because self-cleaning filters are vital when collecting the kind of fine dust created by drilling, chipping, or grinding concrete. That’s not to say they are specifically for use with concrete; they can also be used to collect wood chips, sawdust, drywall dust, and water. A Bosch product manager demonstrated one of these vacs for me at WOC; you can see a video of it below.

There are four different models: VAC90A, VAC90S, VAC140A, and VAC140S. The 90 series vacs have 9-gallon tanks; the 140 series vacs have 14-gallon tanks. All have a compact form factor and are equipped with locking rubber casters and a clever bungee system for keeping the hose tightly wrapped during transport. One of the best features is the ability of the owner to clip an L-Boxx on top—as has long been possible with Festool’s dust extractors and Systainers.

Models with “A” at the end have automatic filter cleaning; every 15 seconds the flow of air is automatically reversed through the filter to blow it clean. Models with “S” at the end have semi-automatic filter cleaning, meaning the operator must press an actuator button on the end of the hose to reverse the flow of air and clean the filter. Air flow will also reverse if the hose is closed off or becomes clogged. Tradesmen who are annoyed by the thumping sound the cleaner makes might be better served by the semi-automatic model because they can choose when to engage the mechanism. Of course with a self-cleaning model ("S" series) there is the option to simply turn the mechanism off.

All models have two modes of operation, tool-activated or normal vacuum. A speed control on the “A” models (the Power Broker dial) allows the operator to dial down the suction because that’s all that’s needed or to avoid blowing circuit breakers in tool-activation mode. The new Bosch dust extractors can be used for dry collection with paper, fleece, or plastic bags and for wet collection with a plastic slurry bag or no bag at all. Filter options include standard paper filters, HEPA filters, and something called a PES filter.

Speaking of bag and filter options, there’s a discrepancy between the manufacturer’s press release for these tools and the manual that perhaps reflects the difference between German and American sensibilities. The manual (probably translated from German) says self-cleaning “must be turned off” when using the vac with a HEPA filter or with a fleece or paper bag because the blast of air “will damage” them. The press release (probably written in the U.S.) says using the self-cleaning mode with HEPA filters is “not recommended” because those filters are delicate. It suggests using fleece collection bags with HEPA filters because fleece will capture nearly all of the dust so it won’t be necessary to clean the filter. That statement squares with my sense of fleece filters; they’re such an effective pre-filter that the HEPA filter does not have to do very much. Still, it would nice if the manual was in line with the press release and the realities of the jobsite, where multiple tradesmen share the vac and no one reads the manual.

Specs (all models)

  • Motor: 9.5 amps
  • Airflow: 150 CFM
  • Suction: 97 inches static water lift
  • Noise level: 70 dB
  • Gross tank capacity: 9.2 or 14.5 gallons
  • Weight: 28 pounds (9-gallon); 37 pounds (14-gallon)
  • Modes: tool activated and standard vacuum
  • Variable speed: “A” series only
  • Automatic filter cleaning: “A” series only
  • Semi-automatic filter cleaning: “S” series only
  • EPA/RRP Compliant: Yes when used with VF120H HEPA filter
  • Price: $549-$669 based on the model