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Ever come out of a long kit build with a splitting headache from the solder fumes? Me too. A benchtop solder fume extractor’s been on my shopping list for some time, but to be honest, I wasn’t very excited about another piece of expensive safety equipment. I recently had the chance to try out an Edsyn FXF14 “Fuminator,” a strange-looking little fume extractor with a hinged fan and spinning filter. Read the full review after the jump!

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A fume extractor’s a simple device, basically it’s just a fan pulling the working area air through a filter and away, out the back of the unit. Since Marc de Vinck made one that fits in an mint tin, the expensive price tag on the retail models seemed even more ridiculous. Edsyn claims their special rotating filter works eight times better than a stationary filter. The FXF14 retails for about $110, and it’s made in the USA.

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The pivoting head on the FXF14 makes it easy to get it close to your work. A flip of the toggle switch on the front lights up two LEDs indicating front (green) and yellow (rear), since the air current produced by the thing deceives your skin. It’s hard to tell which way the air is moving until you hold a string up in front of it and see it bend towards the intake. The fan is so quiet that sometimes I forget to turn the thing off.

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It works great. I use it for electronics as well as jewelry (torch) soldering in my small apartment workshop. I’m really happy with its small desktop footprint, and I think it looks fabulous, too (also available in black and translucent blue, green, and red). O’Reilly’s Brian Jepson bought a similar model, the FXF11, a few years ago and still loves his. I usually feel a bit guilty after splurging on a fancy new tool for my workshop, but your lungs can easily justify the investment of an effective (and attractive) benchtop solder fume extractor.

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Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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Comments

  1. d3c4f says:

    Can someone who has used both of the following comment further on the below?

    It looks like the Edsyn FXF14 “Fuminator” is about $110 and runs a standard 12v computer case fan in a fancy case with a filter attached to it.

    While the Fume Extractor from MPJA is either $27 or $40 (without, or with cantilevered metal arms, respectively), and runs off of 120vAC.

    http://www.mpja.com/prodinfo.asp?number=15166+TL
    http://www.mpja.com/prodinfo.asp?number=17529+TL
    http://www.mpja.com/prodinfo.asp?number=15167+TL

    I haven’t tried a Fuminator but I can vouch for the MPJA Fume Extractor (don’t know actual manufacturer). It has a nice industrial hum spinning up, and sounds quiet though you can hear it moving a lot of air – and you can actually see the fumes getting sucked into the activated carbon filters. Also, replacement filter are cheap ($6.50 for 2).

    Hopefully someone who has tried both can shed more insight.

  2. Simon says:

    I love the smell of solder in the morning!

  3. Paul says:

    I am replying to difference of the MPJA and the EDSYN Fume Fan. I am not familiar with the MPJA Fume Extractor, but if it is like some of the others in the market, I can tell you some of the differences.

    The common Bench Top Fume Fans has a Box DC Fan with a Carbon/Charcoal Activated filter in front or behind the fan. Many of these are about 1/4 to 3/8″ thick. When you observe the fumes they tend to flow through the filter in certain sections of the filter and out to the open.

    The EDSYN Fume Fan has a front spinning foam filter then a 1/2″ thick Carbon/Charcoal Activated filter in the back. When you observe the fume going into the filter, it does not just go straight through, but if you can imagine it being sliced by the spinning filter, covering a larger filtering area before it exits a goes through the 2nd Carbon Activated filter. It helps disperse the fume so it is not concentrated, but spread out over a larger surface of the filter, so more can be collected.

    You can visually see the difference when the filter stops and you analyze what is happening.

    I hope this gives you better insight behind the design and check out specials that are available from time to time.

    Thank you for your comments.

    Paul

  4. Tom Loredo says:

    Hi Becky-  Is your white Edsyn FXF14 fume extractor made of metal or plastic?  I see they now sell a translucent blue version that is obviously made of plastic, so I’m wondering if the white and black ones are plastic or metal.  Thanks!  -Tom

  5. Sentry Air says:

    We purchased one very similar of those MPJA’s solder fume extractors to test the effectiveness of just having an “activated carbon filter”. There are various but very similar models of this product that are manufactured in China – but all utilize a single thin filter (that you can actually see through) that is advertised to be “activated carbon”. This OKInternational write-up on solder fumes specifically states that “A HEPA filter is crucial to overall success (…)”. http://www.okinternational.com/binary/articles/Fume%20Extraction%20Reduces%20LF%20Risks.pdf

    We did an efficiency test (conducted and analyzed by a 3rd party) where we analyzed the fume removal of a Weller Smoke Absorber that utilizes a very similar “activated carbon filter” that this article uses. The particulate removal was 11.1%. Whereas a product that utilizes a HEPA filter was measured at 95.3% reduction. http://www.sentryair.com/testing/SolderFumeTest-SentryvsWeller.pdf

    We strongly recommend that anybody who wants to use a solder fume extractor to utilize appropriate filters. Or to vent outside.

    You can read more about the Hazards of Solder Fumes on our website at http://www.sentryair.com/solder%20fume.htm

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