Introduction: How to Automate Dust Collection System With Voice Commands - Affordable & Easy

Tools I Used:

To automate dust collection in a workshop means to provide a way to conveniently turn it on/off at the correct times. Why? Because if it is not convenient or easily accessible, most people won’t use it – including myself. Dust collection systems in woodworking areas are very important not only to keep the shop clean, but to also maintain healthy air quality. It is definitely not a good idea to work in a shop with a large amount of dust without an adequate dust collection system or air purification/filter system. I have a decent dust collection system in my shop that is large enough to handle multiple tools. It is mounted on the wall and I installed PVC pipe with 4 outlets & blast gates. I needed an affordable way to automate dust collection in my workshop to make it easier to turn on/off before & after I use my power tools. Currently, it is a very manual process and a pain to operate.

Different Options


There are many ways to automate dust collection in a workshop. Some can be operated with a remote control, some are activated when a power tool uses electricity, and some of the higher end systems can be purchased with on/off automation from the factory. I’ve dabbled in home automation systems since 2010 along with home surveillance systems. I’ve mainly used my systems for lighting control, home surveillance triggering, motion detection, & climate control.

Until recently, I didn’t think about using home automation technologies to automate dust collection in my workshop. I also decided it would be more convenient to incorporate voice activation as well.

Step 1: The 3 Essential Items Needed

Below are the 3 items needed to complete this project.

Step 2: Understand Home Automation - Brief Overview

Home Controller

The brains of a home automation system is the home controller. I currently own 2 home controllers (Samsung SmartThings & Mi Casa Verde Vera) in two different locations. Both of these home controllers are very good, but I prefer the SmartThings Hub because it is a bit more widely adopted among consumer manufacturers and user friendly. For example, the SmartThings Hub integrates with Amazon Echo (Alexa) very easily as you can see in my video. The Mi Casa Verde Veralite system did not officially support the Amazon Echo until very recently, which requires that you download beta code/firmware for Amazon Echo support. I encourage you to do your own research on which home controller is best for you.

Home Controller Language

The home controller communicates with end devices via wireless protocols (i.e. languages) such as z-wave, zigbee, or insteon. There are a few others, but they are beyond the scope of this blog post. Keep in mind, these are not ‘WiFi’ protocols like 802.11. They are wireless protocols that operate at a certain frequency. Do you remember the days when the DVD industry wasn’t sure if BlueRay or HD DVDs would be the standard? If so, this is sort of similar to the current state with the aforementioned protocols. Maybe a bit further along, but you get the point. Z-wave & zigbee are part of alliances which come together to manufacture endpoints which are compatible. Insteon is proprietary and best used for very large networks. Each protocol has pros and cons and I can discuss these in greater detail; however, it is beyond the scope of this post which is about how to automate dust collection system.

Think of these protocols as languages. If an endpoint (wall outlet, light, etc.) is a z-wave compatible device, it cannot speak to a zigbee or Insteon endpoint. The same goes for zigbee & Insteon. Luckily, most home controllers speak the language of at least 2 protocols. So, what does this mean? It means you can have a SmartThings home controller with a z-wave wall outlet and Zigbee thermostat.. While this is possible, I prefer to use one protocol for my endpoints in order to take advantage of the mesh capability.

Mesh Networking


Z-Wave and ZigBee both use mesh networking to extend the distance they can be from the home controller. Normally, the z-wave or zigbee device can be no more than 150 feet from the controller. Mesh networking allows a Z-Wave or ZigBee signal to “hop” through other Z-Wave or ZigBee devices (respectively) to reach the home controller. Certain powered Z-Wave or ZigBee devices can act as wireless repeaters to increase the range and strength of the mesh network.

Step 3: Configure SmartThings Hub

Before configuring the SmartThings Hub, the zwave electrical outlet must be installed. As I mentioned in my video, I am not an electrician; therefore, I am not qualified to show you how to install an electrical outlet. I encourage you to call a licensed electrician if you are unsure about the outlet installation.

Download the SmartThings app from your phone's App Store.

In my case, I already have a SmartThings hub in my main home. So, I chose 'Add New Location' to install my new SmartThings hub in my same account.

Choose, 'Yes, I have a Hub to Connect.'

Next, enter the code provided on the SmartThings Hub.

Connect your SmartThings Hub to your home router/switch via an Ethernet cable and plugin the power cord. Since the SmartThings hub is a cloud-based controller, it inherits the configuration from the cloud. In short, the app configuration talks to the cloud controller and the cloud controller configures the SmartThings Hub.

Step 4: Connect SmartThings Hub to Zwave Outlet

From the SmartThings App, click on 'Add a Thing'.

The Zwave outlet has a button on the front of it. Click the button twice with your finger to put it in 'pairing mode'

The SmartThings Hub should recognize it.

Rename the outlet to something you will remember. This name will be used for the voice commands, so make sure it is simple.

Confirm the pairing and turn it off and on to make sure it is working. NOTE: make sure the dust collection system is plugged into the outlet and the power switch is set to 'On' before turning it off/on.

Step 5: Configure Echo Dot to SmartThings Hub

I presume the Echo Dot is already configured and online. If it's not, do that and come back to this step.

Login to the Echo Dot.

Choose 'Home' at the top right and then choose 'SmartHome'.

Choose 'Get More Smart Home Skills'.

Search for 'SmartThings Hub' and choose it.

Choose 'Enable' to enable the smartthings app within the Echo Dot.

Choose your SmartThings Hub from the drop down menu and choose 'Authorize'

Confirmed they are successfully linked.

Next, choose 'Discover Devices' and the zwave outlet should be listed once the discovery is complete.

Step 6: Voice Test

Perform a final test by instructing Alexa to turn on the .

The command I used is as follows: Alexa, turn on dust collection outlet.

If it turns on, the test was successful.

The command I used to power down the dust collection outlet is: Alexa, turn off dust collection outlet.

If it turns off, the test was successful.

I was concerned the echo dot would not turn off my dust collection system due to the noise produced by the dust collection. This is not an issue at all. The echo dot still hears me even when I am on the far end of my workshop.

Step 7: Closing Thoughts

Website link for this project.

Tools I Used:

Behind the Scenes Tools:

I hope this project provided you with some value because this is, and always will be, my ultimate goal.

Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and visiting my website for more projects and other fun stuff.

Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions. I'm happy to help!

Until next time – Imagine…Create…Share

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Bio: I love creating cool things. I love making old things look cool, I love making new things look old, I love making things that are ... More »
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