Since installing hardwood in my house, and dealing with the mass amounts of saw dust that created, and the realization that sawdust “bags” don’t work very well, I’ve had to manually switch on my shopvac then start using the saw, or the orbital sander, etc. This is annoying, so I started looking for solutions. The internet consensus seemed to be either a Smart Strip, or cheaper/easier is the Craftsman Auto Switch. The annoying thing, as with most of the Sears experience, is their site didn’t say if the local store had any in stock. But, a quick trip over there found one on a random shelf for $20. I picked it up, and quickly came home to try it out.
Simply put, you plug the device into the main outlet, and then the vacuum into an “accessory” outlet (and maybe a work light into the other). When you switch on the primary load, a simple hall effect sensor sees that, throws a relay, and the accessory comes on. After the load switches off, the accessory continues to run for 3 seconds to clear the line (which is awesome). Since using it while my wife has been sanding cabinets, the dust creation has been minimal, and there’s been no more forgetting to turn on the vacuum.
Sure, a whole shop vacuum would be better, but I don’t have a shop… I have a garage. So using my shopvac, and an auto switch, is far superior when it comes to multi-taskers, and space usage.