Leaf Blower Buying Guide

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Leaf blowers, also called power blowers, take some of the grunt work out of clearing fallen leaves and other yard debris from your property. Aside from blowing, many handheld leaf blowers are also capable of vacuuming and shredding what they pick up. In order to make your job as lawn care manager less stressful, you should find the best leaf blower for the job.

Types of Leaf Blowers

Electric handheld blowers are corded models that usually weight under 7 pounds. They have pushbutton start and zero-exhaust emissions. The cord can limit mobility in regard to distance and handling trees and other yard obstacles.

Gas-powered handheld blowers have no cord like electric handheld blowers, but they weigh a little more, usually between 7 and 12 pounds. They have a pull-cord engine starter, require regular tune-ups and are loud enough to warrant hearing protection.

Gas-powered backpack blowers typically weight twice as much as handheld blowers, but the majority of the weight is on your back and shoulders, rather than on your arms. They are noisy like gas-powered handhelds and cost more, but they typically add power.

Gas-powered wheeled blowers don't require a mix of fuel of oil, but they can't vacuum or shred like most other leaf blowers can. They weight 100-plus pounds, so they can be harder to maneuver uphill and on sharp turns. They are expensive and noisy, and usually require 8 square feet of storage space.

Important Leaf Blower Features

  • Adjustable air deflector: On wheeled leaf blowers, an adjustable air deflector lest you adjust the airflow forward or to either side. This is convenient particularly when collecting leaves in one big pile or when you work alongside a wall or hedge.
  • Bottom-mounted air intake: On handheld models, bottom-mounted air intake is less likely to pull at your clothing than one that is mounted at the side, a feature that many find less annoying.
  • Convenient shutoff switch: This will allow you to shut off an electric motor or gas engine quickly and easily, a feature that is good for safety and convenience.
  • Handgrip: Because handheld models require more use of your hands, it's important to have a comfortable grip. Some handheld models come with softer material and others with a second hand grip for better control. Test the handgrip out before purchasing a handheld model.
  • Nozzle design: Some blowers have flattened nozzles, while others have rounded ones. Sweeping loose leaves is easier with flat tips, and loosening leaves from shrubbery and grass is easier with a rounder tip. If you'll be doing both, look for models that come with both options.
  • Speed control/variable throttle: Available on both electric and gas-powered leaf blowers, speed control allows you to increase power for sweeping on hard surfaces or open ground and to decrease it around fragile garden beds.
  • Translucent fuel tank: A clear tank allows you to see your exact fuel level at all times, making it easier to know when to refill your tank.

Biggest Leaf Blower Buying Points

  1. Electric vs. gas: Electric leaf blowers are, in reality, the best choice for most homeowners. They're quieter, lighter and more eco-friendly than gas leaf blowers. However, very few are cordless, and cordless models will make even quicker work of small jobs and hard surfaces. For yards that extend beyond the reach of a 150-foot extension cord, gas leaf blowers offer cord-free portability and extra power. However, they're noisier and more of a hassle to fuel and maintain.
  2. Handheld vs. backpack: Electric leaf blowers are all handheld, while gas blowers come in handheld and backpack models. Handhelds are more affordable and are sufficient for more yards than not. Only really consider a more expensive backpack unit if your property is larger than a half-acre. This will minimize fatigue, maximize efficiency and tap your wallet accordingly.
  3. Blowers and blower vacs: Not all leaf blowers have vacuum features, but they are extremely helpful if you need to get leaves out of tight spots, including corners. Look for blower vacs that mulch with an impeller with a mulch ratio of 16:1. The mulch ratio is basically a ratio of how many bags of leaves a blower vac can fit into one bag of mulch. Metal impellers are more durable than plastic ones.
  4. Power and speed: The more power your machine has, the more leaves it can move in less time. However, the speed at which the air comes out of the leaf blower does not necessarily dictate how efficient the machine is. Instead, look for a CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating, which measures the volume of air moved. Buy the most CFM power you can afford and choose a leaf blower with variable speeds to minimize noise and protect delicate plants and mulch from being damaged by top-speed air blasts.
  5. Noise and emissions: The biggest issues with leaf blowers are their noise level and emissions. Before buying a leaf blower, you should check your local ordinances to see if leaf blowers in the area are restricted to a lower decibel (usually between 65 and 69 dB), lower exhaust emissions (aim for four-cycle or hybrid engines) or being used altogether. Some areas also have ordinances restricting use to certain times during the day. Either way, wear appropriate ear protection when using a leaf blower to avoid damage to your hearing.

How Much Do Leaf Blowers Cost?

A good electric leaf blower with blowing and sucking abilities will usually cost between $40 and $60. A cordless electric leaf blower may cost a little more, typically between $75 and $100. Gas leaf blowers vary in price extensively, with some models costing as little as $100 and much as $1,500. For the best prices and deals, try shopping at an online marketplace, such as Amazon or eBay. Also, before making any purchase, go to a local power tool supply store to examine and, if possible, test the leaf blowers you're considering before use. This will give you a better idea of the weight, comfort, noise level and efficiency of your leaf blower before you blow all your money on it.

Last Updated: September 7, 2012
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for Idealhomegarden.com

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