Leaf blowers

Leaf Blower Buying Guide
Leaf Blower Buying Guide
Turn Over a Few Leaves

Maple, birch, or oak, as fast as a tree can shed its leaves, a leaf blower is there to make short work of amassing the mess. But a leaf blower is not just a once-and-done seasonal landscape machine; they are useful year-round. Leaf blowers come in handy for summer’s sandy decks and spring’s windblown walkways as well as light snow.

There are lots of leaf blowers on the market including gas, corded electric, and battery-powered. They also come in a variety of styles, from handheld units, to backpack and wheeled models. It’s tough to know which type is right for you.

Not to blow your mind, but Consumer Reports tested nearly 60 leaf blowers to compare and rate their performance, price points, and features to help you determine the best model for your needs.

1

Gas vs. Electric: Picking The Right Leaf Blower

Speed, convenience, budget—all are important considerations. In the handheld category, gas blowers are still the fastest way to clear a yard full of leaves. But the best corded-electric blowers are powerful enough for many big jobs, as long as they are within 100 feet of a power outlet.

Gas handheld models go anywhere, but they add weight, cost, and noise, along with fueling and maintenance responsibilities. Cordless-electric versions offer less power than gas models and limited runtime per battery charge but are typically lightweight.

Backpack gas blowers typically cost more than handheld blowers, but less than cordless models, and they offer more power while transferring weight from your arms to your back and shoulders. Most handheld units weigh less than 10 pounds, but backpacks can tip the scales at 22 pounds.

Got lots of leaves and a level property? Wheeled blowers pack the most power by far. They also take up the most storage space, can be tough to push and control, and cost the most overall—though a few cost little more than most backpack models.

Some handheld blowers also inhale yard debris via a vacuum. But their relatively small tubes limit how much you can suck up at one time. A few have a metal impeller, which should hold up better over time than nylon versions when ingesting leaves and twigs.

2

A Word About Noise

Leaf blowers can be really loud—as anyone with an early rising, green-thumb neighbor can affirm. Labels list decibels (dBa) so you can compare them. Some communities prohibit leaf blower use during certain hours; others restrict gas blowers because of their noise. In California and elsewhere, some communities ban all leaf blowers, no matter how quiet their operation.

Check with your town’s regulations or go to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse for a nationwide list of guidelines. Then check our 50-foot noise scores in the leaf blower Ratings. Models judged Excellent should meet the toughest limits, while those that scored Very Good or Good should meet most. Even blowers that are relatively quiet at a distance can prove deafening up close.

Protect Yourself and Be Kind to Others
• Wear hearing protection, especially with models scoring Good or lower in our noise tests at ear level.
• Wear goggles and a dust mask.
• Keep people and pets far away from the area you're clearing.
• Avoid running even the quietest blowers very early or late in the day.

3

Leaf Blowers By Type

Selecting the right leaf blower comes down to your terrain, budget, and how powerful you need the leaf blower to be. The best electric handheld blowers sweep and loosen leaves nearly as well as the best gas-engine models for less money. Both types take much of the work (and blisters) out of raking up fallen leaves and other yard and driveway debris.
 

Corded-Electric Blowers

Corded models typically weigh 8 pounds or less and are designed for one-handed use. No-hassle push-button starting and zero exhaust emissions are pluses, as is power that approaches what you'll get from handheld gas blowers. But the power cord limits your mobility and can prove a hassle around trees and other obstacles. Consider an electric blower where a power outlet is within 100 feet of the work area.
Cost: $30-110.

 

Cordless-Electric Blowers

Lightweight and maneuverable, these units are gaining popularity for people who shun the maintenance issues of a gas-powered model and don't want to be tethered to a power cord. By going free range, you will sacrifice some power. Rechargeable batteries run for about an hour tops, so if you require more staying power than that, know you’ll have to hit the hammock and relax while your blower juices up.
Cost: $150-300.

 

Gas-Powered Handheld Blowers

Power without the power cord. The most capable models pack more sweeping and loosening power than the best electrics. While loud enough to warrant hearing protection, more models are meeting noise limits where they apply. You do need to yank a pull-cord to start the engine and gas engines require periodic tune-ups. Most models have two-stroke engines, weigh about 10 pounds, and require mixing fuel and oil. Those with four-stroke engines, while cleaner, do weigh more.
Cost: $90-220.
 

Gas-Powered Backpack Blowers

These blowers typically add power over handheld blowers. Most weigh 17 pounds or more—roughly twice as much as gas-powered handheld blowers. But your back and shoulders, rather than your arms, support the weight. Like handheld gas models, they're a bit noisier than electrics, though a few meet most noise limits where they apply. They can't vacuum or shred. And they cost more than handheld blowers.
Cost: $160-480.
 

Gas-Powered Wheeled Blowers

Lots of oomph to quickly clear a sizable area. Large four-stroke engines require no mixing of fuel and oil. But wheeled blowers can't vacuum or shred. They're bulky and can weigh 100 pounds or more. They are harder to maneuver and push, especially uphill and require about eight square feet of storage space. Usually noisy and expensive—though a few models are surprisingly quiet and should meet even the toughest noise limits where they apply.
Cost: $280-800.

 

4

Leaf Blower Buying Guide Video

For more, watch our video below for the basics on leaf blowers, plus useful tips, and a comparison between handheld, backpack, and wheeled models. 

5

Leaf Blower Features

Some leaf-blower features add to convenience; some enhance safety. Here's what to consider:

6

Brands To Consider

This leading marketer of electric and cordless leaf blowers uses the Leaf Hog line name on some models. Black+Decker makes lightweight plug-in electric models that weigh 5 to 8 lbs. Black+Decker leaf blowers are among the most widely available, and they can be found in mass merchants, home centers, web retailers, and hardware stores.
Craftsman is one of the leading brands of electric and gas leaf blowers. The Craftsman gas leaf blower line includes handhelds and backpacks. Craftsman is made for and sold by Sears, and models can be purchased online and in Sears and Kmart stores.
Echo makes high-end handheld and backpack professional-grade gas leaf blowers. Its gas blowers feature lower weight and high power, the latest starting and sound-reduction improvements, and high cubic feet per minute (cfm). They're available at Home Depot, outdoor power equipment dealers, and hardware stores.
Stihl makes professional-grade gas leaf blowers and high-end electric models. It sells exclusively through outdoor power equipment dealers. Stihl uses the HomeScaper line name on some consumer-grade models. The Stihl line of gas handheld and backpack blowers features high power and high amount of air moved, measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm).
Another leading brand of electric leaf blowers, Toro makes lightweight plug-in electric models that weigh 5 to 8 lbs. Toro uses line names Power Sweep, Super Blower, and Power Blower on some of its models. Toro leaf blowers are among the most widely available and can be found in mass merchants, home centers, web retailers, and hardware stores.
Weed Eater markets electric and gas leaf blowers. The products are value-priced, and many are lightweight. Weed Eater can be found at mass merchants, web retailers, and hardware stores.
Other brands on the market include Ryobi, Husqvarna, Hitachi, Homelite, and Troy Built.