The best handheld electric blowers are powerful enough for big jobs, provided they're within 100 feet of a power outlet. Gas handheld models go anywhere but add weight, cost, and noise, along with fueling and maintenance, while cordless-electric versions offer less power than gas models and limited runtime per battery charge. 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.
Got lots of leaves? 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. Here's what else to consider:
Know the law. A few areas prohibit gas blowers, and a handful in California and elsewhere ban all of those machines, no matter how quiet. Check with your community or go to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse for a nationwide list of regulations. Then check our 50-foot noise scores in the Ratings; models judged Excellent should meet the toughest limits, while those that scored Very Good or Good should meet most.
Decide whether you need to vacuum. Some handheld blowers also pick up yard debris. 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 the usual nylon versions when ingesting leaves and twigs.
Factor in other features. Flatter nozzles tend to be better for sweeping leaves, while rounded ones are usually better for loosening them. Adjustable speeds let you power down around fragile garden beds, and a clear gas tank shows fuel level.
Look for labor savers. Handheld models that scored well in our handling tests have better balance and, often, a second grip for added control. A bottom-mounted air intake will probably tug less at clothing than an intake at the side. A convenient shut-off switch lets you cut the motor or engine quickly.