Leaf Blower Buying Guide

The beautiful foliage provided by deciduous trees becomes a headache each fall, as those gorgeous maple, birch, and oak trees shed their leaves onto your lawn. A leaf blower can make short work of clearing the mess. And a great leaf blower isn’t just a once-a-year-tool for clearing fallen foliage—it’s useful year-round. Leaf blowers come in handy for cleaning summer’s sandy decks and winter’s light snow, as well as dirty walkways and porches.

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. Which type you need depends on the work required and your own preferences.

How CR Tests Leaf Blowers

CR’s test engineers rope off a standardized swath of grass and dump bag upon bag of leaves inside the boundary. Backpack blowers and wheeled blowers get a larger area with more leaves because both are designed for larger yards and professional landscaping crews.

We time how long each blower takes to clear the pile, and whether the tool moves every last leaf—some leaf blowers struggle to get rid of the leaves near the bottom of the pile, which can become embedded within the grass. 

Some years we go through 2,500 pounds of leaves in the process. Because we can’t rely on that quantity to fall on our Yonkers, N.Y., campus each autumn, we often start collecting and storing fallen foliage a year in advance.

For our tests, we select a broad mix of the models you’ll see at home centers and hardware stores, with tools from brands including Black+Decker, Echo, Ego, Husqvarna, Ryobi, Stihl, Toro, and Worx.

Gas vs. Electric: Picking the Right Leaf Blower

Speed, convenience, budget—all are important considerations when weighing gas vs. electric. 

In the handheld category, gas and battery blowers can each make quick work of leaves and are still the fastest way to clear a yard full of leaves. The best corded-electric blowers are powerful enough for many big jobs, though you’ll have to stay within 100 feet of a power outlet. (Most outdoor extension cords top out at that length.)

Gas handheld leaf blowers go anywhere, but they weigh and cost more than corded electrics—and they’re noisier. They also require fueling and maintenance. Cordless electric, also called battery-powered leaf blowers, now offer power on a par with gas models, but they have limited run time per battery charge—expect 8 to 30 minutes on a charge. 

Some handheld blowers also collect yard debris via a vacuum, a feature that comes in handy for sucking up leaves as they fall or for taking care of stragglers. But their relatively small tubes limit how much you can vacuum at once, making them best for really small yards, where you can bag up the mulched leaves. 

Backpack blowers typically cost more than handheld blowers, but they offer more power and transfer weight from your arms to your back and shoulders. Backpacks tip the scales at 22 pounds, but this type can still feel lighter than a 10-pound handheld blower because the weight is better distributed. These are best for large lawns, and you can go with a traditional gas-powered backpack blower or a battery-powered model. Battery types are relative newcomers to the field, and in our tests, the best of these can hold their own against gas when it comes to sweeping power.

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 bear the biggest price tags of all these categories. They’re really best for large, flat yards that abut the woods. They’re tough to push on hills, and if you live in an area with close neighbors, it’s easy to accidentally blow leaves into an adjacent yard. 

A Word About Noise

As anyone with an early rising, yard-obsessed neighbor can confirm, a running leaf blower can get really loud. Product labels list decibels, so you can compare noise levels as you shop.

Some communities prohibit leaf blower use during certain hours; others restrict gas blowers altogether because they tend to be louder than electric models. In California, some communities ban all leaf blowers, no matter how quiet their operation.

Check your town’s regulations or go to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse for a nationwide list of guidelines. Then check the 50-foot noise scores in our leaf blower ratings. Models that earn Excellent scores should meet the toughest limits, and those that receive Very Good or Good ratings are likely to meet most restrictions. But keep in mind, blowers that are relatively quiet at a distance can prove to be deafening up close.

Protect Yourself and Be Kind to Others
• Wear hearing protection, especially with models receiving a Good or lower score in our noise at ear level tests.
• 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.

Leaf Blowers by Type

Selecting the right leaf blower comes down to your terrain, yard size, and budget. Both gas and electric models take much of the work (and blisters) out of raking up fallen leaves and other yard and driveway debris.

A corded electric leaf blower.

Corded Electric Leaf 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 be a hassle around trees and other obstacles. Consider an electric blower if a power outlet will always be within 100 feet of the work area.
Cost: $30 to $110

Leaf Blowers Ratings
A cordless electric leaf blower.

Battery Handheld Leaf Blowers

These tools, also called cordless electric leaf blowers, are light (generally less than 10 pounds) and maneuverable. They’ve become popular among people who shun the maintenance requirements of a gas-powered model—and don’t want to be tethered to a power cord. Power can be on a par with the best gas blowers, too. Rechargeable batteries run for about half an hour, tops, so if the chore takes longer, you’ll have to take a break while your battery juices up—or have a second battery on hand.
Cost: $150 to $300

Leaf Blowers Ratings
A gas-powered handheld leaf blower.

Gas-Powered Handheld Leaf Blowers

Gas models can go anywhere, and they never require a charge. You do need to yank a pull-cord to start the engine, and gas engines require periodic tuneups. Most models weigh about 10 pounds. And though they’re quieter than they used to be, gas models are still quite loud—the user should always wear hearing protection. The majority have two-stroke engines, which require mixing fuel and oil. Those with four-stroke engines let you skip that step, and they run cleaner.
Cost: $90 to $220

Leaf Blowers Ratings
A gas-powered backpack leaf blower.

Gas-Powered Backpack Leaf Blowers

These blowers typically add power over handheld blowers. Most weigh 17 pounds or more—almost 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. They can’t vacuum or shred. And they cost more than handheld blowers.
Cost: $160 to $480

Leaf Blowers Ratings
A gas-powered wheeled leaf blower.

Gas-Powered Wheeled Leaf Blowers

Need lots of oomph to quickly clear a sizable area? A wheeled blower might fit the bill for large yards. But this type brings a few drawbacks: Wheeled blowers can’t vacuum or shred and require about 8 square feet of storage space. At 100 pounds or more, they’re bulky, and are more difficult to maneuver and push, especially uphill. They’re usually noisy and expensive—though a few models are surprisingly quiet and should meet even the toughest noise limits. Large four-stroke engines require no mixing of fuel and oil.
Cost: $280 to $800

Leaf Blowers Ratings

Leaf Blower Buying Guide Video

Watch our video below for the basics on leaf blowers, plus useful tips and a comparison of handheld, backpack, and wheeled models.

Leaf Blower Features

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

Leaf Blower Brands to Consider

This leading marketer of electric and battery leaf blowers uses the Leaf Hog line name on some models. Black+Decker makes mostly lightweight, plug-in electric models that weigh 5 to 8 pounds. Black+Decker leaf blowers are among the most widely available and can be found at 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 now owned by Stanley Black+Decker, with many tools available at local hardware stores, as well as at Lowe's.
This premium brand from Stanley Black+Decker makes leaf blowers, string trimmers, and other outdoor tools that share a 60-volt battery platform.
Echo makes professional-grade handheld and backpack gas leaf blowers. Its gas blowers tend to be lighter weight but offer considerable power. They're available at Home Depot, outdoor power-equipment dealers, and hardware stores.
Ego makes battery-powered handheld and backpack-style blowers. Ego leaf blowers use the same 56-volt battery that powers the company's electric lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, and snow blowers. Ego leaf blowers and other outdoor power tools are available online and at Lowe's.
A major manufacturer of gas-powered outdoor power equipment, Husqvarna—from Sweden—makes leaf blowers, chain saws, and string trimmers, among other tools. Its products are sold at local dealers as well as Lowe's stores. It makes premium handheld gas and battery blowers, as well as backpack blowers, many of which are marketed to professionals.
A Lowe's exclusive brand of leaf blowers, string trimmers, mowers, and other outdoor power equipment. Kobalt makes primarily battery handheld leaf blowers.
The house brand at Home Depot, Ryobi is a major manufacturer of leaf blowers in most configurations, particularly handhelds. It makes gas and battery handheld leaf blowers, as well as gas-powered backpack units.
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.
Another leading brand of electric leaf blowers, Toro makes lightweight plug-in electric models that weigh 5 to 8 pounds. 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 at mass merchants, home centers, web retailers, and hardware stores.
Weed Eater sells 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.
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