Release date 08/03/2010
YONKERS, NY — The latest issue of Consumer Reports rates the best leaf blowers and gutter guards to ensure that yards and rain gutters are tidy for the Fall season. More than 2,600 pounds of leaves were blown away by testers to reveal a $60 Toro electric leaf blower that performed comparably to the more powerful and costly gas blowers. Gutter guards were exposed to 480 days of outdoor elements and the Amerimax gutter guards were a top pick for do-it-yourselfers. At .30¢ per foot they beat out many professional installed systems and could save homeowners cash.
“Consumers will find lots of confusing promises out there for leaf blowers and gutter guards,” said Bob Markovich, senior home editor for Consumer Reports. “We found several top-value blowers for both small and larger properties. And we found some big differences in gutter guards when it came to keeping out leaves—and keeping water where it belongs.”
The full report, which features the full ratings on gutter guards and leaf blowers, appears in the September issue of Consumer Reports and online at www.consumerreports.org.
Leaf Blowers: Tests Yield 14 Powerful Picks
Consumer Reports tested more than 30 models of leaf blowers and found 14 powerful picks. Gas blowers are still the fastest, but lower prices and comparable performance make the better electric blowers a smart choice, especially if homeowners care about less noise and cutting exhaust emissions and if communities have gas-blower regulations.
Toro’s corded-electric Ultra Blower Vac 51599, $70, and Super Blower Vac 51592, $60, swept away leaves and loosened stubborn fragments almost as well as the top gas blowers, and they were quieter overall. For gas blowers, a quieter engine and a smaller impeller made the Kawasaki KRB300A, $230 backpack blower the least noisy gas backpack model tested.
How to Choose
Gutter Guards: DIY Systems Beat the Pros
Consumer Reports ran 16 months of outdoor testing to find the best systems to keep gutters leaf free and found that a low-priced screen may be all it takes. Tests included professionally installed and do-it-yourself products sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other major retailers to see how well they kept out maple leaves, pine needles, and other gutter-cloggers.
Consumer Reports testers saw some big differences among types of systems. Most professionally installed systems often use a surface-tension design, where water is supposed to cling to the surface and flow into the gutters while leaves pass over and fall to the ground. Though all were impressive at shedding debris, even the top-scoring LeafFilter screen was only middling at containing a severe downpour.
If homeowners want convenience it will cost them. At $20 to $30 per foot, the professionally installed systems tested would cost $3,000 to $5,000 for roughly 160 feet needed on an average-sized home. But homeowners will pay less than $100 if they install the CR Best Buy Amerimax 85198 or 854054 themselves. They’ll still save a bundled if they add in the roughly $100 to $500 a contractor will change to put in a do-it-yourself system.
Most do-it-yourself gutters guards were easy to install although it’s likely to require climbing on a ladder—a dangerous activity. For inserts, simply cut the foam or bend the brush and press it into the gutter. But none of the inserts were good at keeping out debris. The Raingo RW115 let water pour out over the sides of the gutter.
How to Choose