Handheld, Walk-Behind and Backpack Leaf Blowers
Choosing the best leaf blower for your yard starts with understanding your options. There are several types to choose from.
Handheld gas, cordless and corded models are the most common types for the home landscape. Some convert to leaf vacuums, allowing you to collect light yard debris, such as leaves and small twigs, in an attached bag. Models that convert to vacuum/mulchers collect the material through the chute or nozzle and grind it, simplifying disposal or creating mulch you can use around the landscape. You can find larger, high-power machines for extended use in large areas, including walk-behind gas machines as well as battery and gas backpack leaf blowers.
Electric Corded and Cordless Leaf Blowers
An electric leaf blower is a low-maintenance machine. It doesn’t use gas or require engine oil, so you won’t need to dispose of used oil. These models require less maintenance and are lighter and quieter than gasoline-powered models. They’re also easier to start, operate with less vibration and don’t emit the fumes that a gas-powered machine does.
A small leaf blower or sweeper model is easier to manage and can handle driveways, decks and patios. Larger, high-power electric models are good for yards up to a quarter of an acre in size.
• A cordless leaf blower is also known as a battery-powered leaf blower or simply a battery leaf blower. The battery power gives you great mobility. The best battery leaf blowers have high-voltage batteries that provide longer runtimes. You’ll need to periodically recharge batteries, so depending on the size of your yard, you may want to have a spare so you always have a fully-charged battery available. Most battery-powered models are handheld, but a backpack design gives you a powerful battery leaf blower that’s easier to manage than a handheld machine.
• A corded leaf blower offers consistent power without the weight of a battery. And while it doesn’t require you to recharge it, you’ll need a suitable outdoor extension cord. The cord can restrict mobility, so these machines are often best for clearing small yards or areas near the house. Follow the device manufacturer’s specifications for a compatible extension cord and learn about power cord safety.
Gas Leaf Blowers
A gas blower delivers maximum mobility and runtime. These machines are suited for large areas — a quarter-acre or more, depending on the model — and frequent or prolonged use. Most crank with a manual pull-start.
Gasoline-powered blowers need the right fuel. Follow the manufacturer’s requirements and read Fueling Outdoor Power Equipment for tips on keeping your machine running properly. For example, you may need do the following tasks each month:
- Flush the old fuel from the gas tank. Consider adding a fuel stabilizer.
- Clean the outside of the carburetor and fan blades.
- Check the fuel filter, fuel line, cables and connections.
- Examine the spark plug and gap and replace if needed.
Leaf Blower Features
Beyond vacuuming and mulching capabilities, there are other features to consider to select the right machine for your landscape cleanup.
- Two-cycle engines offer a good balance of power and weight, but they run on a blend of oil and gasoline. You need to mix the fuel yourself or purchase pre-mixed fuel.
- Four-cycle engines run on gasoline alone. They eliminate the need for mixing fuel, but they’re heavier than two-cycle engines and require regular oil changes.
- Tackle more jobs with blowers with higher power ratings on the packaging: amps (A) on a corded blower, volts (V) on a cordless blower and cubic centimeters (cc) on a gasoline-powered blower.
- Simplified choke operation makes startup easier on a gasoline-powered blower.
- Brushless motors on cordless models are more efficient than brushed motors, offering better runtime and more power.
- Miles per hour (MPH) ratings measure the speed that air exits the unit and are another indication of the blower’s power.
- Cubic feet per minute (CFM) ratings measure the volume of air the blower moves. Blowers with higher CFM ratings can move more material.
- Some vacuum-capable models include larger-diameter chutes or tubes, which help collect leaves.
States, cities and neighborhoods have different noise level restrictions. Check a blower’s product details to select a model that doesn’t exceed your area’s specific decibel limit.
Leaf Blower Comparisons
When shopping, check the product specifications to compare different leaf blowers, using factors such as the area size the machine is designed for, maximum air speed (MPH), how many cubic feet of air it moves per minute (CFM) and weight. Specifications will vary, but the general information below can give you a starting point for comparing leaf blowers.