The 10 Best Leaf Blowers
- easy to maneuver around obstacles
- weighs just over 8 pounds
- not carb-compliant
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- reliable starting in all weather
- high-performance battery
- takes a while to charge
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- carb-compliant motor
- can maintain constant fan speed
- not suitable for left-handed users
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- can maximize run time or power
- fast 1-hour charge time
- weighs less than 5 pounds
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- weighs just over six pounds
- simple two-speed switch
- extension storage clip is fragile
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- comfortable rubberized grip
- 0-18000 rpm variable speed control
- battery and charger not included
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- 2-stroke engine
- 170 mph velocity
- produces low emissions
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
- cruise control setting
- trigger-based operation
- variable speed throttle
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
- has zero carbon footprint
- not as noisy as gas-powered models
- curved ergonomic handle
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
- includes a concentrator nozzle
- large metal impeller
- convenient cord storage hook
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
Choosing The Right Leaf Blower
If you've ever hand-raked your entire yard, you understand the amount of time and physical energy it takes to complete the task. Maybe that's the reason you're here: you're ready to invest in a leaf blower. Leaf blowers are powerful, effective, and in many cases are surprisingly affordable, too. It might come as something of a pleasant surprise to know that you can get a leaf blower for under $50.
The first decision you need to make is whether you want to own an electric or gas-powered leaf blower.
When choosing an electric leaf blower, you first have to decide if you prefer a corded unit or one that is controlled by battery power. The benefits of a unit that plugs in are as obvious as are its drawbacks: your power source is reliable and essentially endless, and you never have to wait for a battery to charge. However, the use of corded units necessitates the ownership of a long extension cord, and the reach of the unit is limited by the length of said cord. Moving about also requires frequent retracing of steps and movement of the cord. A battery-powered leaf blower, on the other hand, lets its user move freely about a property, unencumbered by a cord and not limited by its reach. Once the batteries die, however, the unit is nothing more than an oddly shaped paperweight until they have been recharged. This annoyance can be mitigated by the purchase of extra batteries, but of course that adds expense.
Gas-powered blowers are often among the most powerful options on the market. They save you the trouble of waiting for batteries to charge, as all you need to do to replenish a depleted gas blower is add a little more fuel. They also don't suffer from the tether that a long extension cord creates. However, gas-powered blowers often require additional oiling and maintenance, and their use emits chemical compounds that may be dangerous to their users and the environment.
As for actual power among electrics, there is surprisingly little difference between the air output of a plug-in blower compared to a battery-powered blower with a relatively full charge. While most blowers create wind speeds of 160 mph or more, some smaller units only generate winds blowing at 120 mph. This will likely not be sufficient for clearing significant buildups of wet leaves or for larger twigs. Don't try to save money by getting yourself a leaf blower that is underpowered for your property's needs -- this will prove counterproductive, as you end up wasting time manually clearing debris rather than blowing it where it needs to go.
Finally, consider whether your needs will be met by a unit that functions as a leaf blower alone or if you prefer (or need, given the quantity of leaves your property produces) a leaf blower that can also function as a vacuum and mulcher. Many leaf blowers can also be used to suck up and chop leaves and small lawn debris, providing you with useful leaf mulch or simply reducing the number of bags needed to clean up the leaves you gather. With this versatility, you can expect a slightly added price, but many users find this cost well worth it.
Using Your Leaf Blower
Using a leaf blower will quickly become second nature to most people, but the amateur user will benefit from these few basic tips. First and foremost, you have to know how to operate the actual machine. Read the manual if you have any doubts about its function, and otherwise simply make sure you are running battery powered units with a full charge or are using intact power cords rated for the voltage drawn by your leaf blower. It's also a good idea to make sure your gas is topped off before you begin a session, so you won't have to take any, or as many breaks.
Next, know that timing is important when blowing leaves. Wet leaves are remarkably resistant to a leaf blower; whenever possible, clear leaves before rainfall or else wait a day or two to let wet leaves dry out again before you try to remove them with your blower. (If you must clear wet leaves, you will likely have to use a rake.) Also, avoid blowing leaves on a windy day unless the breeze is consistently blowing in the direction in which you want to move the leaves anyway; otherwise, you will simply lift and redistribute the leaves, rather than clearing them.
To make your work easier, plan in advance where your final leaf pile (or piles) will be and lay down a large tarp (weighted with rocks or branches if need be) that will collect the blown leaves in a pile. You can skip the tarp if you plan to suck up and mulch the leaf pile later. Always try to work in one direction when blowing leaves. One technique is to start in one corner of your yard and work toward the far corner; another is to work your way down hill.
You should hold your leaf blower down by your waist to reduce arm strain and to create the proper shallow angle for ideal lifting and moving of leaves and twigs. Use a back and forth sweeping motion to keep leaves moving once they have been lifted from the grass.
A Few Words On Leaf Blower Safety
Operating a leaf blower is safe and easy as long as you take a few basic precautionary steps prior to each use, and as long as you adhere to a few common sense practices.
It's important that you wear hearing and eye protection while using a leaf blower. Most units create a noise level measured between 70 and 85 dB, which is instantly annoying to the human ear, and which can cause long-term damage with prolonged exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration directs companies to protect workers from sound at this volume; take care of yourself and do the same.
As for eye protection, a leaf blower stirs up all sorts of debris while in use, including many small particles that can easily find their way into your eye, causing irritation or damage. Use goggles or protective glasses to minimize the risk of a scratched cornea.
And, of course, you must make sure that no one else is close enough to your leaf blower to have their eyes or ears potentially damaged, or else to be struck by a bit of wind-blown debris you inadvertently send aloft.