Choosing The Best Leaf Blower For Your Needs

If you have a lot of trees in your yard, you already know that one of the most tedious jobs in the fall is raking up all of those leaves that fall off the trees. One tool to make the job easier for you is a leaf blower. A leaf blower is a gardening tool that pushes air out of a nozzle which is strong enough to move lightweight yard debris such as leaves. Some models also include a vacuum switch and a bag so that instead of blowing the leaves into a pile, you vacuum them up, just like you'd vacuum your carpets indoors. While you may still need to use your rake, using a leaf blower or vacuum can make this job easier and more time efficient. If you're thinking of buying one, here's information for use in helping you decide which one is right for you. Before you buy, we recommend checking your city ordinances on leaf blowers, especially if you are considering a gas blower. Some may restrict or ban some models, based on noise level and pollution impact. Check your local Lowe's or Home Depot to get an idea what works in your area. Brands with the top-rated models include Stihl, Echo, Toro, and Husqvarna.

Best Electric Leaf Blowers

Electric leaf blowers, both corded and cordless, are going to be cheaper, quieter, and better for the environment with little to no emissions. The biggest drawback on corded models is, of course, that you must be connected to an electrical outlet in order to use them. Another drawback is that they are usually less powerful, although there are some blowers which have as much or more power than some of the gas blowers. With cordless models, you aren't limited by the electric cord, but most of them are not as powerful as the corded leaf blowers. If you can manage your leaf-blowing duties at the end of a 150 ft. cord, save your money and pick one of these.

  • Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51599
    Priced at around $75, this Toro model is a combination leaf blower and vacuum. Has a 12-amp motor and is one of the electric leaf blowers with as much and more power than some gas blowers. It's a light-weight 7.3 pounds, has a variable speed range of 112 to 225 mph, and decibal levels of 63 to 67. It's also a leaf vacuum, with serrated metal blades to chop the leaves to a fine level, requiring fewer yard debris bags to dispose of. This model comes with a 2 year warranty, and gets good reviews from users.
  • Black & Decker NS118
    This is the top-rated cordless electric leaf blower and sells for around $80. Weighing in at 5.5 pounds, owner-reviewers rated this as tops for small jobs. Comes with 2 batteries which are fully charged in about 3 hours. Rated at 120 mph.
  • Black & Decker BV4000 Leaf Hog
    If you have a lot more leaves to vacuum and a little more money to spend, this blower might be just what you need. Costing around $100, this one has some handy options to consider, like the blower/vacuumleaf collection system, which connects the it to a trashcan so you don't have to empty the vacuum bag or carry the leaves around as you go. Switches from blowing to vacuum with a quick push of a button. Highly recommended by users at both Amazon.com and About.com.
  • Toro Power Sweep
    For less money ($35), and for sweeping driveways and sidewalks, this is a good one to own if you only need a leaf blower or sweeper for light duties. Has two speeds, weighs only 4.6 pounds, power rating of 160 mph and decibel level of 63.5. Rated for sweeping solid surfaces, many users report it works well for plant beds and hedges, too. Comes with 2 year warranty.

  • Weed Eater WEB160
    For around $40, you can use this one for light sweeping duties. Higher decibel ratings though (69), it reportedly outperforms some of the higher priced blowers. Has a 7.5 amp motor and weighs 4.5 pounds.

Best Gas Leaf Blowers

Gas leaf blowers are generally more expensive, louder, and have a higher polution factor than electric blowers, but if your yard is large, you'll want to consider one of these models. Check your city's ordinances on gas leaf blowers first, but if you find one you like at your local dealer, they should not be selling them if they're against regulations.

  • Stihl BG 55
    If you don't want to be restricted by a 150 ft. power cord and have heavy-duty clean-up needs, this hand-held blower ranks very well on three top consumer web sites: Consumer Reports, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest Average price is $140, but you'll need to check your noise and pollution ordinances before buying this one, as it's rated at 69 decibels and its 2 cycle engine does pollute. Gets high marks for starting ease and power, it is on the heavy side (9 pounds) and is noisy.
  • Echo PB-265LC
    This is a backpack model, so you can get away with carrying its 13.3 pound weight. Its pretty quiet for a gas leaf blower, at only 65 decibels, Higher priced at $270, it comes with a 5-year warranty. Electronic ignition and variable speeds are a couple of strong points for this blower. It doesn't come with vacuuming options, so if this is important to you, look at the corded models.
  • Husqvarna 356BTx
    Another backpack model, weighs 23 pounds, has maximum airflow of about 180 mph, and costs about $450. It's relatively quiet, although we did not find a decibel rating for this model.

Some Points To Consider Before You Buy

According to Consumersearch, you should consider the following points before making your purchase:

Check Local Ordinances First
Some communities ban leaf blowers altogether, and others have stringent noise and pollution laws. Check before you buy, especially if you are buying online and not through your local dealer, that your choice will meet these standards.

Compare Sounds Before Buying
If possible, you should compare the noise level before making your purchase. Decibel ratings are measured from 50 feet away, so the user will be more impacted by the noise level than anyone else. Most manufacturers will state their decibel rating, but may vary by tone or pitch and can be more annoying than others.

Electric Leaf Blowers Are Usually Best
The best corded electric leaf blowers on the market today are usually as good as many gas models. If you can do the job while tethered to a 150 ft. cord, you'll get the most for your money with an electric, plus you will not be polluting the atmosphere with an electric blower.

The Lighter The Better With Handheld Blowers
Most electric leaf blowers weigh from 5 to 9 pounds. The sweeper models can weigh as little as 4.4 pounds. If you're going with a gas blower, the backpack models are easier to carry than handheld. Gas blowers will be heavier than electric, even without the added gas.

Lower Speeds Protect Plants and Mulch
Variable speed blowers are the best, because the lower the speed, the safer your plants are and the less likely you'll be blowing soil or mulch away from your plants. The lower speeds are usually adequate for most jobs, and the noise level is less, too.

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