I recall brisk Autumn days as a kid, gathering with my family to tackle the giant sea of leaves that lay before us like an ocean. With rake in hand we manipulated the colorful debris into a huge pile that we kids would dive into headlong. Fun times except the next day our hands were usually blistered and our backs sore. Alas! Powered leaf blowers to the rescue!
Gas and electric powered leaf blowers take a potentially laborious job and reduce it to a less fatiguing task. But which blower should you purchase? Exactly what size do you need? And should you take your neighbor’s recommendation and purchase a durable hand held Echo leaf blower? Or your brother’s who recommends one just like his faithful Stihl backpack blower? Lets take a look at some important considerations when selecting a leaf blower.
What size blower do you need?
First, some information on blower sizes. A common unit of power measurement for leaf blowers is CFM (cubic feet per minute). This basically means how “much” air you can move. The other measurement, MPH (miles per hour) is the “speed” the air travels. If a blower were a rake imagine CFM as the size of your “rake tines” and the MPH as the speed in which you can “rake” or move objects you are blowing. Most blower manufacturers provide a good balance between the two parameters to produce their product.
The first consideration here is the amount of dead leaves or debris you’ll need to move. If you only have a few deciduous trees and or perhaps a small area to clear, you will of course not need a more powerful machine. A simple handheld unit should suffice. However, keep in mind it can be frustrating having a tool that it under-powered for your real world needs. Likewise, if you have a lot of leaves to move and or a large area to clear, you will want to consider a more powerful unit such as a backpack blower, or in some cases, a walk behind wheeled leaf blower.
Gasoline fueled backpack blowers typically offer more power combined with the ease of wearing them thereby reducing hand and arm fatigue. Hand held blowers have some advantages as well such as usually being lower cost, lighter and having an additional power choice of either gasoline or electric.
Gas versus Electric?
A handheld electric blower may be a good option if you have a very small working area. You will be limited by the length of your extension cord and they also tend to be less powerful than gas powered blowers. Cordless electric blowers are becoming more available but the limitations of current battery technology may be cause to pause before sinking funds into a relatively untested concept. Electric also has the additional advantage of not requiring fuel to operate.
Gas powered blowers offer a bigger selection and more power. Plus you are not tethered to an extension cord allowing you to cover more ground freely. A possible disadvantage is you do have to mix fuel and oil in some cases and they tend to be a bit louder.
Which brand should you buy?
We personally recommend the Echo and Shindaiwa brands. They offer some of the best warranties in the industry. With a 5 year consumer warranty and a 2 year commercial use warranty, you can be assured you’re purchasing the best equipment on the market today. Echo and Shindaiwa offer other homeowner products built to last and help make any job easier. In addition to these two industry leaders, there are other quality brands out there. We recommend reading online reviews as well as discussing with other leaf blower owners to help you make an educated purchase.
Regardless of which brand or power type of leaf blower you purchase, keep in mind a quality brand product is a better investment than a cheaper model. Visit your local power equipment dealer to help you make the choice that’s right for you.
Here is some additional helpful information from Consumers Reports.