Choosing the best leaf blower isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. If you were to be Tim “The Toolman” Taylor from Tool Time, the answer would be simple: Go for the strongest leaf blower available on the market! (OK, if you really were Tim Taylor, you’d probably also fiddle around with it to make it even stronger and blow up the machine and ruin you garden in the same go.) 😉
But in real life, things aren’t always that simple. You can think of it like choosing a car. If you wanted to compete in Nascar, a racing car would be a perfect choice. But if you use your car mainly for driving the kids to school and taking home your groceries shoppings afterward, a racing car would be a rather inappropriate choice
Similar to this, many aspects come into play when choosing a leaf blower. So here is our advice what to consider, so you will find the best leaf blower for your situation available on the market.
First of all, let’s take a look at your circumstances.
- What kind of area do you want to clean? Do you have a big garden or a small patio?
- Are there many trees? Naturally, many trees usually means more leaves.
- Do you live in a rainy clime or in a rather arid environment? Dry leaves are much easier to blow away than soppy ones. So if you have to deal with wet leaves frequently, a stronger blower might be necessary.
- Consider your physical fitness. A handheld leaf blower is usually fine for small areas, but its vibrations can be stressful for your hand and lower arm when used for a longer period. So for larger gardens, you might need a backpack blower or even a walk behind model.
- Respect your neighborhood. Let’s be honest, leaf blowers are noisy. But not all of them sound like a fighter jet. If you live in a densely populated neighborhood, loud noise and exhaust fumes from gas-powered engines may upset your neighbors. In that case, an electric model might be the better choice as they are usually less noisy and don’t produce any emissions.
- On top of that, there could be environmental laws in place which determine what you are allowed to operate. So check online or with your local authorities whether there are special regulations for your local area.
- Last but not least your budget will determine what you buy. There usually will be an upper limit of what you can spend. But don’t be swayed by the price tag only. You want to buy a tool to get a job done. So choose a proper tool for the job! Buying a cheaper model which doesn’t fulfill your needs isn’t money saved. It’s money wasted on a useless piece of equipment which will annoy you every time you have to use it. There are affordable blowers in all categories, so take a look at our reviews and make a well-informed decision. That way you will have a good reliable tool for years to come.
Choosing the Right Model
Now, let’s take a look at the various leaf blower models available.
One way to categorize is them, is by the way you carry them around. There are
Handheld Leaf Blowers
These are usually not the strongest models available, but they are well suited for patios and backyards. You can use them for small gardens as well, though they are best suited for hard surfaces. They are quick and easy to get out and use and some of the cheapest leaf blower models fall into this category.
Backpack Leaf Blowers
With these, you just hold the nozzle in one hand and carry the heavier engine on your back like a rucksack. That makes them more comfortable for bigger gardens, as the weight and vibrations of a handheld leaf blower can put some strain on your hands and wrists if you carry them around for a longer time.
Walk-Behind Leaf Blowers
These are the strongest models available and are well suited for big gardens, parks, sports arenas and the like.
Another classification is the type of engine. There are electric models, either plugged into a power outlet or powered by batteries. And then there’s the gas (or petrol) powered models, which are stronger and will work longer consecutive hours.
Corded Electric Leaf Blowers
Much like a vacuum cleaner, you can get them quickly out of your shed or garage and use them straight away. There’s no need for charging batteries or going out and getting some gas (or petrol for our British readers) in order to fuel them. No need to mix gas or wait for the batteries to be charged, just plug them into the nearest power outlet and off you go!
The drawbacks on these models are that you need a power socket nearby. And if you have a lot of trees or shrubs in your garden, fiddling around with a long power cord behind you can be cumbersome.
Battery Powered Leaf Blowers
Much like their corded electrical cousins, these guys are free of fuel fumes and are less noisy than the gas powered engines. An additional advantage is the easy handling as they free you from having to watch out for the long power cord behind you. And you don’t need a power point nearby either.
But the batteries which are their biggest advantage are also the main source for their disadvantages. First of all the battery has to be charged in advance. A flat battery doesn’t get you anywhere, so you need some preparation time before being able to free your garden from fallen leaves. And – depending on the capacity of the battery – you will only be able to use it for a certain amount of time, usually something like 30 to 60 minutes. So having a second battery available, loaded and ready to swap is usually a good idea.
Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers
Gas-Powered blowers give you more power and more freedom than corded electric blowers. Plus you can work longer consecutive stretches of time than with a battery operated blower. The cons are the exhaust fumes and the fact that they are usually noisier than their electrical cousins.
The engines for gas-powered leaf blowers come in two varieties: two-stroke and four-stroke (or 2-cycle and 4-cycle).
Two-stroke engines are smaller and have a simpler design, which also means they’re cheaper.
The downside is they require a bit more maintenance than four-stroke engines. Depending on the model you can either have two tanks or you have to mix oil into the gasoline before filling the tank. But if you already own a lawn mower or other piece of gardening equipment with a two-stroke engine, you are used to this procedure and will have all the necessary equipment anyway. Unfortunately, the added oil also makes the exhaust fumes more smelly. If you have ever driven behind a Vespa or other motorscooter with a two-stroke engine, you will recognize the smell immediately.
Additional Factors to Consider
The air velocity is another point to take into consideration. At first, stronger seems to be better. And yes, a stronger motor with a higher air speed is well suited for bigger areas, with lots of leaves. It’s also better when the leaves are wet or if you have lots of small twigs and branches interspersed with the leaves.
However, if you have to clean flower beds with delicate flowers or areas covered with gravel or pebbles, a stronger leaf blower might destroy your tender plants or blow smaller stones onto your lawn, where they could wreak havoc with your lawn mower.
In these cases, a leaf blower with a slower air speed or a model capable of switching between two or more speeds would be better suited.
The air velocity alone doesn’t necessarily determine a leaf blowers power. Imagine you blow through a straw as hard as you can. That way you can get a rather high air speed. But using a straw to clean your garden of leaves would take forever. You definitely need more air to shift your leaves. So it’s not only the speed of the air which makes a powerful leaf blower, but it is also the air volume!
Many midrange blowers offer additional functionalities, e.g. they can be used as leaf vacuums too. All the leaves you blow into one corner of your garden have to be picked up to put them onto your compost heap or to bag them and have them collected. You can either do this manually or you can turn some blowers into big vacuum cleaners. With these, you suck the leafs into a bag attached to the blower. Some are also capable of mulching the leaves into small pieces. These have less air in-between, so you get something like five times more leaves into the bag. This, of course, means fewer cycles of loosening the bag, emptying it onto your compost or into large garbage bags, and then reattaching the collection bag onto the leaf vacuum.
Which is the Best Leaf Blower for you?
Patio or Small Garden
A corded-electric handheld leaf blower is your best choice. As long as you have a power outlet nearby, they are the easiest to use. Quick to get out and quick to store away. And if you have a small garden, usually your storage room is limited as well. Handheld blowers don’t take up much space and you’ll probably find a corner in your garage where you can put it.
If there aren’t many trees in your garden and you live in a dry area, a handheld model might be sufficient. Otherwise, a backpack blower would be better. When it comes to the engine you can either go for battery operated or gas powered. If you have lots of wet weather, a gas powered engine will give your blower more punch to deal with the wet leaves.
Definitely a case for a strong gas powered backpack blower. Handheld models would be too strenuous on your arms and battery powered engines would run flat too quickly.
If you have many flower beds or areas covered with bark or gravel, a second handheld blower might be useful for cleaning those spaces without devastating the plants or vandalizing your decorative pebbles.
Yep, you guessed it. We left the big ones ’til the end. The only feasible verdict is: Walk-behind leaf blowers. No pondering about engines either. Gas powered is the only possible choice with these fat boys.
OK, this was rather a long read but by now you should have a clear picture of what type of leaf blower is right for you. All you have to do now is find the one that suits you best. So take a closer look at the corresponding sections here at our website to find the best leaf blower for you and go ahead and order it.
Hopefully, you’ll be blown away. (Yes, bad pun intended.) 😉
Your Leaf Blower Judge