The warm, lazy summer afternoons are behind us; now, it’s time to deal with the pre-winter chill throughout the autumn months. Then there’s the whole ordeal of raking up leaves that absolutely nobody likes doing. Instead of raking, why not get a leaf blower? In this guide, we’ll show you our picks of the best gas handheld leaf blowers that will help blow all of your problems several feet away from your yard.
Leaf Blower Buying Guide
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about leaf blowers—the whats, the whys—everything. Even though we’re focusing mainly on handheld leaf blowers, this guide will provide information on every type of leaf blower available. By the end, you’ll know what to look for when shopping for a leaf blower on your own. Alternatively, you can choose one of the models listed above (just a suggestion).
What Is a Leaf Blower?
From the name of the tool, you might assume that a leaf blower blows leaves, but that’s only half the story. A leaf blower is a tool that blows high volumes of air at high speeds in order to blow leaves and other debris around. Leaf blowers draw in ambient air, which is compressed in the engine or motor before being forced out of the nozzle. You’ll typically find leaf blowers in the hands of landscapers, though they certainly can come in handy around the workshop.
Leaf Blowers by Type
Finding the right leaf blower begins by knowing the various types that are available. The most commonly used types of leaf blowers include handheld, backpack, wheeled, and walk-behind.
Handheld Leaf Blowers
Handheld leaf blowers are the most widely used type for DIY landscaping projects. Compared to the other types, handheld leaf blowers are more compact, easy to transport, and consume less energy, and come at a lower cost. Even professional lawn care services have a couple of handheld leaf blowers in their arsenal.
Backpack Leaf Blowers
Backpack leaf blowers are the beefier type of the handheld version. This is worn like a backpack—thus, its name—and comes with a more powerful engine that delivers greater bursts of high-speed air. Mostly professionals use backpack leaf blowers, though it’s not uncommon for the average DIY Joe or Jane to sport these machines.
Wheeled/Walk-Behind Leaf Blower
This is a specialty tool that only the most hardcore landscapers would ever need. This includes those who landscape as a career or homeowners with around an acre of leaf-littered yards. These tools make blowing tons of a leaves a breeze, but for the common homeowner, they’re nothing but absolute overkill.
Leaf Blowers by Fuel
Leaf blowers can be split into three categories based on their power supply: corded-electric, cordless, and gas.
Corded-Electric Leaf Blower
Corded-electric leaf blowers are the mightier of the two electric types. They generally come with beefier motors that deliver higher air volume and speed to push greater quantities of leaves at a farther distance. Their source of power is limitless for uninterrupted cleaning, but their reach is limited to the length of the power cord plus extension cord.
Cordless Leaf Blower
Cordless leaf blowers draw power from a rechargeable battery pack, typically lithium ion. Their runtimes are limited by the size of its battery, and they’re typically nowhere near as powerful as their corded-electric counterparts, but the same portability as gas-powered models. Their batteries require several hours to recharge after about 20 to 30 minutes of work.
PRO TIP. If you plan on purchasing a cordless leaf blower, consider picking up extra battery packs and chargers, or find a model that comes with a backup battery pack. This will allow you to switch between batteries and double your work efficiency.
Gas Leaf Blower
Gas leaf blowers are the most powerful of the bunch. Their combustion engines deliver more force and speed to blast leaves several feet away, and they don’t tether you down with power cords. Instead, gas keeps the engine running, and you can top off the tank whenever you’re running low.
What Can I Do with a Leaf Blower?
You can do quite a bit, actually. Despite their name, leaf blowers don’t just blow leaves around; you can use the high bursts of air for countless jobs, including air-drying laundry, drying your yard prior to mowing, drying patio furniture after it rains, shoving sawdust and woodchips out of your workshop garage’s door, dusting (not precise but highly effective), and unclogging gutters. You can even whip your leaf blower out during the winter to blast away powdery snow from your car’s windshield.
CAUTION: Earlier, we said that leaf blowers can come in handy around the workshop. Though this is true, you should not attempt to use a gas-powered leaf blower indoors as the exhaust fumes may have nowhere to go. Even if the room is well-ventilated, gas leaf blowers should only be used outside.
When Should You Replace Your Leaf Blower?
On average, leaf blowers can work for up to 1,000 hours before experiencing its first major problem. For most homeowners, 1,000 hours roughly translates to about ten years.
Gas leaf blowers are more prone to experiencing major wear and tear as it grows older. It’s just a natural part of the combustion engine’s life cycle, and there’s no way around it.
The same holds true for electric leaf blowers. They generally last for around a decade where they end up shutting off completely, never to return to life.
If the leaf blower you inherited from your grandparent cannot stay on even with a full tank of fuel, then you know it’s time to upgrade.
Pro Tip. There are three major things to look at when maintaining a gas leaf blower: fuel, air, and spark. Fuel is only good for up to 30 days, so always fill the tank with fresh fuel after long breaks. When cleaning the air filter, never directly blow air from a compressor since it will blow huge holes through the porous material. Finally, check the spark regularly following the manufacturer’s instructions or after every 25 hours of use.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Leaf Blower
While shopping for a leaf blower, you should pay special care to the following specs to ensure that you’re getting the back model for your money.
Dry weight refers to the weight of the leaf blower before adding fuel or vacuuming leaves (we’ll talk about additional features in the following section). A modern handheld leaf blower typically doesn’t weigh more than ten pounds, but those with larger motors can go past the 15-pound mark.
Which brings us to the next spec: the size of the engine or motor. Combustion engines fitted onto gas leaf blowers are larger than electric motors and thus weigh considerably more, even before adding fuel. A higher horsepower or cubic-centimeter (cc) rating will indicate how powerful the engine is and how much air it blows at what speed. While shopping for electric leaf blowers, take a look at the amperage rating.
Airflow and Windspeed Ratings
Other than looking at the size of the engine or motor, you can also take a peek at the tool’s two most crucial performance figures, namely, airflow and wind speeds. Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) or cubic meters per hour (m3/h), which shows how much air the engine produces. Windspeed, measured in MPH or m/sec, gauges how quickly the air comes flying out of the nozzle. The higher these two ratings, the more powerful the leaf blower.
For Your Safety. Leaf blowers are incredibly loud, and there’s no realistic way to muffle the noise coming from the tool short of blocking the nozzle, which is counter-intuitive to the original purpose of a leaf blower. Before pressing the on button or pulling the recoil cord, make sure you have PPE hearing protection. This will save your ears from hours of ringing afterward.
Leaf Blower Features
Here, we’ll quickly go over the various features found in leaf blowers. You should look for a leaf blower that comes with handy features that add value to your tool, depending on your needs.
Extra Handle Grip
Even though handheld leaf blowers are already pretty lightweight, it doesn’t hurt to have a handle to grip with your free hand to increase leaf-blowing accuracy.
Take a look at the nozzle that comes with the leaf blower. A narrower nozzle typically delivers higher windspeeds by sacrificing total airflow per second. Narrower nozzles are great for removing tangled leaves in moist grass. A wider nozzle has better side-to-side reach without swinging the tool around.
Variable Speed Dial
A variable speed dial will let you choose how much airflow and windspeed to deliver. The option to go up and down speeds has the potential to reduce overall gas and battery consumption, thereby enhancing work efficiency. Some models also come with different “gears” with preprogrammed speeds.
Transparent Fuel Tank
If you decide to get a handheld gas leaf blower for the outdoors, one of the most annoying things is opening the tank cap every couple of minutes to gauge how much fuel is left. Try and find a model with a transparent tank or lid.
CAUTION. When putting away your gas leaf blower, make sure to stow it in a part of your shed or garage that does not receive direct sunlight. The sun’s rays can heat the gas, which in turn can release flammable vapors. In extreme cases, the fuel can explode.
Bottom Air Intake
Pay attention to the location of the air intake. Some models have intakes located on the rear side of the tool which will pull in loose-fitting clothes and negatively affect performance. A bottom-mounted air intake port doesn’t have this problem.
A leaf blower can also double as a leaf vacuum. Some models come with both capabilities, allowing you to suction in or blow away leaves and other debris with a single tool. Even though handheld leaf blower-vacuum hybrids don’t come with tremendously large collection bags, it’s a lot better than manually raking afterward.
Take a look at the various attachments that either come with the leaf blower or are compatible but sold separately. Attachments vary from model to model, but the most widely used are different nozzles types (narrow and wide), gutter cleaning kits with multiple hose connections, tube extensions for reaching high-up spaces, collection bags that mount onto the end of the nozzle for quick pickup, leaf collection systems that connect directly to a trash bin for easy disposal, and shoulder straps.
1. Which is the best type of leaf blower?
The “best” type of leaf blower is the one that suits your needs. If we’re measuring “best” by seeing how much airflow and windspeed the tool can deliver, we would say walk-behind leaf blowers win ten times out of ten. However, they are pricier than handheld models and definitely not a cost-efficient tool for non-pro landscapers. We highly recommend looking at handheld models that uses the type of fuel you’re most comfortable with.
2. Is a leaf blower worth it?
Yes, it definitely is. Handheld leaf blowers—even some gas-powered models—are incredibly affordable. Plus, for a low-cost tool, you can do a-million-and-one things with it, including drying outdoor furniture, blasting gutters clean, drying laundry, and removing woodchips from your workshop garage. You can increase the versatility and value of your tool by picking up several cleaning attachments.
3. Are leaf blowers safe?
Yes, they are, even though they are annoyingly loud. Before turning your leaf blower on, make sure that you have a good pair of sound-blocking earmuffs on to protect your hearing. Also, tiny particles can go airborne and settle in your lungs, so you might want to wear respirator or, at least, a mask.
4. When is the best time of year to purchase a leaf blower?
There’s no definitive time period where leaf blowers go on sale, regardless of the season. Even though they are extremely sought-after tools during the fall season, their versatility makes them valuable tool throughout the year. So, you’ll have to refer to each individual manufacturer or retailer to see which models are sold at discounted rates and when.
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Last update on 2021-01-15 / Most affiliate links and/or Images from Amazon Product Advertising API