In many parts of the country, 'tis the time for trees to start showing signs of crimson and gold. Yet while fall foliage is beautiful on the trees, it's much less attractive when it's littering your lawn. Resist the rake! This backbreaking chore makes you stiff and sore, then saddles you with bags full of leaves to haul away. This year, why not use a leaf blower to make short work of what covers your yard? There are a wide variety of styles and sizes of leaf blowers on the market today, ranging from light-duty handheld units to heavyweight professional-grade models. Read on to learn about the different types and to find out why we consider the following five models the best leaf blower options for most homeowners:
- BEST GAS-POWERED LEAF BLOWER: Husqvarna Backpack Leaf Blower
- BEST BUDGET LEAF BLOWER: Sun Joe Electric Leaf Blower
- BEST COMPACT LEAF BLOWER: KIMO Cordless Leaf Blower
- BEST CORDLESS LEAF BLOWER: Kobalt Cordless Leaf Blower
- BEST CORDED ELECTRIC LEAF BLOWER: WORX Turbine 600 Electric Leaf Blower
It is important to take the total weight of the blower into account before purchasing-while a larger model may be more powerful, it will probably also be more unwieldy.
- Small, handheld leaf blowers-usually sporting a shoulder strap-are suitable for homeowners who have an average-size suburban lot and a few trees.
- Larger, backpack-style models are ideal for those with bigger properties or yards with many trees.
- Wheeled, walk-behind blowers are generally used by the pros or by homeowners with a substantial amount of wooded property.
Leaf blowers are rated by cubic feet per minute (CFM), a measurement of the volume of air that is pushed through the unit. Blowers with higher CFM ratings can move more leaves at a faster rate. Another important rating, the power output of a leaf blower, is measured in cubic centimeters (cc) for gasoline-powered motors; amps (A) for corded electric blowers; and volts (V) for cordless, battery-powered blowers. Miles-per-hour (MPH) ratings, yet another indication of a blower's power, measure the speed at which air exits the unit.
There are three different types of power systems for leaf blowers:
- Gasoline: Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are typically the most powerful-ideal for properties of a quarter acre or more-and come in two-cycle or four-cycle engines. Two-cycle engines run on a blend of oil and gasoline, and offer a good balance between power and weight; four-cycle engines run on gasoline alone but tend to be heavier than two-cycle engines and also require regular oil changes. Note that these models produce exhaust that contains carbon monoxide and other pollutants and therefore should always be used outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.
- Corded Electric: Corded electric units are lightweight, portable, and quieter than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Light-duty electric sweepers can handle driveways, decks, and patios, while higher-powered electric blowers can take on yards up to a quarter of an acre. Corded electric blowers provide steady power without the weight of a battery; however, because the cord restricts mobility, they are used primarily for small yards or areas near the house.
- Battery-Powered: Showcasing many of the same advantages as an electric model, cordless battery-powered blowers also offer excellent mobility. The batteries, however, add a little weight and need to be recharged periodically. Some cordless leaf blowers use batteries that are interchangeable with other power equipment or accessories, including string trimmers, hedge trimmers, and chain saws. If you have several such battery-powered tools, or if you have a particularly large lawn, it may be in your best interest to keep some extra batteries on hand.
The most frequent complaint about leaf blowers is that they are noisy. Many gasoline-powered models emit 90 to 102 decibels during use; electric and battery-powered units typically range from 65 to 78 decibels. Some local municipalities have enacted laws capping leaf blower noise at 65 or 70 decibels at a distance of 50 feet away, so it might be a good idea to check your local ordinances before purchasing a leaf blower. A unit with variable speed settings, which allow you to adjust the airflow and movement of debris, can also help with noise control. Always wear eye and ear protection and a dust mask while operating a leaf blower.
A leaf vacuum and/or shredding or mulching attachment is a highly desirable feature that enables you to shred leaves so they can be used as mulch in garden beds, thereby reducing yard waste. Some vacuum-capable models include larger-diameter chutes or tubes that help collect leaves. Reduction ratios-such as 10:1 or 16:1-indicate the number of bags of leaves that a blower with mulching capabilities can reduce to one bag.
While there are a tremendous number of leaf blowers available, both in stores and online, we've done our homework to narrow the field for you. Taking into consideration the criteria listed above as well as reviews from actual users like yourself, we identified the top-rated leaf blowers on the market today for any need.
1. BEST GAS-POWERED LEAF BLOWER: Husqvarna Backpack Leaf Blower
For the ultimate in leaf-blowing power, look no further than the Husqvarna Backpack Leaf Blower. Its powerful 65cc X-Torq motor delivers air at an impressive blowing speed of up to 232 mph, so even compressed leaves won't stand a chance. It weighs in at a hefty 23.2 pounds, but don't worry about arm fatigue! The Husqvarna comes with a backpack that supports the blower at your side as you work-you just guide the pipe. Air speed is controlled by trigger pressure, and the blower runs on a fuel combination of 50 parts gasoline to one part two-stroke engine oil (included) that powers up with an easy one-pull quick start. This bad boy is a good choice for large yards that get a lot of leaf accumulation and for operating in remote areas where electricity isn't available.
2. BEST BUDGET LEAF BLOWER: Sun Joe Electric Leaf Blower
While it's the cheapest option here, the Sun Joe Electric Leaf Blower offers an impressive air speed of up to 155 mph so you can effectively remove leaves and small twigs from driveways and walks. Weighing in at just 3.9 pounds, you won't have any trouble holding the single-speed blower with just one hand. The Sun Joe features a 6-amp, 110-volt electric motor and comes with a short cord that should be connected to either a 16-gauge, 50-foot exterior cord or a 14-gauge, 100-foot extension cord for safe outdoor operating. Users love both the power and the price of this leaf blower, claiming it's perfect for clearing away light leaf accumulation in garden areas, sidewalks, and garages.
3. BEST COMPACT LEAF BLOWER: KIMO Cordless Leaf Blower
The compact KIMO Cordless Leaf Blower weighs in at just 2.2 pounds and can be stashed in a car trunk or a broom closet when not in use. Though the manufacturer doesn't indicate its top air speed, impressed users claim that it's powerful enough to clear leaves from the driveway and sidewalk. The slim blower operates on a rechargeable 20V lithium-ion battery (battery and charger are included), and it can run at full speed for up to 20 minutes on a single charge. Plus, it can be converted to a vacuum just by attaching the pipe to the inlet valve and a garbage bag to the air outlet, solidifying it as a smart choice for renters, apartment dwellers, and homeowners with small yards or light leaf accumulation.
4. BEST CORDLESS LEAF BLOWER: Kobalt Cordless Leaf Blower
If you're looking for muscle in a cordless blower, the Kobalt Cordless Leaf Blower should impress. It runs on a powerful 80-volt lithium-ion battery (sold separately) and requires the additional purchase of a battery charger (also sold separately), both of which are interchangeable with all other Kobalt 80-volt cordless tools. The 8.9-pound leaf blower generates air speeds of up to 140 mph, making it ideal for medium to heavy leaf accumulation and even larger yards where a corded blower won't reach. Users report that it runs up to 20 minutes on high speed on a single charge or up to 30 minutes at lower speeds.
5. BEST CORDED ELECTRIC LEAF BLOWER: WORX Turbine 600 Electric Leaf Blower
Make quick work of leaf removal with the WORX Turbine 600 Electric Leaf Blower. The WORX features turbine fan technology (spinning force) that delivers up to 115 mph of leaf-churning air, controlled by a variable speed switch on the handle. Still, this corded electric blower weighs in at a comfortable-to-carry 6.4 pounds and can reach most of a small- or medium-size yard with light leaf accumulation if you connect it to either a 16-gauge, 50-foot extension cord or a 14-gauge, 100-foot extension cord.