Adding to their usefulness many leaf blowers double up as leaf vacuums. For anyone who has a yard, a leaf blower is both a must-have and a great time-saver.
Petrol or Electric?
Would you use an electric or petrol leaf blower? Using an electric leaf blower in a yard or garden of any substantial size quickly becomes a nuisance as you have to unplug and re-plug the blower to different electrical points as you move around; otherwise you have to use an inordinately long extension cord that becomes a drag in itself. One faces no such hassles when using a petrol leaf blower; however, it must be said that these are somewhat heavier than electric blowers. Another criterion that favours petrol leaf blowers is that as a general rule they have more powerful motors than electric ones.
Most petrol leaf blowers have two-stroke engines though a few pricier ones are four-stroke. Two-stroke leaf blowers need to be filled with a mixture of petrol and oil but four-stroke engines run on (only) petrol.
Essentially, a leaf blower comprises a starter, a motor, and a tube with a nozzle. As such, you might think that you would have to consider only one or two criteria and that there is not much that goes into the decision-making process because a leaf blower just, well, blows air. Far from it. To gauge the strength and leaf-moving capacity of a leaf blower you have to examine the power, airspeed, and engine-size specifications in watts, k.p.h., and cubic centimetres (cc) respectively. The less powerful (and, therefore, smaller) blowers are lighter in weight and these can be carried by a handle or a strap whereas the more powerful ones are carried backpack style in a harness.
Specifications and Features
Next, decide whether you want to go with a four-stroke or two-stroke engine. The former are less noisy, easier to start, and are convenient to fill with petrol but they are more expensive than two-stroke kits.
One more important spec to consider is the noise rating as measured in decibels (dB). Keep in mind that as decibels travel along the logarithmic scale, a difference of 1 is really a factor of 10.
Another spec to look into is the size of the fuel tank but over and above that you may want to make enquiries about fuel efficiency – you don’t want your blower to be drinking like a lush.
Besides the sheer force of air that a blower’s specs tell you it will generate, you also need to go beyond the specs, and none more so than the actual jet of air that a blower produces. Does it blow leaves along exactly how you want or does it tend to scatter them hither and thither?
Then you need to take features into account. A very useful one is cruise control, which works similarly to that of a motor car. When you want a blower to ‘stick’ at a particular setting without having to tire your finger by keeping the trigger depressed, flick a switch and – voila! Another criterion that escapes the specs sheet is vibrations. A leaf blower is used for longish periods throughout autumn and jarring vibrations get old pretty quickly. One of the most important attributes of a leaf blower is the starting mechanism. Look into its robustness and durability above all.
Criteria to Consider
Other aspects to consider hinge around ergonomics and usability. Are the startup cord, trigger, and choke conveniently located? Is the cord pull mechanism too rough? Is the trigger too hard? You may be holding a leaf blower for a good length of time so what about the handle or straps or harness – are they ergonomically designed and/or well-padded?
Many blowers double as vacuums and, optionally, mulchers, and it may be a good idea to get one of these double-duty rigs – after all, there is little point is just blowing dead leaves into neat piles, for you need to clear them too. But beware: look into the ease and convenience of switching between the blower and vacuum modes. It is inordinately difficult to convert some petrol leaf blowers into ‘vacuum-uppers,’ and so much so that it may not be worthwhile buying such a double-duty rig.
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Don’t forget to check the warranty. Is it only one year or three? Does it have any exclusions? And then there’s that most important consideration of all – the one preceded by a £ sign!
This leaf blower is ‘well balanced’ in more ways than one, and the efficiency and advantage of this Makita’s four-stroke motor and super design outweighs minor flaws.
Makita’s premium 4-stroke petrol leaf blower has a 24.4 cc motor. Weighing 4.4 kilogrammes it has 810 watts of power and produces a maximum airflow of 10.1 cubic meters/minute.
As a 4-stroke machine, it takes only petrol (unleaded). It is very quiet and has very low vibrations too.
This excellent rig has a couple of downsides. The air intake is mispositioned for right-handers – 90 percent of the population – who will have to get used to their trousers’ right side being gently suctioned. The trigger is on the small side and it is not easy to put in the locked position.
The adjustable throttle, the angle of the nozzle, and the focus of the jet of air combine exceptionally well to allow you to move leaves exactly as you want them to. This bad boy even moves wet leaves, gravel, acorns, and other bits and pieces, for it is that powerful. Word on the street is that the Makita BHX2501 is Leafdom’s Public Enemy Number One.
A vacuum attachment and different nozzle are available separately but think twice before going for it. You’ll have to twist the tube into the intake, put in a small screw, and attach the bag to a pipe, which is a tight fit. But if you can handle this chore, you’ll be well pleased with an efficient vacuum-cum-mulcher.
Makita provides a one-year warranty.
- Four strokes eliminate mixing nuisance, brings startup reliability, and greatly reduces noise.
- Very powerful, yes, but the overall design also makes it very efficient.
- It’s a Makita – and for many, this is the most important ‘pro’ of all.
- Converting this blower to vacuuming duties is a major operation.
- Air intake may vacuum up the side of your trousers now and again.
- The trigger is not easy on the fingers.
Play the Leaf-Blower Lottery! Buy this Parker kit; you may draw a deuce or an ace: a solid utility leaf blower-cum-vacuum at a rock bottom price.
Weighing about 4 kilogrammes, Parker’s budget-class leaf blower has a 26 cc two-stroke motor. Its 700 watts of power generates a blow speed of about 200 k.p.h. It takes a fuel-oil mix of 40:1.
This product suffers from quality control issues and an unknown percentage of defective units get shipped. Some have carburettor malfunctions, others pulley recoil failures, still others starter mechanism breakdowns; in any case, some units just stop working for good. Your piece may work for days or for weeks . . . or for years.
If you draw spades and get a durable unit, you will be the happy owner of a very good, quite efficient blower-cum-vacuum at an unbelievable price. In other words, buying this Parker rig is a crapshoot: taking the smaller chance that you will throw away your money, you may well land a utility value buy to write home about.
Vacuuming connectors and bag are included in the package, as is a useful strap. The vacuuming pipes’ openings are nearly the same size so the pipe is difficult to put it together. Once that is done, this blower-vac shreds leaves very effectively.
The build quality of Parker’s PBV-2600 is sub-par and cheap but it must be borne in mind that this is an extremely low-priced product.
Parker provides a one-year warranty.
- If you get a good unit, blow away to your heart’s content.
- The vacuum-mulching feature has a very good shredder.
- The price for this 700-watt blower is simply unbelievable.
- The build quality is on the cheap side.
- Quite a number of units are defective and simply quit working.
- You may get a big bargain or, perhaps, you may end up with a big paperweight.
Ticking all the boxes on all the most important criteria, Mcculloch’s rig is tops in power, usability, reliability, and durability, making it ‘the best of the rest.’
Mcculloch’s leaf blower is a monster at 9.16 kilogrammes and a 46 cc two-stroke engine. Its 1500 watts generate a 355 k.p.h. blow speed and a maximum noise level of 95 dB. The fuel tank has a capacity of 2.2 litres and requires a 50:1 fuel-oil ratio.
This heavy blower is carried backpack style. The padded straps and harness are very comfortable, and the unit is equally well balanced both on the back and in the hand.
This rig is only a leaf blower but a seriously powerful one; you’d think it can blow away concrete slabs at full throttle! When the roar of the Mcculloch GB355BP approaches quaking leaves, what they hear is “Hasta la Vista, baby!”
The position of the trigger is adjustable, which allows for flexibility and customisation. The blow speed is varied by simply varying the pressure on the trigger. If you want to operate at a particular, steady speed, simply flick the cruise control switch and you can take your finger off the trigger.
Southpaws may have a tricky time using this leaf blower because of its (lateral) design.
This outfit is really easy to start. This durable leaf blower is a gas-guzzler but is super-reliable.
When purchased from amazon.co.uk it comes with an Amazon one-year warranty.
- Seriously powerful, this rig will blow along even wet or stuck leaves.
- Even better, it is very durable and perhaps even more reliable.
- The trigger is easy to operate and the cruise control is a welcome bonus.
- It guzzles gas so keep a spare can or two handy.
- May not be easy to operate if you’re among the ten percent who are left-handed.
- Mcculloch is rather secretive about its warranty, or lack thereof.
Though acceptable as a leaf blower, where this Ryobi shines is as a vacuum-cum-mulcher but whether you get a good unit or a dud is a gamble.
Ryobi’s 5.7-kilogramme leaf blower has a 26 cc two-stroke motor. Its 750 watts put out air at up to a potent 325 k.p.h.
The speed is adjustable via the throttle. The 325 k.p.h. maximum airflow works a treat and clears up leaves efficiently. However, some units will not start easily and some units are plain defective. Many defects are rooted in the pull cord or starting mechanism. In any case, most often defective machines simply conk out and stay conked out.
The positioning of the fan and vent is ill-designed and will result in your abdomen feeling toasty.
This Ryobi kit comes with vacuum attachments and bag but the absence of a strap is problematic as the machine can begin to feel rather heavy after an hour or so of lugging it around.
Converting this kit into a vacuum is such a hassle that it may not be worth the bother. It is hard manual labour to securely connect the vacuum pipe. Ditto to detach it. Attaching the vacuum bag is another struggle. Once connected, though, this blower-vac demonstrates excellent vacuuming capability as it hoovers up not only leaves but even twigs and small-sized debris and shreds everything effectively.
The instructions and diagrams are quite useless. Assembly is complicated as it is, and the task is compounded by the lack of helpful instructions or figures.
Ryobi provides a two-year warranty.
- Good vacuuming capability.
- Very good shredding capability.
- A two-year warranty – which you may well need.
- Some number of units are defective and simply give up the ghost.
- Switching to and from a vacuum is a bother and a hassle.
- Useless instructions are of no use during the complicated assembly.
Parker’s fearsome leaf blower is easy to use and operate; most importantly, it bristles with unadulterated power that will clear layers of leaves in double-quick time.
This gorilla-class blower from Parker tips the scales at 12 kilogrammes as its two-stroke engine is a big 65 ccs. Its 2,800 watts blows air at an impressive 335 k.p.h. With a machine of these specs, the vibration-reduction feature is most welcome.
The specs do not lie, for this machine is so very powerful that it is a leaf’s worst enemy. It gives the phrase “I’ll blow you away!” a new meaning that is more literal but equally terminal.
The trigger is very well designed, making for a smooth progression from tick to full throttle, not that it will be needed (unless you want to shift some furniture).
The instructions are lame and will not be of much help in putting together this leaf blower. Greenhorns may have a hard time assembling it.
This rig is unquestionably heavy but it becomes quite manageable as a backpack courtesy of the adjustable and well-padded harness.
This leaf blower is more than a match for far more expensive blowers. Such a powerful and reliable blower at such a lowball price has to be one of the best deals in gardening equipment.
- Raw power; Power with a capital ‘P.’ Fallen leaves, be afraid; very afraid.
- For a gorilla-class rig, it is quite easy and manageable as a backpack.
- For such a powerful and reliable leaf blower, the price makes it an out-and-out steal.
- Poor instructions that should just be ‘blown away.’
- Newbies may have a hard time assembling this rig.
How To Use A Leaf Blower Vacuum
In order to use a petrol leaf blower’s vacuuming capability, you’ll need to detach and reconnect the tube from the blowing hole to the intake hole, from one side of the fan to the other. The operation may involve the unlocking of a catch or clasp, unscrewing and screwing back screws or nuts, and attaching a bag. Turn on the leaf blower and now you have a vacuum. The exact procedure, of course, depends on the brand and model of your blower-vac.
The most efficient way to use your leaf blower as a leaf vacuum is to first blow most of the leaves into tidy piles, then convert your leaf blower into a vacuum, and hoover up the piled leaves. Now one might think that instead of blowing fallen leaves into piles and then vacuuming them up, you may as well vacuum them up to begin with. You could, except that, first, leaf blower-cum-vacuums are not very efficient at vacuuming and it will take longer and probably be a more frustrating chore to hoover up widely scattered leaves. Second, most leaf blowers’ vacuums have a blade that shreds leaves in a mulching function. You really don’t want any gravel, conkers, other nuts, large twigs and such accidentally getting suctioned with dead leaves and damaging or even ruining the mulcher.
Finally, bear in mind that regardless of how efficient your blower-vac’s mulching function may be, somehow bags fill up pretty quickly when you’re vacuuming leaves and you’ll be spending a lot of time emptying bags. It may be more efficient to rake or even blow most leaves into bags laid on the ground and propped open, leaving the remnants on the ground for a quick hoover-up.