Welcome to our guide to choosing the best gas leaf blower for your money. For homeowners leaf blowers are essential tools to keep your home clean and clear of debris. They’re fairly straightforward tools from an operational perspective but there are some key factors you should consider before deciding on which model to buy.
We cover a lot of ground here to help you make an intelligent buying decision. We hope you find this article helpful.
Best Gas Leaf Blower
It’s inevitable, if you have a yard or a business you’ll probably want the best gas leaf blower for your specific needs. As beautiful as the seasons are they also bring with them new challenges and with Autumn always comes falling leaves. Well, in truth, a leaf blower is used for so much more than simply cleaning leaves. Leaf blowers can rapidly remove leaves, dust, debris, spider webs, powdered snow and they can even dry your car after a wash.
We review some of the best gas leaf blowers available today, as well as discuss a wide range of topics that I think will help you make a smart buying decision.
Why Do You Need a Leaf Blower?
Leaf blowers are the quintessential gardening tool, they are used by households as well as landscaping companies. So exactly what is a leaf blower, and why do we prefer it over hand tools such as rakes or brooms? Well, leaf blowers are essentially a means to move small debris such as leaves, dirt, grass, twigs, sand, etc. You can take a leaf blower and gather up all the fallen leaves and twigs from your lawn, deck, and driveway into one nice big pile.
Heavy-duty Backpack Gas Leaf Blower | Makita EB7650TH
They are much more effective than rakes and brooms because of how easily and quickly they get the task done. Two hours of work with multiple persons wielding rakes will barely take 10-15 minutes with a leaf blower. One of the misconceptions that many potential customers have is that leaf blowers are one-season landscaping machines, i.e. you use them during the fall season and then they are done for the rest of the year.
Well, this is absolutely not the case–leaf blowers can do much more than just clear your yard of fallen leaves during autumn. They are capable of blowing away light snow from driveways and lawns, and can be used for pretty much any task that involves the removal of small debris such as dust, sand, grass, etc.
You can clean up windblown walkways in spring with a leaf blower, or you can use one to blow away light snow from your driveways and lawn during the winter. In summer, you can use them to clear up those sandy decks and patios. If you are a DIY enthusiast and own a workshop in your garage or basement, then a leaf blower can act as a nice little cleanup device to dust down dirty tools and machinery. A nice alternative to the standard hand-held leaf blower is the walk-behind leaf blower, which provides you with more power and its easier to move around since you don’t have to hold it in your hand.
Troy-Bilt TB672 — Walk-Behind Leaf Blower
An average leaf blower ejects air from its hose at speeds ranging between 140-200 mph, and the outgoing air also happens to be somewhat hot. You can even use a leaf blower to dry up your freshly washed car, since the warm air coming out at high velocity does a marvelous job of sucking away moisture from a wet surface.
Before moving on, we would like to shed some light on the history of the leaf blower. It was originally invented in 1950, not as a landscaping machine but as an agricultural chemical sprayer. Dom Quinto came up with the original design for this chemical spraying device, but he never expected to see people using it as a landscaping tool. About 20 years after the original chemical sprayer design was released, various companies noticed that customers were using these spraying machines as blowers by removing the parts that dispensed the chemicals.
Battery-Powered Blowers have many Advantages | Snapper XD SXDBL82K
They would remove the dispenser attachments, fertilizer tanks, etc. and use the machine to blow away leaves and twigs from their fields and lawns. Manufacturers immediately recognized the potential of this invention as a common gardening and landscape maintenance tool. The sale of leaf blowers was propelled by drought conditions in California during the 1970’s, since people couldn’t use water to carry out many cleanup tasks.
By the 90’s, annual sales of leaf blowers in the United States had gone up to 800,000. What started out as an agricultural chemical dispenser had now become a ubiquitous gardening deice.
In this article, we shall discuss how a leaf blower works, talk about the several types of leaf blowers, and then take a look at some of the best gas-powered leaf blowers in the market right now. Leaf blowers can be powered by electricity or gas, each design having its own pros and cons. You will learn about leaf blower specifications, and the terms that manufacturers use to advertise the performance of their products. Each person has unique needs, and there are leaf blowers for light tasks, medium duty tasks, as well as heavy duty tasks. Depending on the application, you might need to use a handheld blower, backpack blower, or a walk-behind blower.
How Much Power do you Need? | Husqvarna 560BTS (Backpack Blower)
This article will tell you everything you need to know before purchasing a leaf blower, and we have also included comprehensive reviews for 8 of the best gas-powered blowers currently available on the market. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Makita BHX2500CA | Best Gas Leaf Blower
- Mechanical Automatic Engine Decompression for quicker, easier starts
- Soft grip for less vibration, and convenient cruise control lever for reduced operator fatigue
- Dual stage air filter is replaceable and easily accessible
- Compact design with less weight (only 9.8 lbs.)
- Large capacity muffler ensures quieter operation at 67dB(A)
- Powerful and fuel efficient 24.5 cc 4-stroke commercial duty engine
- Meets or exceeds EPA and CARB exhaust and evaporative emissions regulations
- 4-stroke engine requires no fuel mix
- Efficient 4-stroke engine has lower emissions
- High air volume (356 CFM) and air speed (145 MPH) for commercial-duty performance
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Makita BHX2500CA.
The Makita BHX2500CA is one of the most expensive handheld leaf blowers out there, and it doesn’t even come with a vacuum/ mulch function. So why did we include it on this list? Well, Makita is renowned for making some of the best power tools in the United States. Their build quality and performance is always a step ahead of the competition, and the BHX2500CA is no exception to that legacy.
While most handheld blowers are powered by cheaper 2-stroke gasoline engines, the BHX2500CA has a 24.5cc, 4-stroke commercial duty motor inside. The engine generates 1.1 horsepower, enough to pump 356 cubic feet of air out of the hose at a speed of up to 145 mph. The CFM output of this handheld leaf blower is staggeringly high for its class, and puts it on par with most low to mid-end backpack blowers. The Makita MM4 4-stroke gasoline motor is supported by a 17.6 oz. fuel tank, while the crank case can contain up to 2.7 oz. of oil.
Mechanical automatic engine decompression allows for easier and more reliable startup, so you spend less time pulling the cord and more time blowing leaves. A dual stage air filter means that the engine will run cleaner and last longer. It doesn’t need to be replaced as frequently as the normal air filters found on cheaper leaf blowers, so you save on maintenance time as well as running expenses.
While it is a bit on the heavier side (9.8 lbs.) by handheld standards, the Makita BHX2500CA is still surprisingly lightweight for a leaf blower powered by a 4-stroke engine. Emissions are lower compared to any 2-stroke engine on the market and as a result, the BHX2500CA either meets or exceeds most CARB and EPA standards for exhaust and evaporative emissions. Not just that, it is also one of the quietest gas-powered leaf blowers at just 67 dB(A).
The low noise output is partly because of the highly efficient 4-stroke motor, but mainly due to the unique large-capacity muffler attached to the exhaust. Fuel and oil inlets are conveniently located for easy access while refueling, and the power cord is extremely easy to pull on. The handle is large and ergonomically shaped for maximum comfort. It also has a vibration-damping soft grip on top, along with a convenient cruise control lever for reduced operator fatigue.
Tech Specs (Makita BHX2500CA) :
- Engine Displacement (cc) : 24.5 cc
- Engine (HP) : 1.1 HP
- Max. Air Volume : 356 CFM
- Max. Air Velocity : 145 MPH
- Fuel Type : Unleaded gas
- Fuel Tank Capacity : 17.6 oz.
- Crank Case Capacity : 2.7 oz.
- Sound Pressure : 67 dB(A)
- Dry Weight : 9.8 lbs.
- Blower Type : Handheld
- Power Type : 4-stroke gas
- User Type : Farm/Ranch
- The fan housing is engineered so that the air stream is in line with the handle. This reduces stress on the wrist and arm.
- Stop switch automatically resets to the ON position for easier starting.
- Fan speed can be set for easier handling.
- The blowing tube length is adjustable for best performance.
- CARB Compliant
- Purchase this Husqvarna handheld item along with 3-32 ounce cans of Husqvarna pre-mix fuel, register your product online, and your consumer warranty will be extended from 2 years to 4 years
Even though the Makita BHX2500CA is a truly amazing handheld leaf blower, its performance pales in comparison to the far superior Husqvarna 125B. Both weigh nearly the same, and the Husqvarna 125B costs about 10-15% more than the Makita BHX2500CA depending on where you buy it from. But despite their similarities in terms of weight, size, and price – the 356 CFM flow rate of the Makita is a whopping 20% lower than the 425 CFM flow rate of the Husqvarna.
Not just that, the Husqvarna pumps out all that air volume at a blistering 170 mph, compared to the 145 mph of the Makita. So, you are getting 20% more CFM along with 17% more air speed by spending about 10-15% more money. There has to be a catch, right? Why did we include both of these blowers on the same list if one of them clearly outperforms the other for a comparable price? Well, anyone who has purchased power tools before can tell you that when it comes to such equipment, performance is not the only deciding factor.
The runtime on this leaf blower is slightly lower, because of its 16.91 fl. oz. capacity fuel tank. Now, the Makita BHX2500CA had a 17.6 fl. oz. fuel tank. Well that’s still not too bad, right? How much difference can one extra fl oz. of fuel make you ask? Well, when you are comparing a 2-stroke motor to a 4-stroke one, every last drop of fuel matters. For cycle engines are much more efficient by mature because they burn the fuel-air mixture that comes into the cylinder in a far cleaner manner as opposed to 2-cycle engines. The cleaner burning of fuel ensures less consumption, and less emissions.
Now when you combine a more fuel-hungry motor with a smaller tank, the resulting decrease in runtime is significant. Wait, we did not even talk about the noise output – as you should know by now, 2-stroke engine are notoriously loud. Which is why, the Husqvarna 125B puts out an ear-numbing 94 dB(A) of noise.
This is exponentially louder than the Makita BHX2500CA (65 dB(A)). But wait – the Husqvarna has an ace up its sleeve: it is not just more powerful than the Makita, but also packs a mulching function. You can switch from blower to vacuum with the flip of a switch, and the mulching knives will slice through the leaves. This will decrease material volume and increase bag capacity.
There is also a Smart Start for the engine, along with an instant stop switch that automatically resets to the ON position for easier starting. The 2-stroke motor in this beastly leaf blower has a 28cc cylinder displacement and generates 1.1hp of power. Pour in fuel mixed with oil in a 50:1 ratio.
Best gas leaf blower at a reasonable price which most homeowners can afford.
- Advanced PureFire engine
- CARB Compliant
- Meets U.S.(EPA PHASE3) and European(STAGE2) emission standards
- Displacement 23.9mL(cc)
- Max. Air Volume 10.7m3/min
- Throttle Control Lever
- Easy-to-use Soft Grip Handle
- Optional accessories for collecting leaf and shredding
- 25 cc, 1.3 h.p. PureFire two-stroke engine
- 393 CFM (at round tube)
- 68 dbA : Quiet
- Two-year commercial use warranty / Three-year consumer use warranty
- Weighs 10.9 lbs. (with tubes)
Overview | Tanaka THB-260PF
The Tanaka THB-260PF is a commercial grade handheld leaf blower, powered by a 25cc 2-stroke gasoline engine. It one of the heaviest handheld gas-powered models at nearly 10 lbs. with the tubes removed. When you attach all 3 of the tubes (including the curved attachment for the mulch bag), it will weigh about 10.9 lbs. Despite its weight, the dimensions (365 x 269x 360mm) and ergonomic design of this blower make it fairly easy to handle and operate.
There is a primary handle on the top that is coated with Soft-Grip foam to reduce vibration transfer from the motor to your hands. Then, you will find a secondary handle on the side for added support and easier weight management. The auxiliary handle is also coated with soft foam for vibration dampening, meaning that you will have a fairly easy time operating this blower.
There are two separate hoses that come with the THB-260PF – a round hose that is utilized for dislodging leaves which are embedded deep within the grass, and a flat hose that is best used for clearing loosely scattered leaves at a fast pace. When you attach the round hose, air flow rate at the pipe is 393 CFM. When you attach the flat mouthed hose, the flow rate falls to 368 CFM. However, air velocity increases from 148 mph to 180 mph with the flat nozzle.
The 2-stroke motor in this leaf blower generates 1.3hp of power, and accepts a fuel-oil mixture (ratio of 50:1). Despite using a dual cycle engine, this leaf blower is compatible with CARB Tier 2 and EPA Phase 2 regulation for emissions. Noise output is surprisingly low for a 2-stroke engine powered leaf blower, just 68 dB(A). Commercial warranty is 2-years long, while rental warranty is 1-year. The blower is extremely easy to operate because of the cruise control switch and conveniently positioned throttle.
This blower includes a vacuum and mulch function, and there is an exhaust port towards the back on which you can attach a curved pipe and mulch-collecting bag. A forged connecting rod and chrome-plated cylinder ensure long engine life and extra durability. Electronic ignition and a fuel primer system ensures effortless startup. The fuel tank has a large 20.3 fl oz. capacity for maximum runtime.
- Displacement : 23.9mL (cc)
- Max Power : 0.84kw
- Fuel Tank Capacity : 600mL
- Air Flow: Flat Nozzle : 10.3m3/min
- Air Velocity : 48.6m/sec
- Dimensions (L x W x H) : 365 x 269x 360mm
- Dry Weight : 4.6 kg
Husqvarna 350BT (965877502)
- Lightweight blower with integrated back pack harness for landscape professionals as well as homeowners
- 2.1 HP X-Torq engine reduces harmful exhaust emissions and increase fuel efficiency
- Comfortable, ventilated and load-reducing harness with hip belt and wide shoulder straps
- Fan speed can be set for easier handling; air purge removes air from carburetor and fuel system for easy starting
- CARB Compliant, 494.41 cfm
- Purchase this Husqvarna handheld item along with three 32oz cans of Husqvarna pre-mix fuel, register your product online, and your consumer warranty will be extended from 2 years to 4 years (Learn More).
Even though the Husqvarna 350BT is a commercial model, its price would make you believe otherwise. Despite being one of the most reasonably priced backpack blowers out there, the 350BT cranks out nearly 494 CFM of airflow in the pipe. Air gushes out of the detachable round mouthed hose at a speed of 180 mph. With a blowing force of 21 N (Newton), the 350BT can handle both deeply embedded leaves as well as heavier wet leaves with relative ease. It weighs 10.21 kg. or 22.5 lbs. when fully loaded with fuel and the hose.
The Husqvarna X-TORQ 2 cycle engine powering this blower has been optimized for up to 60% less harmful exhaust emissions and 20% more fuel efficiency when compared to standard 2-stroke engines found in cheaper models. An air purge system removes trapped air from the carburetor and fuel system, allowing for reliable and effortless starting.
Adjustable handles provide superior comfort while operating, and they are also attached in an offset position to compensate for the kickback generated from the air flowing out of the hose. This means that you can easily control the blower without your arm being pulled downwards. A LowVib dampening system separates the harness from the engine, effectively reducing the vibrations that are transferred from the internal components to your shoulders and back.
The foam-padded harness system is designed to distribute the entire weight of the blower as efficiently as possible between your shoulders and back. Cruise control and a conveniently positioned throttle system adds to the ease of operation. The 50.2 cc single cylinder 2-stroke commercial grade gasoline motor accepts a fuel-oil mixture in the ratio of 50:1, and generates 2.1hp of power at its maximum speed of 7500 rpm. The fuel tank has a capacity of 42.27 fl oz. for extended run-times.
This blower is not exactly very efficient when it comes to fuel, but a consumption rate of 455g/ kWh is still very acceptable when you consider the amount of power that it generates. Noise output is 94 dB(A), and it is CARB compliant. Perfect for maintaining yards as big as one acre and above. There is a 2-year commercial warranty on this model.
1200 CFM Air Volume – Up to 4 Times More Air Volume than Backpack Blowers.
- Manual recoil start
- 1200 CFM air volume
- 150 MPH air speed
- 3-4x more power than backpacks
- Balanced fan for reduced vibration
- Tapered crankshaft
- Adjustable chute wind vane
- 12″ rear wheels
- 2 year limited warranty
- EPA certified
- Well Balanced Steel Fan Provides Less Vibration
- Tapered Crankshaft and Steel Fan Housing Providing Increased Durability
- 15-Degree Adjustable Chute for More Directed Blowing
- 163-CC Engine 4-stroke engine
- Offering 6.5-Foot/Pounds of Torque
View or download the MANUAL for the Southland SWB163150E
Do you have a multi-acre piece of lush green estate that you need to maintain? Or maybe you own a commercial landscaping company and need a leaf blower to take care of all those leaves and twigs which have accumulated in parking lots or large driveways. Well, if you have a whole lot of leaves to clear and an area that is at least one acre in size – the Southland SWB163150E is here to help you out. It is about 3 to 4 times more powerful than an average backpack leaf blower, or nearly 6-8 times more powerful than a handheld model.
Video | Southland SWB163150E
The 163cc, 4-stroke gasoline engine inside this 95-pound behemoth of a leaf blower is capable of generating an insane 6.5 Foot/Pounds of torque. This results in an airflow rate of 1200 CFM, and air speeds of nearly 150 mph. The steel fan inside this machine is properly balanced to reduce vibrations, and the fan housing is also made of steel for added durability.
One advantage of having this many steel parts is that the weight of the internal components increase, reducing vibrations and increasing lifespan. The tapered crankshaft and industrial grade air filters improve engine endurance and durability.
The air chutes are adjustable (15° to either side), so you can direct the air to the front of the blower or switch the vane to make the air flow out to the sides. The handle is tough and constructed from steel tubing. It is coated with anti-rust black paint, while the entire motor housing and air filter + carburetor assembly is mounted on a strong wheelbarrow style metal chassis with a smaller lead wheel (this can be steered) in the front and 12” tires on the rear.
Startup is done with a manual recoil system (cord pull). Noise output is somewhat low by walk-behind blower standards at just 76 dB(A). It might actually be quieter than some backpack leaf blowers (however, those models use 2-stroke engines). The fuel tank has a capacity of 0.87 gallons. This is a push-behind blower, so you will have to push it around. For the price, we can’t really expect more. There is a 2-year limited warranty on the blower, and this covers the motor.
Troy-Bilt TB672 Jet Sweep
- Powered by a 208cc OHV engine that does the hardwork so you don’t have to
- 150 mph airstream, this gas-powered walk-behind leaf blower quickly gets rid of leaves and other debris in your yard, driveway or patio
- Complete your jobs effectively with the 90 degree front discharge chute and 14-inch high output impeller
- Ensure proper ventilation with 1000 CFM airflow volume capacity
- Designed with a rubberized comfort grip handle for better operation
The Troy Bilt TB672 Jet Sweep leaf blower works hard so you don’t have to. It is built on top of a tubular steel chassis, and is supported by 3 wheels. The TB672 is powered by a 208cc, 4-stroke Briggs & Stratton engine. This heavy-duty commercial grade leaf blower is designed to work on yards over the size of 1 acre, and it can also be used to clear parking lots, large driveways, etc.
It is a push-behind style blower, not self-propelled. You need to push its 79-pound frame in order to move it around the work area. However, that should not be as stressful as it sounds, since the two 12” rear wheels are supported by semi-pneumatic ball bearings for smooth and effortless motion. The 14” high output commercial grade steel impeller inside the metal housing of this blower is capable of generating up to 1000 CFM of airflow at speeds of nearly 150 mph.
This impeller is mounted on a steel shaft and spins on self-lubricated bearings so you don’t have to worry about maintenance charges. The 90° front discharge chute adapter ensures easy cleaning, while the rubberized comfort grip on the metal handles prevents hand fatigue.
The fuel tank can hold up to 0.75 gallons of unleaded gasoline, while the crankcase has an oil capacity of 20 fl oz. The engine is quite loud despite being a 4-stroke OHV type, and generates nearly 100 decibels of noise. This is of course the “guaranteed” noise output measured right on top of the exhaust, the noise which you will hear while operating this blower is more likely to be around the 70-80 dB(A) mark.
There is a 2-year limited commercial warranty on this leaf blower, and it ships with all parts assembled. Dimensions for the completely assembled product are – 27.5 x 25.5 x 30.5 inches. Comes with 18 fl oz. of SAE 30W engine oil, and complete setup instructions. Customers have reported that the Troy Bilt TB672 is capable of blowing large leaves, wet leaves, and some say it can even handle acorns.
One thing is guaranteed for sure though – this is one of the best performing walk-behind leaf blowers for the price. It is also very easy to operate thanks to the conveniently positioned throttle and cruise control. The 4-stroke OHV engine is easy to start and the semi-pneumatic ball bearings ensure that the rear 12” wheels spin with you applying minimal effort as you push it forward.
- Engine/Motor : Briggs & Stratton
- Displacement : 205cc* OHV
- Oil : 18oz SAE 30 (included)
- Fuel Capacity : 3 qt.
- Airflow Volume : Up to 1000 CFM
- Airflow Velocity : Up to 150 MPH
- Impeller : 14″ high-output
- Chute Adapter : 90 degree front discharge
- Handle : Rubberized comfort grip
- Wheels : 8″ x 2″ S-wave / 12″ x 2″ S-wave rear wheels with bearings
- Warranty : 2-year limited
Despite having a model number that reminds you of a phone number, the Poulan Pro 967087101 is an extremely capable commercial grade backpack blower. It is powered by a 48cc two-cycle engine, and this engine drives a powerful axial impeller with steel blades. This impeller drives nearly 475 cubic feet of air through the tubes at speeds of nearly 200 mph.
If you have been paying attention to all of the product reviews on this list until now, you will notice that this backpack leaf blower expels air at the highest speed when compare to any other blower on this list. No, it doesn’t mean that it is the most powerful. The power of a leaf blower is primarily determined from the CFM values, and when we refer to CFM rate, it traditionally means the flow rate as measured at the hose exit instead of the actual internal tubing inside the blower. However, a higher air velocity is better for clearing larger areas of loosely scattered dry leaves. You need CFM to move more weight, and speed to cover more range in less time.
Video | Poulan Pro PR48BT
One of the things that you will immediately notice about this product is the performance that it offers for the price, which is truly phenomenal when compared to the competition that delivers similar performance for nearly 20-30% more money.
On top of that, it is built around a heavy-duty frame which protects all of the internal components from external shock. The variable speed throttle control is mounted conveniently in trigger form on the ergonomic handle. There is cruise control as well, enabling longer usage periods. Adjustable shoulder straps increase user comfort, and the blower comes with 2 extension pipes so you can use it in a wide variety of tasks.
There is a dampening system on the harness that completely nullifies vibrations generated from the engine, and prevents these vibration from transferring to your shoulders or back. The fuel tanks is translucent, and the hoses are detachable for easier storage.
One of the features of this backpack style gas powered leaf blower which really caught our attention, was the JumpStart function. Now, the traditional way to start a small single-cylinder gasoline engine is via cord pull, aka recoil starter. However, it tends to get annoying at times when you pull the cord 5 or 6 times, set the choke, and do all that is said in the instruction manual, but the engine still doesn’t start. That is why premium power equipment comes with electronic push button start.
However, even some walk-behind blowers don’t include electric start because apparently the manufacturers think it is too much of a chore to add a simple mechanism that significantly improves user experience while also cutting away unnecessary time that you waste trying to start a stubborn engine. But you know what is the next best way to start an engine after electric start?
An electric start adapter that eliminates the need for you to pull the cord a billion times whenever you want to start the engine. This adapter attachment is not something that you can buy from the market and slap onto your leaf blower. Your leaf blower needs to be compatible with the attachment, only then can you put one of the JumpStart adapters on it to reduce startup hassle.
Well, it is not just the startup procedure that is easy when you own a Troy Bilt TB4BP EC, clearing leaves from yards also becomes a surprisingly easy chore. The powerful 32cc 4-stroke gasoline motor within this lightweight 17.4-pound backpack style leaf blower can generate enough torque to pump 500 cubic feet of air per minute through the tubes at speeds of 150 mph. This is more than enough air power for clearing large leaves, wet leaves, twigs, etc. from your garden and driveway/ house deck.
Despite generating so much airflow, the Troy-Bilt TB4BP EC is a surprisingly silent machine at just 72 dB(A). The fully-tensioned multi material advanced suspension system distributes weight evenly across your shoulders and back to reduce stress and fatigue from extended work sessions. The hip belt is padded and the shoulder straps are well cushioned. Combine that with the light weight of just 17.4 pounds, and you might just have the most comfortable to operate backpack leaf blower on the market.
Below you’ll find important information about leaf blowers in general.
How Does a Leaf Blower Work?
A leaf blower can be broken down into 4 main parts :
Housing: This is the “body”, or the shell of the leaf blower. Typically, it is made from plastic in order to keep the weight low. A plastic housing also stays cooler since it is a bad conductor of heat, and the internal components of a leaf blower can get quite hot over time. The design of the housing is different for each of the three main types of leaf blowers–handheld, backpack, and walk-behind. The primary purpose of the housing is to isolate the internal machinery from the user, as well as protect the engine, propeller, etc. from external physical shocks.
Motor: Electric leaf blowers use electric motors, while gas leaf blowers are powered by 2-stroke/ 4-stroke engines. Typically, the engine in a leaf blower is a single-cylinder 2 stroke that run on a mixture of gasoline and oil (50:1 ratio). Modern leaf blowers are gradually shifting towards 4-stroke engines because of their decreased emission levels and lower noise output compared to 2-stroke engines. Gas leaf blowers are more powerful than electric leaf blowers, since gas engines are more powerful than electric engines of comparable size.
Fan and Tubing: The fan is usually an axial impeller with multiple blades mounted on a shaft that is connected to the engine. When the engine spins, the shaft turns along with it. Some designs utilize direct drive, in which the engine is directly connected to the impeller shaft, meaning that the fan spins at the same speed as the engine.
However, more powerful blowers use a transmission system with gearing that allows the fan to spin faster than the engine. This results in increased air velocity at the output. Tubing refers to the pipes and chambers that serve as restraining channels for the air being sucked in from the outside. This air is pulled in through the impeller, then forced to move through a smaller space in order to increase velocity.
Hose: This is attached to the front of the blower, and serves as an exit path for the air coming through the tube from the impeller. This is also what you hold in your hands to control the airflow direction. It is directly connected to the internal tubing, and features a round or flat-shaped snout at the end. Typically made from plastics or composites.
The Mechanics of A Leaf Blower
The fundamental mechanic behind the working of a leaf blower is centrifugal force. If you know a thing or two about dynamic air compressors which use high velocity air to create pressure, you will understand that the same technique is used inside the housing of a leaf blower to create the tremendous air velocities which are often in excess of 200 miles per hour.
When the motor spins an axial fan inside the housing of the blower, air is sucked in by the motion of the rotating blades. This air is then forced to move through a smaller cavity as compared to the vents through which it entered. By decreasing the size of the passage, air velocity is increased. When you keep the flow rate constant for a fluid, but decrease the size of the tubing/ pipe, it comes out at increased velocity.
This is just like putting your thumb on the tip of a garden hose to decrease the size of the opening, thus increasing flow velocity and range. Except in the case of a leaf blower, the force that keeps the air flowing is centrifugal force generated by the spinning impeller. Centrifugal force is equal in magnitude, but opposite in direction to the force directed towards the center of a rotating mass.
Because of the pressure that is built due to centrifugal force, the air flows through the internal tubing at extreme speeds and comes out through the hose. The user can then point the hose in the direction that he or she desires, blowing away all the leaves and twigs in its path. An average leaf blower will generate anywhere between 65-75 decibels of noise, and is capable of blowing out air within the range of 140-200 mph. Most leaf blowers come with a throttle that lets you control the power of the air stream.
There are also hose attachments that let you generate a wider (and slower) or narrower (but faster) air stream as per the job requirement. You can think of a leaf blower as a reverse vacuum cleaner, but there are certain models which come with a built-in vacuum mode.
All that a blower has to do in order to transform into a vacuum cleaner, is reverse the airflow direction by spinning the fan the other way. The blowers with this ability are called blower-vacuums (or blower-vacuums), and often come with a mulching function so that the leaves and twigs which are sucked in can be mulched into tiny pieces and disposed easily. Or, you can transfer the mulched leaves to a compost pit.
Three Types of Leaf Blowers
These are the most popular of the three designs, mainly because of their portability and low cost. A typical gas-powered handheld leaf blower packs enough power to carry out most light to medium duty cleaning tasks, including moving large leaves such as Hickory, Walnut, Ash, etc. Handheld leaf blowers can be subdivided into – corded electric, cordless electric, and gas-powered models.
Corded electric models are the cheapest, as well as lightest. These are good for clearing out small lawns or porches, decks, etc. Remember that most corded electric blowers need to be within 100 feet of a power outlet, so they are not the best option if you need mobility and freedom of motion (that pesky power cord tends to get entangled at some point). Cordless blowers are more expensive than their corded counterparts, as well as slightly heavier. But they allow you to work in places where there is no power outlet nearby.
Don’t think that you can clear out large areas with these cordless blowers, just because they are not limited by the length of a cord. You will barely get 30 minutes of runtime out of a fully charged battery, even on the top-end models that utilize Lithium Ion cells. Recharging will take another 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the quality of the blower, meaning that a 1-hour work session will take you a total of 2 hours (an extra 1 hour just for charging). Nevertheless, electric models are still preferred for small tasks such as cleaning out gutters, and for blowing light snow off the deck.
Gas powered handheld blowers are where the real fun is at. Sure, they are loud and need maintenance, but the amount of time you spend oiling and refueling a gas blower is nowhere close to the time you waste by buying an electric model for anything other than a little deck/ porch cleaning.
If you want to clean your gardens and lawns in as little time as possible, buy a gas-powered blower. Don’t think that you save on running costs by buying an electric model – most of them will not last nearly as long as a well-maintained quality gas leaf blower. That is why electric models come with 1 or 2-year warranties, whereas most gas powered models carry 5-year warranties.
Example of a quality Battery Leaf Blower | DEWALT DCBL770X1 Flexvolt
Most backpack blowers are gas powered, although some are available with electric motors. But we shall not discuss about the electric models because they are weaker than gas powered handheld blowers and don’t justify the increase in size and weight since you can just buy a gas powered hand-held blower instead of an electric powered backpack blower, and still get more work done in less time.
While most handheld models weigh within 8 pounds, a proper backpack gas leaf blower weighs around 17 pounds on average. But here’s the tricky part – despite the increased weight, backpack blowers are actually more comfortable to work with if you plan on clearing out large areas (more than a quarter of an acre). You see, all good backpack blowers come with heavily padded shoulder straps and cushioned back supports.
There are also suspension systems to isolate the motor from the harness, so no vibrations are transferred from the internal components to your body. It is just like strolling around in your lawn or garden with a backpack, albeit a slightly heavy one.
The weight is supported by both the back as well as the shoulders, so no specific area of your upper body will feel stressed or pressured, even after an hour of work. Backpack blowers are more powerful and get the job done faster than handheld models, however there is the downside of increased maintenance and noise. Not just that, backpack blowers are costlier – the decent ones start at around 250 dollars, and premium models can cost upwards of 500.
Example of a Quality Backpack Blower | Husqvarna 130BT (29.5 cc)
These are the big daddies of leaf blowers – typically employed by landscaping corporations and commercial groups. Most households do not need a blower this big, and you will find out why when you actually see one of these in action. They can be both self-propelled as well as push-types. The self-propelled models are equipped with their own propulsion system in the form of a dedicated electric or gas motor, or the wheels share power from the main motor that also drives the impeller. Push types are well… you guessed it – they need to be pushed in order to move.
These are a lot like walk-behind lawn mowers, and can generate air velocities in excess of 250 mph. Flow rates vary from model to model, but expect the average walk-behind leaf blower to spit out anywhere between 400-500 cubic feet of air per minute (at speeds ranging from 200-270 mph). These are also the noisiest of all three types of leaf blowers, so you better check your local community and state laws regarding noise levels before you decide to buy one of these. Buy one of these if you plan on maintaining estate property, or lawns/ gardens bigger than one acre. Remember that walk-behind blowers are not the easiest to maneuver and require more maintenance than a handheld or backpack style blower. Besides, they are not very effective on uneven ground.
Which Gas Leaf Blower is Right for You?
By now, you have gained a basic idea of how leaf blowers work, as well as the distinct types of leaf blower designs – handheld, backpack, and walk-behind. But do you know which gas leaf blower is the best for you? Here are 5 simple steps to help you out-
Select your leaf blower type
Hand-held blowers are the best for cleaning out small yards, patios, driveways, and porches. Since we are dealing with gas powered models here, you won’t be restricted by cord length or battery life. You can keep working for hours on stretch with a gas powered handheld blower, as long as you keep the tank filled with fuel.
Some handheld models come with two grips instead of one, this provides better weight distribution and control. Nozzle design can vary, and most handheld blowers will include removable hoses and nozzles for easy storage after work is done. You can detach the hose from the main body, and store the two separately, or together. Either way, less space will be consumed as compared to storing the blower in its complete state.
Flat shaped nozzles generate higher velocities, but slightly decrease CFM output. These are better for sweeping loose leaves. Round nozzles are capable of higher CFM values, and the increased flow rate is useful for dislodging leaves that are embedded deep within grass or entangled with twigs. Make sure that your handheld gas leaf blower comes with an easy shut off switch and throttle for safety and speed control respectively.
Two-stroke engines are common in handheld models, since they weigh less and handheld blowers are all about that light weight so your hands don’t wear out after prolonged usage. A translucent fuel tank and wide tank opening are desirable features. A bottom mounted air intake is preferred because it is less likely to pull on your clothes as you sweep through an area with the machine turned on, side mounted air intakes are especially annoying for left-handed people.
Backpack leaf blowers will come with 2-stroke as well as 4-stroke motors, choose a 4-stroke model if you are concerned about emission and noise laws in your state or locality. However, 2-stroke engines offer a better power to weight ratio despite their decreased efficiency and higher noise. Two stroke motors are the easiest to maintain, since you put in the oil and fuel together into the fuel tank (typically in a 50:1 ratio).
With 4 stroke engines, you need to fill the oil separately, and check oil levels before starting the motor. As with any small engine, you must ensure that the air filter is not clogged and the spark plug is showing no signs of degradation before you pull that starter cord. Maintain healthy oil levels in your 4-stroke engines, and your leaf blower will easily last for nearly a decade. Backpack blowers can cost anywhere between 160-500 dollars, depending on the power of the motor and the included features.
These are good for medium to large-sized yards, up to one acre. CFM rating for most backpack blowers varies between 200 to 400, and they can generate air speeds of 170-220 mph.
Walk-behind models are either pushed or self-propelled, with the latter costing more. These are necessary for clearing yards/ gardens larger than an acre. Walk-behind models can take care of large as well as wet leaves very easily, since these typically throw out anywhere between 450 to 500+ cubic feet of air per minute, at velocities in excess of 200 mph.
There are little to no limitations on size and weight, since the motor and impeller are mounted on a single large steel/ aluminum frame that has handles on the back and wheels on the bottom. On wheeled models, you will find an adjustable air deflector that lets you adjust the airflow to either side, or to the front of the blower. This feature comes in handy when you are working alongside a wall, hedge, or similar obstruction.
Decide what built-in features you want
There are leaf blowers with vacuum and/ or mulch functionality built-in. When you want to not just collect all the scattered leaves into one big pile, but also dispose them at the same time – you get a leaf blower with vacuum and mulch capability. When you are buying a leaf blower capable of mulching, you want to look at its compression ratio. For example, a compression ratio of 8:1 means that the blower can mulch 8 bags of leaves into one bag of mulch.
A compression ratio of 16:1 means that 16 bags of leaves get reduced into one bag of mulch. With a blower-vac, you gather up all the scattered leaves and twigs from your yard into one big heap, then you turn on the vacuum + mulch mode, and the blower will suck in all the leaves, shred them, and store them in a mulch bag attached to the rear.
Blowers with either vacuum or mulch functionality will cost more than regular blowers, but they also save a lot of time and manpower. Regular blowers can gather up leaves into a giant pile, but you need one or more men with tarps to dispose those leaves after that. Mulching is a fantastic way to reduce the volume of the collected leaves, and the mulched leaves can be used as fertilizer on your lawn.
Estimate the CFM power required
Leaves on driveways, porches, patios, and small backyards: <200 CFM up to 300 CFM (anything after that is overkill)
Larger leaves, wet leaves, twigs, and other debris on yards up to 0.25 acres: at least 250 CFM, 350-400 CFM recommended.
Leaves and debris on yards between 0.25 to 1 acre: 400 to 500 CFM.
Commercial tasks, yards larger than an acre: 500 CFM and above.
- Vibration reduction mechanism (especially important in backpack models, not so much in walk-behind blowers)
- Translucent fuel tank with a wide opening for fuel.
- Simplified choke operation to make startup easier
- Secondary grip or handle on a handheld blower makes operation much easier, since the weight is carried by both of your arms.
- Removable hose, with optional attachments provided for free (a removable hose reduces the overall footprint, so you can store the blower easily)
- Bottom mounted air intake on handheld leaf blowers
- Adjustable air ducts on walk-behind models
- Hip mounted throttle on backpack blowers
Noise and emissions
Some states have laws on how much noise (measured in dBA) a certain power tool is allowed to generate. Please check your state laws as well local community guidelines before making a purchase, and refer to the manufacturer spec sheets as well for emission figures.
Leaf blowers that run clean enough to comply with most state emission laws are labelled as “CARB-Compliant”.