Choosing a leaf blower for the first time can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve been used to using a rake most of your life. There’s a wide variety of models out there, not to mention all the different styles and technologies to follow.
But as long you know the job you’re looking to do with it, choosing the right model shouldn’t be too difficult. So, these are the facts you need to know about leaf blowers to make your decision just that little bit easier.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
The 4 Main Types Of Leaf Blowers Available
There are 4 main types of leaf blowers: corded electric, cordless battery-powered, handheld petrol, and petrol-powered backpack leaf blowers.
I’ve got a post dedicated to the different types of leaf blowers so be sure to check it out if you’d like to learn a bit more.
Corded Electric Leaf Blowers: Best For Small Gardens/Areas
An electric leaf blower with a cord has the least maintenance requirements of all the types mentioned here. However, they are also the least versatile due to being constrained by a lead.
On the other hand, certain models have a much more powerful motor than the cordless versions, so sometimes it can be worth being wired into the wall.
Obviously, with the length of the cable being a major restriction, you will need to make sure you have a suitable exterior extension lead so you can reach all corners of your area, without the plug pulling out. A decent-size extension lead will likely set you back around £30 (it’s best to make sure you buy an exterior one so you know it’s waterproof).
Pros Of Corded Models:
- No maintenance required
- Cheap and affordable models available
- Small and easy to store
- No need to recharge any batteries
And The Cons:
- Limited distance
- Requires additional extension cords
Cordless Leaf Blowers: Most Popular For Homeowners
Cordless electric leaf blowers can meet the needs of most average households in the UK. They are generally reasonably lightweight (at least compared to petrol versions), they don’t release any fumes, are not overly loud, and allow for freedom of movement anywhere on your property.
Of course, this does come with a usage time limit on how long your batteries will last. Cheaper cordless models with batteries will likely last around 20 minutes, whilst the more expensive and large models should get you up to 1 hour of battery life.
As an example, here are some of the battery specs from the STIHL website.
The electric motor is powered by a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery pack, so if you have a few cordless power tools already, consider buying the same brand so that you can share the same batteries between tools to save money. In this day and age you can even buy battery adapters, to allow you to use, for example, a Bosch battery on a Makita tool.
But honestly, I wouldn’t really recommend it.
What I Love About Cordless Models:
- Hugely convenient
- Suitable for most people regardless of strength
- Powerful motors
- Sleek modern designs
But The Downside Is, You Get:
- A lower runtime compared to corded models or petrol ones
- They’re generally not as powerful as petrol versions
- They require charging after use
Petrol Leaf Blowers: Best For Large Properties
A petrol leaf blower has a petrol engine and therefore also a fuel tank that’s quick and easy to refill. Whilst when it comes to weight, a petrol engine will obviously weigh considerably more, they are much powerful alternatives compared to electric blowers.
Petrol leaf blowers do have more maintenance requirements though, for example, oil changes, mixing in a fuel stabilizer, and replacing the spark plug among others. So one of your considerations should be whether the amount of maintenance is worth the extra power.
What’s Great About Them:
- More powerful than many electric leaf blowers
- Great for use in large areas or a lot of trees
- Easy to add more petrol on larger jobs
And The Not So Great:
- Very noisy and create air pollution
- Much heavier than their electric counterparts
- Neighbours will hate you
Petrol Backpack Blowers: Best For Commercial Use
A backpack blower is the most powerful option but also the heaviest. They are too heavy to carry in your hand, hence they are set up to carry the bulk of the weight on your back.
Backpack models are generally only used for commercial purposes or a very large property. The noise and the number of fumes it releases make it an unsuitable choice for most average homeowners in the UK.
- Very powerful machines with high-output CFM
- Less arm fatigue due to the bulk of it being on your back
- Ideal for very properties or commercial use
And The Cons:
- A lot of noise pollution as well as air pollution
- Considerable maintenance required compared to electric models
- Takes up a lot of storage space
- More components means more to go wrong
So, What Should You Look For When Buying A Leaf Blower?
These are the 4 main specs you really need to factor in when buying a leaf blower.
I’ll first explain why size and versatility are important, then I’ll go into further detail about the different types and their power output.
1. Size Of The Machine
Choosing the right size of leaf blower will depend on the person using it, and the amount of space they need to clear. It’s very important that the user can maintain a good grip over the blower, so even if you have a large area, sometimes bigger is not always better.
So, consider the relative length of the leaf blower itself, and the height/strength of the person that’ll be mostly using it.
Many leaf blower designs come with detachable nozzles and several features. This is a great advantage because you can use the same tool for different tasks, for example, collecting grass clippings and mulching leaves.
Not all brands and models have these extra benefits so make sure you check before you buy if these are important to you. Purchasing a single multifunctional tool can save you unnecessary spending, as well as a lot of storage space in the shed.
3. Power & Performance
Generally, a petrol blower outperforms an electric blower but this is not always the case. The main indication of power is a leaf blowers CFM and MPH rating (more behind the math of this calculation here). The two are directly related and as you increase one, you’ll decrease the other.
The easiest way to think of this is with water in a pipe, the size/diameter of the pipe is the CFM, and the MPH is the pressure of the water. If you increase the size of the pipe, you’ll also need to increase the pressure to ensure a steady flow.
I’ll explain a little more below:
What Is CFM On A Leaf Blower?
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. It refers to the volume of air a leaf blower is able to push out at any given time. A higher CFM indicates more air can leave the nozzle, but when it comes to being useful at blowing leaves, you also need to factor in the MPH.
What Is A Good CFM For A Leaf Blower?
Although there is no exact benchmark, a safe bet is a CFM between around 200 and 400. This is enough for most dry leaves, but you may need something more powerful for heavier debris or wet leaves.
What’s More Important In A Leaf Blower, MPH Or CFM?
Both CFM (cubic feet per minute) and MPH (miles per hour) are important in a leaf blower since they both impact airflow.
However, nozzles that allow for high air volume but without the speed to back it up simply will not outperform leaf blowers with a more balanced CFM and MPH ratio.
The balance between the two measurements is what makes a leaf blower work as intended.
So To Sum It All Up
Regardless of yard size, leaf blowers are generally a lot faster than raking, unless you know how to rake leaves like a pro. The small motors of leaf blowers also allow for more multifunctional use, such as sucking up grass cuttings, mulching leaves, or cleaning out gutters.
But as with anything, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job, otherwise, you might as well stick to your good old-fashioned garden rake.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
To finish the article off, here are a few of the questions I get asked regularly to hopefully answer any final questions you might have.
If I Buy A Leaf Blower/Mulcher Combo, What Can I Do With The Mulch?
Leaf mulch is an excellent source of nutrients for both your lawn, plants and vegetable garden. Not only does it provide nutrients, but mulch is often used to protect soil from frost during the cold UK winters. There’s more info on the benefits of leaves here.
How Much Do Leaf Blowers Weigh?
Obviously this will largely depend on the type of leaf blower you buy, but here’s a rough guide. A petrol-powered handheld will generally weigh in the region of 5kg (10lbs), whereas a corded electric model may weigh as little as 2.5kg (5lbs).
Are Battery Powered Leaf Blowers Any Good?
A battery-powered model is a great alternative to petrol models. They are better for your health and less damaging to the environment. Whilst some may claim that electric motors cannot compete with petrol-powered models, the many new innovative models are proving the opposite.