Updated June 2014
Leaf blowers are versatile, handy tools. Not only can they cut down time spent raking leaves, but they also clean porches, sweep out garage floors, and clear away grass clippings and twigs. Some can vacuum around landscaping and mulch yard debris -- or even clear light snow. Our editors analyze tests conducted by experts along with user reviews to find the best electric, cordless, gas and backpack-style leaf blowers based on performance, reliability and ease of use.
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Toro Ultra Blower Vac
Toro Ultra Blower Vac

Best electric leaf blower

Featuring a 7.5-pound body, three tubes and an infinite airspeed control, the Toro Ultra Blower Vac is rated one of the top corded leaf blowers by experts and owners. It has a powerful 12-amp motor, which reviewers say makes blowing leaves and vacuuming yard debris a breeze. It also features a serrated metal impeller for top-notch mulching.
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Stihl BGA 85
Stihl BGA 85

Best cordless electric leaf blower

The 36-volt Stihl BGA 85 is remarkably robust for a cordless leaf blower. Experts say it's quiet, fast and precise, comparing its performance favorably to that of a light-duty gas model. With a variable-speed trigger, low-maintenance motor and a hanging slot for easy storage, the BGA 85 is free of the hassles associated with gas and corded electric blowers.
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Est. $300 Estimated Price
Hitachi 23.9cc Handheld Blower
Hitachi 23.9cc Handheld Blower

Best gas leaf blower

The Hitachi 23.9cc Handheld Blower gets great reviews from experts and owners as a top performer in a variety of yard jobs. It has a powerful, commercial-grade engine that meets California's strict air-quality guidelines, along with a variable-speed trigger and two-finger throttle lever for easy operation. It also weighs in at a comfortable 8.6 pounds and has an industry-leading seven-year consumer warranty.
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Husqvarna 350BT
Husqvarna 350BT

Best backpack leaf blower

Reviewers say the Husqvarna 350BT is the most comfortable backpack blower available. It has padded shoulder straps and a hip belt to keep it balanced for extended use. The low-emission engine is strong and efficient even on wet debris, according to owners, and you can lock the speed setting so you don't have to keep pulling the trigger.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Leaf Blowers Runners Up:

Toro Power Sweep Est. $35

4 picks including: Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com…

Husqvarna 125BVx Est. $190

4 picks including: Lowes.com, ConsumerReports.org…

Echo PB-500H Est. $300

2 picks including: HomeDepot.com, PopularMechanics.com…

Black & Decker 40V Lithium Sweeper/Vacuum Est. $150

2 picks including: Amazon.com, LeafBlowersDirect.com…

Leaf blowers are a great yard tool year-round

Leaf blowers are versatile tools that go well beyond just sweeping up leaves. With the right machine, you can clean spider webs off the house, tidy up around landscaping, clear grass clippings off the driveway, and even blow away light snow. Some can even blast leaves and vegetation that are wet and heavy; and some will vacuum up and finely mulch your yard debris.

There are four main categories of leaf blowers: corded electric, battery-operated electric, gas-powered and backpack styles. Gas-powered models tend to be more powerful, but they also are noisier and involve the hassle of fueling up. Many find electric models more convenient to operate, if you don't mind dealing with a cord or limiting your use to the run time of the battery before it needs to be recharged. Backpack-style leaf blowers are often used by professional landscapers or those with large yards because they cut down on the fatigue of carrying a piece of landscaping equipment for long periods.

Leaf blowers depend on airflow to move leaves and other debris. Manufacturers measure airflow using miles per hour (mph) or cubic feet per minute (cfm). The airflow of the models in our report range from just over 100 mph to more than 230 mph, and from less than 100 cfm to nearly 500 cfm. Keep in mind, however, that higher airflow doesn't necessarily mean more power. After testing eight leaf blowers, Popular Mechanics reports that the manufacturer rating "for airspeed and volume is an unreliable gauge of effectiveness -- some of the least air-worthy were the most trustworthy." For this reason, it's essential to consider reliable reviews before making a purchase.

Handling is also a major factor to consider with grass blowers. Some handheld models weigh less than 10 pounds -- but even that can start to feel heavy over time. If you have a large property or plan to use the blower frequently, it's wise to look for one with ergonomic controls and a comfortable-grip handle. Backpack models should have padded straps and be designed to distribute weight evenly over your shoulders. Some blowers have a "cruise control" feature that locks in the speed, eliminating the need to keep a constant hold on the trigger.

Some leaf blowers include a conversion kit that enables the model to vacuum, finely mulch and collect debris in a bag. A built-in impeller minces leaves and other detritus into smaller bits, which are then compressed for easy composting or disposal. For most blowers, the ability to suck up leaves is a secondary function, so performance rarely matches their sweeping and loosening abilities. Owners often use the vacuum feature for decks when they don't want to send pet hair and debris flying into the yard.

Be respectful of your neighbors. Using leaf blowers has become a point of contention in some areas due to their excessive noise. The quietest leaf blowers measure less than 65 decibels when 50 feet away, which is a good level to keep the neighbors happy, but some measure more than 70. You'll probably avoid complaints if you don't fire up your leaf blower too early in the morning or late at night. And, for your own protection, experts say you should never operate a leaf blower without adequate ear and eye protection.

Leaf blowers vary greatly in price, with electric corded models ranging from less than $50 to over $100. Cordless models also start at under $100, but can go as high as $300, and gas-powered handheld models start at about $150 and go up to $300 or more. The quality of the engine or battery and other parts, as well as the number and type of features, will affect the price. Most leaf blowers have a two-year warranty, although some go as long as five or seven years for consumer use.

In April 2014, Troy-Bilt and Remington recalled leaf-blower models because they posed a laceration hazard; owners are advised to stop using these products immediately and call the manufacturer for a replacement. There are a few earlier recalls also listed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission website, involving products made by Expert Gardener, Homelite and others.

Of course, to make the best use of a leaf blower, you need to have leaves, grass clippings or other yard debris to sweep. If you're in the market for additional lawn and garden tools, check out our reports on lawn mowers, lawn tractors, string trimmers and hedge trimmers.

To find the best leaf blowers, we analyzed side-by-side tests from experts such as those at ConsumerReports.org, Popular Mechanics and This Old House. These professional evaluations are an accurate way to compare performance and handling on an even playing field. To better understand durability and real-world function, we analyzed thousands of owner reviews from retail websites such as HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com and Amazon.com. Finally, we looked at review sites such as LeafBlowerDirect.com and 10rate.com, which also weigh in with reviews and recommendations.

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