Gas leaf blowers are fast and powerful, making them a good choice for homeowners who need to handle wet leaves and heavy debris or to clean up large properties. However, hand-held gas blowers do have some drawbacks. When choosing a gas model, it's important to find one with good handling and reliability. Although there are no battery run times and power-cord lengths to deal with, "handhelds get uncomfortable after 45 minutes" because of their weight, says Sal Vaglica at This Old House magazine. If you need the power of a gas blower, but want something that's a little easier to use -- though often more expensive -- we cover backpack gas blowers elsewhere in this report. For smaller properties and light duty, an electric leaf blower might also be a good choice.
One thing to keep in mind with all types of gas blowers is that maintaining a gas engine takes more work than maintaining an electric motor: Gas blowers require regular servicing and winterization in the offseason, and most run only with a precise mixture of gas and oil. However, users who need heavy-duty performance say the extra work is worth it.
Our Best Reviewed handheld gas model, the Hitachi RB24EAP (Est. $130) 23.9cc Handheld Blower, stands out for its high-quality parts, excellent sweeping ability and ease of use. This model, which has a top airspeed of 170 mph, features a commercial-grade engine that meets California's tough air-quality standards. It also has a variable-speed trigger and large, two-finger throttle lever for easy operation, although it doesn't vacuum or mulch. It is relatively light at 8.6 pounds and has the longest warranty -- seven years -- of any blower model we found.
The 23.9cc Handheld Blower is among the models tested in ConsumerReport.org's comparative test of nearly 60 models, and it earns a recommendation from Roy Berendsohn of Popular Mechanics, who says it has an effective airstream and can even move soggy debris and prickly seedpods. Among owners, this Hitachi blower earns a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 based on feedback from nearly 300 users at Lowes.com. Roughly 93 percent say that they would recommend it to a friend. At Amazon.com, reviews for the Hitachi RB24EAP are mingled with those for a Hitachi cordless blower, but the vast majority (more than 1,200) are for this gas blower, and it earns a 4.5-star rating. Regardless of the site, users say the Hitachi gas blower starts up easily, has good airflow and handles well, although some say the location of the inlet valve makes it prone to pull on clothing.
For those who want a gas-powered blower that also vacuums and mulches, the Husqvarna 125BVx (Est. $200) draws some good feedback. It has a top airspeed of 170 mph and comes with an adjustable-length tube as well as flat and round tube tips so you can match the equipment to your task. The blower tube is lined up with the handle, which the company says puts less stress on the wrist and arm, and the variable-speed trigger locks, so you don't need to keep pulling on the trigger. The vacuum feature impressively mulches leaves and other debris, cramming what normally would fill 16 bags down into one. The Husqvarna blower/vacuum has a two-year warranty.
The Husqvarna 125BVx is included in the comparative test of nearly 60 blowers conducted by ConsumerReports.org. It also earns praise from Sal Vaglica of This Old House magazine, who says it's "excellent" at sweeping and "very good" at vacuuming. He also commends the unit's user-friendly design, but finds the impeller small. Among users, the Husqvarna 125BVx gets good feedback, though the Hitachi blower rates better still. For example, it earns a score of 4.1-stars based on more than 360 reviews posted at Lowes.com. Feedback is similar at Amazon.com -- 4 stars following more than 300 reviews. Most say the Husqvarna 125BVx sweeps and vacuums very effectively, and they like the comfortable handle. Some report breakdowns or clogs, and some complain that fuel lines can break after one or two seasons, but this is considered an easy fix for the mechanically inclined.
Elsewhere in this report: