Quieter than most gas leaf blowers. Gas-powered leaf blowers are never exactly quiet, but Echo has tweaked the PB-250LN's engine to be quieter than the model it replaces, the Echo PB-250.
From 50 feet away -- neighbor distance -- the Echo PB-250LN is now rated at 65 decibels, 4 decibels quieter than the top-rated Stihl BG 55 (the old Echo PB-250 was louder than the Stihl at 50 feet).
At the user's ear level, the old Echo PB-250 was already quieter than the Stihl in one top test -- although experts still recommended ear protection. So do some owners.
"Noise level is acceptable. Not too loud, but not whisper-quiet, either," writes one PB-250LN owner at HomeDepot.com. "I would still recommend ear protection even though it is rated low noise."
"Not too loud compared to my Craftsman trimmer's 2-cycle engine," another PB-250LN owner writes. Another says he gets by without earplugs: "It's very quiet and way below the level that would require ear protection. In fact, it's quieter than my 4-stroke Honda GCV160 lawn mower engine, which is itself very quiet."
No lightweight, and several owners find it hard to start. One leading testing agency gives the Echo PB-250LN its highest possible score for usability -- slightly better than the already easy-to-use Stihl BG 55 -- but Popular Mechanics gives this round to Stihl.
Not that the Echo is really hard to use, Popular Mechanics says. "We liked the Echo's long tube, which lets you direct its tip close to what you need to move," testers write. The tube is curved, to keep the airflow from twisting it and tiring the operator -- a feature that really works, Popular Mechanics says.
Like the Stihl, the Echo has a variable-speed trigger (so you can soft-pedal it around flowerbeds and the like) and a trigger lock (so you don't have to keep squeezing the trigger). The Echo also adds cruise control, so you can stay steady on any speed.
However, "we don't like the tool's sliding Stop switch or its upside-down purge bulb, which is awkward to pump," Popular Mechanics says after testing the Echo PB-250 (which has the same usability features as the PB-250LN).
The on/off switch is a pain, several owners agree. You have to remember to slide it back to "on" before you can restart the Echo. "This sounds silly, but can be easy to forget at times," says one owner posting at HomeDepot.com. "I found myself wondering if that was a culprit for others who couldn't get the unit started and then flooded it."
All handheld gas blowers can be tricky to start, but the Echo PB-250LN (and its predecessor, the PB-250) draws more complaints about this than the reviewer-favorite Stihl. Some owners report no problems, though -- including one who uses the Echo daily between April and November for his lawn care business.
At nearly 10 pounds, the Echo weighs about a pound more than the Stihl BG 55. A couple of users say it vibrates quite a bit, tiring their hands unless they wear padded gloves.
Leaf-blowing prowess equal to the Stihl BG 55. Few owners have reviewed the new Echo PB-250LN -- but so far, nobody complains about its strength. "The blowing power is very strong and it has no trouble moving heavy and wet debris that is several feet away from the blower pipe nozzle," one owner writes at HomeDepot.com.
Echo says its engine tweaks -- designed to make the PB-250LN quieter -- also boosted air speed and volume over the older PB-250. That older model already equaled the Stihl BG 55's performance in two top tests, aggressively pushing piles of leaves and scouring embedded bits out of the turf.
"An airstream has to be more than fast or have high volume -- it has to be shaped for maximum impact," Popular Mechanics says. And the Echo's certainly is: "It's highly productive," testers say.
Echo doesn't list horsepower for the PB-250LN, but its 25.4-cc engine is close to the Stihl BG 55's (27.2 cc) in size.
For powering debris out of the lawn and sweeping big piles of leaves, experts say the Echo PB-250LN works just as well as the best handheld gas leaf blower, the Stihl BG 55 (*Est. $150). The Echo boasts a longer warranty, too (five years, versus two for the Stihl) -- but more owners complain that the slightly heavier Echo is hard to start and less comfortable to use.
Report Credibility: Excellent ConsumerReports.org tests 11 handheld gas leaf blowers, including the Echo PB-250 (now PB-250LN). Testers rate each one's noise level, handling and performance (ability to loosen and sweep leaves) before picking the best buys. Each model gets an individual review, and owners are invited to post reviews, too -- but only a few have reviewed this model.
Review: Echo PB-250, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of October 2012
Report Credibility: Very Good The Echo PB-250 scores 4 out of 5 stars here, placing it behind the winning Stihl BG 55 and runner up Husqvarna 125B. Testers have no complaints about the Echo's ability to blow leaves, but they don't like its purge bulb or stop switch.
Review: Which Leaf Blower Is the Best? We Test 8 to Find Out, Roy Berendsohn, Not dated
Report Credibility: Good Fewer than 10 owners had rated the Echo PB-250 here when we checked, awarding it an average of 3.9 out of 5 stars. Most are pleased, but a couple say the Echo broke after only one or a few uses.
Review: Echo 165 mph 2 Cycle 391 cu. ft/min Gas Low Noise Handheld Blower, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of October 2012
4. National Home Gardening Club
Report Credibility: Fair National Home Gardening Club members volunteer to try out a specific product; they then receive one free of charge, use it and rate it. Products with high ratings become recommended models. The Echo PB-250 is one of three leaf blowers that wins recommendations, and the only gas-powered one to do so. It's not clear how many members tested it or what rating system they used.
Review: Echo PB-250 Handheld Blower, Members of National Home Gardening Club, As of October 2012