The Echo PB-500H's strong points are its simplicity and power. Experts say this backpack blower is very easy to handle, with a well-designed starting sequence, a convenient primer bulb and user-friendly controls. Echo's five-year warranty for homeowner use is much longer than the industry average of two years.
Blasts wet, embedded debris with ease. The Echo PB-500H features the largest engine in our report, a 50.8 cc Air Infusion Vortex that pushes an average airflow of 450 cfm. In expert testing, it matches the strongest backpack blowers for sweeping and loosening power but may be too powerful for delicate tasks. In addition to a variable speed trigger, the PB-500H uses a trigger lock to set a constant speed. It's also reliable and easy to start. "The Echo starts like a champ, every time," says an owner at HomeDepot.com. "I've never had to pull the cord more than two or three times."
A lot of power to maneuver. Handling the PB-500H is straightforward, even for first-time backpack blower users. "Our volunteer corps, working at clearing leaves at a church, needed no coaching to use the Echo," says Roy Berendsohn at Popular Mechanics. "Anyone can start it, sling it on his back and start blasting leaves in seconds." However, some users have trouble with all that power on light-duty jobs. Similar to the Husqvarna 350BT (Est. $300) , the Echo PB-500H is quieter than most gas-powered leaf blowers but still loud enough that you should wear hearing protection.
Extra-long warranty. At HomeDepot.com, almost all of the Echo PB-500H's more than 100 reviewers say they would recommend this backpack blower. In fact, it's rare to find a gas-powered lawn tool with so few owner complaints of breakdowns or faulty components. Several users say the PB-500H still runs like a champ after several years, with no major durability issues, and another posts that the PB-500H "started on first pull and has been running strong ever since." Echo's warranty exceeds the standard two-year coverage offered by most leaf blower manufacturers with a five-year consumer warranty and two-year commercial warranty.
The Echo PB-500H is one of 14 backpack blowers tested by ConsumerReports.org as part of their larger leaf blower report. After putting each model through identical tests, editors rate their performance, handling and noise. Recommended blowers get a short write-up.
Review: Leaf Blowers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
The Echo PB-500H isn't rated the best in this comparison of five backpack leaf blowers, but it still scores very well with no major disadvantages. Berendsohn especially likes how easy it is to use.
Review: Backpack Leaf Blower Comparison Test, Roy Berendsohn, Not dated
It's rare to find a tool with an almost perfect score, but the Echo PB-500H gets just that from about 100 owners here. The vast majority recommends it, raving that the blower starts quickly with little effort, is comfortable to use and powers through jobs with no problems.
Review: ECHO 195 mph 465 CFM Gas Backpack Blower, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of September 2013