What the best leaf blower has
- Sufficient airflow. "If you have enough acreage to justify a riding mower, you'll
need a blower with serious airflow, more than 90 mph," says David Wolman at
Wired. However, don't rely on the airspeed specification alone; Popular
Mechanics warns that mph and cfm measurements aren't a dependable way to
determine the power of a leaf blower.
- Effective sweeping and loosening. Instead of just blasting at the ground, the best leaf blowers use
their power productively. Well-designed tubes help move leaves efficiently and
can blow free any trapped foliage.
- Variable speed trigger to easily adjust
power. With an infinite number of speed settings,
variable speed triggers allow users to instantly customize power to match the
toughness of the job. Leaf blowers with power dials aren't as adjustable, but
are still handier than machines with only one constant speed.
- Comfort and balance. Handheld blowers should naturally hang at a downward angle and be
light enough to maneuver the air tube with minimal effort.
- Neighborhood-friendly noise levels. Before you buy, find out what noise restrictions there are in your
area. The best leaf blowers measure less than 65 decibels from 50 feet away, a
decent level for suburban landscapers. Due to concerns about noise and emissions, some cities and towns limit
the hours that leaf blowers can be used, or ban them altogether.
- Brand reliability. Top leaf blower brands are known for durability and solid
construction, two key features in a long-lasting tool. The standard warranty on
leaf blowers is two years.
Know before you go
Wear ear plugs and safety glasses. Leaf blowers often generate between 70 and 75 decibels of noise at
the source, which can cause damage after prolonged exposure. Wear safety
glasses to prevent small sticks, leaves and other debris from being blown into
Use only heavy-gauge extension
cords rated for outdoor use. Using a cord
that's too small is not only unsafe but could damage your electric leaf blower.
Experts recommend using a 14-gauge extension cord up to 100 feet long. If you
need more length, upgrade to a 12-gauge power cord "to make sure you pull
enough amps to get top performance from the blower," says Joe Delulio at LeafBlowersDirect.com.
Locate the closest service center
before you buy. Driving long distances or shipping your leaf
blower to a service shop can be expensive and inconvenient, and may not be
worth it even for a warrantied repair.
What's to come
As companies work to
create gas leaf blowers with lower emissions, more four-stroke engines are
hitting the market. In comparison to the standard two-stroke, four-stroke models
are quieter, produce less vibration, and don't require a mixture of gas and
oil. Current models are heavier and more expensive, making them an inferior
choice for many consumers.