Stihl's BGA 85 isn't your typical cordless lawn tool; experts and owners say this 36-volt leaf blower has plenty of power. The BGA 85 is "geared toward professionals or consumers who want the power of gas without the maintenance, noise and emissions," says Sal Vaglica at ThisOldHouse.com. Yet the battery and charger need to be bought separately, adding to this tool's overall price, and its battery runtime is rather limiting.
Lots of power for a price. The Stihl BGA 85 matches the great performance of the corded Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51609 (Est. $90) when sweeping leaves, according to a top comparison test, but doesn't do as well loosening embedded debris from a lawn. Vaglica, who tests the BGA 85 against other leaf blowers at ThisOldHouse.com, says its combination of 36-volt motor and unique two-stage, inline fan design generates almost as much force as Stihl's mid-level gas-powered blowers. Users like the two-stage trigger but wish the blower had vacuum and mulching abilities.
Quiet and fume-free. Partly due to its superior handling, the Stihl earns the highest score in one expert comparison test alongside three gas-powered blowers. The Stihl BGA 85 is "more manageable and precise than backpack models," says David Wolman at Wired, allowing it to "reach over and around hedges and yard furniture for strategic blasts." As one of the quietest blowers on the market, the Stihl BGA 85 is neighborhood-friendly and doesn't require hearing protection to use. On the downside, it weighs 9.5 pounds and is the heaviest electric blower in our report, and "the 2½-pound lithium-ion battery throws the blower out of balance, so you have to work at pointing the nozzle down," Vaglica reports.
Durable and low-maintenance. When you add the cost of the batter and charger, the Stihl BGA 85 is the most expensive blower we evaluate; those who already own other Stihl 36-volt cordless tools can use the same interchangeable power system. Even so, reviewers say its solid construction and durability make this blower a good value. Roy Berendsohn at Popular Mechanics agrees that the price is worth it "for users who value timesaving, quietness and not having to worry about exhaust or handling tools with hot mufflers." Because the BGA 85 is only available at independent dealers, few owners post comments on durability and long-term reliability. Stihl protects the tool, battery and charger under warranty for two years.
Editors test more than a dozen electric leaf blowers in this side-by-side comparison, but include only one battery-operated model. Each tool is analyzed for its ability to move leaves quickly and loosen lawn debris from grass. Ratings on noise and handling are included in the final score.
Review: Leaf Blowers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
2. This Old House
Here the Stihl BGA 85 gets a "very good" rating for blower performance in a comparison test with nine other models. Vaglica calls it quiet and powerful, but says it isn't well balanced with a heavy rear-mounted battery.
Review: TOH Tested: Leaf Blowers, Sal Vaglica, Not dated
Stihl's cordless BGA 85 takes the top spot in this comparison test, beating out three other gas-powered leaf blowers. Wolman says it has plenty of power, good maneuverability and is the most precise of the bunch, but testers find that it's as loud as the two-stroke Husqvarna 356BT X-Series backpack blower.
Review: Leaf Blowers, David Wolman, Sept. 29, 2011
Berendsohn doesn't conduct side-by-side testing with cordless leaf blowers, but draws on years of experience to make comparisons. His test of the BGA 85 is pretty casual and his review is short, but he calls Stihl's cordless tools "light, clean, quiet and fast" overall.
Review: No Gas, No Problem: Stihl's Battery-Powered Tools Get the Job Done, Roy Berendsohn, Not dated