The Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51609 is a standout among corded leaf blowers, repeatedly receiving strong reviews from owners and experts. In addition to excellent performance for moving leaves, its 12-amp motor is outstanding in vacuum mode. The 51609 is lighter and easier to use than gas blowers, but doesn't quite match the less expensive Toro 51585 (Est. $40) in terms of handling.
Powerful corded blower converts to a vacuum. This Toro does almost as well at blowing leaves and embedded yard debris as our Best Reviewed gas blower, the Husqvarna 125BVx (Est. $200) , and actually outperforms it in vacuum tests, reports a consumer testing organization. "The blower is more powerful than I expected," says one owner at LeafBlowersDirect.com. At HomeDepot.com, users say the vacuum mode has plenty of suction and the steel shred impeller reduces the volume of trimmings to a "manageable size" without clogging. A variable speed trigger and two different tubes let users select the right amount of power for each job.
Good handling with a few caveats. The Toro 51609 is designed to quickly change from blowing to vacuuming without tools, but a few user posts say written instructions are hard to understand and it's confusing the first time you convert to vacuum mode. Once set up, the blower is an effective vacuum but emptying the bag is awkward due to a poorly placed, flimsy zipper. Even so, these are only minor issues for most owners; the Toro 51609 is fairly light and easy to wield overall. In one test it's named one of the quietest blowers at a "neighbor distance" of 50 feet, but is still loud enough that experts recommend wearing hearing protection.
Solid internal components. To finely mulch leaves and twigs, the Toro 51609 uses a metal impeller with serrated shredding blades, a durable design that's preferred by experts. "Using this for the last few years, the metal blade doesn't even have a nick, and I've mulched my fair share of sticks, twigs and pine cones," says one owner at HomeDepot.com. The mulch bag and zipper aren't as durable, according to user reviews, and a few complain that the cord connection is poorly designed. Even so, longtime owners say the Toro 51609 still works great after several seasons of use. It comes with the typical leaf blower warranty of two years.
Editors test about a dozen corded leaf blowers, rating each model's ability to effectively move leaves, loosen embedded debris, suck up leaves and mulch detritus. Testers also measure how loud the blower is for the operator as well as someone standing 50 feet away.
Review: Leaf Blowers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
With more than 600 reviews, the Toro 51609 is one of the most popular leaf blowers at HomeDepot.com. Owners give it 4.3 out of 5 stars, saying it has plenty of power to blow leaves, vacuum and mulch. This site also includes reviews from Toro.com.
Review: Toro Ultra 235 mph Electric Leaf Blower/Vac, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of September 2013
The Toro 51609 is one of the few leaf blowers at Amazon.com that gets more than 400 reviews. With an overall rating of 4.4 stars out of 5, it also receives the most praise for its excellent blowing performance and easy handling. A few owners say that although the vacuum performance is pretty good, the bag is inconvenient.
Review: Toro 51609 Ultra 12 amp Variable-Speed (up to 235) Electric Blower/Vacuum with Metal Impeller, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of September 2013
Like at other retail sites, the Toro 51609 is a standout at Sears.com. Owners give it 4.5 stars out of 5 for good maneuverability, versatility and excellent performance. However, a few say the collection bag's zipper breaks easily, making the vacuum feature more awkward to use than the blower setup.
Review: Toro Ultra Blower Vac And Shredder 235MPH Electric, Contributors to Sears.com, As of September 2013
Resident product expert Delulio names the Toro 51609 the best corded leaf blower, calling it a powerful tool that easily converts to a vacuum. About 30 owners give it 4 stars out of 5. While most are pleased with its performance, a few have concerns about durability.
Review: Toro Ultra Electric Leaf Blower/Vacuum, Joe Delulio, contributors to LeafBlowersDirect.com, As of September 2013