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Best Gas Leaf Blowers

By: Carl Laron on August 29, 2017

Gas blowers are bigger and more powerful, but also louder

When choosing a gas model, it's important to find one with good handling and reliability. Although there are no battery run times and power-cord lengths to deal with, "handhelds get uncomfortable after 45 minutes" because of their weight, says Sal Vaglica at This Old House magazine. If you need the power of a gas blower, but want something that's a little easier to use -- though often more expensive -- we cover backpack gas blowers elsewhere in this report. For smaller properties and light duty, an electric leaf blower might also be a good choice.

Our Best Reviewed handheld gas model from last year, the Hitachi RB24EAP (Est. $125) 23.9cc Handheld Blower, retains its crown for 2017. It stands out for its high-quality parts, excellent sweeping ability and ease of use. This model, which has a top airspeed of 170 mph, features a commercial-grade engine that meets California's tough air-quality standards. It also has a variable-speed trigger and large, two-finger throttle lever for easy operation, although it doesn't vacuum or mulch. It is relatively light at 8.6 pounds and has the longest warranty -- seven years -- of any blower model we found.

The 23.9cc Handheld Blower is named a Best Buy by ConsumerReports.org, and it earns a 4-star rating (though not best overall status) from Roy Berendsohn of Popular Mechanics, who says it has an effective airstream and can even move soggy debris and prickly seedpods. Owner reviews are very strong. At Amazon.com, it earns a rating of 4.4 stars based on feedback from more than 2,100 owners. Feedback is similar at Lowes.com -- 4.5 stars based on more than 1,575 reviews, with 95 percent saying they recommend this gas powered leaf blower. Regardless of the site, users say the Hitachi gas blower starts up easily, has good airflow and handles well, although some say the location of the inlet valve makes it prone to pull on clothing.

We also saw some strong recommendations for the Stihl BG 56 C-E (Est. $190). Some expert reviews are of a predecessor model, the Stihl BG 55, but regardless, feedback is glowing. Like the Hitachi the Stihl earns Best Buy status from ConsumerReports.org, and is rated best overall in Popular Mechanic's eight gas leaf blower round up. Despite lower air speed and volume ratings than some competing blowers, Roy Berendsohn says that it moves debris better than many blowers with more impressive specs; "the airstream is optimized, focused and less turbulent," he notes.

One issue that plagued the Stihl BG 55 were owner complaints that it was, simply put, a pain to start. That seems to have been cleared up in the BG 56 C-E. Stihl blowers are sold primarily through local dealers, so the best place to read user reviews is on the company's site. While we saw sorry feedback for the earlier model, the revised version features a simplified starting system and it seems effective. The blower rates a 4.5 star score, based on feedback from more than 415 owners.

Both the Hitachi and the Stihl are blowers only. For those who want a gas-powered blower that also vacuums and mulches, the Husqvarna 125BVx (Est. $200) draws some good feedback. It has a top airspeed of 170 mph and comes with an adjustable-length tube as well as flat and round tube tips so you can match the equipment to your task. The blower tube is lined up with the handle, which the company says puts less stress on the wrist and arm, and the variable-speed trigger locks, so you don't need to keep pulling on the trigger. The vacuum feature impressively mulches leaves and other debris, cramming what normally would fill 16 bags down into one. The Husqvarna blower/vacuum has a two-year warranty.

The Husqvarna 125BVx is included in the comparative test of leaf blowers conducted by ConsumerReports.org and earns Recommended status. It also earns praise from Sal Vaglica of This Old House magazine, who says it's "excellent" at sweeping and "very good" at vacuuming. He also commends the unit's user-friendly design, but finds the impeller small.

Among users, the Husqvarna 125BVx gets good feedback, though the Hitachi and Stihl blowers rates better still. For example, it earns a score of 4 stars based on more than 425 reviews posted at Lowes.com. Feedback is similar at Amazon.com -- 4 stars following more than 400 reviews. Most say the Husqvarna 125BVx sweeps and vacuums very effectively, and they like the comfortable handle. Some report breakdowns or clogs, and some complain that fuel lines can break after one or two seasons, or less, especially with fuel with high ethanol content, but this is considered an easy fix for the mechanically inclined.

Regarding fuel issues, all small gasoline powered tools, such as leaf blowers, are very sensitive to ethanol content and failing to follow maker guidelines -- including guidelines on the storage of gas and storing the unit between seasons -- could void the warranty, something that catches some owners by surprise. See the Buying Guide for more information.

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Leaf Blowers buying guide

What every best Leaf Blowers has:

  • Sufficient airflow.
  • Effective sweeping and loosening capabilities.
  • A variable-speed trigger.

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