With fall cleanup looming, it’s that time of year when people are buying leaf blowers. Consumer Reports has tested and rated more than 60 gas, electric, and battery-powered models.
Consumer Reports says for bigger, tougher jobs, larger gas blowers are the way to go. If you want to move a lot of leaves and you need to move them some distance, then a roll-around unit is the answer. But those can cost you hundreds of dollars, they’re very noisy, and they can be difficult to maneuver.
Less expensive handheld gas blowers should be enough to get most jobs done. Consumer Reports says the $140 gasoline Hitachi RB24EAP is a great choice for the money.
Also consider electric blowers. They tend to be quieter at a distance—a plus for your neighbors. A couple that Consumer Reports tested are just as powerful as gasoline-powered handheld units.
A good choice is the Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51609 for just $75. It’s very easy to use and is excellent at sweeping away leaves and vacuuming them up.
If you have more ground to cover than a cord will allow, consider battery-powered blowers, which have gotten better. You will need to recharge the battery after 30 or 40 minutes, and the battery does add some weight. However the 56-volt Ego LB4801 is one of the lighter battery-powered blowers tested. It’s a Best Buy at $180.
If you need more power than a handheld leaf blower, consider backpack styles. They’re much heavier than handheld blowers and usually cost more, but your back and shoulders support the weight rather than your arms.
The Stihl BR 350 leaf blower at $350 aced Consumer Reports’ leaf-blowing tests and is very easy to handle and use. But be aware that backpack blowers can’t vacuum or shred leaves.