If you’re in the market for a leaf blower, it’s best to do your homework before heading to the store. Do you prefer a gas-powered machine or an electric- or battery-operated one? Do you want a blower that will also mulch all those leaves?
You’ll also want to consider the power of the air stream, the weight of the machine, noise level, ease of operating controls and price. Ask your neighbors with similar-size yards for their recommendations.
Here’s a handy breakdown by category, with a couple of top brands mentioned for each:
- Handheld gas-powered. This is the most common blower. It has a small gas-powered engine and a pull cord starter. Any gas-powered blower-vacuum is noisy. It’s just a matter of finding the one with the least noise without sacrificing power. Gas-powered machines also need periodic maintenance such as air and fuel filter changes. If you want one that vacuums, look for a steel impeller grinding blade, which will outlive a plastic one. Another important aspect is the ease of changing attachments from blower to vacuum. Good brands to consider are Echo (known for easy starts), Toro and Husqvarna. Prices range from $100 to $200.
- Backpack gas-powered. These machines are bigger and heavier versions of the handhelds — with more power. The Stihl BR 200 is one of the best in this category. Prices start at $300.
- Electric blower-vacuums. These do the same work but are quieter and don’t need the maintenance of gas-powered units. You will, however, be tethered to an electric cord. Toro makes a couple of electric models that work well for a good price. Decent ones start at $70 and go up to $100.
- Battery-powered blowers. These operate similar to electric blowers but instead of a cord, the machine is powered with a lithium battery. They have less power, so are best for light duty such as sweeping the driveway and sidewalks. Kobalt and Greenworks are two lesser-known brands that make good cordless blowers. Prices range from $70 to more than $160.