Leaf Blower Buying Guide
If you are in the market for a new leaf blower this year, you may have noticed that there is a huge selection to choose from. There are hundreds of brands, a variety of different models in a range of different prices. So how do you know which blower is right for you? There are several factors to consider and below we have provided a buying guide to help you pick out the best leaf blower for your lawn and landscape needs.
Types of Leaf Blowers
This is one of the most important factors when purchasing a leaf blower. There are four main types of leaf blowers: electric handheld, gas handheld, backpack, and walk behind. Let’s take a look at what the differences are between each one:
Electric Handheld: This type of blower is either powered by plugging it in and using and extension cord or there are also rechargeable battery powered leaf blowers. These blowers are usually the lightest in weight, normally weighing under 7 pounds. They are intended for homeowner use on small to medium sized lawns. Many of them now include vacuum attachments, making them a blower / vac combo. One of the main advantages of using these blowers is that you do not have to store gas and/or oil at your home. They also do not require much maintenance. Ease of use, low price, and environment friendly are a few other reasons homeowners choose electric blowers. On the down side, these blowers are limited either by the length of the extension cord being used or the battery life. They also normally aren’t as powerful as gas powered blowers, although there are exceptions.
Gas Handheld: These leaf blowers are similar to electric except for the fact that they run on gas and cost a little bit more. More often than not, these leaf blowers have 2-cycle engines, so a gas/oil mix is required. They are usually more powerful than electric blowers, but not always. The average weight of a gas handheld blower is a little bit heavier, weighing 7-12 pounds. Although you don’t have to worry about carrying around an extension cord or a battery running out, these blowers do require more maintenance.
Backpack: Most professional lawn and landscape companies use backpack blowers for mowing lawns and leaf cleanups. They are more powerful than handheld leaf blowers and are built to be used for several hours at a time. These blowers are a good choice for people who have large lawns with many trees or lawn professionals. Using a backpack blower is more physically demanding than a handheld. They weigh more and are also noisier. The price for a backpack blower is usually two to three times the price of a handheld, but it is worth it due to the power these blowers supply. Backpack blowers are gas powered, usually with 2-cycle engines.
Walk Behind: This is the least common type of leaf blower due to a number of reasons. For starters, it’s by far the most expensive, costing anywhere from $500 to $1000. But they are also the most powerful leaf blower. Most walk behind leaf blowers weigh over 100 pounds so they are not very easy to maneuver, especially on hills. These blowers are gas powered and intended for commercial use.
Leaf Blower Brands
Whatever your favorite brand of power tools are, there’s a pretty good chance that they also make a leaf blower. There several brands to choose from, but it’s a good idea to stick with brands that have worked well for you in the past. Also, if you own rechargeable power tools, a lot of the companies like Black & Decker and Makita make rechargeable battery powered blowers so you can use the same batteries which will save you money. Other top blower producing companies include my personal favorite, Stihl, who offers commercial grade handheld and backpack blowers. They have just recently added battery powered units to their impressive line of lawn tools. Echo is another brand who produces a line of “high-end” blowers that can be purchased at Home Depot. Toro is one of the leading brand of leaf blowers. You can find their units in several different hardware and retail stores.
Leaf Blower Price
Another important decision is how much you want to spend on a leaf blower. Since prices start at under $20 for a leaf blower and extend to over $1000, there is a lot of ground to work with. Use your best judgement, evaluate your situation, and read leaf blower reviews to help form your decision. If you have a small lawn with not many trees, there is no reason to spend several hundred dollars on a leaf blower. Most likely an electric, handheld blower that costs under $100 will work well for that situation. On the contrary, if you have a large lawn with big trees that lose a lot of leaves in the fall, you might want to consider a professional grade backpack blower that will usually cost $200 or more.
One common mistake I see homeowners make often is trying to save a little extra money and settling on an inferior piece of equipment. I recommend spending a little bit more on a good blower that works well and will last several seasons. It might cost you more money up front, but most likely will save you some in the long run.You also won’t have to deal with frustrating break downs that are bound to happen.
Where To Buy
You can find leaf blowers available for sale at a wide variety of stores, both online and off. Major hardware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot carry a nice selection. Local small lawn mower dealers also carry them. These stores will usually carry both homeowner and commercial grade leaf blowers. You can find them online at major retail stores like Wal-Mart, Sears, and Target. I have found the best selection and lowest prices at Amazon.com. In addition, you can usually get free shipping included with your purchase.
Over the years, I’ve bought several used leaf blowers and have been please with the results. Obviously this comes with more risk than buying new. There is a chance that something can go wrong and you don’t have a warranty to cover the purchase. But if you know where to look and are careful when you buy, then there are some great deals to be had. Craigslist is my favorite place to find good, used lawn equipment. I’ve also had good luck at garage sales and local pawn shops. Another place I’ve found quality, used equipment for sale is at lawn forums.
Other Factors To Consider
There are a couple of other factors to consider before you purchase your leaf blower. You will want to keep the environment in mind when selecting a leaf blower. Select a blower that limits the amount of harmful toxic fumes released in to the air. If you are a resident of California, make sure the you unit you purchase is CARB-compliant. Noise level is another thing to consider. More communities are adopting noise ordinances. You can check to see if your city has any noise laws at their official website.