Leaf Blowers – Selecting the Right Type

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Question: I’m looking to buy my first leaf blower… We finally moved into our first house and after raking leaves and sweeping for what seems like forever I’m ready to add some type of blower – gas, handheld, backpack or electric to my growing set of tools. Which kind of leaf blower should I buy? Sam Atlanta, Georgia

Answer: Sam, leaf blowers make the task of cleaning leaves, grass clippings, and debris from driveways, sidewalks, patios, decks, porches even flower beds extremely efficient.

Typically leaf blowers are handheld units all self contained. However, many commercial users go for backpack mounted units, and move or blow leaves and other debris with a handheld wand.

To drive all this “air velocity” most leaf blowers get their power from two-stroke engines. However. with some of the noise restrictions now in place in some cities, four stroke engines are slowly finding their way onto the scene to address the noise or “air pollution” issues.

Leaf blowers have become an essential tool for landscape maintenance professionals. Today, with tight budgets and limited staff maintenance personnel are expected get more job completed faster and the backpack blower meets this requirement.

Now these time saving tools called – Leaf blowers – are not only a regular tool found in use by the professional landscapers as an efficient and welcomed time saver but also the guy next door – the homeowner.

Blowers – The Basics

Most leaf blowers perform one function and do it very well – the simple function of blowing material. Their use can be widely found in residential areas where many people are exposed to their distinct sound.

They are the perfect tool for getting rid of or moving unwanted leaves, showing their true value as versatile machines when the annuals autumn clean up arrives making the task much easier. While leaf blowers do help get the job of clean done much quicker – they are noisy so make sure you remember “hearing safety”.

Leaf Blowers Buying Guide

Leaf blowers come in several types and uses of power:

    • Electric
    • Gas Powered

Let’s look at each one of these to find out which one best meets your needs.

Electric Models

Electric leaf blowers are not only lighter, weighing in at less than 5 lbs. but they have less vibration and are quieter. Since the fan or blower is driven by an electric motor, there is no fuel to mix or refill.

If the job of sweeping or clearing hard surfaces like patios, decks and driveways fall within 150 feet of an electrical outlet, the small, lightweight, electric leaf blower may provide all the power you need. Smaller yards are especially good candidates for electric models.

Another advantage electric blowers offer is in the “starting up” phase. gas powered models not only need fuel but can be difficult to start of cold and hot days. Electric blowers come to life at the pull of the trigger. The down side comes from being tethered to an electric cord.

There are two Electric Blower types:

        • Corded leaf blowers must be constantly connected to an electrical outlet to offer steady and constant power. Usually an extension cord is attached to the blower and limits mobility. For this reason alone it may not be the best choice for homes and lawns where there are a lot of trees.
        • Rechargable Cordless/battery operated leaf blowers are a good alternative for small jobs and small areas. They are limited in their operating time by battery life. They move less air than large models but can work well on soild surfaces like driveways and patios.

Price Range of electric models run from about $40 – $100. Look for manufacturers like Toro | Black & Decker | Ryobi | Weed Eater | Homelite | Tanaka | Troy-Bilt | Husqvarna | Makita | Stihl

Gas Powered Models

Gas powered leaf blowers usually are heavier than electric blowers and much louder. However, that does not mean they should not be considered to make yardwork more efficient and easier.

Efficiency is one trait, power and convenience also come into play. With gas powered models and no electrical umbilical cord required you are able to move freely around the yard and landscape at will.

Gas powered models typically cost between $200 and $500. Look for manufacturers like Toro | Swisher Shindaiwa | Ryobi | ECHO | Homelite | Tanaka | Troy-Bilt | Husqvarna | Makita | Stihl

3 Types of Gas Powered Blowers:

        • Handheld gas powered leaf blowers are very popular with many DIY homeowners. If your property and landscape is small to medium size and where an electrical blower would not make sense due to landscape obsticales like trees or distance from an electrical outlet. Gas powered handheld blowers provide more power than electric models but can get heavy if used for long periods of time. Before making a selection consider the weight and balance of the handheld units. If a handheld unit is cumbersome consider stepping up to the more powerful Backpack blower.
        • Backpack Gas Powered leaf blowers in general are not recommended for the average homeowner. However if you have a large area to clean or a long driveway, backpack blowers, though heavier may provide more comfort in use over handheld models.
        • Walk Behind Gas Powered leaf blowers offer the “ultimate” in power when it comes to clearing lawn debris. These operate much like a push lawn mower but blast leaves at a high velocity “wind speed.” The downside is they are the most expensive, least maneuverable, and take up more space in the garage or storage area and they are loud. But if you have a yard like the Ponderosa they are a great option.

As you can see there are options in type and models to choose from. However, no matter what leaf blower type or model you select , make sure you take the proper safety precautions – safety glasses and hearing protection at a minimum.

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