Why Buy a Leaf Blower?
The top performers in our review are the Black & Decker LSWV36, the Gold Award winner; the Worx Trivac, the Silver Award winner; and the Toro 51619, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a leaf blower to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 leaf blowers.
Leaf blowers can help you clear anything from your yard or driveway from dust and debris to leaves. Many have the power to handle either large stretches of grassy land or a small backyard. We tested leaf blowers that work for both commercial landscape workers as well as homeowners who want help getting rid of the fallen leaves that come with autumn. Depending on how large of a space you need to cover, you have a range of blowers to choose from. To learn more about leaf blowers, visit our learning center.
Leaf Blowers: What We Tested, What We Found
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our testing methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available by reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Power & Performance
We tested both gas and electric leaf blowers. None of the blowers we tested are made exclusively for professionals or homeowners, even though, according to our testing results, some blowers are better suited for large areas while some are better for smaller areas. We measured how far each blower could move a pile of sawdust or lawn debris, such as grass clippings or leaves, and how quickly it moved it. The best leaf blowers could blow debris more than 17 feet.
We also assessed the weight and noise level of each model, since both influence how long you can use the blower. We also checked whether the blower had other beneficial features, such as variable speed settings and whether or not the blower also had a vacuum function.
In addition to evaluating the power, weight and the noise level of each cordless leaf blower, we also judged how maneuverable each blower is.
Gas or Electric?
When buying a leaf blower, you need to determine whether you'd prefer a gas-powered or electric model. There are a number of considerations with each type. If you select a gas-powered model, you will have to make sure you have the strength and mobility to rev up the engine by using a pull cord (which often requires a hard yank). In addition, many gas-powered blowers consist of a two-stroke engine, which requires a mixture of gasoline and oil that you'll need to mix up and keep on hand.
If you choose an electric leaf blower, you will have to either remember to charge the battery before use (if it has a battery) or, in the case of corded models, determine the closest, most convenient electrical outlet outside that gives you the best access to your yard. (There also is the issue of the cord getting tangled around objects like sprinkler heads, shrubs, etc.)
If you prefer to have total control over the blower's speed and you have a big area to cover, choose a leaf blower with high marks in both power and maneuverability. If you have a smaller yard and only plan to do a simple cleanup occasionally, then one with less power and maneuverability can suffice.
The best leaf blowers offer variable speeds, which allow you to set the speed of the blower for the job at hand, usually through numbered knobs near the blower’s handle or by how far you squeeze the handle lever. A vacuum function, while not essential, is also an added benefit. If the blower comes with a vacuum function, then look for vacuuming accessories, like attachments, for more specific jobs.
What Else is Important in Selecting a Leaf Blower?
Blower Design: How Comfortable is the Blower to Hold?
Most blowers feature a soft-grip handle, and it should be at a good angle and made with a soft, cushiony material to ease strain on your hands. The rest of the design should fit your needs. If you plan to use the blower for several different functions, look for a blower designed with adjustable extension tubes. Also, the overall size of the leaf blower, and how easily you are able to carry it, also influence your ability to use it.
All power tools, and lawn care machines are no exception, produce vibrations. The more the leaf blower vibrates, the harder it can be for you to use it over an extended period of time. Anti-vibration technology is also a large part of comfort, and it makes the leaf blower easy to maneuver with less annoyance. Look for blowers with specific features that reduce the amount of vibration the machine produces.
Noise Level: Should You Use Ear Protection?
Most leaf blowers are unavoidably loud, so it is important to choose one that has the least potential for disturbing people. We measured the noise level of each leaf blower in our lineup, and most of them of them were pretty close to one another, but a few were quieter than others. The quietest machine in our lineup, our Gold Award winner, the Black & Decker LSWV36, measured 86.2 decibels (dB).
Remember, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) recommends wearing hearing protection any time you're exposed to sounds louder than 85 decibels.
Warranty & Support: What If Something Goes Wrong?
The best leaf blowers should also be backed by great support and service. An instruction manual is essential for every leaf blower, because many require some form of assembly. Brands that provided both a physical copy and an online one (in the event the physical copy is misplaced) received higher marks. Having support through email and phone is also preferable.
Last but not least, a multiple-year warranty is also ideal, especially if you use your leaf blower frequently. Some machines come with different commercial and home-use warranties as well, such as the Tanaka 23.9cc. Be sure to check out our comparison matrix for the warranty periods for the 10 brands of leaf blowers we tested.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
The Black & Decker LSWV36, the Worx Trivac and the Toro 51619 are all solid leaf blower models for regular use. The Black & Decker combines comfortable design with great power, and as we mentioned, it's the quietest blower of the 10 we tested. The Worx has a durable, metal design plus it's lightweight and features a soft-grip handle, so you can comfortably handle bigger, longer jobs with it. The Toro lacked comforts like an anti-vibration, cushioned handle but made up for it with a powerful air speed of 250 mph.
All of the leaf blowers in our lineup are fine choices for anyone who needs to clean a yard or property, and they reflect the range of options available. Choosing one with a warranty, noise level and weight that suits your needs and capabilities is simple when you see the range of choices on our comparison chart. Also be sure to read our product reviews for more information about each leaf blower.