Portable Leaf Blowers Review
Buying Tips and Best Models

Portable leaf blowers review and buying guide. Features to look for. Advantages and disadvantages. Best models.

Cordless leaf blowerImage by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay

An image says more than a thousand words, and for the image of your yard to say it all, you can use a leaf blower. At the same moment, when a tree begins to shed its leaves, a small mess begins to form around your house. And not only in the fall, but you can also use your leaf blower all year round, and not only for your lawn but decks, driveway, walkways, light snow...

There are many types and brands, and here we’ll explain to you what the best ones are, top features, why you should have a leaf blower and of course, we’ll recommend the best 3 options for you!

In this article

  1. What is a leaf blower, and do you need one
  2. Types
  3. What to look for when buying a portable leaf blower
  4. Advantages, benefits, and disadvantages of portable leaf blowers
  5. Best 3 portable leaf blowers for you

What is a leaf blower, and do you need one

If you are tired of cleaning up the leaves and need an efficient tool to replace the rake, leaf blowers are the way to go. They are time savers and make landscape cleanup simple and fast.

Each leaf blower is designed to blow leaves, dry or wet, some with more, some with less power, and are recommended for smaller and bigger yards. They can easily handle dust, small debris and rocks, heavy paper, grass cuttings, branches, and snow.

Some basic models are designed just to blow the air while more advanced to vacuum and mulch leaves into the bag.

The main benefits are speed, time-saving, and convenience when cleaning your backyard, driveway, deck, patio, garage, and gutters.

Leaf blower types and where to use

Depending on the weight of the leaf blowers and how do you carry them, there are three types to choose from:

  • Hand-held
  • Backpack
  • Wheeled

Based on the fuel source, leaf blowers can be found as:

  • Gas-powered
  • Electric
  • Battery-operated

Hand-held leaf blowers are basically the least powerful and smallest version of the leaf blowers; however, they are perfect for small yards (besides being the most economical) and where there are no electric outlets. They are lightweight and do not put weight on your back, making them easy to move around and store.

Backpack leaf blowers may be more comfortable for your hands because you carry them on your back, and you can use them for slightly longer periods of time, in addition to being a bit heavier. These are ideal for medium to large size yards.

The third type is wheeled leaf blowers (walk behind) that come with the attached wheels and must be pushed by hand to operate. These are harder to maneuver on the rough terrain. Wheeled blowers are recommended for large and professional jobs.

 Gas, electric, or battery-operated?

Leaf blowers that use gasoline are more powerful and usually come with higher CFM and MPH ratings. Gas-type models are designed with two-stroke and four-stroke engines.

Electric leaf blowers or corded blowers plug into an electric outlet. They are lighter and quieter than the gasoline type, and start-up is easier. Electric blowers are suitable for beginners - they require less maintenance than the gasoline engine and are very easy to operate. The problem is the limited cord length, which restricts your mobility. Also, the wire gets in your way.

There are also battery-operated or cordless models, which are lightweight and portable, but the intensity of the engine will decrease as the blower runs out of power. They use mainly rechargeable batteries that can last up to an hour. Cordless blowers provide increased mobility, but due to the lower power (airflow and air volume) are mostly used for smaller yards.

Corded electric blowers have faster airspeed due to the higher power, while cordless gives you freedom as they do not require an extension cord.

What to look for when buying a portable leaf blower

CFM and MPH rating

When buying a portable leaf blower, it’s important that you look for a model with sufficient airflow. The top models, instead of blasting the air at the ground, should use its power effectively. Check out the following:

  • The CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) rating is what measures the amount of air that is moved by the leaf blower per minute.
  • The MPH (Miles Per Hour) rating is what tells you the airspeed that comes out of the blower.

Both numbers are supposed to be related, both are high or low so that there’s a balance. Even so, the CFM rating is usually a little more important than the MPH rating. For small yards, we recommend looking for leaf blowers with a CFM rating in the range of 300, and for bigger yards, a blower with a CFM rating in the range of 500.

Leaf blower features

Speed control. This may be important and interesting for you, several electric models and even some gas models come with buttons to change the speed of the airflow and depending on the surface on which you want to work: from sweeping hard surfaces to delicate flower beds. Some models come with the fixed while others with variable-speed controls, allowing users to customize the power.

Nozzle. The narrow nozzle gives you the ability to blow leaves quickly and efficiently. There are models with flat and rounded nozzles. Flat ones, for example, are recommended for sweeping loose leaves.

Waterproof collection bag. Even though air blower vacuums are only for dry leaves, in places where the weather can be humid and changing, it would be good to have an air blower with a waterproof collection bag to avoid future damage.

Storage space. Air blowers are usually very small and perfect to be stored most of the year.

Fuel tank. The see-through fuel tank on gas-powered leaf blowers is good to have, so you know when you are running low on gas. Also, the wide opening on the tank reduces the risk of the gas spill.

Air intake mount. In order to avoid your clothes being sucked up by the blower, avoid the side-mounted air intakes, but choose the model with the bottom-mounted one.

Battery type. There are two types of batteries used in cordless blowers; Ni-Cad and Lithium-Ion. Ni-Cad batteries are cheaper but last shorter. Lithium-Ion batteries are lightweight, better performing, and recharge faster. Look for the high-voltage batteries (20-volt or 24-volt) as they provide more power and longer run time.

2-cycle vs. 4-cycle engine. 2-cycle engines run on the blend of oil and gas, while 4-cycle engines on gasoline only. They are heavier and more powerful.

Choke operation. Choose the model with the simplified choke operation to make the startup easier.

Extra handgrip. Some models include a second handgrip, so that the user can carry the unit easier and with better control.

Overall design. Handheld (portable) leaf blowers should be designed to point to the ground naturally - at a downward angle, so minimal effort is needed for the highest performance. It is harder to carry those models where the nozzle aims straight ahead. So aim for a well-balanced body design.

Noise. The cordless and corded electric models are much quieter than gas models. Also, the bigger the engine is in gas models, the more noise it makes.

Extra attachments.  An extra attachment will also allow higher wind speed for stubborn leaves in tight spots, an option to use the machine as the vacuum and mulcher to suck up the leaves, chops it up, and spits it out into small bits.

Accessories. Disposable leaf bags, vacuum kits, blower head tips are some of the available accessories for various jobs.

Note: To take into consideration the power output, look for the value either being in amps (A) on corded leaf blowers, volts (V) on cordless and cubic centimeters (cc) on gas-powered leaf blowers.

Advantages, benefits, and disadvantages of portable leaf blowers

Portable leaf blowers are an excellent solution for your household. Look at the benefits and advantages they can have:

  • Saves time. Sweeping leaves can take many minutes, or perhaps hours. Cleaning with a leaf blower can help you do it in less time.
    Cordless design. The cordless design provides you the freedom to carry and use them anywhere.
  • Easy to use. Spending hours of your life cleaning your yard can be exhausting, and if you hire someone, it can be expensive. Good quality and lightweight portable blower with an ergonomic design will reduce the problem when carrying it for a long time.
  • You can pick up leaves from tight places. Using the small and portable leaf blowers, with its narrow nozzles and different attachments, can help you remove the leaves fast from the tight spots.

Not everything is perfect, so let's mention here the disadvantages brought by leaf blowers:

  • Noise. Gasoline leaf blowers, for example, can become very noisy (the larger, the more sounds they produce). Even quieter models can be annoying for your neighbors.
  • Air pollution. Gasoline leaf blowers emit pollution like vehicles. Electric leaf blowers are not dealing with the gas emissions but can end up expelling dust.
  • Volatility. The gasoline leaf blowers use oil and gasoline to operate, so they carry a certain risk.

Best 3 portable leaf blowers for you

If you already decided to buy a portable leaf blower, here we leave you our selection of the best 3 models:

DEWALT DCBL722P1

" Great power and durability"
(Richard G. Witham)

"This blower is WOW!"
(Carlos Lopez) 

  • Handheld and lightweight - 10 lbs
  • 450 CFM of air volume and 125 MPH
  • Low noise - 66 dB
  • Brushless 20 V Li-Ion battery
  • Customer ratings: 4.6 out of 5

WORX WG591

"Great performance - Lots of power for things that don't like move easily"
(Boomer)

"Power and Freedom - Unbelievable for a Cordless Blower!"
(Taj Mahal) 

  • Lightweight - 8.1 lbs
  • 125 MPH air velocity / 465 CFM air volume (max)
  • Powerful 56V Lithium battery
  • Charge time - 90 min
  • Turbine blowers with variable speeds
  • Warranty - 3 years
  • Customer ratings: 4.4 out of 5

Makita USA INC XBU02Z

"Favorite tool of all time."
(Foobar McNulty)

"Great tool for carpenters"
(Dave (the old carpenter) Pitcher) 

  • Lightweight - 8.4 lbs
  • 120 MPH air velocity / 473 CFM air volume (max)
  • 2x18 V Lithium battery
  • 6-stage dial with velocity control trigger
  • Up to 29 min. of run time
  • Noise level - 60 dB
  • Customer ratings: 4.8 out of 5

Popular brands

  • Black & Decker
  • Husqvarna
  • Ryobi
  • Stihl
  • Worx
  • Toro
  • Hitachi

Summary

Finding your perfect portable leaf blower may take time, but we hope our advice could help you identify the right features and models. Remember that they have many uses and are perfect for you to save time, so you can keep your yard clean without having to pay someone or get tired when using the lawn rake. If your yard is not very large, it is preferable that you buy a blower with a low CFM to start. Good luck!

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