While many people look forward to fall foliage throughout the season, they don’t necessarily want fallen leaves all over their yard. And while raking the leaves into a jumpable pile in your backyard can seem tempting, the work behind it can be a hassle. Instead, many people rely on leaf blowers to tidy up their lawns and avoid overexerting themselves.
“A leaf blower is your best friend when it comes to quickly cleaning a space of fall foliage, dust and debris,” said David Steckel, home expert at Thumbtack. He said a leaf blower can be a good tool for clearing your porch and walkways of accumulated leaves or dust, as well as cleaning up your garage after a project. These gardening tools can also be used for removing grass clippings after mowing your lawn and cleaning up debris on sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces.
With several types of leaf blowers to choose from, finding the right one for you depends on how you actually plan on using it. To help you determine what you should consider before purchasing a leaf blower, we consulted lawncare and landscaping experts to get their tips and recommendations.
LEARN MORE What to consider when shopping for a leaf blower
7 top-rated leaf blowers in 2021
Since we don’t test leaf blowers ourselves, we relied on expert guidance about how to shop for leaf blowers to round up top-rated options across multiple retailers like Amazon, Home Depot and Ace Hardware. The following leaf blowers include standout features experts told us to look for, including high maximum CFM and MPH ratings, maneuverability and adjustability. We included both electric leaf blowers, which are better for smaller spaces, and gas leaf blowers, which can typically handle larger lawns.
Top-rated corded leaf blower: WORX
Worx 135 MPH 800 CFM 12 Amp Electric Leaf Blower
This powerful electric leaf blower features a maximum CFM of 800 coupled with 135 maximum MPH. The WORX blower includes an attachable “Hyper-Stream” air nozzle that directs the airflow where you need it and a cord lock that prevents your extension cord from getting disconnected when snagged. The machine weighs 6.6 pounds, which is slightly heavier than other electric models — if you’re looking for a more lightweight, battery-powered version that doesn’t have to be connected to an outlet, WORX also offers the WG546 cordless leaf blower. Carmen DeVito, founder of garden and landscape design company Garden Cult, said she likes WORX due to the rechargeable battery’s compatibility with the brand’s other offerings.
Top-rated gas-powered leaf blower: STIHL
STIHL BG 50 134 MPH 412 CFM Gas Handheld Leaf Blower
Michael Pugh, the owner of Virginia-based Commonwealth Landcare Inc., recommended STIHL for those seeking a more heavy-duty gas-powered leaf blower that won’t break the bank. This unit features an adjustable nozzle with varying heights for ease of use and the brand’s Purge Pump Primer, which delivers fuel to the carburetor (the device that combines air and fuel to create combustion) at the touch of a button to reduce the number of starting pulls you need after not using it for a while. “We have three BG 50 handheld blowers that are used every day, and we couldn’t work without them — they are strong, reliable and portable,” added Cameron Harrison, operations manager for Twin Oaks Lawn & Landscape in Rochester, New York.
Top-rated backpack leaf blower: Echo
Echo 216 MPH 517 CFM 58.2cc Gas 2-Stroke Cycle Backpack Leaf Blower
Pugh’s landcare company uses Echo gas-powered leaf blowers — he noted that the company makes “quality products that hold up to use in a variety of price points.” This highly rated backpack option has several features for professional-grade use: Among other things, it sports a leaf guard to prevent overheating if leaves or debris block the blower intake, a vented back pad for hot weather and a padded backrest and shoulder pads for comfort. It also comes with a five-year consumer and two-year commercial warranty. This leaf blower has a two-stroke cycle engine that requires a 50:1 ratio of fuel to oil mix (about 128 ounces of gasoline to 2.6 ounces of oil), according to the brand — it recommends using only fresh gas with a minimum octane rating of 89 or higher (mid-grade to premium) at all times.
Top-rated battery-powered leaf blower: RYOBI
RYOBI ONE+ 18V 100 MPH 280 CFM Cordless Leaf Blower
This cordless leaf blower is an affordable option that can be useful for at-home yard work and light-duty landscaping. It features a moderate power rating of 280 maximum CFM and 100 maximum MPH, along with a rechargeable battery that can work with any RYOBI tools manufactured in 1996 or later, according to the brand. The brand states the fully charged battery can typically provide only 20 minutes of run time, which may not be enough for larger yards — however, Ryobi sells batteries separately that you can stock up on for additional run time. The unit, which weighs about 6 pounds, has a hanging hook for convenient storage and a variable speed trigger that lets you control the airflow.
Top-rated professional-grade leaf blower: STIHL
STIHL BR 600 238 MPH 677 CFM Gas Backpack Leaf Blower (In-Store Only)
Joe Bailey, the owner of Lawn & Order Landscaping based in North Carolina, said his company uses a lot of STIHL’s BR 600 leaf blowers since they’re both reliable and durable.This option has several design features for comfort and safety, including an adjustable harness, an anti-vibration system and a built-in stop switch that allows you to turn off the engine by simply pressing a button. It’s also a relatively powerful option, featuring 238 maximum MPH and 677 maximum CFM.
Top-rated lightweight leaf blower: DEWALT
DEWALT 20V MAX Blower for Jobsite
This Amazon bestseller weighs 2.5 pounds, making it the most lightweight and compact option on this list. Due to its smaller size and relatively weaker strength — it has a maximum CFM of 100 and a maximum MPH of 135 — this unit is best for small spaces and very light-duty jobs, such as removing dust and debris from a countertop or workspace. The variable speed trigger allows you to control how much air comes out of the machine, while the compact design lets you utilize it in small, constrained areas and conveniently store it around your house. Keep in mind, however, that the battery and charger are sold separately.
Top-rated walk-behind leaf blower: Champion Power Equipment
Champion Power Equipment 160 MPH 1300 CFM Walk-Behind Gas Leaf Blower
Walk-behind leaf blowers are usually more powerful than other types — this gas-powered one from Champion Power Equipment has an impressive 1300 maximum CFM to help you move heavy debris and wet leaves. The wind vane — which is responsible for shooting air out of the machine — can be adjusted to direct the air level 15 degrees in either direction, and the forward airflow attachment changes the air discharge from the side to the front of the machine. It also features an adjustable throttle control to freely change your blower’s speed, while the ergonomic handle’s height can be adjusted to prevent back pain and discomfort. Like most walk-behind blowers, it equips wheels to help you move it around your yard and its front wheel can swivel 360 degrees or be locked in a forward position for easy maneuverability.
What to consider when shopping for a leaf blower
Due to the versatility of these machines, most people can benefit from owning a leaf blower, especially “anyone with turf or trees, shrubs or other plant material that drops leaves, seeds and fruit,” Pugh said. But they’re not limited to yards: Leaf blowers can also be used to clean balconies that may collect debris from surrounding trees.
There are various types of leaf blowers on the market, including gas-powered, cordless and corded electric models. There’s also multiple styles to choose from, like handheld machines, backpack and walk-behind leaf blowers — some may even have vacuuming and mulching functions to help you better clean and maintain your lawn.
Leaf blowers can be an investment — the prices generally range anywhere from $75 to over $100 for an electric leaf blower, $150 to $300 for a handheld gas blower and $250 to upwards of $700 for a backpack blower, according to the experts we consulted.
If you’re looking to save money on a battery-powered option, Steckel recommended spending no less than $75: “The additional power, battery life and construction of the unit will be worth it,” he said.
Electric versus gas leaf blowers
When determining the best leaf blower for your home and budget, deciding between an electric (aka battery-operated) leaf blower versus a more powerful gas-powered machine can be an important first step.
Electric leaf blowers are typically quieter, lighter and more eco-friendly than gas leaf blowers, according to Pugh. Electric models are significantly more cost-effective and are usually low-maintenance compared to gas-powered blowers since they don’t require changing out gas or oil, making them a good option for homeowners doing typical yard work in smaller spaces. Electric leaf blowers are also typically easier to operate and create less fumes while they run.
When it comes to electric blowers, you can choose between battery-powered cordless units that need to be charged periodically and corded options that need to be plugged into a power source in order to operate. According to the experts we spoke to, there are upsides and downsides to both: Cordless leaf blowers provide better maneuverability but are limited by the battery’s runtime, while corded units aren’t weighed down by a battery but require you to have access to an outlet at all times (and may need an extension cord in some cases). “Corded blowers are best for people with small areas and access to outdoor outlets,” Harrison added.
Gas-powered leaf blowers, on the other hand, are much more powerful than electric models and are typically for professional use. They’re best suited for larger properties and prolonged use since they usually last longer and are more durable than electric models. However, they do have their downsides: Their negative environmental impact caused California to recently pass a law banning gas-powered lawn equipment, including gas leaf blowers, by 2024. They can also get very loud — Pugh recommended using ear protection like ear muffs or ear plugs when operating one.
Steckel recommended a gas-powered machine for larger, flora-filled properties, but also suggested looking into a professional who can better maintain that type of machinery. “If you attempt to DIY, you will likely spend your entire weekend on the maintenance needed,” he said.
The majority of gas leaf blowers have two stroke (or two stroke cycle) engines that require a blend of gasoline and oil. While you can purchase pre-mixed fuel, you’ll need to consider whether you can personally mix two cycle fuel at the manufacturer-recommended ratio. Harrison also noted that gas often goes bad before a homeowner has time to use it, which can be frustrating and expensive.
Other blowers can have four-cycle engines that only run on gasoline — these don’t require you to mix your own gas and usually run cleaner than two-cycle engines, but they’re typically heavier and more maintenance-heavy than their two-cycle counterparts.
Handheld versus backpack leaf blowers
The most popular types of leaf blowers are handheld and backpack blowers: Handheld models allow you to physically hold the machine while operating it, while backpack leaf blowers let you use your shoulders and back to support the weight rather than your arms and wrist. Handheld devices tend to be good for at-home use, while backpack leaf blowers are the most commonly used blowers for professional use, according to the experts we consulted.
- Handheld leaf blowers typically come in corded, cordless (battery-powered) and gas-powered options. Corded and cordless handhelds typically feature a push-to-start button, while gas-powered handhelds require you to pull a cord to start the engine.
- Gas-powered backpack blowers are usually more powerful than handheld units, but they tend to be bulkier and heavier. They’re better for larger landscaping tasks since “they have enough power to move serious amounts of leaves and sticks across a lawn, but you can still fit them into tight areas around plants and other obstacles around the landscape,” said Harrison. They can also be used for other tasks like snow removal in the winter.
- Walk-behind leaf blowers, which allow you to push instead of lift, tend to be some of the most powerful machines. Harrison recommended these for “large-scale leaf cleanup” in open areas with more room to steer and operate. Pugh added that these aren’t ideal for homeowners with uneven terrain or tight flower beds.
CFM versus MPH
You’ll likely notice that several leaf blower listings state the machine’s “CFM” and “MPH.” These ratings relate to the maximum power and speed of the blower, respectively, and together they measure a leaf blower’s overall force or strength.
Cubic feet per minute (CFM) refers to the machine’s air volume, or how much air passes through the blower nozzle. The higher a leaf blower’s CFM, the more leaves, debris and other material the leaf blower pushes around, which means “you’ll be able to clear a wider area in a shorter time,” Steckel explained.
Miles per hour (MPH) measures the speed at which air comes out of the nozzle of the unit. The higher the MPH rating, “the faster and more forcefully that material can be pushed away,” Steckel said. He noted that many units equip either a dial to increase or decrease the speed or a variable speed trigger that changes the speed based on the pressure of your finger, “similar to how a gas pedal on a car works.”
Generally, if you’re hoping to get a more powerful leaf blower to clean up larger areas, a machine with a high MPH coupled with a high CFM will be the most efficient option. However, keep in mind that MPH and CFM ranges vary depending on the type of leaf blower you get. “You will see specs for a blower that state 350 CFM at 120 MPH or 580 CFM at 168 MPH. If you’re looking to move more leaves efficiently, look for a higher CFM,” Pugh advised.
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