Hello, my name is Ron Weingartz, and I’d like to talk to you today about what to look for when you’re purchasing a leaf blower.
First off, there are two very important features we’re looking for in a leaf blower. One is airspeed; the other is air volume. The airspeed is what you need to move the lighter debris, and move it a good distance. The air volume is what you need; you need the extra air volume for powering the heavier debris, like heavier leaves, as an example.
So, having a lot of speed without volume isn’t going to help for heavier leaf removal and, vice versa, if you’re blowing lighter material, you need the higher airspeed. So, the two work hand in hand.
Table of Contents
- Types of Leaf Blower
- What to Look for in a Backpack Blower
- What Kind of Gas Does a Leaf Blower Use
- Where to Buy Mixing Oil for a Leaf Blower
- What Does CFM Mean for Leaf Blowers
Types of Leaf Blower
Blowers are available in gas and electric. Electric is an excellent option if you’re blowing lighter debris; light leaves, blowing clippings off the sidewalk after mowing.
Very lightweight, easy to handle. Your typical electric blowers, because they are a high-speed motor, they have excellent airspeed, but they don’t have the volume of air that many of your gas blowers would have.
There are many excellent options and excellent brands in the electric powered units.
2.Gas Powered Blowers
As you move into the gas units, the gas units are available in different size displacement engines. They can run a larger diameter fan and give you increased performance. Your entry level machines, there again, they pick up a little more weight than the electric, but they’re still fairly light. Most manufacturers now offer excellent gas powered machines.
What to Look For In a Gas Blower
Some other things to searching for in a gas handheld is typically you’ll start out with your base unit, which will perform excellently. As you move into your larger, you’ll get into a larger displacement engine. Many times, you’ll have anti-vibration systems to help absorb the engine vibration, for continuous operation.
Another nice characteristic to look for is a trigger-lock. If you’re running it an extended period, you can lock the trigger in place, so you won’t have to squeeze the trigger for extended use.
3.Backpack Leaf Blowers
Another very popular option is a backpack unit. They start in the backpack units with an engine size comparable to a large handheld. With the backpack, you’re supporting all the weight on your back, so you’re not carrying the weight if you’re using for extended periods of time.
As you go into the backpacks, because you are supporting the weight on the back, you can go into much larger units. This is what you’ll find, a lot of times, your commercial operators going with. But, there are also many homeowners that are going to this type of unit, as well.
There’s a considerably larger engine, a much larger fan. Sometimes, you’ll pick up anywhere from 30-70% more power than a conventional handheld unit.
What to Look for in a Backpack Blower
Things to look for in a backpack: there again, because it is a larger unit, you want a good rubber mounted system to help absorb some of the shock load of the engine vibration.
Some other features, you’ll either have the throttle on the tubes, or you’ll have the throttle on the side hand control. This is a matter of individual preference which one you’re more comfortable with. Many blowers that are available offer that as an option with either choice depending on the operator.
The backpacks range in size to the smaller, light commercial use into the professional series. There again, they give you more power for if you have a lot of heavy leaves. But, you also do pick up some weight. So, you want to make sure it’s comfortable on your back, so you don’t have something that’s too big for you to handle.
There again, there are many excellent manufacturers of backpack blowers.
1. Accessories: Vacuum System
Most all of your handheld, gas, and electric do offer a vacuum system. The vacuum system can be easily converted from a blower to a vacuum. So, if you want to vacuum the leaves, times out of your shrub beds, things like that, excellent choice. You do get some shredding operation, so you get more leaves on the bag.
2. Push/Walk Behind Blowers
From there, we go into the generous, push type blowers. These are powered by a much larger engine. Typically, on three wheels. You want to look for something with large wheels so that it will roll through the uneven terrain of the lawn.
Another big advancement in the push blowers, because they are a heavier machine, there are companies like Billy Goat that have gone to a plastic housing and a plastic impeller to considerably drop the weight and yet, they can run a larger fan size to develop more speed and more volume.
What these would be used for is more for commercial applications, if you have a lot of heavy leaf removal, these will help blow those, if you’re looking to blow them out into the street for leaf pickup. So, this would be for more heavier application.
That gives you a little bit of a rundown of what’s available in blowers.
What Kind of Gas Does a Leaf Blower Use
If you’re considering a gas powered leaf blower, you may be wondering what kind of gas a leaf blower uses. The immediate answer is that you can use regular pump gas in your leaf blower. The long answer is that it depends on your blower’s engine.
1. Two-Cycle Engine Leaf Blowers
A leaf blower that has a two-cycle engine is going to use a mix of gas and oil. It’s important to never use strictly gas in your blower, as this could cause serious engine damage. Also, the oil used to mix with the gas is not regular motor oil, it’s a special type of oil made especially for mixing with the gasoline. Regular motor oil is too thick for a leaf blower and will also cause problems if used.
The ratio of the gas to oil that you use will vary from model to model. Read the owner’s manual carefully to find out what the recommended gas to oil ratio is for your particular gas leaf blower. Typical ratios found for various models are 40 parts gas to 1 part oil and 50 parts gas to 1 part oil.
2. Four Cycle Engine Leaf Blowers
Although not too common, sometimes you’ll come across a leaf blower that has a four-cycle engine. In this case, you can use just regular pump gasoline to power it. Most of the four-cycle engine blowers are heavy-duty models that are intended for commercial use, so you’re not apt to be looking at them if you need a blower for smaller, residential jobs.
Where to Buy Mixing Oil for a Leaf Blower
Mixing oil for a leaf blower is easy to find. You should be able to purchase it at nearly any home improvements store like Lowes or Home Depot. If you don’t own one of these stores locally, check with the dealer or wherever you purchased your leaf blower. The dealer should either carry the oil or be able to point you in the right direction.
What Does CFM Mean for Leaf Blowers
While researching which leaf blower to buy, you’ve likely come across the acronym CFM. So, what does CFM mean for leaf blowers, and what do you need to know when making a purchasing decision?
What Does CFM Mean?
CFM stands for cubic foot per minute. It may also be expressed as CFPM or ft³/min. As it relates to leaf blowers, CFM is a volume measure that indicates how many cubic feet of air passes through the leaf blower’s tube in the space of a minute.
By contrast, the MPH (miles per hour) rating given to a lawn blower tells us at what velocity, or speed, the air is being pushed out of the tube. Together, the airspeed and velocity rating determine how powerful the leaf blower is.
Higher powered leaf blowers will have both high air volume and airspeeds. Generally speaking, the most powerful blowers are gas powered.
Which Is More Important – Air Speed or Air Velocity?
When it comes to determining the power of a leaf blower, the air flow (CFM) measurement is more important than the airspeed. While speed is important, higher air volume means that you’ll be able to move more leaves in less time.
Think of it this method: if you’re trying to clear a leaf pile by blowing air through a straw, does it matter how fast you’re blowing into it? Of course not. Without a larger opening, the air volume is restricted, and therefore, less can be moved.
To determine how powerful a leaf blower is, you’ll want to pay more attention to the CFM rating than the MPH.
How Much CFM Do You Need In a Leaf Blower?
As mentioned above, the higher the CFM rating, the more powerful the leaf blower. Of course, this translates into higher prices, as well. When shopping for a new leaf blower, ask yourself how often you’ll be using it, and what kinds of jobs you plan to use it for. Typical CFM ratings for leaf blowers are between 200 and 600 CFM.
If you are just blowing light debris off of sidewalks or out of your garage, you can safely go with a lower powered leaf blower with a lower CFM rating. If you have large piles of leaves to move, or bigger jobs to complete, you’ll want to purchase the highest CFM rated leaf blower you can afford.
High CFM Leaf Blower Example
A good example of a blower with high cubic feet per minute air flow is the Tanaka TBL-7800 leaf blower. This model gives air volume of up to 805 CFM. This is a large, commercial grade gas blower, and is probably too powerful for most residential jobs.
Lower CFM Leaf Blower Example
An example of a lower CFM airflow rating is the Toro 51585 Power Sweep blower. This leaf blower is a lightweight, electric blower and reaches air volume of 155 cubic feet per minute. The Toro 51585 makes a good choice for those with small leaf and lawn clean up jobs, or if you just need to keep driveways, sidewalks, and garages clear of light debris.
Once you’ve determined how powerful you need your leaf blower to be, take some time to read through some leaf blower ratings and compare a few different models. Keep in mind that electric blowers tend to have lower CFM measurements, and will usually be best for lightweight leaf and debris clean up. Gas-powered models are usually more powerful, with higher CFM air flow and will be better for heavier lawn jobs.