Leaf Blowers Buying Guide
Save backbreaking hours of raking leaves and instead blow them all to one spot with a lot less effort. Leaf blowers are a great tool to have from spring clean-up until the last leaf falls. In addition to leaf collection, they're also excellent for clearing grass and debris off your sidewalk, patio and deck. Many leaf blower models include vacuum and mulching options, so you can collect and bag with ease, or create nutrient-rich mulch to return to your garden.
This guide will explain the different types of leaf blowers you'll find at Canadian Tire as well as some of the terminology and features used in describing different models. We also include tips for using your leaf blower vacuum and information on maintaining your leaf blower.
Three Types of Leaf Blowers
Gas, electric and rechargeable cordless - you can find all three types of leaf blowers at Canadian Tire. The power source for these blowers makes a big difference in performance and handling.
Gas - Gas blowers are versatile and tend to cost more, but they are the most powerful option you'll find for blowing and vacuuming leaves and debris. With plenty of power and no ties to an electrical cord, these blowers can take on any sized property or location. Backpack models are ideal for larger jobs; they're usually heavier than handheld blowers but can be easier to handle because your back and shoulders are supporting the weight.
Gas engines start with a pull cord and are louder than electric blowers – be sure to wear ear protection. Most require fuel mixing and all gas engines need regular maintenance.
Electric - Electric blowers offer the convenience of push button starting, operate without any exhaust emissions and don't have the maintenance or fuel mixing requirements of gas engines. They are generally handheld in design and are lighter-weight than gas models.
The upper range of power for electric models is somewhat limited. They require an extension cord and access to an outlet to operate. The power cord can sometimes be a hassle around trees, bushes and other obstacles.
Cordless - Rechargeable cordless blowers offer the mobility of gas models. They're lightweight, operate without emissions, and are much quieter than gas or electric blowers. The maximum power of cordless blowers is lower than that of gas or electric, so they may not be as efficient on lawn areas or for wet leaves and debris. When you've exhausted your batteries, they'll need time to recharge. If you anticipate using your blower for extended sessions, it's wise to purchase an extra battery to keep charged and at hand.
Comparing Different Models
When shopping for leaf blowers, if possible, you should pick up different models and grip them as if you were operating them to get a feel for their weight and handling. Most electric or cordless blowers weigh around 7 lbs (3 kg) while gas blowers may weigh from 10 to 40 lbs (4.5 to 18 kg) for some backpack models. Take note of the starting mechanism, and any features for adjusting airflow or nozzle attachments.
The blower's packaging will include a lot of product information. Check the listed operating sound (dB) to make sure it's not too loud for your community's bylaws. Also read the packaging to compare these other features:
- Air Speed and Air Volume – While related, air speed and air volume are two different ways of measuring a leaf blower's power.
- Air speed is measured in MPH (miles per hour), and measures how fast the air is moving out of your blower, ranging from 100 to 250 miles per hour.
- Air volume is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). It measures the amount of air pushed out by the blower, and may be measured with or without the blowing tube.
When comparing leaf blowers, it is best to consult both the air speed (MPH) and the air volume (CFM). The higher the number, the more powerful the blower. Blowers with high air speed and volume can move large amounts of debris quickly. Lower air speeds and volumes are excellent for clearing leaves without disturbing bark mulch or for blowing leaves away from newly seeded lawns.
- Vacuum and Mulching Options – In addition to blowing, many models let you vacuum and mulch. When looking at these models, check the bagging capacity to see how frequently you will need to change bags. Also look at how the machine switches between vacuum and blower modes, to see if it requires a manual change or a simple flip of a switch.
- Mulch Ratio - Mulching will reduce debris volume as it is vacuumed – an impeller mulches debris on its way into the collection bag. The exact mulch ratio depends on the design and speed of the impeller. A metal impeller will provide better mulching and durability than a plastic one. The mulch reduction ratio will give you a good idea of how many fewer bags you'll need to dispose of your leaf litter.
- Variable Speed Motor - This will give you flexibility and control while blowing or vacuuming. Use the low setting for better control on hard surfaces, in tight corners or in landscaped areas to avoid blowing away garden mulch or vacuuming up landscape rocks. Use the high setting for the tough lawn chores in both modes.
Gas Model Features
- Spring Assist ™ Starting Technology - This feature eliminates multiple pulls and allows you to start your blower or blower/vac with a slow, smooth pull.
- 4-cycle Engines - Gas engines are available in either 2-cycle or 4-cycle engines. 4-cycle engine models are more powerful, use regular gas, and tend to be easier to start, quieter and cleaner burning. 2-cycle engines are lighter and easier to handle, and are more economical to purchase, but require the user to mix gas and oil.
Cordless Model Features
- Lithium-ion Power - Lithium-ion batteries are the latest technology in rechargeable yard tools. These batteries deliver maximum performance by offering outstanding power and longer full-power run time. Unlike nickel-cadmium batteries, lithium-ion cells maintain consistent power throughout the entire cycle and won't develop a memory that can limit recharge power. Lithium-ion batteries offer up to 3 times the number of life-cycle charges compared to nickel-cadmium cells.
Tips for Using your Leaf Blower
Here are some ways to make leaf blowing easy and to get the most from your
leaf blower – safely.
- Dry days are best for collecting yard waste like leaves, brush, grass clippings, shrub trimmings, and other organic garden debris.
- Leaves are an excellent ingredient for composting. Transfer the leaves to a compost pile and, after the leaves have decomposed, add this organically enriched earth to your garden soil or houseplants.
- Many communities collect yard waste in environmentally-friendly paper bags that are turned into mulch along with your leaves and yard debris.
- Never direct the air stream at other people or at animals.
- Keep your hands away from hot mufflers.
- Noise limits - check for regulations in your neighborhood and wear ear protection.
- Always wear safety goggles to protect yourself from flying debris. Gloves, ear plugs and long pants are also recommended.
Maintaining your Leaf Blower
All leaf blowers require some general maintenance.
- Keep the unit free and clear of debris.
- Keep handles clean and dry.
- Periodically inspect your leaf blower for hazards such as loose screws.
- Ensure that the impeller is free of dirt and debris before each use and before storing.
- Simply store with the separate extension cord neatly wound.
- Charge the battery after each use so it is fully ready for your next task. (Lithium-ion batteries won't develop a memory.) Store in a fully charged state.
- Wait approximately 15 minutes before recharging a warm battery.
- A fully discharged battery will require about 5 hours to fully charge.
Gas Blowers require some additional maintenance:
- Change the spark plug and oil at the start of every season or more often with greater use throughout the season.
- Use fresh gas with a quality fuel stabilizer throughout the season.
- Before storing for the season, empty the gas tank, disconnect the spark plug and clean exterior with water and dish soap.