It’s Fall which suggests one, bothersome thing needs cleaning up– leaves. We’ve evaluated 5 of the best leaf blowers available to see which one is ideal for you.
You might view a leaf blower and garden vac as something of a luxury, but they’re really very versatile tools that can be bought for just ₤ 50 to ₤ 100.
Naturally, what type of ‘blower’ is best for you will depend on what you have to do. Here’s what you need to know.
Best Leaf Blowers and Garden Vacuum
TYPES OF LEAF BLOWERS
- Leaf blowers are best for small gardens or if you’re handling a large number of leaves that cannot be easily vacuumed up. They only blow, however they’re ideal for moving lots of fragments in one huge pile that you can then collect up quickly.
- Garden vacuums work for small tasks– particularly the non-shredding types, as they’re good for picking up general litter in addition to leaves. They’re not terrific for huge jobs, however, as it’ll usually take longer to run around drawing everything up than it will to blow everything into one huge pile.
- Combined leaf blowers and garden vacs are best for the great majority of individuals, due to their flexibility. The primary disadvantage is they can be fiddly to establish and typically have additional accessories you need to store, which you might possibly lose.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A LEAF BLOWER
We’ve already covered the various types of leaf blowers and garden vacs, however what else should you consider when deciding which one to buy? Here’s a handy check list of questions when picking which leaf blower to purchase.
HOW MANY LEAVES WILL YOU BE CLEARING UP?
This sounds very obvious (and it is), however it’s important. If you have a small garden then a smaller sized, lower-power blower or vac ought to be enough. The majority of people will be much better off with a blower or combi blower and vac, but if you have a large amount of leaves then you’ll require a more powerful, longer-lasting machine to get the task done. If you have a large area to cover, don’t stint the equipment, as you’ll regret it later.
DO YOU WANT TO PICK UP LITTER TOO?
If so, a straight garden vac without shredding is what you require. They’re not as proficient at picking up and keeping damp leaves, however they’re a hugely versatile time saver.
MAINS, BATTERY OR PETROL–WHICH IS BEST?
Gas is generally something you’ll just wish to go for if you know you’re going to be working all the time. A lot of battery-powered models just last well under 30 minutes, so if your garden is quite large you’ll probably have to opt for a mains-powered unit.
HOW WE TEST LEAF BLOWERS AND GARDEN VACS
Each time we test a leaf blower or garden vac we gather 3kg of moist leaves and spread them over a 40m2 spot of yard. We then time for how long it requires to blow the leaves into a pile. Along the method we look at how easy the device is to handle, what its blowing power is and how loud it is.
For blowing power we stand at a fixed point and simply use the blower to develop an arc in the spot of fallen leaves. We then measure the distance cleared by the blower. When it comes to volume, we hold a decibel meter at head height while running the device at its usual position to the side of the body.
For vacs we then suck up the entire pile and evaluate how well the vac coped, checking for obstructions, whether it can take in the whole stack and how simple it is to empty. We also assess how simple it is to change from blowing to vacuuming modes–some multi-tube combi blowers can be rather an inconvenience to switch modes.
1. STIHL BGA 85
BEST CORDLESS LEAF BLOWER
- 30-minute battery life
- Same power as a mains-powered blower
- Great control of speed
If you’re after the ultimate handheld cordless leaf blower then look no further. The Stihl BGA 85 is merely the best on the marketplace. Regardless of working on batteries, it uses the blowing performance of a mains-powered unit and yet still has the capability to last for half an hour prior to requiring a recharge.
What truly sets it apart, however, is its variable speed that allows for immediate and simple modification of the output power. This makes it ideal for manoeuvring around fragile plants and even indicates it’s suitable for some indoor tasks such as blowing the cobwebs from your shed or cleaning the drapes and book racks.
The disadvantage? It does cost a great deal of money. You’re looking at close to ₤ 500 for the blower, a battery and a charger, although the battery will deal with other Stihl cordless power tools.
2. BOSCH ALB LI
BEST LEAF BLOWER FOR SMALL GARDENS
- Very light-weight, compact design
- Battery powered
- Suitable with whole variety of Bosch 18V tools
The Bosch ALB LI is far from the most powerful leaf blower around, however what it lacks in zest it offsets in ease of use and versatility. Everything starts with a really compact, lighweight yet robust style that makes it both easy to deal with and to store.
Thanks to being powered by batteries it’s likewise really convenient, being ready to go– and go anywhere–without the requirement for cables or petrol. Note, though, that unless you’re planning to buy other Bosch tools– which there are numerous, consisting of drills, sanders and strimmers–then we wouldn’t suggest this blower on its own, as the cost consisting of a battery is expensive for the power you get.
The downside is that this isn’t a really effective blower, with it having less than half the blowing power of many mains-powered units. This makes it inappropriate for moving large volumes of leaves– something its 10-minute battery life does not help with, either. Nevertheless, for those with small gardens it’s an ideal tool for fast tidying-up tasks, and thanks to the low power output it can be used inside your home for dusting jobs, too.
3. STIHL SHE 71
BEST COMBI GARDEN VAC/ LEAF BLOWER
- Effective blowing and vacuuming performance
- Excellent handling, specifically for blowing
- Mains powered
The Stihl SHE 71 is an easy vac/blower with no obvious exceptional features. It’s not the most effective, doesn’t have variable speed and isn’t really battery powered. However, what it does have is a terrific design that makes it actually easy to use.
The primary plus point is that the handling is exceptional. A properly designed handle and on/off switch make it uncomplicated to use in blower mode, and quite simple when vacuuming, too.
This standard skills is backed up by solid construct quality, quickly changeable tubes and a nice long 10m mains cable. All this and it’s competitively priced at around ₤ 90.
It’s a terrific alternative for bigger gardens.
4. BLACK & DECKER GW2200
BEST COMBI BLOWER AND VAC UNDER ₤ 50
- Easy-swap tubes for changing from blow to suck
- Powerful output
- Really low-cost
If you’re merely after the cheapest way to get the complete abilities of a multi-purpose leaf blower and garden vac, the Black and Decker GW2200 is a decent alternative.
Aside from its low price, what sets the GW2200 apart from other comparable types of multi-purpose vac is that it just uses a single tube accessory for each function– blowing and drawing. On the other hand most other systems require two pieces for each mode.
Combined with an easy push button release, this makes it by far the quickest and most convenient combi-blower to set up and change over. Packing as much power as the more pricey alternatives, this mains-powered system gets the hard graft done, too.
There are areas where the low cost does show up, though. Develop quality is visibly inexpensive, with a little sharp edges to all the plastic, the cable is just 6m long and this was the only garden vac to obtain clogged in our tests. It only happened as soon as, but plainly reveals it isn’t rather as hard as the more expensive units.
Still, if cost is your main issue then this is an excellent first port of call.
5. KARCHER S650
BEST FOR DRIVEWAYS AND PATIOS
- Push sweeper with 650mm-wide sweeping area
- Dual side brushes for simple edge cleaning
- Easy collection bin
The Karcher S650 Push Sweeper is something of an expert. It’s no excellent on soft ground and struggles a little with damp vegetation, however it’s an outright whizz at clearing debris of all kinds from hard, flat surface areas such as driveways.
It’s extremely strong and easy to put together, and the only power it requires is you pushing it, so there are no cable or batteries to handle. It’s easy to shop, too, so will not use up excessive area in your garage.
If you have a large driveway that takes ages to sweep up, the S650 is well worth considering, in spite of its lack of flexibility.