Fall is on the way and homeowners are heading out to buy leaf blowers. While there are fantastic electric hand-held leaf blowers, most have long been over-powered by gas power leaf blowers. Gas blowers are the fastest way to clear a yard full of leaves. But there are great battery operated leaf blowers with great prices and comparable performance that make them a smart choice for some homeowners, especially if you care about noise.
Some battery powered blowers can sweep away leaves and loosen debris almost as well as the top gas blowers. And while some gas models are less noisy than others, electric and battery operated are quietest overall. That's good news, particularly if your community is among those with gas-blower regulations.
Most municipalities prohibit unreasonable noise, including the whine of a blower, during certain hours. But some areas prohibit any blower louder than 70 decibels at 50 feet, and a few limit noise to 65 decibels (about as loud as a window air conditioner on high). Keeping your neighbors happy might be the best reason to choose a less-raucous blower, wherever you live.
The best handheld electric blowers are powerful enough for big jobs, provided they're within 100 feet of a power outlet. Gas handheld models go anywhere but add weight, cost, and noise, along with fueling and maintenance. Backpack blowers cost even more but offer more power while transferring weight from your arms to your back and shoulders.
Got lots of leaves? Wheeled blowers pack the most power by far. But they're the largest and priciest, and can be tough to push and control. Here's what else to consider:
Decide whether you need to vacuum. Many handheld blowers also pick up yard debris. But their relatively small tubes limit how much you can suck up at one time. Look for a metal impeller which should hold up better over time than the usual nylon versions when ingesting leaves and twigs.
Factor in other features. Flatter nozzles tend to be better for sweeping leaves, while rounded ones are usually best for loosening them. Adjustable speeds let you power down around fragile garden beds, and a clear gas tank shows fuel level.
Look for labor savers. Handheld models have better balance and, often, a second grip for added control. A bottom-mounted air intake will probably tug less at clothing than an intake at the side. A convenient shut-off switch lets you cut the motor or engine quickly.
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