At its simplest, a leaf blower is a machine that combines a powered fan and nozzle to deliver air at high speed, to move debris such as leaves and grass cuttings from lawns, drives and patios. Leaf blowers are either electrically powered or petrol-driven and can have enhancements such as vacuum and shredder-functions and, on heavier models, backpack-straps or even wheels. For domestic purposes, though, blowers are usually handheld and we have only included these designs in our picks.
Petrol or Electric?
Electrically powered blowers are limited by battery capacity or by the length of a cord:
Battery-powered machines have to compromise between ‘blowing-power’ and the time they can run on a full charge, which can be as little as fifteen minutes. They are suitable, then, for only the lightest tasks and, being generally heavier and more expensive than mains-powered models, we have excluded them from our list. Mains-driven models can have similar power to petrol-engined blowers but may need an extension cord to cover the farthest reaches of the garden. In general, they are cheaper and lighter than petrol-powered models and will be the best choice for the average homeowner.
Petrol-engined blowers have the advantage of portability and, sometimes, greater power but usually require more maintenance than electric machines. They are ideal for larger properties and we have reviewed three suitable for homeowner use, below.
All leaf blowers are noisy and, on this score at least, there seems little to choose between petrol and electric machines.
Some other things to think about:
Having settled on the power-source, what are some of the other things that will guide your buying decision?
- Power – You need sufficient power to do the job. A leaf blower’s capacity is measured according to the motor’s power rating in watts; the horsepower of a petrol engine; wind velocity at the nozzle, or the volume of air moved in a unit of time. Wet leaves may need a lot of work and we recommend machines with a minimum nozzle velocity of 230kph (approximately 140 mph)
- Weight – It may take a while to move the Autumn leaves into a pile and you will be carrying the blower for the entire time. A lighter machine will make the job easier on your arm but is likely to be less sturdy than a heavier model. Avoid a cheap, fragile choice
- Extra Features – Many blowers come with useful vacuum and shredder functions; most handhelds have carrying straps; some have support wheels for the nozzle. Petrol machines often come with fuel mixing bottles and some with plug spanners
- Durability – Check user reviews and, if possible, visit a store to check the ‘heft’ of a new machine to assess its quality and build
- Price – Leaf blowers for domestic use need not be expensive and there are some excellent electric choices for around £70.
Finally a tip from our reviewers: To avoid undue arm or back stress when using a handheld blower, hold the blower down below waist level, and use a back-and-forth motion to keep leaves moving.
Best Electric Leaf Blowers
VonHaus 2800W Electric Leaf Vacuum, Blower and Mulcher
The VonHaus Leaf Blower includes vacuum and shredder-functions. It has a powerful electric 2800W motor capable of moving a large volume of air but has a slower nozzle speed (275 kph) than some competitors. A knurled wheel on the handle assembly is used to adjust between three fan speeds. The impeller fan is plastic. It is relatively lightweight at 4.5 kg but comes with a shoulder strap to aid in carrying, and a 40-litre sack to collect shredded leaves, which are mulched down in a 10:1 ratio. A novel feature is the wheel fitted at the nozzle’s exit which is intended to support the front of the machine when it is used at ground level. Reviewers report no particular problems with blowing but several mention blockages when vacuuming. There may be better machines available but we believe this blower can do the job and it represents good value for the price.
Black and Decker GWB2500-GB
The Black and Decker GWB2500 uses different nozzles for blowing and vacuuming. At 6kg it is on the heavy side but comes with an adjustable shoulder strap. The impeller/shredder fan is plastic but we find no reported problems. There is a large sack to collect mulched leaves, which are finely shredded. The reviews are generally positive, especially for blowing where the manufacturer claims a fast 310 kph nozzle velocity. Black and Decker is a reliable middle-of-the-road brand, and we are confident this affordable blower will give satisfactory service.
Bosch ALS 2500 Electric Blower and Vacuum
The Bosch deserves its best-seller status. Its 2,500W electric motor generates high nozzle velocity (300 kph) and air flow (13.3 cu.metre/min) but it’s among the lightest units in its class, weighing 3.2 kg and 4.4 kg in blower and vacuum mode respectively. To change functions, the blower tube is replaced by the vacuum tube and shredder bag. The shredder has a 10:1 compaction ratio and the collection bag has a 45L volume; an automatic cut-off protects the motor during blockages. For comfortable handling, it comes with a shoulder harness and an adjustable ‘fore-handle’. This is a well-designed machine with excellent reviews.
Worx WG505E 3000E Trivac
The 505E is an updated version of the excellent 501E. Its 3000W motor can deliver a super-fast 340 kph nozzle speed but there is a 7-speed setting to prevent damage when working around garden plants. A simple switch facilitates the move between blow and vacuum/shred-modes, and it has a 10:1 shredding capability. Unusually, a shoulder strap is used to take the weight of the 54L collection bag but not the blower. However, this should not be a problem since this is a lightweight machine, weighing under 4kg. We like that tubes do not need to be switched between functions. This is a powerful but light blower, with very good reviews.
Best petrol leaf blowers
Timbertech Leaf Blower and Vacuum
It is on the heavy side, weighing around 6kg with an empty tank, but comes with a carrying strap. Two wheels are fitted on the front lip of the nozzle to take the weight when working close to the ground. While not designed for heavier, contractor-use, this machine offers value for money and will be an appropriate choice for a householder who needs to be free of an electrical cord.
Timberpro 26cc 33-in-1 Blower
The Timberpro is powered by a 26cc two-stroke petrol engine that drives a 230 kph nozzle velocity and an air flow of 10.2 cu.metre/min. It comes with two tubes that are easily switched for blowing and vacuum/shredding modes, and has a metal shredding blade that reduces leaf volume in a 10:1 ratio.
The machine comes with a 2-year warranty and UK-based support. Reviewers describe this as an ‘excellent piece of kit’ at a fair price.
G-Tech Leaf Blower
The G-Tech petrol-engined blower is the best-reviewed machine in its class; but it is worth noting that it is a blower only. The nozzle velocity is not specified but reviewers write that the 25.4 cc engine ‘delivers a powerful blast’ that ‘even moved wet leaves’. It is fairly light (5kg) but sturdy; it is easy to start and reliable. The G-Tech would seem to be an ideal machine for a homeowner with a large garden and several trees, without the need for vacuum and shredder functions.
Best Leaf Blower Summary
|Price||Power source||Power rating||Nozzle velocity (km/hr)||Air flow (cu.metre/min)||Vacuum and shredder functionality|
|Black & Decker GW2500-GB||£65||Electric||2500W||310||10.4||Y|
|Timbertech Leaf Blower Vacuum||£76||Petrol||31cc||250||N/S||Y|
|G-Tech Leaf Blower||£120||Petrol||25.4cc||N/S||N/S||N|