This article was originally posted on HOWTOGEEK.COM
I’ve seen somewhere around 35 autumns so far, and let me tell you: raking leaves by hand doesn’t build that much character. So screw all that noise and make some louder noise with one of these leaf blowers.
I love autumn sounds: the gusty winds, the crush of dead leaves, the constant, mechanical howl of leaf blowers. I like to think of them as robot wolves. I also used to pretend the highway I lived next to was a machine river. I’m a weird dude.
The point is: fall looks pretty amazing, as the summer greenery turns from yellow to orange to shocks of red. Then all of those colors hit the ground and become brown, noisome trash. It’s nature’s garbage salad—sent to whet our appetites for the oncoming dirty-snow entree.
Anyway, you could spend a lot of your time with rake in hand, like one of our dumb ancestors, or you could be a wild future human with a Ghost Busters backpack who banishes leaf ghosts to your neighbor’s yard by harnessing the power of mechanical wind. That choice is yours.
My aim is to make that choice at least a bit easier by suggesting four leaf blowers, each of which does the job differently, for different people, for different amounts of money.
What to Look for in a Leaf Blower
As with loads of other motorized gear, you’re going to be looking either at electric or gas-powered blowers, and each has its pros and cons. Gas-powered blowers give you more power paired with portability, but you, like, also have to buy gas and generally perform more regular maintenance on the motor. Also, the blower’s going to smell like gas, which isn’t a big deal if you’re keeping it in the garage, but if it’s something you’re keeping inside a truck, or tucked away in the house somewhere, that’s going to make some smells, or possibly leak onto upholstery. Gas blowers also require you to fight a pull cord to get it started, meaning you might get pissed off before you even begin your leaf blowing in earnest.
Electric blowers, on the other hand, are lower maintenance, easier to start, and don’t smell like gas. The downside is, if you want them to have comparable power, then they generally need to be plugged into a power source. Portable electric blowers are going to be more limited in terms of power output, and you’ll get diminishing returns as the battery loses its charge.
As for output, two main factors determine how much it can blow: airspeed and volume (in cubic feet per minute, or CPM). Some blowers blow a huge volume of air, but at a relatively lower airspeed, and that’s still pretty good. Others blow at high speeds, but with a lesser volume, and that can be the result of a smaller tube diameter. Think of it like a garden hose: put your finger in it, and less water will come out at a faster speed. Take your finger out, and a higher volume of water comes out, albeit at a lower speed. If you’re covering a vast area, you might want a blower with decent airspeed, but a ton of volume output. If you’re blasting out the corners of your garage, that volume might be less critical than airspeed.