Power your way through tough lawn-maintenance tasks
Tidying up the lawn after you're done mowing or corralling a yard full of leaves is easy with the help of a blower. From removing grass clippings from sidewalks to mulching leaves to cleaning gutters, a blower may prove to be one of your handiest and most versatile tools. They are powered by either gas or electricity and come with an array of different features, so it's important to consider how and where you'll use your blower most frequently before you buy. Consider the following questions to help narrow down your search:
Type, Power and Performance
Gas and electric blowers offer different features and benefits, and knowing which one is best suited to your needs will help you determine which type is right for you. You'll also want to take into account both the intended applications and frequency of use. Blowers may be used for light-duty tasks such as cleaning sidewalks and driveways, medium-duty tasks such as blowing leaves out of landscaping and, if they have a vacuum feature, heavy-duty tasks such as mulching leaves. It is also helpful to compare information about air volume, measured in terms of cubic feet per minute, and air speed, measured in terms of miles per hour, so you can be sure to bring home a blower that has the power you need to tackle a wide range of tasks.
Gas Blowers: The primary advantage of choosing a gas blower is the fact that it's cordless. With no cord to get in the way, you're free to roam wherever duty calls. The tradeoff is that gas units are generally heavier, which means they can cause fatigue when used for extended periods of time. Fortunately, manufacturers have created different configurations to address this concern. Backpack blowers are heavier than handheld models, but they strap onto your back like a backpack, distributing the weight across your shoulders to reduce stress on your arms. Wheeled blowers provide extra power for clearing large areas quickly and feature four-stroke engines. They can be wheeled around to various locations, though they don't often provide the precision of smaller units.
Electric Blowers: Electric blowers are lighter than gas-powered units, and high-quality ones provide just as much power. With most models, you'll have to contend with a power cord, but a long extension cord should help you handle jobs in all but the largest yards. There are also cordless models available that run off a rechargeable battery for greater mobility. Electric models tend to run somewhat more quietly, don't produce pollution and start up easily so you can get working quicker. Look for an easy-to-reach on/off switch to make operation more convenient and an extension cord lock on corded models to keep the cord in place and out of your way.
|Power Source||Benefits||Points to Consider|
Power and Performance: Prior to purchasing a blower, it's important to understand how power is rated. Two important measurements -- cubic feet per minute (cfm), which measures the volume of air produced, and miles per hour (mph), which measures the speed of air. The higher the cfm rating is, the more leaves you'll be able to blow at once. The higher the mph rating is, the farther you'll be able to blow them. For a blower to be truly powerful, both ratings must be high. High power ratings are important for heavy-duty tasks, such as mulching. Vacuum-capable blowers that allow you to mulch are often rated with a reduction ratio. This ratio measures how many bags of clippings a blower can reduce to one bag worth of waste.
Antivibration Harness: Backpack blowers will be immeasurably more comfortable with the addition of an antivibration harness, which will reduce the vibration you feel throughout your back and shoulders. A padded backrest and easy-to-adjust straps will further enhance comfort.
Variable-Speed Motor: With a variable-speed motor, you can adjust the power level for a range of different tasks, giving you more versatility and precision.
Tool-Free Conversion: If you want to purchase a blower that converts to a vacuum, finding one that allows you to make the conversion without the use of tools can make life a lot less complicated.
Metal Impeller: Blowers with mulching capability will benefit from having a sturdy metal impeller, which will ensure more efficient mulching and greater durability.
Comfort Grip/Auxiliary Handle: If you spend a considerable amount of time operating your blower, look for a unit featuring comfortable handles that reduce fatigue and an auxiliary handle that makes it easier to attack jobs from different angles.
Safety: Blowers can be noisy, so it's always a good idea to use ear plugs or headphones to protect your hearing. Safety goggles will help prevent debris from getting in your eyes and, depending on what materials you're working with, you may want to consider a mask to prevent inhalation of harmful particles.
Wide Fuel Fill and Translucent Tanks: Gas blowers with wide fuel fills are easier to fill up, and translucent tanks allow you to closely monitor fuel levels to ensure that you don't run out in the middle of a job.
Gutter Cleaning Kit: Enhance the utility of your blower with a gutter cleaning kit, which will allow you to clean out leaves and sludge that accumulate over time.
Pick up some extra 2-cycle engine oil to keep your gas-powered blower running through all your big tasks.
For electric models, make sure you have a properly rated extension cord to help you reach more areas around your home.