Consumer Reports tests dozens of leaf blowers

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Fall cleanup time is here and if you're in the market for a new leaf blower, Consumer Reports has tested and rated more than 60 models. (WPVI)

Fall cleanup time is here and if you're in the market for a new leaf blower, Consumer Reports has tested and rated more than 60 models.

The leaf blowers range in price from $60 dollars for some handheld electric models to $800 dollars for super powerful gasoline units you wheel around.

When it comes to leaf blowers, gasoline-powered are the most popular. Consumer Reports Peter Sawchuk says for bigger, tougher jobs, larger gas blowers are the way to go.

"If you want to move a lot of leaves and you need to move them in a hurry and you need to move them some distance, then a roll- around unit's the answer," said Sawchuk.

But those can cost you hundreds of dollars, are very noisy, and can be difficult to maneuver.

Less expensive handheld gas blowers should be enough to get most jobs done. Consumer Reports says the $140 dollar gasoline Hitachi is a great choice for the money.

Also consider an electric blower. These tend to be quieter at a distance - a plus for your neighbor.

"And a couple of them are just as powerful as a gasoline power handheld unit," said Sawchuk.

Consumer Reports recommends the Toro Ultra for just $75 dollars. It's very easy to use and is excellent at sweeping away leaves and vacuuming them up.

If you've got more ground to cover than a cord will allow, Consumer Reports says battery-powered blowers have gotten better, too.

"With the increase in voltage, we now have battery-power leaf blowers that can hold their own in heavy leaves," said Sawchuk.

You will need to recharge the battery after about 30 or 40 minutes. And the battery does add some weight. However the 56-volt Ego was one of the lighter battery-powered blowers tested. It's a Best Buy at $180 dollars.

If you need more power than a handheld leaf blower, consider a backpack style. They are much heavier and typically cost more, but your back and shoulders support the weight rather than your arms.

The Stihl BR 350 leaf blower at $350 dollars aced Consumer Reports' leaf-blowing tests and is very easy to handle and use. But be aware that backpack blowers can't vacuum or shred leaves.
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