Consumer Reports: Quieter power blowers

Many municipalities restrict when you can use blowers and how loud they can be.

To find out just how much noise your neighbors experience, Consumer Reports tested 32 blowers at a distance of 50 feet. Gas blowers are the loudest. The electrics are nowhere near as noisy. And electric blowers cost a lot less, too. But gas blowers are generally more powerful.

By contrast, tests show that some of the electric blowers, like the $30 Homelite model UT42100, proved pretty wimpy. But Consumer Reports found some electrics that are almost as good at clearing leaves and debris as the best gas blowers.

The Toro Ultra Blower Vac, $70, is powerful and lightweight. Its noise is easy on the neighbors, and it is Consumer Reports' top-rated electric blower.

A big drawback of all electric power blowers is that you need an available outlet. And you're limited to the length of the power cord, which is about 100 feet.

If you have a bigger yard, you'll have to go with a gas-powered blower. Consumer Reports says a good choice is the $140 Stihl model BG55. It does a great job cleaning up, and it isn't as noisy as some of the other gas blowers.

Consumer Reports says that you need to wear hearing protection when you use just about any blower, even an electric one, so you won't damage your hearing.

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