Consumer Reports: Best leaf blowers

September 24, 2013

Got leaves? A leaf blower can sweep them into a tidy pile. Consumer Reports just tested dozens of them! Testers used an enclosure to see how fast the blowers worked, timing how long it took to clear the area. They embedded leaves in the lawn and covered them with sawdust to check how well the blowers loosen debris.

For smaller yards, electric handheld blowers are an easy-to-use choice, as long as you can reach a power outlet.

According to Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports : "Our tests showed that some of the electric-powered blowers moved leaves nearly as fast as the best gasoline blowers, but at half the price."

A top pick is Toro's Ultra Blower Vac. It's a Consumer Reports Best Buy at $75 -- and an extra bonus, it can vacuum leaves, too.

If you need to go a distance, gas-powered blowers let you move around without a cord.

"In our tests, the top gas blowers got the job done fast! But they need fuel and require maintenance."

For $150, the Husqvarna 125-B is a Best Buy. It's not as noisy for the neighbors as many of the other gas blowers. Another option is a backpack blower. It shifts the weight from your arms to your shoulders.

"Backpack blowers do cost more," according to Sawchuk, "but if you have a large area to clear, having the weight on your back makes it much easier."

Consumer Reports recommends a Ryobi model as a Best Buy. At $200, it has a small fan that's mounted sideways, making it function like a bigger blower.

There is one caution about the Ryobi backpack blower that Consumer Reports offered. It is among the loudest leaf blowers tested. But Consumer Reports says nearly all leaf blowers can damage your ears, so be sure to wear hearing protection whenever you use them.

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