Best Cheap Leaf Blowers
Published on By Saundra Latham
Toro 51619 Ultra Review
From $70 Best
This corded electric blower offers power and versatility at a low price. Owners appreciate that it doubles as a vacuum and a mulcher.
Pros: Owners are pleased with the power this corded electric blower brings to bear on a leaf-filled yard, especially for the money (starting at $70; available on Amazon). Toro 51619 Ultra reviews praise the machine for clearing leaves in small yards in just a short time. Most also say it's an efficient mulcher, which some attribute to the metal impeller -- an advantage over models with less durable plastic impellers. Many consumers reviewing this model on Home Depot.com are pleasantly surprised at the noise level, as well, especially when compared with gas-powered leaf blowers. It also gets positive marks for ease of use, as reviewers say the no-tool conversion between blowing, vacuuming, and mulching modes is fairly simple.
Cons: While experts at The Sweethome compliment the power of the Toro 51619 Ultra, they caution that the unit feels a bit off balance and say it's somewhat tedious to replace the reducing nozzles. Users have a few other qualms, as well. Some Amazon reviewers say the vacuum bag leaves something to be desired, with a zipper that's prone to splitting; others say they've had trouble with the variable speed switch malfunctioning.
Features: The Toro 51619 weighs 8.5 pounds. It has a maximum speed of 250 mph and velocity of 350 cubic feet per minute in blower mode and 410 CFM in vacuum mode. A variable speed knob allows users to tailor the air speed to the task at hand, and a metal impeller stands up to rocks. An attached hook provides storage for the power cord, and the included vacuum bag has a 1.5-bushel capacity. Though the noise level measures just 68 decibels from 50 feet away, Sweethome testers measured just shy of 84 decibels at the ear. The blower comes with a two-year full warranty.
Takeaway: All in all, users are sold on the Toro 51619 Ultra. They say it's a solid blower, mulcher, and lawn vacuum with a reasonable price tag for anyone who doesn't mind a cord.
Hitachi RB24EAP Review
From $129 Best
The gas-powered Hitachi RB24EAP rises to the top of the list for its easy start, manageable weight, and effectiveness even on stubborn debris.
Pros: Scores of favorable reviews of the Hitachi RB24EAP (starting at $129; available on Amazon) extol the easy start on this gas-powered leaf blower, along with solid performance. On Lowe's.com and Amazon, Hitachi RB24EAP reviews say the machine feels light and well-balanced, starts right up whether hot or cold, and neatly blows away yard waste and even debris littering the garage and roof. One reviewer crows that the machine has nearly hurricane-force power. Users also report minimal vibration and seemingly quiet operation despite a 107 decibel rating.
Cons: Some Hitachi RB24EAP reviews quibble about one thing or another. They note the absence of an on-off switch, which forces operators to constantly press down on the trigger. They also report that the side intake can pull on the operator's clothing, and a few say the machine seems underpowered. A short review by Popular Mechanics finds the nozzle a tad short but still awards this model 4 stars owing to its effectiveness. Finally, there are reports of early breakdowns, and some reviewers who have tried exercising the seven-year warranty grumble about roadblocks thrown up by customer service representatives.
Features: The Hitachi RB24EAP blows air at a maximum speed of 170 miles per hour and has a maximum velocity of 441 cubic feet per minute; it is controlled with a two-finger throttle. The tank holds 17.6 ounces of fuel and the machine (when empty) weighs 8.6 pounds. Reviews offer a bit of preventive advice: Use only ethanol-free fuel to avoid problems with the fuel lines. This is a low-emission design that meets the requirements of the California Air Resources Board (i.e., it is CARB compliant). The noise rating is fairly high, at 107 decibels, but many users say it's not as loud as some gas-powered blowers they've owned in the past.
Takeaway: A gas leaf blower that starts without fuss, meets performance expectations, and sells at a budget price deserves a top spot on our list of picks. And that's where the Hitachi RB24EAP resides.
Black & Decker LSW20 Review
From $70 Good
For light, quick work on hard surfaces, users say this lightweight cordless blower is convenient and makes outdoor cleanup easy.
Pros: The Black & Decker LSW20 (starting at $70; available at Home Depot) is designed to clear leaves and other lawn debris from hard surfaces such as patios, decks, garage floors, and driveways. Most reviewers on Amazon say it does that with ease, and they love how compact and lightweight it is. The cordless electric design also earns raves from users who love being able to go anywhere without worrying about a power cord or breathing in the fumes generated by a gas-powered blower. Owners say the Black & Decker LSW20 is much quieter than most leaf blowers, agreeing with the manufacturer's claims that it won't bother neighbors even with early-morning use.
Cons: Many complaints about the Black & Decker LSW20 center on battery life. While some owners report being able to run the blower for as long as a half-hour, others grumble it lasts only 10 or 15 minutes before needing to be charged for at least a few hours. Some say they simply expected more power from this sweeper, even when refraining from using it out in the yard.
Features: The single-speed Black & Decker LSW20 weighs just 3.7 pounds -- less than half the weight of a typical leaf blower. It has a 120 mph maximum air speed and is powered by a 20-volt lithium-ion battery that can hold a charge for up to 18 months. It also includes a built-in scraper for wet leaves. The noise level is 66 decibels. This leaf blower comes with a limited two-year warranty.
Takeaway: For users who need only a quick blast of air to clear decks and sidewalks of pesky leaves or grass clippings, the Black & Decker LSW20 is easy to use and equal to the task. However, anyone who needs a leaf blower powerful enough to tidy a yard and landscaping should look elsewhere.
Worx WG509 TriVac Review
From $97 Good
This electric unit scores points with users for its easy flip-lever conversion from leaf blower to lawn vacuum. It lacks some of the power of our top pick, however.
Pros: The ease with which the Worx WG509 TriVac (starting at $97; available on Amazon) can switch between leaf blowing and vacuuming earns ample praise from Amazon reviewers, who say being able to flip a simple lever makes yard cleanup much more convenient. Vacuuming and mulching get equally strong marks, with users claiming that the mulcher shreds leaves quickly and reliably -- though many are skeptical that they get anything close to the stated 18:1 mulching ratio. Owners like the metal impeller, as well, which can suck up twigs or small rocks without jamming. Experts also say the Worx WG509 is reasonably quiet for a leaf blower, though some users still complain about noise, particularly in vacuum mode.
Cons: Among the complaints against the Worx WG509, some consumers say the blower feels a little underpowered, especially compared with gas-powered units, and they recommend sticking to lighter use on hard or smooth surfaces. This is borne out in expert tests that give the Worx WG509 higher marks for vacuuming than moving leaves. Some users say the angled blower tube is too short to effectively direct the air. The bag also fills too quickly and splits too easily, according to several reviews.
Features: The Worx WG509 weighs 9.3 pounds, has a 210 mph maximum air speed and a maximum velocity of 350 cubic feet per minute. The claimed mulching ratio of 18:1 is impressive for a model so inexpensive. The much-admired metal impeller has a shredder blade and variable speed control. A 1.2-bushel vacuum bag is included. While the noise level is listed on HomeDepot.com as 50 decibels, and some consumer product testers found that the Worx WG509 did not exceed a 65-decibel threshold from 50 feet away, representatives at the company say 71 decibels is a more accurate measure. Consumers expecting a relatively quiet machine might be in for a surprise -- don't scrimp on the earplugs. This blower comes with a three-year warranty.
Takeaway: The Worx WG509 TriVac should satisfy those who need an easy-to-use, inexpensive all-in-one blower, vacuum, and mulcher, although some reviewers are underwhelmed by its power. For that reason, it falls short of being our pick for best electric leaf blower.
Husqvarna 125B Review
From $149 Good
Experts and users say this handheld gas-powered blower has plenty of power and is a good pick for clearing yards quickly and efficiently.
Pros: Reviews suggest that owners love the Husqvarna 125B (starting at $149; available on Lowe's) for its focused power, which they say makes easy work of grass clippings, leaves, small sticks, dirt, and dust. Many also enthuse that it's relatively light and easy to start for a handheld gas blower, and they appreciate not being tethered to a power cord. Experts with Popular Mechanics also praise this leaf blower's ability to direct its air stream without turbulence, saying the focused energy compensates for air speeds that might seem low at first glance. Another plus, according to these testers: The blower feels well-balanced, making it easy to handle. The unit doesn't draw a lot of complaints about noise from consumers; many seem used to how loud gas-powered blowers can be.
Cons: Most criticism associated with the Husqvarna 125B has to do with durability. Several reviews on the Lowe's website and Amazon complain that the blower's gas lines failed under normal usage. However, others say these problems can be avoided by using fuel that does not contain ethanol. While this is a common recommendation for lawn equipment, some consumers complain that buying ethanol-free fuel is pricey and inconvenient.
Features: The Husqvarna 125B weighs 9.4 pounds. It has a 170 mph maximum speed and a maximum velocity of 425 cubic feet per minute. Features include a stop switch that automatically resets to the starting position and a variable speed throttle. The length of the blowing tube can be adjusted. This gas-powered blower does not convert to a yard vacuum or mulcher, so anyone who wants to do double or triple duty should look elsewhere, or pay more for the Husqvarna's 125BVx model. The 125B registers 94 decibels at the ear, according to the manufacturer. The blower comes with a two-year warranty.
Takeaway: Its confirmed power makes the Husqvarna 125B a good pick for anyone who needs to clear significant yard debris without spending a lot. An apparent sensitivity to ethanol and a lack of versatility keep it from our top spot.
Sun Joe SBJ604E Review
From $70 Think Twice
This electric blower vac impresses with its power, but vibrations numb users' hands and the large, heavy body is too cumbersome for many.
Pros: This lesser-known brand comes from a company that makes a variety of outdoor products, from snow throwers to lawn mowers. Consumers who like this sibling of the Snow Joe say the Sun Joe SBJ604E (starting at $70; available on Amazon) is powerful and not terribly loud. This electric leaf blower also switches between blowing and vacuuming with the easy flip of a switch. For added convenience, it comes with two small wheels on the front of the large nozzle to help support it without straining the user's back and arms. This is a concept that's embraced by some reviewers, but many simply find the machine too heavy and bulky to be effective.
Cons: Weighing in at 11.7 pounds, the Sun Joe SBJ604E is a large machine, and complaints about size and weight are prevalent in reviews. According to users, there's a flip side to the vacuuming and blowing power: massive turbulence. One consumer posting on Amazon, who initially thought all the shaking was a defect, tried replacing the machine with a new one, but the vibrations produced at top speeds were so troublesome that the reviewer returned the second leaf blower, too. Another user says she had to stop periodically because her hands would fall asleep. There are six speeds to choose from, and the lower power levels are useful around fragile flowerbeds, but the top speeds, which produce the vibration, are the ones that get used most often.
Features: The 12-amp motor shoots out air at up to 200 mph and a velocity of 450 cubic feet per minute -- the highest volume of any leaf blower we reviewed. At the same time, it keeps the noise level down to 68 decibels -- on the louder end compared with the other electric leaf blowers we compared but not as loud as most gas-powered leaf blowers. It has a 10:1 mulching ratio, much lower than the best cheap electric leaf blowers. Although there are some complaints regarding the durability of the bag, that's common among inexpensive blower vacs.
Takeaway: Sun Joe SBJ604E reviews aren't especially negative, but a middling price and specs, along with a few pounds of extra weight, don't make a strong case for this electric leaf blower/vacuum/shredder. Some consumers may be pleased, but too many reviewers for our liking consider it cumbersome and uncomfortable.
Homelite UT09526 Review
From $80 Think Twice
For a gas-powered leaf blower, this unit is about as cheap as they come. However, user reviews suggest that dubious reliability is part of the bargain.
Pros: Many reviews on HomeDepot.com say the Homelite UT09526 (starting at $80; available on Amazon) does what it's supposed to do, which is clear flowerbeds or medium-size yards of leaves and other debris. Many also praise this leaf blower for its relatively light weight. Most satisfied owners say they consider it a great value for the price, which is quite low for a gas-powered unit.
Cons: One of the main issues with the Homelite UT09536 is that it takes more than a little bit of skill and perhaps luck to get it going. A big complaint here is that the 26 cc motor is very tricky to start. Although it's billed as having a "quick fire starting system," several users report attempting to crank it over and over again with little success. Also, while nearly all leaf blowers suffer from some durability complaints, they seem a bit more pervasive with the Homelite UT09526. Many reviewers say the engine simply quit working after a short period of use, and several users who tried to get a repair under warranty discovered they needed a new carburetor, which wasn't covered. Using ethanol-free fuel may reduce the chance of trouble, but some reviewers insist they encountered problems in spite of doing that.
Features: The Homelite UT09526 weighs 9.6 pounds, about average for a handheld gas-powered leaf blower. It has a 150 mph maximum air speed and a maximum velocity of 400 cubic feet per minute. Features include an adjustable-speed throttle, anti-vibration design, and a transparent fuel tank for easier filling. It does not have a vacuum or mulching mode. Noise is measured at 75.4 decibels, relatively quiet compared with similar models. It's backed by a two-year warranty.
Takeaway: While the Homelite UT09526 appears to do its job once it's running, there seems to be too great a chance that buyers will be stuck with a loud, cranky, hard-to-start engine -- or worse, a dead one. Consumers are better off paying a bit more for a more reliable gas-powered leaf blower.
When autumn leaves or storm debris litter the yard, a cheap leaf blower can save hours of raking and loads of back-breaking effort. Its powerful air stream can even come in handy for other purposes, such as clearing gutters or cleaning a dusty shed. We dug through thousands of consumer and expert reviews to unearth leaf blowers under $150 with an elusive combination of value, performance, ease of use, and durability. Among our picks are gas-powered machines and electric leaf blowers, including a cordless model. For consumers who prefer a backpack-style leaf blower, which raises the price, we found a relatively cheap one that may increase mobility and save users from sore arms in the long run.
Cheap Leaf Blowers Buying Guide
Consumers can spend more than $300 for a professional-grade walk-behind leaf blower, but that kind of power isn't necessary unless your yard is so large or leaf-covered that carrying a handheld blower would become uncomfortable. Most people can render driveways, decks, smaller yards, and even gutters leafless with an electric leaf blower under $100 or a gas leaf blower under $150. Some handheld models even vacuum and mulch and come with a bag for leaves and other debris.
Several familiar names dominate the leaf blower market. They include Toro, Black & Decker, Craftsman, Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, and Stihl. We also researched manufacturers including Weed Eater, Echo, Worx, and Home Depot-exclusive Homelite. Japanese brand Hitachi is more widely known for audiovisual products but also offers a line of home tools, including three leaf blowers, one of which comes highly recommended. While most companies make both gas and electric models at a variety of price points, some specialize. For instance, Black & Decker makes only electric models, and Toro sells only one gas blower.
Our top picks include two gas-powered models, the Hitachi RB24EAP (starting at $129) and the Husqvarna 125B (starting at $149). We also recommend two corded electric blowers, the Toro 51619 Ultra (starting at $70) and the Worx WG509 TriVac (starting at $90). A light-duty cordless sweeper model, the Black & Decker LSW20 (starting at $70), rounds out the field. Two of these blowers, the Toro and Worx models, also function as leaf vacuums and mulchers.
Buyers might want to steer clear of two particular models: the corded electric Sun Joe SBJ604E (starting at $70) and the gas-powered Homelite UT09526 (starting at $80). The former is simply uncomfortable to use, while the latter suffers from an unreliable engine, according to the leaf blower reviews we read.
Gas Leaf Blowers vs. Electric Leaf Blowers.The choice between gas and electric power depends largely on your yard-maintenance needs and the size of your property. If the borders of the area to be cleared are within reach of a power source (usually about 100 feet), an electric leaf blower may be the best choice. Electric models are lighter, quieter, and less costly than gas leaf blowers. They start without the hassle of repeatedly pulling a cord and don't give off fumes. Many also vacuum and mulch leaves and other organic debris. On the downside, the power cord must be managed, which can be challenging in areas with lots of obstructions. There are cordless electric models like the Black & Decker LSW20, but their rechargeable batteries may require several hours to power up, sometimes in exchange for less than half an hour of use.
If multiple layers of leaves, pinecones, and thick twigs need to be moved in a larger yard, a gas leaf blower is the way to go. Gas-powered models generally have heftier price tags than electric blowers but pack more of a punch and have no cord to confine their range. That said, they come with their own drawbacks: They are messier (unless you buy premixed fuel); starting requires effort (and the machines can be temperamental); controlling the speed takes some practice; the cost of fuel and oil is ongoing (and maintenance is a must); and extra caution is advised when keeping flammable materials around.
Whatever the choice, experts say consumers can greatly boost their chance of satisfaction by using a leaf blower correctly. According to testers for The Sweethome, that means using a leaf blower in concert with a rake, not as a replacement. A rake can make quick work of a yard once leaves are blown into several piles, and leaf blower users shouldn't waste their time blasting a seemingly immovable patch of yard waste when a rake could handle it more quickly and quietly. HouseLogic advises working with any available breeze, not against it.
Emissions and Safety.Before buying a leaf blower, make sure local municipal ordinances permit them. Several communities -- particularly in California, which maintains strict emissions standards -- ban gas-powered leaf blowers. Others restrict or prohibit leaf blowers because of noise or limit their use to certain parts of the year.
Leaf blowers, and gas leaf blowers in particular, are often noisy enough to cause hearing loss, so wear ear protection. It's also a good idea to wear goggles and a mask to defend against dust, bird droppings, chemicals, and anything else that gets blown around along with the leaves. Follow all manufacturer safety guidelines, and keep other people and pets away in case debris flies in their direction.
It's also always worth checking with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for recalls before purchasing a leaf blower, as they are not uncommon. Black & Decker recently recalled 560,000 leaf blowers because the fan covers could come off, posing a laceration risk.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
Leaf Blower Reviews: What We Considered
In researching and comparing leaf blowers, we went beyond the specs and dove into online reviews of each machine, from expert sources such as The Sweethome and Popular Mechanics as well as current or past owners posting firsthand accounts of their experiences with cheap leaf blowers.
Most leaf blower reviews and recommendations from consumers appear on the websites of large retailers including Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Walmart. Reviews most frequently address power, as well as ease of use and durability. Most indicate that users are satisfied with our top picks despite duly noted operational and design flaws.
Power and Performance.Manufacturers cite a few different specifications as indicators of a leaf blower's power. These include the size of the gas engine or electric motor, of course, but also the velocity and volume of air the machine expels, measured in miles per hour and cubic feet per minute, respectively. In general, the higher the numbers, the better. However, air speed and volume don't always directly translate to effectiveness, according to testing by Popular Mechanics, and there are other factors, such as tube and nozzle design, that play into "real world" efficiency.
For the most part, electric leaf blowers tend to push out a lower volume of air at a higher speed than their gas counterparts. Our pick for best gas-powered leaf blower, the Hitachi RB24EAP, boasts a 23.9 cc gasoline engine and airflow of 170 mph and 441 CFM. That combined force is more than adequate for clearing yards, driveways, gutters and garages, and Popular Mechanics says it has enough oomph even for wet leaves. But many reviewers, like this one posting on Amazon, say their expectations were blown away when they switched to the electric Toro 51619 Ultra from a gas model. Its 12-amp motor, 250 mph velocity, and maximum air volume of 410 CFM easily shoo grass clippings, leaves, and small sticks and stones, users report. At low speeds, the blower vac sucks up leaves and debris without disturbing underlying decorative pebbles or fragile plants.
On the other end of the spectrum, the battery-powered Black & Decker LSW20 offers only 120 CFM and 120 mph airflow. But since this model is marketed for very light duty, such as pushing yard debris from hard surfaces such as patios and driveways, most users are still satisfied.
Adjustable Speed.Some budget leaf blowers, including the Black & Decker LSW20, operate at a single speed. Our other top picks feature multiple speed settings or a variable throttle. The advantage of multiple speeds is greater control over how fast the air shoots out of the nozzle. Certain speeds are better for certain jobs: lower for working around delicate plants or landscaping, for example, and higher for moving large twigs, stones, wet leaves, and piles of mulch.
Vacuuming/Mulching Capability.Many leaf blowers, including three of the electric models we researched, are three-in-one machines that vacuum and mulch in addition to blowing leaves. In vacuum/mulch mode, the debris is suctioned through a fan-like impeller and collected in a bag with a shoulder strap, or pushed out through a hose leading to a collection bin. The shredded organic material can be used as natural mulch around the yard. Most blower vacs come with additional components, such as a dedicated vacuum tube with a large, round opening better suited to the task than a flatter nozzle designed for blowing alone. Vacuuming/mulching capability is comparatively rare among cheap gas leaf blowers, and we found no widely available gas blowers with those capabilities worth recommending in this guide.
Cheap blower vacs generally feature a mulching ratio of at least 10:1, which means a pass through the impeller reduces 10 bushels of leaves to one bushel of mulch. Vacuum bags tend to hold up to 1.5 bushels, and the higher the mulching ratio, the less often the bag must be emptied. While the Sun Joe SBJ604E has the minimum 10:1 mulching ratio, one of our recommended models, the Worx WG509, boasts an 18:1 ratio. Our pick for best electric leaf blower, the Toro 51619 Ultra, doesn't specify a ratio but claims to reduce 88 percent of debris to less than half an inch. It's important to note, however, that leaf blower reviews routinely express skepticism at these statistics based on the amount of mulch they see the machines actually churn out.
Unlike the other electric leaf blowers we researched, the Greenworks 24012 (starting at $30) doesn't vacuum or mulch. But this basic, single-speed model is one of the cheapest ways for consumers to get the convenience of a leaf blower and may suffice for small yards with lighter debris.
Noise Level.Leaf blowers are often loud enough to affect the operator's hearing and offend neighbors. Most communities with noise ordinances set a limit of 70 decibels (the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse maintains a library of related laws). Noise level is typically measured from 50 feet away.
A majority of the electric blowers among our picks come in under 68 decibels -- which would be less strident than the sound of a home vacuum cleaner, according to experts at Purdue University. The Worx WG509 is slightly louder, at 71 decibels, but experts say it still shouldn't greatly disturb neighbors. Gas-powered leaf blowers have a reputation for being much noisier, and the Hitachi RB24EAP registers 107 decibels.
Keep in mind that, regardless how a blower sounds 50 feet away, it's much louder to the person operating it. For instance, while Husqvarna doesn't provide a 50-foot number for the gas-powered 125B, expert tests indicate that it falls in an acceptable range (under 65 decibels). But the leaf blower measures 94 decibels at the ear, according to the manufacturer, equivalent to the noise generated by a motorcycle just 25 feet away by Purdue's measure. So, again, keep the ear protection handy.
Ease of Use.The primary goal of using a leaf blower instead of a rake is to make wrangling leaves less physically demanding. That makes electric leaf blowers an appealing choice for many consumers, given that they start with the simple flick of a switch and are generally lighter than their gas counterparts, even before factoring in the weight of a full fuel tank. That said, the heaviest leaf blower we researched is an electric model, the Sun Joe SBJ604E, which weighs in at close to 12 pounds. Compare that with our pick for best cheap electric blower, the Toro 51619 Ultra, which weighs just 8.5 pounds.
Maneuvering the long power cord on a corded electric model like the Toro 51619 can take some finesse, which is one reason owners love the Black & Decker LSW20. It's cordless, rechargeable, and only 3.7 pounds. One user who reviewed that model on Amazon reports using it to clean gutters, a task that would be harder with a heavy gas-powered blower or downright impossible with a corded electric. Just remember that rechargeable models like the Black & Decker LSW20 lack the power to tackle heavy-duty jobs.
For properties filled with bushes, trees, furniture, and ornamental doodads, reviewers appreciate and generally prefer the power of a gas engine, along with the freedom to roam widely. Although gas-powered machines require more upkeep, consumers rarely complain about these demands in reviews. One thing to consider is the strain a handheld unit can put on the arm during long periods of use. Buyers with very large yards may want to consider spending a bit more for a backpack leaf blower such as the Husqvarna 130BT (starting at $230).
Three-in-one blower vacs present a unique set of potential problems, with some requiring tools for the conversion between modes. One thing users like most about the Worx WG509 is that all they have to do to go from blower mode to vacuum-and-mulching mode is attach the bag and flip a switch. A quick-release latch on the Toro 51619 Ultra offers similar convenience.
Durability.We read quite a few comments from users attesting to the longevity of older electric leaf blower models. Some have reportedly lasted a decade or more and eventually been replaced with an updated machine. However, many reviews refer to recently purchased leaf blowers, so it's impossible to know whether such enduring performance will repeat. Some reviewers consider the build quality of the contemporary versions slightly inferior, and some just seem to have picked up a lemon.
One problem that plagues some gas leaf blowers is that fuel lines can disintegrate, sometimes within the first year of use. We read about this happening on the Husqvarna 125B as well as the Homelite UT09526, although customer reviews on Home Depot.com report much more trouble with the latter. Many reviewers attribute this to the presence of ethanol in the gasoline. The fuel lines can be replaced, and numerous reviewers say this is no big deal, but users in the know -- including some tipped off by repair technicians -- advise sticking with ethanol-free gasoline. (TruFuel is a brand of premixed fuel and oil that contains no ethanol.)
The Achilles' heel of leaf blowers that double as vacuums and mulchers seems to be the bag. At least some reviews of all the combo models we researched gripe about one bag-related problem or another: It frays, develops holes, pops off the housing, is too small, is not well-positioned. Several reviews of the Toro 51619 Ultra complain that the zipper split. A review of the Worx WG509 on Amazon is one of several that complain of similar issues and say the bag holds very little.
Another potential weakness is the impeller, the fan-like part inside the leaf blower that creates the blowing or vacuuming effect and shreds vacuumed debris into mulch. The serrated blades may pit or break when objects such as small rocks get sucked into the mechanism, throwing the machine off-kilter. Both our combo picks, the Toro 51619 Ultra and the Worx WG509, have metal impellers, which are less likely to be damaged than their plastic counterparts. Buyers tempted by cheaper units with plastic impellers should consider paying a bit extra.
Additional Products We Considered
Toro 51609 Ultra Review
This electric blower vac wins acclaim for its power. It's relatively quiet and, at just 7.5 pounds, easy to carry. A metal impeller resists damage from pebbles and other debris.
Cleaning up a small yard or hard surface with this corded electric blower/vac is a piece of cake, according to Toro 51609 Ultra reviews. At Amazon, where more than 500 users have posted comments, a vast majority give it a strongly positive rating, noting its force (tornado-like, asserts one) and efficiency, relative quiet, convenience, and practical features, particularly the metal impeller and variable speed control. Many users cite similar qualities in Toro 51609 Ultra reviews at Sears as a rationale for their high ratings, with some former owners of gas-powered blowers conceding pleasant surprise at how well this electric model works. The Toro 51609 comes in handy for a variety of chores, reviewers add, from the usual leaf-clearing (including from synthetic surfaces) to blow-drying vehicles after a dousing. The vacuum/mulch function picks up yard waste and reduces it to a fraction of its original volume, and as one post points out, saves users the effort of lugging bags of leaves to the front for curbside pickup.
But not everyone is quite so enamored of the Toro 51609 Ultra (starting at $70, Amazon). Some reviews carp about insufficient power, especially when vacuuming, and tubes that clog. Others report that the power switch is prone to breaking and the mulch bag separates from the blower, allowing debris to escape.
The Toro 51609 Ultra weighs in at 7.5 pounds, pushes out a 235 mph airstream with a velocity of 390 CFM and a noise level of 67 dBA. The variable speed lets users choose the force to suit the job -- low for light work around plantings and high for heavier targets like wet leaves. Switching between blowing and vacuuming/mulching requires changing the nozzle, which users note is simple enough. This model features a metal impeller with serrated blades and a 16:1 mulching ratio, although a few users express skepticism about that specification.
Despite a couple of minor flaws, reviewers assert the Toro 51609 Ultra delivers for the money and is a good choice if you don't mind being tethered to a power cord.
Worx Trivac WG500 Review
This electric leaf blower goes from blower to vacuum/mulcher with the flip of a switch. It's also one of the quietest models we researched and reviewers commend its power.
Worx Trivac WG500 reviews highlight two main points: the machine's ability to quickly convert between a leaf blower and a vacuum/mulcher and the power of the motor for both blowing and vacuuming. Overall, the Trivac WG500 (starting at $88, Amazon) scores well online. Composite ratings on ecommerce websites tend to put the blower at or near 4 stars.
One feature reviewers would have liked to see is a metal impeller, although that's hard to find on an inexpensive leaf blower and adds weight to the machine. A newer model, the Worx Trivac WG505 (starting at $90), does have a metal impeller, but it’s not as widely available and had few reviews at the time of writing. Worx backs its products with a three-year warranty (don't forget to register online), and one consumer who reviewed the Worx Trivac WG500 on Amazon had no trouble making a claim when the plastic impeller chipped. Otherwise the Trivac WG500 compares favorably to the other electric leaf blowers we researched. Its ability to easily switch to vacuum-and-mulcher mode is highlighted in many consumer reviews at Ace Hardware and elsewhere. The 10:1 mulch ratio is standard for a cheap model and ensures that 15 bushels of leaves will fit in the 1.5-bushel collection bag. The motor emits only 63 decibels, one of the lowest levels we encountered in our research. The Worx Trivac WG500 does weigh 8.4 pounds, more than some gas blowers and almost a pound more than the best cheap electric leaf blower we found. The 12-amp motor can push up to 350 cubic feet of air per minute at a velocity of up to 210 mph. It does not have variable speed, but an airflow regulator promises some control over the blower speed.
Although they aren't the majority, many reviewers have had trouble with the Trivac WG500. A somewhat common problem is the collection bag -- the zipper breaks or the bag tears. One reviewer reports on the Home Depot website that the bag "exploded" the third time he used it. Less common complaints concern broken shoulder straps and the length of the tube. Some consumers would appreciate an attachment for taller users or for sucking up debris from small, hard-to-reach crevices.
The mix of positive and negative Trivac WG500 reviews is what leaves this electric leaf blower in the "good" category. The durability of the bag seems to be a weak point. The machine also weighs a pound more than some of its electric competitors and the starting price is 20 percent higher than that of our top pick. Still, users are generally satisfied, and there are a number of repeat buyers. Time will tell whether the new Worx Trivac WG505 improves on an already good option.
Where to buy
Husqvarna 130BT Review
Pros: The Husqvarna 130BT (starting at $230; available on Amazon) isn't cheap compared with handheld leaf blowers, but users say it's a good value for a backpack-style blower, and it might be worth a splurge for consumers with big yards. Consumer product experts give it high marks for moving leaves as well as loosening yard debris embedded in the grass. Popular Mechanics, in particular, commends a strong, focused air stream that moves even wet leaves with ease. Reviewers on Amazon mostly agree, reporting satisfactory performance in yards up to 2 acres. The Husqvarna 130BT also draws raves for ease of use, with owners saying it feels light and the padded harness is comfortable to wear. There are few complaints about noise, which is a definite plus considering the unit's proximity to the ears of the person wearing it.
Cons: Some users do complain that the Husqvarna 130BT can be tough to start, a common issue with gas-powered blowers that have pull strings, and others wish it came with a flat-end nozzle. Several reviewers simply find the 29.5 cc engine underpowered, especially compared with other backpack blowers intended for commercial use.
Features: The Husqvarna 130BT weighs about 14.5 pounds, which is light for a backpack-style blower. It has a 145 mph maximum air speed and a maximum velocity of just over 374 cubic feet per minute. The X-Torq engine is said to be designed for lower emissions and better fuel efficiency. This leaf blower does not have a vacuum or mulching mode. Other features include an adjustable, rubberized, ergonomic handle and a variable speed throttle that can be set at a specific level. The manufacturer lists noise at the operator's ear as 91 decibels, but consumer product experts indicate that it comes in close to a 65-decibel threshold in tests of noise 50 feet away; The Sweethome puts it at 69 decibels. The warranty coverage is two years.
Takeaway: Buyers who know they aren't getting a commercial-grade backpack leaf blower should be satisfied with the Husqvarna 130BT. It's an affordable option for homeowners with big yards and mature trees who need a step up in power and comfort from handheld blowers.
Greenworks 24012 Review
Pros: User reviews say the Greenworks 24012 (starting at $30; available on Amazon) is particularly good for clearing patios, garages, sidewalks, and other hard surfaces of dirt and other gunk. Reviewers claim it's also adept at clearing leaves from smaller yards, helping dry cars after washing, or blowing spiderwebs from porches. In addition to praise for its efficiency, it earns raves for being lightweight and easy to handle. Many users report that it's not too bad in terms of noise, especially compared with gas-powered blowers, although there are those who contend it's noisier than other corded electric models.
Cons: Some users grouse that the Greenworks 24012 vibrates too much for comfortable holding, despite manufacturer claims to the contrary. However, the primary complaints center on the lack of a power cord -- users must supply their own outdoor-rated extension cord. Also, some reviewers say one or more prongs from the machine's plug can come loose, posing a possible safety risk and ruining their extension cords. Greenworks advises using a 12-gauge cord no longer than 150 feet to mitigate this risk.
Features: The single-speed Greenworks 24012 weighs just 4.5 pounds -- half the weight of some other corded electric leaf blowers. It has a 160 mph maximum air speed and a maximum velocity of 150 cubic feet per minute. Features include an integrated cord lock, although some users say they still have issues with their cords coming loose. There is also a push-button stop, but no vacuum or mulching mode. The manufacturer-reported noise level is 69.3 decibels, slightly higher than comparable units. The four-year warranty exceeds the industry standard.
Takeaway: Despite its low price, the Greenworks 24012 seems to be an effective leaf blower for small yards and patios, especially if buyers already have the proper extension cord. Those who don't may find that they end up paying more for a new cord than they did for this blower.