Toro 51619 Ultra Review

From $84 Best

Pros:

  • Ample power for clearing most leaf-filled yards, especially for the money, according to owners and expert testers.
  • Efficient mulcher, which some users attribute to the metal impeller -- an advantage over models with less durable plastic impellers.
  • Easy, tool-free conversion among blowing, vacuuming, and mulching modes.
  • 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.
  • Cord lock and extension cord storage hook.
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars from nearly 4,000 reviewers on Amazon.
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars from more than 1,700 reviewers on the Home Depot website.

Cons:

  • Wirecutter favors the lighter-weight Black & Decker BV6600 (our pick for a good corded electric leaf blower) over this model.
  • Nozzles can be tedious to switch out, testers say, and the vacuum handle and speed control are inconvenient.
  • Vacuum bag isn't the most durable; the zipper is prone to splitting, users say.

Takeaway: All in all, users are sold on the electric Toro 51619 Ultra, a solid, versatile option for anyone who doesn't mind a corded leaf blower. They judge it an easy-to-use blower, mulcher, and lawn vacuum that performs all its functions reasonably well at a price that's hard to beat.

Ryobi P2180 Review

From $119 Best

Pros:

  • Battery power combines the cordless convenience of gas with the maintenance-free operation of an electric model.
  • More powerful than users expect; effective for most light- or medium-duty chores.
  • Lighter and quieter than many other leaf blowers.
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars and recommended by 94 percent of the nearly 1,000 customers who have reviewed it on the Home Depot website.

Cons:

  • Users say the 15- to 20-minute battery life is too short for some jobs.
  • May lack sufficient power for tougher duties, like loosening stubborn wet leaves.

Takeaway: Although most users say budget-priced battery-powered leaf blowers just can't compare with higher-end models on power, the Ryobi P2180 comes close. Reviewers say it's a smart buy for homeowners tackling relatively quick jobs who won't have to stop for a recharge.

Where to buy

Hitachi RB24EAP Review

From $129 Best

Pros:

  • Very easy start compared with many other gas blowers, users report.
  • Powerful enough for most cleanup tasks, including blasting away stubborn leaves and debris on the roof.
  • Lightweight for a gas blower, at 8.6 pounds.
  • Seven-year warranty, among the most impressive out there.
  • 4 out of 5 stars in testing by Popular Mechanics.
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommended by 95 percent of the 1,600 customers who have reviewed it on the Lowe's website.
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars from more than 2,000 reviewers on Amazon.

Cons:

  • Shorter nozzle means the airstream is a bit less effective than it could be, experts say.
  • Side intake may try to suck in lightweight clothing, reviewers complain.

Takeaway: A gas leaf blower that starts without fuss, meets performance expectations, and sells at a very budget-friendly price, the Hitachi RB24EAP deserves a top spot on our list of the best cheap leaf blowers. Happy users say it packs a lot of power in a lightweight package.

Black & Decker BV6600 Review

From $64 Good

Pros:

  • Performs well in all modes, reviewers say.
  • Included nozzle reducer helps remove leaves and other debris from tight spots with more precision.
  • Well-balanced in the hand, expert testers say.
  • Easy, tool-free conversion among blowing, vacuuming, and mulching modes.
  • Relatively lightweight, at 8.1 pounds.
  • Runner-up in testing by The Sweethome.

Cons:

  • Bag can be prone to ripping or splitting, users report.
  • Older models were recalled in September 2016 because of a potential fan-related laceration hazard, which is fixed on new models.

Takeaway: The Black & Decker BV6600 is equally capable in an open yard or fussy flower beds, and scores of fans say it produces nicely shredded mulch. This corded electric model also has variable speeds and a durable metal impeller, features that users appreciate.

Worx WG545.1 Review

From $97 Good

Pros:

  • Several attachments not usually included, such as an inflator nozzle, detail brush, and extension hose.
  • Very lightweight, at 3.5 pounds, making it easy to maneuver even for users with limited strength.
  • More convenient than a broom for small jobs around the house, reviewers say.
  • Very quiet compared with other leaf blowers.
  • More than 4 out of 5 stars in thousands of reviews by Amazon, Home Depot, and Walmart customers.

Cons:

  • Underpowered for anything more than light-duty jobs such as clearing leaves or dirt from patios and garages, owners warn.
  • Users say 15- to 20-minute battery life isn't long enough for some bigger jobs.

Takeaway: Buyers who want a cordless blower for clearing hard surfaces will be pleased with the quiet, feather-light Worx WG545.1. The array of attachments make it more versatile than most competing models.

Husqvarna 125B Review

From $144 Good

Pros:

  • Praise from users and expert testers for focused power when loosening grass clippings, leaves, small sticks, dirt, and dust.
  • Relatively lightweight for a gas leaf blower, at 9.4 pounds.
  • Well-balanced and easy to maneuver; the blower tube aligns with the handle.
  • Easy to start compared with some gas blowers, users say.
  • Cruise control and adjustable tube length.
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars and no "dislikes" in testing by Popular Mechanics.

Cons:

  • Some users report durability issues such as gas lines that clog easily.
  • Not as quiet as electric blowers, but about average for a gas blower.

Takeaway: With power on its side, the Husqvarna 125B is a good pick for clearing significant yard debris without spending a lot of money. An apparent sensitivity to ethanol and a slightly higher price tag than the Hitachi RB24EAP keep it from our top spot.

Sun Joe SBJ604E

From $70 Think Twice

Pros:

  • Ample power, especially for an electric blower, reviewers say.
  • Changes between blowing and vacuuming with the flip of a switch.
  • Convenient features such as cord lock and roller wheels under the nozzle tip.

Cons:

  • Too heavy and bulky for many users, at 11.7 pounds.
  • Many owners complain of excessive vibration at higher speeds.
  • Somewhat loud compared with other electric leaf blowers.
  • Plastic impeller may be less durable than metal.
  • Doesn't chop leaves as finely as other blower/mulchers.

Takeaway: Sun Joe SBJ604E reviews aren't especially negative, but a middling price and specs, along with a few pounds of extra weight and vibration complaints, don't make a strong enough case for this corded electric leaf blower/vacuum/shredder.

Homelite UT09526 Review

From $80 Think Twice

Pros:

  • Powerful enough to clear leaves and other debris from medium-size yards or flowerbeds.
  • Relatively light for a gas-powered blower, at 9.6 pounds.
  • Quiet compared with other gas leaf blowers.

Cons:

  • Engine can be very tricky to start; many users say they crank it over and over again with little success.
  • Pervasive durability complaints, including potential carburetor issues.

Takeaway: While the Homelite UT09526 appears to do its job once it's running, there seems too great a chance that buyers will be stuck with a loud, cranky, hard-to-start engine -- or, worse, a dead one. You're better off paying a bit more for a more reliable gas-powered leaf blower.

Buying Guide

Choosing a 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 also 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 and electric leaf blowers, including cordless models. For consumers who prefer a backpack 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.

Leaf Blower Brands.

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 a few leaf blowers. 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.

Pricey vs. Cheap Leaf Blowers.

Low-cost leaf blowers usually are best suited to light-duty tasks such as clearing driveways and sidewalks of leaves. More expensive models often have more power for tackling big yards with lots of trees and tough jobs like moving heavy, wet debris. Higher-end gas blowers may feature backpack straps to make them more comfortable to carry during long sessions. Consumers can even spend more than $300 for a professional-grade walk-behind leaf blower, but that kind of power isn't necessary unless the yard is so large or leaf-covered that carrying a handheld blower would become uncomfortable. Most people can render a driveway, a deck, a small yard, and even gutters leafless with an electric leaf blower under $100 or a gas leaf blower under $150.

Gas Leaf Blowers.

Gas blowers are the go-to for many homeowners because they generally have more powerful engines than their electric counterparts. Users aren't tethered to a power cord or reliant on a battery that may provide only 20 minutes of run time when the task calls for 40.

Our top picks include two gas leaf blowers, the Hitachi RB24EAP (starting around $129) and the Husqvarna 125B (starting around $144). The Homelite UT09526 is much cheaper (starting around $80), but it suffers from an unreliable engine, according to the leaf blower reviews we read.

Electric Leaf Blowers.

Electric leaf blowers usually are lighter and less noisy than gas blowers. They require less maintenance, and there's no fussing with fuel tanks or the perfect mixture of gas and oil. Some cheap electric models even vacuum and mulch and come with a bag for leaves and other debris.

We recommend two corded electric blowers, the Toro 51619 Ultra (starting around $84) and the Black & Decker BV6600 (starting around $64), which also function as leaf vacuums and mulchers. Two lighter-duty cordless sweeper models, the Ryobi P2180 (starting around $119, but sometimes on sale for $100 or so) and Worx WG545.1 (starting around $97), round out the field.

The cheapest leaf blower we found worth a mention is a corded electric model, the Greenworks 24012 (starting around $30). Buyers might want to steer clear of the Sun Joe SBJ604E (starting around $70). It's heavy for a cheap electric leaf blower -- especially one without a battery -- at nearly 12 pounds, and users report that it's uncomfortable to use.

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Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

(from $84.00)
Power Source Electric (12 amps)
Airflow 350 CFM / 250 mph
Speed Control Variable
Vacuum/ Mulcher Yes
Weight 8.5 lbs.
Noise Level 68 dBA (at 50 ft.)
Warranty 2 years
(from $129.00)
Power Source Gas (23.9 cc)
Airflow 441 CFM / 170 mph
Speed Control Variable
Vacuum/ Mulcher No
Weight 8.6 lbs.
Noise Level 69 dBA (at 50 ft.)
Warranty 7 years
(from $119.00)
Power Source Battery (18 volts)
Airflow 280 CFM / 100 mph
Speed Control Variable
Vacuum/ Mulcher No
Weight 9 lbs.
Noise Level 65 dBA (at 50 ft.)
Warranty 3 years
(from $64.00)
Power Source Electric (12 amps)
Airflow 400 CFM / 250 mph
Speed Control Variable
Vacuum/ Mulcher Yes
Weight 8.1 lbs.
Noise Level 68 dBA (at 50 ft.)
Warranty 2 years
(from $144.00)
Power Source Gas (28 cc)
Airflow 425 CFM / 170 mph
Speed Control Variable
Vacuum/ Mulcher No
Weight 9.4 lbs.
Noise Level 94 dBA (at ear)
Warranty 2 years
(from $97.00)
Power Source Battery (20 volts)
Airflow 80 CFM / 120 mph
Speed Control None
Vacuum/ Mulcher No
Weight 3.5 lbs.
Noise Level 61 dBA (at 50 ft.)
Warranty 3 years
(from $70.00)
Power Source Electric (12 amps)
Airflow 450 CFM / 200 mph
Speed Control Six speeds
Vacuum/ Mulcher Yes
Weight 11.7 lbs.
Noise Level 68 dBA (at 50 ft.)
Warranty 2 years
(from $80.00)
Power Source Gas (26 cc)
Airflow 400 CFM / 150 mph
Speed Control Variable
Vacuum/ Mulcher No
Weight 9.6 lbs.
Noise Level 75.4 dBA (at 50 ft.)
Warranty 2 years
(from $229.00)
Power Source Gas (29.5 cc)
Airflow 374 CFM / 145 mph
Speed Control Variable
Vacuum/ Mulcher No
Weight 14.6 lbs.
Noise Level 91 dBA (at ear)
Warranty 2 years
(from $30.00)
Power Source Electric (7 amps)
Airflow 150 CFM / 160 mph
Speed Control None
Vacuum/ Mulcher No
Weight 4.5 lbs.
Noise Level 69 dBA (at 50 ft.)
Warranty 4 years

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, Consumer Reports, and Popular Mechanics, all of which conduct product testing, 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.

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. For the most part, electric leaf blowers tend to push out a lower volume of air at a higher speed than their gas counterparts. With a 12-amp motor, 250 mph velocity, and maximum air volume of 350 CFM in blow mode, the electric Toro 51619 Ultra easily shoos grass clippings, leaves, and small sticks and stones, users report. Many reviewers say their expectations were blown away when they switched to this model from a gas blower. At low speeds, the electric 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 Worx WG545.1 offers only 80 CFM and 120 mph airflow. But since this model comes with convenient household attachments and is marketed for very light duty, such as pushing yard debris from hard surfaces like patios and driveways, most users are satisfied with its performance.

Speed Control.

Some budget leaf blowers, including the Worx WG545.1, operate at a single speed. Our other top picks feature multiple speed settings or a variable throttle. The advantage 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 heavier debris such as large twigs, stones, wet leaves, and piles of mulch.

Vacuuming/Mulching.

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 inexpensive 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, our recommended models boast up to 16:1. 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.

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. Most of the blowers we researched come in under 68 decibels -- less strident than the sound of a home vacuum cleaner.

Keep in mind that, regardless of how a blower sounds 50 feet away, it's much louder to the person operating it. For instance, the gas-powered Hitachi RB24EAP registers 69 decibels from 50 feet but 107 decibels at the ear. Despite the high number, reviewers posting on Amazon are divided on whether they find it overly loud; many say it's no louder than comparable blowers. Bottom line: Always keep 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 handheld leaf blower we researched is an electric model, the Sun Joe SBJ604E, which weighs close to 12 pounds. Compare that with our pick for best cheap electric blower, the Toro 51619 Ultra, which weighs just 8.5 pounds. For something even lighter, the cordless Worx WG545.1 is a mere 3.5 pounds, although it's mostly meant for light jobs.

Maneuvering the long power cord on a corded electric model can take some finesse, which is one reason owners love the Ryobi P2180. It's cordless, rechargeable, and more powerful than many other battery-operated blowers. Reviews on HomeDepot.com say it packs plenty of punch for light- or medium-duty work, although some acknowledge a gas blower is still better for tougher jobs like blasting away lots of wet leaves.

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 a relatively inexpensive backpack leaf blower such as the highly rated Husqvarna 130BT (starting around $229). Another common complaint about gas models is that the engine can be hard to get going. This doesn't appear to be an issue with the two gas leaf blowers we recommend. However, the Homelite UT09526 is notorious for this, according to reviews on the Home Depot website.

Three-in-one blower vacs present a unique set of potential problems, with some requiring tools for the conversion between modes. However, that's not the case for the blower vacs we recommend. Neither the Toro 51619 Ultra nor the Black & Decker BV6600 requires much tinkering to convert between functions.

Durability.

Many reviews refer to recently purchased leaf blowers, so it's hard to know whether they will endure long term. Some reviewers consider the build quality of newer blowers slightly inferior to older models, 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 users 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.

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 Black & Decker BV6600, have metal impellers that are more durable than plastic impellers like the one found on the Sun Joe SBJ604E, which we don't recommend. Buyers tempted by less costly units with plastic impellers should consider paying a bit extra for one with a metal component.

Additional Products We Considered

Husqvarna 130BT Review

From $229

Pros:

  • Lightweight for a backpack-style gas blower, at 14.5 pounds.
  • Good expert feedback for harder jobs like moving wet leaves and loosening yard debris embedded in grass.
  • Powerful enough to tackle yards up to roughly 2 acres, users say.
  • Padded harness gets good reviews for comfort.
  • Fuel-efficient engine and reduced emissions.
  • Cruise control.
  • Tied for best overall in testing by Popular Mechanics.

Cons:

  • Can be tough to start, some users complain.
  • Some reviewers consider the 29.5 cc engine underpowered, especially compared with other backpack blowers.

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 a handheld blower.

Greenworks 24012 Review

From $30

Pros:

  • Half the weight of some other corded electric blowers, at 4.5 pounds.
  • Powerful enough to clear patios, garages, sidewalks, and other hard surfaces, as well as small yards.
  • Four-year warranty exceeds industry standard.
  • Relatively easy to handle, users say.
  • Cord lock to prevent disconnection.
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 1,800 reviewers on Amazon.

Cons:

  • Users must supply their own power cord.
  • Some reviewers complain of too much vibration for a comfortable grip.

Takeaway: Despite its extremely low price, the Greenworks 24012 seems to be an effective leaf blower for small yards and patios. However, buyers who don't already have the proper extension cord may end up paying more for a new cord than for this blower.

Where to buy