A Guide to Leaf Blowers, Handyman magazine, Gardening,

Blower-vacs and leaf blowers save backbreaking hours of raking or sweeping leaves, debris or grass clippings from courtyards, decks, driveways, patios and more.

Visit your local hardware store and hold different models to get a feel for their weight and handling.

Battery models just have the blower function while electric and petrol-powered tools can have all three functions of blow, vacuum
and mulch in one.

Features to consider

If you want to compare models then look at the maximum air speed and air volume emitted. The higher the number for both of these, the more powerful the tool. Check the listed operating sound in decibels (dB) if noise is a problem in your area.

If composting of organic matter is a high priority, Frank recommends choosing a blower-vac with a high mulching ratio and metal impellor. That way you can be assured the unit will give you good mileage and stand the test of time.

Mulch as you go

Changing from the blow to vacuum and mulch function is usually as easy as the flick of a lever or switch.

Most blower-vacs feature an impellor blade which sucks up and shreds leaf litter before depositing it into the attached leaf bag.

Cheaper models may have plastic impellor blades which are suitable for light work only.

Larger and more expensive models usually have metal impellor blades which are more robust and can
shred at ratios of up to 15:1.

This means 15 bushels of leaves will be chopped into the equivalent of a single bushel of litter.

TIP Take care to avoid sucking up gravel or stones as these will damage the impellor blades.

Power options

Blower-vacs have a range of functions from blow-only battery options to blow, vacuum and mulch in electric and petrol-powered models.


Rechargeable cordless models offer the same mobility as petrol ones, but they only function as a blower. There is no vacuum or mulching option.

They are lightweight, emission-free and are quieter with less vibration than petrol and electric models. They are available in 18V and 36V options.


Electric blower-vacs have easy push-button starters and operate without exhaust emissions or the fuel mixing requirements of two-stroke petrol models. The range is limited by power cord length with power varying from about 1500W to 2400W.


Petrol blower-vacs are the most powerful options with two-stroke and four-stroke models available. With plenty of force and no restrictive electric cord, petrol blower-vacs are ideal for larger yards and gardens.