The Best and Worst Leaf Blowers

Even at their quietest, leaf blowers are enough of an annoyance in residential neighborhoods that you'll want to finish the job quickly. The best handheld models in Consumer Reports' leaf blower tests deliver ample power for blowing and sometimes vacuuming up leaves. And they do so without disturbing the neighbors too much.

You can’t say the same for the beefiest blowers, which are backpack and wheeled models—the contractor’s choice. Here’s a rundown on some of the best from our tests in each category, and some you’re better off passing up.

Gas Handhelds

The “LN” in the name of the Echo PB-255LN, $200, stands for low noise, but the greater attraction of this model is its stellar power for sweeping and loosening leaves. We also liked the spring-assisted starting and five-year warranty. But other models had as much power for far less. The Husqvarna 125B, $150, scored about the same and is lighter, and newly tested models such as the Hitachi RB24EAP and the Jonsered B2126, both $140, also packed plenty of blowing power.

Skip the Homelite UT26HBV, $100. Although it handled well, it was mediocre or worse on other measures, including sweeping, loosening, and vacuuming.

Corded-Electric Handhelds

Toro dominates our ratings of corded leaf blowers that perform nearly on a par with gas handhelds. And one of the newest, the $100 Toro Ultra Plus 51621, leads the pack with top-notch sweeping and impressive loosening of embedded leaves. Want to pay less? Except for a few features, the $70 Toro 51619 matches its sibling in performance and was slightly better at loosening leaves. Both were only fair on our noise test.

Skip the Remington RM1300, which, for its $100 price, should have topped our ratings. Instead, it had lackluster power for sweeping, loosening, and vacuuming. It incorporates blowing and vacuuming with twin tubes that require no mode changes—but the design adds weight and compromises on power for either task.

Battery-Powered Handhelds

If you’re okay with limited run-time or have the cash for extra batteries, a cordless-electric model is worth a look. The Kobalt KHB400B and GreenWorks GBL80300, both $250 and 80-volt, topped the category with impressive or better sweeping and loosening. Not far behind was the 56-volt EGO LB4801, $180.

Skip the Craftsman 98021. At $150, this 40-volt unit is cheapest in the category. But sometimes you get what you pay for. In this case, it’s extremely weak sweeping and loosening, more suitable for debris on your deck or driveway than for actual leaf cleanup.

Gas Backpacks

These models are typically heavier than a handheld, but the weight is evenly distributed across your back, with little stress on your arms. Of these, the $330 Echo PB-500H, and the $350 Stihl BR 350 had superior sweeping and loosening. The Echo was slightly quieter from a distance. Consider also the $200 Ryobi RY08420 if you want to pay less, but note that this model was among the noisiest of backpacks in our tests.

Skip the Troy-Bilt TB2BP EC, $190. While it wasn't the noisiest blower in our tests, you could do better and it was only middling at sweeping.

Gas Wheeled Blowers

Any of the wheeled models we’ve tested would make short work of your leaves, so there’s none we’d recommend you skip. The top model remains the $800 Little Wonder LB160H, which delivered the most blowing power—but also the most noise at 50 feet away. For a less-expensive model, consider the $400 Troy-Bilt TB672 or the $350 Powermate P-WB-163150. Of all gas-powered wheeled blowers, the Troy-Bilt is the quietest at a distance.

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