Why Do I Need a Blower?
Tidying up your lawn after you finish mowing or corralling a yard full of leaves is easy with the help of a blower. From removing grass clippings from sidewalks, to mulching leaves and cleaning gutters, a blower may prove to be one of the most versatile tools you have. But not every blower has the same features, so it's important to learn the benefits of each model to find the one best suited for your own cleanup projects.
Blowers: At a Glance
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Gas blowers provide tremendous power and are ideal for heavy-duty tasks, such as blowing leaves from landscaping and gutters. With no power cord to get in the way, you're free to roam wherever duty calls. Two-stroke engine models require a mix of gas and oil to operate, while four-stroke models require no mixing. Gas blowers maximize air speed and volume, with high ratings both in terms of miles per hour (mph) and cubic feet per minute (cfm), or air volume, making them suitable for all jobs.
Gas blowers are generally heavier to operate, but backpack blowers that strap onto your back can help distribute weight across your shoulders to reduce stress on your arms. These models may require a larger up-front investment, but can be worth the extra cost if clearing large areas. There are also wheeled models, but they are generally designed for commercial use.
Electric blowers are relatively lighter than gas blowers, although a high-quality electric blower will sometimes be just as heavy and provide as much air speed - some in excess of 230 mph. You'll have to contend with a power cord, but a properly rated and long extension cord should help you handle jobs in all but the largest of yards.
Electric blowers run more quietly than gas blowers, and start up easier so you can get to work quicker. Cordless blowers that use rechargeable batteries will give you increased mobility, but provide less air speed and air volume, making them more suitable for smaller yard work.
To make your cleanup jobs even easier, your gas or electric blower may be able to convert into a powerful vacuum and mulcher with the release of a simple latch. A blower with an effective mulching feature is useful if you intend to bag leaves or compost. Vacuum-capable blowers that mulch typically have a reduction ratio attached to them, which measures how many bags of clippings it can reduce to one bag worth of waste. This factor can range as high as 16:1 on some models.
Blowers: Air Volume and Speed
There are two key measurements to understand when purchasing a blower. The first is cubic feet per minute (cfm), which measures the volume of air produced, and miles per hour (mph), which measures air speed. The higher the cfm rating is, the more leaves you'll be able to blow at once. The higher the mph rating is, the farther you'll be able to blow them. For a blower to be truly powerful, both ratings should be high. A higher rating is usually important if you intend on completing heavy-duty tasks like mulching.
Features to Consider:
Mulched leaves and grass clippings make excellent fertilizers. However, mulching wet debris will lower your blower reduction ratio due to increased water volume.
Blowers with round nozzles are ideal for cleaning applications, while oblong and rectangular nozzles are excellent for blowing leaves.
Blowers can be noisy, so it's always a good idea to use ear plugs. Wearing safety goggles will also help prevent debris from getting into your eyes.
If you spend considerable time operating your blower, look for a unit with comfortable handles that reduce fatigue, and an auxiliary handle that makes it easier to attack jobs from different angles.