Gas Handheld Leaf Blower Buyer's Guide
How to Pick the Perfect Gas Handheld Leaf Blower
Unlike in the days when we were younger, most of us don't have hours to spend raking and sweeping leaves into piles.
If you'd like to save time on yard cleanup and enjoy your afternoons outside, consider a powerful gas handheld leaf blower.
Handheld gas leaf blowers offer both power and maneuverability to speed up the cleaning process and clear leaves from tight spaces with ease.
So, what should you look for when shopping for a gas leaf blower?
MPH and CFM
While shopping, you'll see two ratings that describe the air flow coming out of a gas leaf blower's nozzle:
- Miles per hour, or MPH
- Cubic feet per minute, or CFM
Miles per hour is a measurement that anyone who drives a car should be familiar with. When it comes to leaf blowers, MPH measures the speed of the air coming out of the tip of the nozzle.
Cubic feet per minute isn't such a common measurement, but with regard to leaf blowers, it measures air volume. CFM is a way of expressing the amount of air flowing through the nozzle per minute.
Some manufacturers combine the MPH and the CFM ratings into one measurement for their blowers. A Newton force rating for a leaf blower is based on both the MPH and the CFM.
To get the most out of your gas-powered leaf blower, consider both the MPH and CFM ratings. Higher values for both numbers will allow you to do more work in less time.
2-Cycle and 4-Cycle Engines
Like other gas-powered tools, handheld gas leaf blowers can be built using two types of engines:
- 2-cycle engines
- 4-cycle engines
2-cycle engines require a mixture of gas and oil in the fuel tank. Also known as 2-stroke engines, these are lighter and simpler to maintain than a 4-cycle engine.
2-cycle engines can also produce twice the power as a 4-cycle engine, giving them a greater power-to-weight ratio compared to 4-cycle engines. This makes a 2-cycle engine an ideal solution for powering a handheld leaf blower.
4-cycle engines work similarly to a vehicle engine. Gas goes in the fuel tank and oil goes in the crankcase. They're more fuel efficient than a 2-cycle engine, so you get more mileage out of every tank of gas, and you don't have to mess with mixing gas and oil.
A 4-cycle engine has the potential to produce more power than a 2-cycle engine but will require an increase in the engine's size. If comfort is an important factor for you, consider buying a lighter-weight 2-cycle leaf blower.
Handheld Leaf Blower Vacuums
Some handheld gas leaf blowers also double as leaf vacuums as well. This allows for more versatility and functionality and makes cleanup easier. Instead of making several trips to a disposal bin or wheeling the bin out to the yard, you can let the vacuum suck debris right into the collection bag.
Leaf blower vacuums use an impeller to shred the leaves they collect. This allows you to break down up to 16 bags of leaves into one bag of mulch for easy disposal.
Two-in-one leaf blowers and vacuums are generally available with 2-cycle engines. For convenience and ease of use, look for a model with tool-less conversion so that you can quickly and easily turn your blower into a vac.
In an effort to reduce air pollution, the California Air Resource Board has enacted legislation that requires small engines and the tools that use them to meet certain standards for fuel emissions. Lawn tools such as leaf blowers fall under this regulation.
If you live in California, make sure you choose a CARB-compliant leaf blower. While older blowers had developed a bad reputation for their emissions, CARB-compliant models are more efficient and run more cleanly.