If you have trees in your yard, you’ve probably considered getting a leaf blower to clean up after them. A great leaf blower can make your yard look neater in less time with less effort by helping to clean up fall leaves, grass clippings, and debris faster than a rake. A bad leaf blower makes fall clean-up an annoying, noisy chore, and gets you dirty looks from neighbors looking for a little piece and quiet.
That’s why we put 10 leaf blowers to the test during fall in New England, focusing on electric models that have the oomph to sweep a typical backyard clean without blowing your budget, your eardrums, or your back. Corded models are generally more powerful and lighter than either gas or battery-powered blowers, but we included a few battery-powered options for users who prefer not to tote cords around.
After several rounds of testing that included blowing leaves, pine needles, acorns, and dust off dozens of obstacles, our top pick is the Worx WG520 Turbine 600(available at Amazon for $52.38). It’s powerful, lightweight, and easy to use.
For those on a budget, the Sun Joe SBJ597E(available at Amazon) is a steal. It’s a mere slip of a blower best used for clearing small yards, decks, front steps, and walkways.
Scoring in step with our Best Overall pick, the Kobalt KHB 3040-06(available at Lowe’s) is our choice for Best Cordless leaf blower. The most powerful battery-powered model we tested, the Kobalt KHB 3040-6 combines a respectable air flow and lighter-weight chassis with a quieter engine that most other picks.
These are the best leaf blowers we tested, ranked in order:
Kobalt KHB 3040-06
Worx WG520 Turbine 600
Sun Joe SBJ597E
Toro Powerjet F700
Black & Decker LB700
Toro 51621 UltraPlus Leaf Blower Vacuum
Hoover Onepwr Cordless High Performance Blower
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Power: This tornado of a leaf blower claims it can move 600 cubic feet of air per minute—the second-highest CFM measurement in our testing—and it’s easy to believe. The Worx WG520 was unmatched in its ability to clear leaves off any surface from a distance, including wet, matted leaves that had glued themselves to the pavement.
If you’re not looking to blow all your potted plants off the porch, though, the Worx has a speed dial to adjust its air blasts from hurricane pounding down to normal leaf-blower levels. For $60, you’re getting an effective, powerful machine.
Comfort: The Worx WG520 is easy to carry at a lightweight at 7.2 lbs., and aesthetically, it looks less like a radioactive “Fortnite” gun than any other blower we tested.
Noise: The Worx’s one downfall is that it’s loud for a corded pick, spewing up to 82 dB at its highest speed. The noise is higher-pitched than landscapers’ gasoline-powered blowers, and less annoying at a distance—but you should still wear ear protection when you use this blower.
If you live in a community where leaf blowers must be quieter than 65 dB at 50 feet, opt for the Kobalt KHB 3040-06, our top cordless pick, or the Ryobi RY40407VNM.
Power: Will the Sun Joe SBJ597E clean out a one-acre lot in 10 minutes; or dislodged wet, stuck-on leaves? No. But if you’re looking for a small blower that packs a punch for clearing out small areas, the Sun Joe is a great model at a great price. At less than $20, it’s a no-brainer.
The Sun Joe puts out 260 CFM of power, and its tube is narrow, so you can clear precise areas fast. Unlike the Worx, which could strip your entire flower bed of vegetation in seconds if someone bumped your elbow, the Sun Joe has only one setting for a moderate flow of air. You’d have to work pretty hard to destroy your garden plants.
Comfort: Lightweight and compact, the Sun Joe SBJ597E weighs under 4 lbs. and can fit in a large shoebox once you remove the blow tube.
Noise: The Sun Joe SBJ597E is on the loud side, though, so wear ear protection when you use it.
Power: If you need a cordless blower to access the back corners of your yard, the Kobalt KHB 3040-06 is your best bet. The Kobalt KHB 3040-06 moved more leaves and debris more quickly than any other cordless blower in our testing, blowing out an estimated 480 CFM. It also has a variable-speed trigger and a “turbo” button for increasing power to dislodge stubborn wet leaves.
Comfort: The Kobalt KHB 3040-06 also feels well-balanced and easy to carry, unlike other cordless models which are back-heavy due to battery weight.
Noise: Close up, it sounds like a household vacuum, not a gigantic grinding machine, although it isn’t quiet. Kobalt representatives say it has a noise rating of under 65 dB at 50 feet, which means it meets most leaf blower noise laws. That also means it’s much noisier for the person operating it, so wear ear protection to prevent hearing loss.
Battery: The one drawback to the Kobalt KHB 3040-06 is its relatively short running time. With the blower set on minimum power, the Kobalt ran for 16 minutes, 30 seconds, on its lowest setting. If you’re thinking of running your blower continuously for a longer span, consider buying an extra battery.
I’m Meg Muckenhoupt, a garden writer and reviewer. I’ve been wrangling with trees, branches, leaves, and gravel for more than 20 years, and along the way I co-founded a community farm and earned a certificate in field botany. I live under a canopy of oak, pine, maple, and hickory trees, and I’ve used many different techniques for managing the leaf avalanche that engulfs my yard every fall.
We put these leaf blowers through their paces, removing dry leaves, wet leaves, acorns, pine needles, and gravel from lawn grass, decking, a brick patio, and an asphalt driveway.
We tested cordless leaf blowers’ battery endurance by running a zip-tie around their power buttons with the speed adjustment dial turned to the lowest setting, and timing how long it took for them to run out of power. Measurements varied from 8 minutes, 45 seconds, for the Hoover BH57205 to 24 minutes, 40 seconds, for the Greenworks BL60L2510.
I rated how heavy or unwieldy these blowers felt carrying them up and down a 100-foot slope, and whether they felt unbalanced. I tested whether any of the blowers had a precise enough stream of air push leaves directly into a garbage can (Short answer: no, use a snow shovel or leaf scoops). I also evaluated how easy it was to store these blowers in a tight space, and tried out any special accessories included with the blowers.
Overall, power and speed were highly correlated for these blowers: The blowers that blew leaves away the fastest also blew them across the largest area and did the best job of prying up wet leaves.
What You Should Know About Leaf Blowers
At heart, leaf blowers are giant hair dryers without a heater, fans mounted on an engine with a tube to direct the airflow. The major differences between leaf blowers have to do with three main factors:
The power of the stream of air coming out of the tube, often measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute)
How comfortable it is to carry them around
If they’re powered by gas engines, an electric cord, or a rechargeable battery
Gas vs. Electric Leaf Blowers
There are a few different types of leaf blowers: gas, electric, and battery-powered. For the purposes of this review, we skipped over testing gas-powered models. Gas-powered leaf blowers have several disadvantages.
For starters, “gas-powered” is a misnomer. Gas-powered leaf blowers actually require a mixture or gas and a special type of oil, and if you get the proportions wrong, your leaf blower can stop working altogether. That fuel also needs to be drained before you store your blower for the winter.
Gas-powered leaf blowers are also very noisy, with common models making sounds ranging from 70 dB to an ear-splitting 90 dB. Many communities have banned gas-powered leaf blowers altogether, or limit leaf blowers to models that emit 65 dB or less from 50 ft. away.
How to Choose the Right Leaf Blower
Leaf blower product listings like to include plenty of information that doesn’t tell you much about the blower’s performance. Here are the key factors to look out for—and what to ignore.
Look at CFM, Not Airspeed
Airspeed and air volume give you an idea of how powerful a leaf blower is, but only an idea. In general, airspeed (miles per hour) measures how fast the air is going, which tells you how well a blower will dislodge and lift leaves. Air volume (cubic feet per minute, or CFM) tells you how much air is coming out of the blower, or how big a mass of leaves you can blow away.
The problem is that there is no industry-standard way of measuring air speed for CFM. You can be pretty sure that a blower putting out 600 CFM of air, like our top pick Worx, will blow more leaves away in a minute than a leaf blower putting out 180 CFM, like the Sun Joe. However, in testing, the 480 CFM Kobalt outperformed the 525 CFM Ryobi RY40480.
Our recommendation: Look at CFM to tell if the leaf blower is supposed to clear your entire yard (at least 400 CFM) or just your deck (under 300 CFM). Ignore airspeed, which doesn’t tell you anything meaningful about performance
Don’t Worry About Brushless Motors
Many leaf blowers advertise their brushless motors, which contain electronic engine controllers. Brushless motors should make the blower run more efficiently and last longer, but they’re also more expensive to build than conventional brushed motors.
Having a brushless motor also doesn’t guarantee that that motor will push air out faster or more forcefully than conventional motors. Out of our top picks, the Kobalt KHB 3040-06 had a brushless motor, but the Worx and Sun Joe do not.
Our recommendation: Ignore the motor type, and look at CFM and decibels instead.
Pay Attention to Decibels
Leaf blower noise ratings show how loud the blowers are to someone standing 50 feet away. There are two numbers you should remember: 65 decibels (dB), which is the maximum allowable noise rating for leaf blowers in some municipalities; and 80 dB, the level where hearing loss can occur after extended exposure (two hours or more).
Make Sure Cord Length Works For You
For corded models, look at how much you need to pay to add on for a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord that reaches to the ends of your yard. Check to make sure that your extension cord is rated for the voltage your blower needs, and remember that if your outdoor outlet is at one side of your house, the diagonal distance to the opposite side of your lot may be longer than your lot boundary.
Consider Extra Batteries
If you’re choosing a cordless model, check how much an extra battery costs. Most cordless models will only run 15 to 20 minutes under typical conditions, and recharging times can vary depending on the surrounding temperature, how much the battery has run down, and how old the battery is.
Judging by product listing and reviewers’ comments, most rechargeable leaf blower batteries will take somewhere from 60 to 90 minutes to recharge.
Other Leaf Blowers We Tested
Power: This Ryobi model seemed under-powered compared to corded models and our top-pick Kobalt KHB 3040-6, despite manufacturer-advertised ratings of 550 CFM. It blew well on the Turbo setting—the extra-power button—but it didn’t pick up and move leaves the way the Worx or Kobalt models did.
Given that the battery lasted less than 20 minutes on the lowest setting, don’t count on using that Turbo setting very much unless you have a second battery ready.
Comfort: This Ryobi model felt heavy and awkward, thanks largely to a battery that weighs more than 3 lbs. and is positioned on top of the leaf blower.
This Ryobi model is also designed with the fan on the back of the leaf blower, behind the handle, where it can suck in clothing. The back fan could become an annoyance or a safety hazard.
Noise: The RY40407VNM Whisper model claims to be “the industry’s quietest handheld blower,” producing 59 dB at 50 feet. It seems to achieve this lower rating via a layer of foam on the interior of the air tube. It’s quieter, but subjectively, it doesn’t seem much quieter for the operator than the Kobalt, which puts out a more powerful stream of air.
Battery: In our testing, the RY40407VNM’s battery lasted for 18 minutes, 20 seconds on the lowest setting. It’s not terrible, but if you have a larger yard, you’ll want to invest in a second battery.
Power: The Toro Powerjet F700 will blow you away—especially if you’re not holding onto something sturdy. Astonishingly strong gusts of air come out of this blower’s tube. If you need less than hurricane force to clean your yard, you can turn down the power with a variable-speed dial.
Comfort: The Toro Powerjet F700 is well balanced, and weighs a little under 6.5 lbs. There are two minor flaws in this blower’s design that kept it from being our top pick: It’s difficult to adjust the speed dial one-handed, and the relatively large openings in the wrap-around rear air intake can suck in loose clothing.
Noise: The Toro Powerjet F700 was one of the noisier blowers in our sample, broadcasting 70.1 dB at 50 feet away. Still, it’s quieter than the Worx WG520, which clocks in at 82 dB. If you’re willing to overlook the inconveniences of the rear air intake and the dial adjustment, the Toro Powerjet F700 is a better bet for keeping the peace in your neighborhood.
Power: The Black & Decker LB700 is a middle-of-the-road leaf blower in all possible ways. It can blow leaves, but it doesn’t have anything like the power of the Worx 5920 or the Toro Powerjet F700. The 180 CFM power rating is the lowest in our leaf blower sample.
Comfort: Lightweight at 4.4 lbs., the Black & Decker LB700 is easy to carry and manage. Plus, the air intake at the bottom of the blower doesn’t suck in clothes.
Noise: Although it’s a lightweight blower, the Black & Decker LB700 is a heavyweight for sound, putting out 86 dB of noise pollution at 50 feet. If you want to stay friends with your neighbors—or obey municipal leaf blower noise bylaws—avoid this blower.
Power: Although the manufacturer rates the Greenworks BL60L2510 as moving 470 CFM, its performance was much weaker than most of the other leaf blowers in our sample. It simply couldn’t blow leaves, acorns, and other debris very far or very fast. In addition, it vibrates worryingly during use.
Comfort: At a little over 8 lbs., the Greenworks BL60L2510 wasn’t the lightest blower in our sample, but it wasn’t the heaviest either. It was the only cordless blower in our sample that had an extra on/off switch in addition to the speed-adjustment dial, which can be either annoying or reassuring.
Noise: The Greenworks BL60L2510 makes a lower-pitched noise than many other nozzles, and is less annoying than some of the more whinier models. Rated at 65 dB, it is acceptably quiet by most municipal leaf blower sound standards.
Battery: The Greenworks BL60L2510 was the longest-lasting in our sample, clocking 24 minutes, 40 seconds on the lowest setting. If you want to use a higher setting to blow your leaves more effectively, consider investing in an extra battery.
Power: Much like the Ryobi RY40407VNM Whisper model, the 40480VNM seemed under-powered despite an air volume measurement of 535 CFM. The main way the 40480VNM differs from the other Ryobi model is that it’s louder, producing 68 dB of high-pitched, whiny noise at 50 feet. The Turbo setting enhanced the 40480’s performance, but not to the level of our top three models.
Comfort: Both cordless Ryobi models we tested felt heavy and awkward thanks to a top-mounted battery that weighs more than 3 lbs. The battery puts a third of this blower’s weight right below the handle, and boosts the total weight to 9.4 lbs.
During testing, the 40480’s rear-mounted fan sucked my clothes against the back of the blower when I held the blower in front of me. No harm was done, but depending on your clothing choices and your arm position, this back fan could be a safety hazard.
Noise: The RY 40480VNM has a noise rating of 68 dB, and produced a loud, high-pitched whine. It may not be loud enough to annoy your neighbors, but it will probably annoy your spouse and family members.
Battery: The RY40480VNM’s battery lasted a reasonable 21 minutes, 35 seconds on the lowest setting. If you’re planning on using the Turbo setting to dislodge wet leaves or gravel, you should have a second battery ready.
Power: The Toro 51621 is a decent, hard-working leaf blower. It won’t wow you with its overwhelming force like the Toro F700 or Worx 5920, but its 410 CFM air flow will blow most leaves most of the way you want them to go most of the time.
That said, the Toro 51621’s vacuum/mulcher attachment is unimpressive. In our test vacuuming up dry oak leaves, the process of getting the leaves up the tube into the bag was very slow, and the leaves weren’t much smaller once they were in the bag then out. It would be faster to pick up the leaves with a pair of leaf scoops and stomp on them in the yard waste bag to break them up.
Comfort: At 8.9 lbs., this bruiser of a leaf lower felt the heaviest of all the blowers in our sample, even though it weighed less than the Ryobi models. The top handle is helpful for balancing the blower, but it doesn’t make it feel lighter.
Noise: The Toro 51621 is one of the quieter corded models, putting out 68 dB at 50 feet. It’s not quiet enough for the user to forego ear protection, but it should reduce conflicts with your neighbors.
Power: You won’t have to worry about blowing too many leaves out of your hard with the Hoover BH57205. Although this model lists a respectable 270 CFM, and had middle-of-the-road leaf-moving force in our testing, the battery lasted less than 10 minutes before dying out.
Comfort: Awkward and strangely heavy for a blower that’s only 6.4 lbs., the Hoover blower is hard to carry comfortably. Fortunately, the battery is weak enough that using the Hoover over a long period really isn’t an issue.
Noise: Hoover doesn’t list an official noise rating for the BH57205, but it is very loud—noticeably louder than the other models we tested. You can do better.
Battery: On a fully-charged battery, the Hoover gave up the ghost at a mere 8 minutes, 45 seconds. At that rate, you’ll want to get two extra batteries, and maybe an extra charger too.
Meg Muckenhoupt is an environmental and travel writer. Her book Boston Gardens and Green Spaces (Union Park Press, 2010) is a Boston Globe Local Bestseller. Meg was awarded a certificate in Field Botany by the New England Wild Flower Society and earned degrees from Harvard and Brown University.
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