Choosing a Leaf Blower

choosing a leaf blower

While raking can be effective on small areas, even homeowners with small yards can save time by using a leaf blower. Which one is right for you? Here’s what you need to consider from flow ratings to engine designs.

Cubic Feet Per Minute vs. Miles Per Hour

More CFM means more power. The higher the CFM rating, the better the blower will be at moving leaves and handling wet debris. A high MPH speed indicates a more concentrated blast of air, which is easier to control when working around bushes, buildings and other obstacles. For example, a typical backpack blower will move between 500 to 1,000 CFM of air at 200+ MPH, while a wheeled blower will usually move between 1,500 and 2,500 CFM at 150-200 MPH. This makes a wheeled blower better for wide areas and a backpack blower better for areas with bushes and fences.

Two Stroke, Four Stroke, or Something In Between?

Two-stroke engines ignite fuel every time the piston reaches the top of the cylinder, so a smaller, lighter engine can produce as much power as a larger four stroke. They also don’t use valves, making them simpler and cheaper to build, and since they’re lubricated by oil mixed with the fuel, there’s nothing that can leak into the combustion chamber, making them ideal for handheld devices that are used at several different angles. However, two-strokes don’t last as long as four strokes, they’re harder to start, and less fuel gets burned inside the motor, increasing emissions and fuel consumption.

To get around the two stroke’s problems, manufacturers have come up with novel power plant solutions. Honda’s Mini 4-Stroke uses a baffling system to keep the oil where it needs to be, while Shindaiwa’s C4 Technology engines are four strokes that use mixed gas for lubrication like a two-stroke. Both engines can be used at any angle, bringing four-stroke performance to small power equipment.

Since wheeled blowers don’t have to be carried, weight isn’t a major design factor. These models use full-size four-stroke engines like the type you’d find in a mower or other large professional equipment to deliver maximum power.

Handheld Leaf Blower

Electric models are much quieter than their gas-powered counterparts, but they simply can’t match the power of an internal combustion engine. Battery-powered models are pricey and the least powerful, but their portability, low weight and simple maintenance may be a good fit for your needs. Even with heavy-duty extension cords, plug-in models are realistically limited to a distance of 100 feet from an outlet. They’re more powerful than battery-powered models and work just fine for homeowners that want to clear off a short driveway. Gas-powered models can clear areas in as little as a third of the time of an electric blower.

Backpack Blowers

By carrying the motor on your back instead of in your hands, it’s easier to handle more weight. This lets designers pack more power into a backpack blower than is practical with a handheld blower. Low-end backpack blowers can be cheaper than rechargeable handhelds, while professional models have been a mainstay of lawn care services for decades.

Wheeled Blowers

Need to clear a wide area quickly? A wheeled blower can do the jobs of several backpack blowers, saving considerable time on jobs. Push models can be hard to maneuver on hills, but some manufacturers now offer blowers with self-propulsion systems.

Wheeled blowers are available with metal or plastic housings. While plastic may be seen as cheap, it’s definitely the best choice. Because the housing can be formed for a tight fit around the impeller, it reduces turbulence and increases air pressure. The end result is lower noise, lower power requirements, and less vibration, reducing wear and tear on the engine and the operator.

Metal housings may be lacking, but they’re also cheaper to build. If you need big power on a tight budget, this may be the way to go.

Get What You Need for Fall Lawn Care from Shank’s Lawn

No matter what size of leaf blower you’re looking for, we can help: we’re a certified dealer for most makes of lawn care equipment including popular leaf blower brands like Little Wonder, Shindaiwa, and MTD, as well as the manufacturers of the engines that power these machines. To find the right equipment for your needs, visit us at our shop, located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway, just off Route 11 in Chambersburg, PA.

We also ship parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada for every brand we carry. To order, visit us online at

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