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Leaf blowers can be versatile pieces of equipment, as they don’t just blow leaves. They can be used for blowing grass clippings off of porches, sidewalks and patios. They can blow dust, dirt, and other debris off of or out of equipment – great for cleaning off tractors and combines. They can even be used to clear light snow off when the winter comes around. If you don’t have one already, there’s a good chance you have or will look into buying one in the near future. So what should you consider?
This is where it all starts. Power is measured in airspeed in leaf blowers – the higher the airspeed, the easier it will be to move heavier debris. Soggy leaves, prickly seed pods that grab onto things, sticks and branches – all of these can be difficult for an inadequately powered unit.
Most importantly, it’s suggested that you get a leaf blower with variable speed settings. A fixed-speed unit is merely on or off, and doesn’t allow you to adjust for certain situations. For instance, a unit that is fixed-speed and is great for moving dry leaves may not be strong enough to handle soggy leaves. By the same token, one that is fixed to be strong enough to move soggy leaves may be difficult to control when trying to blow dry leaves around.
You might think that it doesn’t matter much how you carry a unit, but if you’re using it for a long period of time, you’ll find out quickly that an 11-pound leaf blower can get deceptively heavy. Most units will come as handheld units. There are backpack units and walk-behind units available, but most of these are the higher-powered unit. One option to help with the weight of carrying a leaf blower is to buy a sling to go over a shoulder or across the torso and provide support.
Measured in decibels, this will tell you just how loud the leaf blower will get. Electric leaf blowers tend to be quieter than gasoline-powered units. This is important to know, as many neighborhoods have begun to place restrictions on the noise levels of leaf blowers, while others have banned them outright. Knowing the decibels will also help you pick out ear protection to wear.
To produce the air to move the leaves, you need a source of power. Electric leaf blowers are easy to use, and come in corded or cordless models. This limits their range a bit – either you’re tied to outlets, limiting distance, or you go cordless, limiting the length of usage. They are a bit easier to start and maintain, though.
Gasoline-powered leaf blowers tend to be more powerful than their electric counterparts, but will also require more maintenance and are a bit harder to start. They also tend to be pull-start, instead of the switches found on electric leaf blowers. To their advantage, they will usually have more run time than a cordless electric unit, and a greater range than a corded electric unit. You can choose from a two-stroke, which requires a gasoline-oil mix, or a four-stroke, which keeps the oil and gasoline separate.
A leaf blower is a really useful piece of equipment to have around the lawn and garden, all times of the year. Make sure you choose the right one for your situation – it needs to fit your life, as well as your neighborhood. Make no mistake, they can make lawn and garden care much easier, particularly in the fall and winter.