Best Cheap Leaf Blowers
$30 - $150Cheapism
$150 - $300Mid-Range
$300 and upHigh End
- Published on
- BySaundra Latham
When autumn leaves or storm debris litter the yard, a cheap leaf blower can save hours of raking and loads of back-breaking effort. Its powerful air stream can even come in handy for other purposes, such as clearing gutters or cleaning a dusty shed. We sorted through thousands of owner and expert reviews to unearth leaf blowers under $150 with an elusive combination of value, performance, ease of use, and durability. Among our picks are gas-powered machines and electric leaf blowers, including a cordless model. For consumers who prefer a backpack-style leaf blower, which raises the price, we found a relatively cheap one that may increase mobility and save users from sore arms in the long run.
Toro 51619 Ultra Review
This corded electric blower offers power and versatility at a low price. Owners appreciate that it doubles as a vacuum and a mulcher.
Hitachi RB24EAP Review
The gas-powered Hitachi RB24EAP rises to the top of the list for its easy start, manageable weight, and effectiveness even on stubborn debris.
Black & Decker LSW20 Review
For light, quick work on hard surfaces, users say this lightweight cordless blower is convenient and makes outdoor cleanup easy.
Worx WG509 TriVac Review
This electric unit scores points with users for its easy flip-lever conversion from leaf blower to lawn vacuum. It lacks some of the power of our top pick, however.
Husqvarna 125B Review
Experts and users say this handheld gas-powered blower has plenty of power and is a good pick for clearing yards quickly and efficiently.
Sun Joe SBJ604E Review
This electric blower vac impresses with its power, but vibrations numb users' hands and the large, heavy body is too cumbersome for many.
Homelite UT09526 Review
For a gas-powered leaf blower, this unit is about as cheap as they come. However, user reviews suggest that dubious reliability is part of the bargain.
Cheap Leaf Blowers Buying Guide
Consumers can spend more than $300 for a professional-grade walk-behind leaf blower, but that kind of power isn't necessary unless your yard is so large or leaf-covered that carrying a handheld blower would become uncomfortable. Most people can render driveways, decks, smaller yards, and even gutters leafless with an electric leaf blower under $100 or a gas leaf blower under $150. Some handheld models even vacuum and mulch and come with a bag for leaves and other debris.
Several familiar names dominate the leaf blower market. They include Toro, Black & Decker, Craftsman, Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, and Stihl. We also researched manufacturers including Weed Eater, Echo, Worx, and Home Depot-exclusive Homelite. Japanese brand Hitachi is more widely known for audiovisual products but also offers a line of home tools, including three leaf blowers, one of which comes highly recommended. While most companies make both gas and electric models at a variety of price points, some specialize. For instance, Black & Decker makes only electric models, and Toro sells only one gas blower.
Our top picks include two gas-powered models, the Hitachi RB24EAP (starting at $129) and the Husqvarna 125B (starting at $149). We also recommend two corded electric blowers, the Toro 51619 Ultra (starting at $70) and the Worx WG509 TriVac (starting at $90). A light-duty cordless sweeper model, the Black & Decker LSW20 (starting at $70), rounds out the field. Two of these blowers, the Toro and Worx models, also function as leaf vacuums and mulchers.
Buyers might want to steer clear of two particular models: the corded electric Sun Joe SBJ604E (starting at $70) and the gas-powered Homelite UT09526 (starting at $80). The former is simply uncomfortable to use, while the latter suffers from an unreliable engine, according to the leaf blower reviews we read.
Gas Leaf Blowers vs. Electric Leaf Blowers.The choice between gas and electric power depends largely on your yard-maintenance needs and the size of your property. If the borders of the area to be cleared are within reach of a power source (usually about 100 feet), an electric leaf blower may be the best choice. Electric models are lighter, quieter, and less costly than gas leaf blowers. They start without the hassle of repeatedly pulling a cord and don't give off fumes. Many also vacuum and mulch leaves and other organic debris. On the downside, the power cord must be managed, which can be challenging in areas with lots of obstructions. There are cordless electric models like the Black & Decker LSW20, but their rechargeable batteries may require several hours to power up, sometimes in exchange for less than half an hour of use.
If multiple layers of leaves, pinecones, and thick twigs need to be moved in a larger yard, a gas leaf blower is the way to go. Gas-powered models generally have heftier price tags than electric blowers but pack more of a punch and have no cord to confine their range. That said, they come with their own drawbacks: They are messier (unless you buy premixed fuel); starting requires effort (and the machines can be temperamental); controlling the speed takes some practice; the cost of fuel and oil is ongoing (and maintenance is a must); and extra caution is advised when keeping flammable materials around.
Whatever the choice, experts say consumers can greatly boost their chance of satisfaction by using a leaf blower correctly. According to testers for The Sweethome, that means using a leaf blower in concert with a rake, not as a replacement. A rake can make quick work of a yard once leaves are blown into several piles, and leaf blower users shouldn't waste their time blasting a seemingly immovable patch of yard waste when a rake could handle it more quickly and quietly. HouseLogic advises working with any available breeze, not against it.
Emissions and Safety.Before buying a leaf blower, make sure local municipal ordinances permit them. Several communities -- particularly in California, which maintains strict emissions standards -- ban gas-powered leaf blowers. Others restrict or prohibit leaf blowers because of noise or limit their use to certain parts of the year.
Leaf blowers, and gas leaf blowers in particular, are often noisy enough to cause hearing loss, so wear ear protection. It's also a good idea to wear goggles and a mask to defend against dust, bird droppings, chemicals, and anything else that gets blown around along with the leaves. Follow all manufacturer safety guidelines, and keep other people and pets away in case debris flies in their direction.
It's also always worth checking with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for recalls before purchasing a leaf blower, as they are not uncommon. Black & Decker recently recalled 560,000 leaf blowers because the fan covers could come off, posing a laceration risk.
Leaf Blower Reviews: What We Considered
In researching and comparing leaf blowers, we went beyond the specs and dove into online reviews of each machine, from expert sources such as The Sweethome and Popular Mechanics as well as current or past owners posting firsthand accounts of their experiences with cheap leaf blowers.
Most leaf blower reviews and recommendations from consumers appear on the websites of large retailers including Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Walmart. Reviews most frequently address power, as well as ease of use and durability. Most indicate that users are satisfied with our top picks despite duly noted operational and design flaws.
Power and Performance.Manufacturers cite a few different specifications as indicators of a leaf blower's power. These include the size of the gas engine or electric motor, of course, but also the velocity and volume of air the machine expels, measured in miles per hour and cubic feet per minute, respectively. In general, the higher the numbers, the better. However, air speed and volume don't always directly translate to effectiveness, according to testing by Popular Mechanics, and there are other factors, such as tube and nozzle design, that play into "real world" efficiency.
For the most part, electric leaf blowers tend to push out a lower volume of air at a higher speed than their gas counterparts. Our pick for best gas-powered leaf blower, the Hitachi RB24EAP, boasts a 23.9 cc gasoline engine and airflow of 170 mph and 441 CFM. That combined force is more than adequate for clearing yards, driveways, gutters and garages, and Popular Mechanics says it has enough oomph even for wet leaves. But many reviewers, like this one posting on Amazon, say their expectations were blown away when they switched to the electric Toro 51619 Ultra from a gas model. Its 12-amp motor, 250 mph velocity, and maximum air volume of 410 CFM easily shoo grass clippings, leaves, and small sticks and stones, users report. At low speeds, the blower vac sucks up leaves and debris without disturbing underlying decorative pebbles or fragile plants.
On the other end of the spectrum, the battery-powered Black & Decker LSW20 offers only 120 CFM and 120 mph airflow. But since this model is marketed for very light duty, such as pushing yard debris from hard surfaces such as patios and driveways, most users are still satisfied.
Adjustable Speed.Some budget leaf blowers, including the Black & Decker LSW20, operate at a single speed. Our other top picks feature multiple speed settings or a variable throttle. The advantage of multiple speeds is greater control over how fast the air shoots out of the nozzle. Certain speeds are better for certain jobs: lower for working around delicate plants or landscaping, for example, and higher for moving large twigs, stones, wet leaves, and piles of mulch.
Vacuuming/Mulching Capability.Many leaf blowers, including three of the electric models we researched, are three-in-one machines that vacuum and mulch in addition to blowing leaves. In vacuum/mulch mode, the debris is suctioned through a fan-like impeller and collected in a bag with a shoulder strap, or pushed out through a hose leading to a collection bin. The shredded organic material can be used as natural mulch around the yard. Most blower vacs come with additional components, such as a dedicated vacuum tube with a large, round opening better suited to the task than a flatter nozzle designed for blowing alone. Vacuuming/mulching capability is comparatively rare among cheap gas leaf blowers, and we found no widely available gas blowers with those capabilities worth recommending in this guide.
Cheap blower vacs generally feature a mulching ratio of at least 10:1, which means a pass through the impeller reduces 10 bushels of leaves to one bushel of mulch. Vacuum bags tend to hold up to 1.5 bushels, and the higher the mulching ratio, the less often the bag must be emptied. While the Sun Joe SBJ604E has the minimum 10:1 mulching ratio, one of our recommended models, the Worx WG509, boasts an 18:1 ratio. Our pick for best electric leaf blower, the Toro 51619 Ultra, doesn't specify a ratio but claims to reduce 88 percent of debris to less than half an inch. It's important to note, however, that leaf blower reviews routinely express skepticism at these statistics based on the amount of mulch they see the machines actually churn out.
Unlike the other electric leaf blowers we researched, the Greenworks 24012 (starting at $30) doesn't vacuum or mulch. But this basic, single-speed model is one of the cheapest ways for consumers to get the convenience of a leaf blower and may suffice for small yards with lighter debris.
Noise Level.Leaf blowers are often loud enough to affect the operator's hearing and offend neighbors. Most communities with noise ordinances set a limit of 70 decibels (the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse maintains a library of related laws). Noise level is typically measured from 50 feet away.
A majority of the electric blowers among our picks come in under 68 decibels -- which would be less strident than the sound of a home vacuum cleaner, according to experts at Purdue University. The Worx WG509 is slightly louder, at 71 decibels, but experts say it still shouldn't greatly disturb neighbors. Gas-powered leaf blowers have a reputation for being much noisier, and the Hitachi RB24EAP registers 107 decibels.
Keep in mind that, regardless how a blower sounds 50 feet away, it's much louder to the person operating it. For instance, while Husqvarna doesn't provide a 50-foot number for the gas-powered 125B, expert tests indicate that it falls in an acceptable range (under 65 decibels). But the leaf blower measures 94 decibels at the ear, according to the manufacturer, equivalent to the noise generated by a motorcycle just 25 feet away by Purdue's measure. So, again, keep the ear protection handy.
Ease of Use.The primary goal of using a leaf blower instead of a rake is to make wrangling leaves less physically demanding. That makes electric leaf blowers an appealing choice for many consumers, given that they start with the simple flick of a switch and are generally lighter than their gas counterparts, even before factoring in the weight of a full fuel tank. That said, the heaviest leaf blower we researched is an electric model, the Sun Joe SBJ604E, which weighs in at close to 12 pounds. Compare that with our pick for best cheap electric blower, the Toro 51619 Ultra, which weighs just 8.5 pounds.
Maneuvering the long power cord on a corded electric model like the Toro 51619 can take some finesse, which is one reason owners love the Black & Decker LSW20. It's cordless, rechargeable, and only 3.7 pounds. One user who reviewed that model on Amazon reports using it to clean gutters, a task that would be harder with a heavy gas-powered blower or downright impossible with a corded electric. Just remember that rechargeable models like the Black & Decker LSW20 lack the power to tackle heavy-duty jobs.
For properties filled with bushes, trees, furniture, and ornamental doodads, reviewers appreciate and generally prefer the power of a gas engine, along with the freedom to roam widely. Although gas-powered machines require more upkeep, consumers rarely complain about these demands in reviews. One thing to consider is the strain a handheld unit can put on the arm during long periods of use. Buyers with very large yards may want to consider spending a bit more for a backpack leaf blower such as the Husqvarna 130BT (starting at $230).
Three-in-one blower vacs present a unique set of potential problems, with some requiring tools for the conversion between modes. One thing users like most about the Worx WG509 is that all they have to do to go from blower mode to vacuum-and-mulching mode is attach the bag and flip a switch. A quick-release latch on the Toro 51619 Ultra offers similar convenience.
Durability.We read quite a few comments from users attesting to the longevity of older electric leaf blower models. Some have reportedly lasted a decade or more and eventually been replaced with an updated machine. However, many reviews refer to recently purchased leaf blowers, so it's impossible to know whether such enduring performance will repeat. Some reviewers consider the build quality of the contemporary versions slightly inferior, and some just seem to have picked up a lemon.
One problem that plagues some gas leaf blowers is that fuel lines can disintegrate, sometimes within the first year of use. We read about this happening on the Husqvarna 125B as well as the Homelite UT09526, although customer reviews on Home Depot.com report much more trouble with the latter. Many reviewers attribute this to the presence of ethanol in the gasoline. The fuel lines can be replaced, and numerous reviewers say this is no big deal, but users in the know -- including some tipped off by repair technicians -- advise sticking with ethanol-free gasoline. (TruFuel is a brand of premixed fuel and oil that contains no ethanol.)
The Achilles' heel of leaf blowers that double as vacuums and mulchers seems to be the bag. At least some reviews of all the combo models we researched gripe about one bag-related problem or another: It frays, develops holes, pops off the housing, is too small, is not well-positioned. Several reviews of the Toro 51619 Ultra complain that the zipper split. A review of the Worx WG509 on Amazon is one of several that complain of similar issues and say the bag holds very little.
Another potential weakness is the impeller, the fan-like part inside the leaf blower that creates the blowing or vacuuming effect and shreds vacuumed debris into mulch. The serrated blades may pit or break when objects such as small rocks get sucked into the mechanism, throwing the machine off-kilter. Both our combo picks, the Toro 51619 Ultra and the Worx WG509, have metal impellers, which are less likely to be damaged than their plastic counterparts. Buyers tempted by cheaper units with plastic impellers should consider paying a bit extra.