Turns out, the best cordless leaf blowers come in handy for loads of different jobs – not just clearing leaves (although they’re great at that too!). They’re a useful tool to have in the shed, and the fact that they don’t have any cables makes them easy to grab at any time.
Alongside shifting leaves, cordless leaf blowers can also be used for jobs like clearing out guttering, drying the car post-wash, clearing snow and levelling-out gravel. Plus, if you have a suitable attachment, you can even use a leaf blower to inflate blow-up beds and paddling pools.
Choosing the best leaf blower will depend on what you want to use it for and what tools you already own. The following information should help you work out what to look out for (as well as what to avoid!).
The Benefits of Using a Cordless Leaf Blower
Thanks to their wire-free nature, cordless leaf blowers can easily be pulled out the shed for any job, big or small – and they have more uses than you might expect…! Not only are there no cords to trip you up, and no heavy petrol motor to carry, but the best leaf blowers can be used for all of the following tasks:
- Clearing up leaves
- Cleaning lawn equipment by blowing grass clippings etc. off the blades
- Clearing out guttering and stopping blockages from occurring
- Clearing light snow quickly
- Drying your car after washing
- Drying patio furniture after washing so it can be used straight away
- Levelling out gravel
- Clearing a garage of sawdust
- Clearing dust and debris out of a work van
- Clearing spider webs from your shed and garage
- Blowing grass edge clippings back onto the border
- Inflating a paddling pool/blow-up bed (with the right attachment)
As you can see, leaf blowers are not just a one-trick pony! Once you own a leaf blower, you’ll probably find yourself using it for a lot of jobs that you wouldn’t have expected!
Finding Cordless Leaf Blowers with a Good Run Time
Run time is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying a cordless leaf blower. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries can take 1 – 2 hours to recharge, so you’ll probably want to try to get all your leaf blowing done in one go.
Larger batteries will give you more run time, but how long exactly will depend on how quickly the leaf blower uses power. This can vary between models and machines. If the leaf blower has several power settings, you can be more conservative with battery power and get it to last longer.
Cordless leaf blowers with one speed setting (particularly if the setting blasts out air at over 175 km/h) will likely have a much shorter run time than a less powerful model when used with the same battery.
To give a general indication (although this is very broadly speaking) a 2 Ah battery may last for around 10 – 20 minutes, whilst a 5 Ah battery could last for approximately 45 minutes.
Larger batteries are heavier and will make the whole unit weigh more, which is something to bear in mind if you’re particularly interested in having as light a machine as possible.
One way to extend the running time of the leaf blower, without using huge and heavy batteries, is to have more than one battery. This way you can have a charged battery on standby, to swap out when the first one runs empty.
Some of the best cordless leaf blowers will have batteries that are interchangeable with other tools from the same brand. Many tool companies, such as Bosch, DEWALT and Ryobi use the same battery type for a range of tools – you may find you already have a compatible battery in your garage.
Another good tip is to stop using the machine before the battery runs out entirely. Lithium-ion batteries are not meant to run down to zero charge. Leaving 10% charge in place means it’ll stay healthy and take less time to charge up.
The Importance of Air Flow Speed
The speed of the air flow varies according to the design of the leaf blower and how well it uses its power. It’s not necessarily as simple as thinking ‘the more powerful the motor, the more powerful the machine’.
Look at the air flow speed cited by the manufacturer in the leaf blower’s specifications. Also, consider what jobs you will want to use the leaf blower for.
If you only want a leaf blower for blowing leaves, and want to be able to shift wet leaves from grass, you should look for a maximum air flow speed of around 250 km/h. This will be too powerful for clearing dust/debris from a workshop (it’ll go everywhere!) so make sure there are variable speed settings if you want to use the blower for different jobs.
An air flow speed of approximately 175 km/h is powerful enough to remove most leaves from hard surfaces, although it may occasionally struggle with very wet leaves. Cordless leaf blowers with this level of airflow are normally more appropriate for clearing dust, dirt and debris from interior spaces. They’ll also work better for removing leaves from gravel without making the gravel go everywhere.
Generally speaking, having a choice of air speeds makes leaf blowers more versatile; however, if you’re only interested in a very powerful leaf blower, changeable speeds won’t matter as much.
Choosing the Right Weight
Naturally, using a lightweight machine is less tiring than a heavy one. Cordless leaf blowers can range from around 1.3 kg – 3 kg; whereas petrol leaf blowers will generally be a lot heavier.
The size of the battery will make a difference to the weight of the leaf blower; there may be a difference of approximately 0.5 kg between the weight of a 2.0 Ah battery and a 5.0 Ah battery.
Given that a bigger battery will have a longer run time, you could keep the weight down by using several smaller batteries one after the other. Naturally, this will cost more if you need to purchase extra batteries separately.
Smaller, lightweight cordless leaf blowers are also more suitable for people with conditions like arthritis or reduced mobility. Purchasing a strap for the leaf blower can also be useful to distribute the weight better.
Brand name tools offer straps to fit their leaf blowers and it’s worth asking if there’s a compatible strap before making your purchase, if this is of interest to you.
How To Use a Leaf Blower
This might seem obvious – you pull the trigger and chase leaves across the lawn, right?
Well, yes – that is the basic idea! However, there are a few tricks that’ll help you make less mess and cut down on gardening time:
First up, wear some thick gloves because even the most compact cordless leaf blowers tend to vibrate and this can make your hands feel sore and tingly.
Wearing goggles and ear defenders is also a good idea; the air blasting from a blower can be in excess of 250 km/h, that’s enough to send stones flying and create a fair amount of noise.
- Is it windy? It’s best to move leaf fall on still days or when the wind is blowing in the right direction to help your efforts. Leaf blowing against the wind is pointless.
- Is it raining or has it recently rained? Wet leaves are harder to move than dry ones. You can test how difficult it’ll be by using your cordless blower on a pile of wet and soggy leaves. If they won’t move easily, wait for a dryer day.
- Is it a still and sunny day? These are optimum conditions – choose a spot where you can gather your leaves and place a piece of tarp down/garden waste bags.
Technique and Tactics
- If you have a spare, compatible battery, stick in on charge whilst using the leaf blower. If you do need to change batteries, you won’t have to waste any time waiting around.
- Blow leaves in one set direction or you’ll end up moving them all around your garden.
- The best way to position your blower is at your side with the nozzle pointing at the ground. You want to chase the leaves firmly to the waste pile with slow side to side movements as you step forward.
- Put a piece of tarp down on the ground – you can blow the leaves onto this tarp and then bundle it up at the end.
Bear in mind: you’ll likely have to accept that the leaf blowers won’t shift every single leaf, you will need to rake up the stragglers if they bother you.
- Once you have a leaf pile, don’t bin it – compost it! Leaves make great compost. Gardeners call it ‘black gold’ and it’s perfect for topping up pots and borders. Pop your leaves into bags and let them decompose over a year for crumbly super-charged compost.
- If you’re using a cordless leaf blower to shift dust, use the same side-to-side technique, but on the lowest blow setting. Otherwise, it’ll create a choking dust storm. You may want to spray areas down with a little water to stop clouds of dust forming.
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