If leaves have taken over your yard and raking isn't for you,maybe it's time to blow them away.
At Consumer Reports' testing headquarters,we go through as many as 2,500 pounds of leavesto find the best leaf blowers.
Our testers time how long it takes each modelto move piles of leaves from one section of our test yardto the other.
This guide will help you choose the blower that'sright for your job.
Subscribers to our website can accessour specific recommendations and exclusive product ratings.
Not only do blowers sweep away leaves,they can also clean dirt and debris around your yard.
Some can vacuum and mulch leaves too.
Our tests measure how easy the blowers are to use and handleand how much noise they make.
This video is interactive, so click any chapterto skip around.
There are three different types of blowers--handheld, backpack, and wheeled.
How many leaves you need to move and how quickly you want to doit will determine which blower is right for you.
Think about volume, too.
Because a smaller yard with densely packed leavesmay be harder to clear than a larger one with scatteredleaves.
Consumer Reports says it could beuncomfortable to hold certain blowers if the job takes longerthan an hour to complete.
Handhelds can usually tackle most jobsbecause they're lightweight and easy to maneuver.
Handheld blowers are powered one of three ways--gasoline, corded electric, or battery.
Nothing beats a gasoline blower whenit comes to sweeping away leaves and loosening updirt and debris.
The models that earn excellent ratingsmove our test leaf piles fast and efficiently.
Gasoline blowers are noisy.
In our tests, we measure noise in decibels at ear leveland from 50 feet away to see how your yard cleanup soundsto your neighbor.
Some gasoline blowers can be as loud as a chainsaw.
But it's not just the noise level,it's the frequency-- that annoying,high-pitched screeching sound thatmakes these tools especially irritating to our ears.
And gasoline engines do require maintenance.
Their engines also make them a bit heavier,weighing about 10 pounds.
Something to consider if you've got a bigger job and you'llbe holding the blower for a while.
Some blowers offer attachments for vacuuming and mulching.
But most gasoline units don't come with them,and the few that we tested that do took too long to vacuumor didn't mulch well.
If you do opt for a gasoline handheld,those with two-stroke engines require mixing oil and fuel.
Our experts recommend you buy a pre-mixed fuelthat's available in cans at most home improvement stores.
If the farthest distance of your cleanup jobis within about 100 feet of a power outlet,Consumer Reports says consider an electric handheld model.
They're the least expensive and they're alsolightweight, emissions-free, and easy to start.
Plus there's no gasoline engine to maintain.
Consumer Reports' tests find some can sweep awayleaves and debris almost as well as top-performing gasolinemodels.
They may still be noisy, but from 50 feet away,most are quieter than their gasoline cousins.
And unlike many gasoline handhelds,many electric blowers come with a vacuum attachment,allowing you to mulch leaves.
But if you've got a large yard, the electric cordlimits how far you can go, and itcan be annoying to maneuver around treesand other obstacles.
If you still want the convenience of a handheldwithout the gasoline maintenance,a battery-powered handheld blower is a good option.
They're not quite as powerful as gasolineor top-scoring electric handhelds,because battery run time is limited.
However, the ones that perform well in our ratingscan handle most jobs around the yard, deck, and driveway.
Plus, they're cord-free, so you can roam wherever you need.
But they can be heavy.
The battery adds weight.
Some weigh more than gasoline engines.
Plus you'll need to recharge the battery after about 30 minutes.
When shopping for handheld blowers,pay special attention to the nozzle.
Flatter nozzles tend to be better for sweeping leaves,while rounded ones loosen up dirt and debris a bit better.
Blowers with adjustable speeds allowyou to reduce power near delicate areas,such as your garden.
Look for a bottom-mounted air intake.
Side intakes can pull at your clothes.
On gasoline models, a primer bulb makes for easier starting,and a clear fuel tank gives you a visualof how much fuel you have.
Try them out before you buy.
The best models in our ratings stay balanced in your handonce they're turned on and offer a second grip for more control.
And for safety, an easy-to-access shutoff switchis a good idea, too.
If you're clearing your yard for an hour or morewith a handheld blower, it might betime to consider a gasoline backpack blower.
Most backpack blowers are heavier than handhelds.
However, the weight rests on your back and shoulders,instead of your arm.
Like gasoline and battery-powered handhelds,backpacks will go anywhere you go, but they cost more--$200 and up for recommended models.
And if gasoline blowers are noisy,these sound even noisier, as theyhave engines that will be positioned closer to your ears.
Backpack models don't vacuum or shred leaves,so you'll need a place to blow them.
If you want to go pro, consider a wheeled gasoline blowerfor ultimate power.
They move lots of leaves fast.
But speed doesn't come cheap.
Wheeled units start at about $300,but you can easily spend as much as $800.
These do not vacuum or shred.
Also, they usually weigh 100 pounds or more,making maneuvering difficult, especially uphill.
You'll also need extra space to storethese, about six square feet.
And as with other gasoline blowers, they're noisy.
Look for wheeled units with an adjustable air deflectorthat gives you slightly more control over which directionyou want the leaves to blow.
No matter which blower you pick, werecommend you wear safety goggles and ear protection.
Even quieter electric models can be noisy at ear level.
Keep people and pets far away from the area you're clearingand avoid running them very early or late in the day.
Now that you've got the basics, visit ConsumerReports.
orgto subscribe and find our specific leaf blower ratingsbased on our in-depth expert testing.
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