A leaf blower is an essential for those who wish a neat garden, but picking the right one can be tricky. From corded to cordless leaf blowers, electric leaf blowers to petrol leaf blowers, even battery leaf blowers with varying levels of power and features, there is much to consider. Take a look at some of the top rated models such as the Stihl leaf blower and find the perfect leaf blower for your needs.
When picking the best leaf blower/ vacuum there are some things to keep in mind:
Performance: What can the machine achieve in terms of blowing? Can it cope with dry leaves on hard surfaces? Can it cope with dry leaves on a lawn? Can it cope with damp leaves? Can it manage with sticks, pine cones and stones? Can it blow a large area in a single sweep? Can you target the blowing function?
Ease of use: How easy is it to get started? How well positioned are the controls? Is it easy to understand? How clear is the manual? Can you quickly change between different accessories?
Functions: Can you do more than just blow leaves with it? Can you adjust the blowing speed? Can you lock it, or do you have to keep the throttle pressed in throughout the session? Does it have other useful functions?
Accessories: If it is a battery operated model, can you change the battery? Does it include different types of blowing nozzles?
The Husqvarna 525BX is one of the most powerful leaf blowers with a user-friendly design and functionality, which given its current price tag, we nominate as the best leaf blower of 2020. We had no problems blowing large lawns or damp ditch borders clean.
Because the blowing nozzle length is adjustable, you can get very close to the ground without having to bend down, even if you're tall. The nozzle length is easy to adjust and requires neither tools nor a manual. However, you can only adjust it by a few centimetres. But for a tall person those few centimetres make all the difference.
One really good function on this leaf blower is the setting for blowing speed. It means that you can use it more gently, for example when you're blowing leaves from gravel, and increase the power when you're blowing damp leaves or larger areas. The 525BX feels intuitive to use and all of the functions are visible and close to each other.
The package includes both a flat and an open blowing nozzle. The flat nozzle gives a more targeted and powerful air flow, which is useful when you're blowing leaves from a damp surface, for example first thing in the morning when the grass may still be a little dewy. The open blowing nozzle is better if you're blowing leaves, pine cones and other debris from large dry surfaces. The fuel lasts for around one hour.
The 525BX weighs just over four kilos, so you can use that time effectively, even if it may feel a little heavy towards the end. There's an extra handle on the bottom edge which is useful when you're blowing on more complicated angles or if your arms start to get tired.
Overall, this is a very competent, good value for money leaf blower for people with large gardens and who need to be able to adapt the machine’s power in an effortless way.
+ Cruise control
+ User-friendly design
+ Very powerful
- Rather heavy
The Stiga BL 500e is a very powerful but simultaneously light and handy leaf blower that can cope both with blowing damp leaves on your lawn and snow off your car. Despite the fact that it’s quite compact and the nozzle has a round opening, it delivers an impressive result. For example, we tested it on spreading out heaps of soaking wet leaves on the vegetable bed, and it worked very well. It even shifts branches and gravel on the highest setting.
The leaf blower has three strength settings. The first one is for use when you’re blowing sawdust off your workbench, for example, while the second and third are more intended for leaf blowing and other heavier tasks. The third one gives an extra nudge to the machine’s capacity, but under normal conditions where leaves are dry the second setting is perfectly sufficient.
A well-designed leaf blower The battery system on the BL 500e is the same as on several of Stiga’s other 48-volt machines. So you can share batteries between your hedge trimmer and leaf blower, for example.
Unfortunately it only includes one blowing nozzle, with a round end. This will get you quite a long way, but if you want to target the air flow to get more control it’s immediately more difficult without an angled nozzle. Nor does it include a shoulder strap. On the other hand, we don't feel like you need one because the BL 500e is so light and well balanced.
The build quality of this leaf blower feels good and we don’t experience any unpleasant vibrations.
The design is also user-friendly. There’s an on/off button and one to control the strength. The grip is rubberised, and the battery also has a handle that means you can use the battery as a grip for the other hand when you’re working on areas that are difficult to access.
The Stiga BL 500e is ideal for anyone who wants a powerful battery leaf blower. It's suitable for a range of tasks, from blowing dirt and dust from your workshop or wheelbarrow to blowing leaves or cleaning up around the bird table.
+ Great performance
+ Almost no vibration
+ Good grip & well balanced
+ Several strength settings
+ User-friendly design
- No carrying strap
- Only includes one nozzle
The Stihl BGA 57 is a lightweight leaf blower offering a low noise level and great ergonomics. In addition to all of that, it is really powerful.
This leaf blower can move both dry and damp leaves relatively efficiently across your lawn. It can also move piles of leaves. Overall the performance is amongst the very best of battery models in this price range.
Battery life is OK, but considering the price, we would have liked to have seen even better values.
Ergonomically the balance of this machine is very good. The tube of the leaf blower tilts slightly downwards.
The Stihl BGA 57 has a number of interesting functions. For example, it has a safety catch, so when you grab the handle you can’t go unless you first push the catch forwards – a kind of simple two-stage approach that works very well when you get used to it.
Furthermore, the tube is adjustable in three different lengths, so that everyone in the family can use it. You set it based on your own height, and at maximum length it is excellent for people up to as much 1.90 metres tall. It‘s also easy to reduce the length to suit shorter individuals.
In terms of battery you have the same type as in Stihl's chainsaws and grass trimmers (36-volt) – which is convenient if you already own other garden machines from this manufacturer.
The battery has a two-stage release where it partially pops out at first, but still remains in place. If you then press it again, it releases the whole battery. This is a very convenient and user-friendly solution. The battery also has a clear battery indicator at the back.
The machine has a bracket for hanging on a wall when not in use.
The Stihl BGA 57 is great if you’re looking for lightweight battery leaf blower with a really good design which is user-friendly, so long as you are happy paying a bit extra for all that. And if you also have other garden machines in the same series, you can share a battery between them.
+ Adjustable length
+ Very good performance
+ Well balanced
- Could have had a slightly better battery life given the price
The Husqvarna 120iB is a powerful leaf blower in the 36-volt class, where you feel the performance as soon as you start it. In terms of performance, it’s not far off being the best battery model, but unfortunately it falls short when it comes to battery life. The battery life isn’t bad, but it's still significantly shorter than desirable in a test winner.
On the other hand, the Husqvarna 120iB has a lot of other things going for it. For example, it can be hung up on the wall when not in use. Other user-friendly details include clear speed settings and the digital on/off function that makes it easy to start.
Good performance In terms of performance, the blower is able to blow together large piles of both small and large leaves. It can also blow damp leaves as long as the terrain isn’t too rugged. We also blew 5-7 centimetres of moss from a roof without any problems.
The blowing nozzle is a bit short so you won’t get very close to the ground, unfortunately. It’s also a bit tricky to release it from the machine body when the leaf blower isn’t in use.
With the fast charger, you can charge 120iB in around 30 minutes. With a normal charger, you can count on that taking an hour.
The Husqvarna 120iB is a powerful leaf blower with robust build quality and rubberised, comfortable handles. It has plenty of performance, but it's not so great in terms of operating time. However, it’s far from a bad buy, especially if you already have Husqvarna batteries to swap between tools.
+ Very good performance
+ Clear speed setting
+ Maximum performance from the start
+ Can be hung up
- Short battery life
- A bit stiff to disassemble
The Stiga SAB 700 AE is very similar to the Stiga 500 AE with the difference being that the 700 model is a little heavier and has an attachment for a harness. No harness is included, but the fact that you can fit one is a definite advantage.
When it comes to performance, with this machine you do get plenty of power. In principle, this machine is the same as the previously tested 500 AE. You can blow dry and damp leaves into piles, and it can move the piles – even in slightly taller grass. Your lawn doesn’t need to be neatly mown, as it has to be with some competitors.
The leaf blower also handles tasks such as blowing away chestnuts, gravel and other larger objects.
Stiga have supplemented this model with a nozzle that looks like a duckbill. In practice, however, this nozzle makes no major difference when blowing leaves. On the other hand, it does help when you’re blowing dust from shelves and the like because the air flow becomes more focused. When blowing leaves, it’s better to have an efficient and powerful model that can blow a large area of leaves at the same time.
The SAB 700 AE has three power modes that regulate the blowing strength. It works well to use the machine at a lower strength if you’re going to blow a workshop floor clean or remove dust from shelves because then the dirt isn’t whipped up into the air too much. For leaf blowing, you can go up to step two or three depending on how damp the leaves are.
All buttons and grips are well designed. The machine has comfortable buttons with a very good response, which are easily accessible regardless of whether you are right or left-handed.
Can hang freely from your fingers Stiga SAB 700 AE has a form of soft start function. This makes it feel like it starts up slowly, where many other leaf blowers start with a jerk which also gives a good effect on the leaves. Here, the power builds up over a short period of time.
Last year's batteries had a handle that we liked. The handle allowed you to hold the leaf blower with two hands, and you could easily get the battery out. This year's batteries lack that handle. We think that's a shame because the batteries are a bit tricky to get out without one. Having said all that, this leaf blower is usually sold without a battery, and you buy the batteries and charger separately.
Operating time is OK given the price. It doesn’t stand out either positively or negatively.
The SAB 700 AE is a very well-balanced leaf blower that’s easy to carry around even for longer periods, even without using a harness. It’s so well balanced that you can balance it on your finger when the machine is running.
Unfortunately, it does suck in some air from the side, as it has an air intake there. This means you risk your trousers or whatever being sucked in if you hold the blower too close to your leg. This isn’t a huge problem, but something we consider a minor drawback.
The Stiga SAB 700 AE is an excellent leaf blower which also offers you the opportunity to fit a harness for extra support. It is powerful, easy to use and has a well-thought-out design.
+ Can take a harness
+ High performance levels
+ Well balanced
- No handle on the battery
- Sometimes sucks your clothes in
The Bosch ALB 36 Li is a rather heavy but well-balanced 36-volt leaf blower with a user-friendly design. It's easy to understand the functions at first glance – partly because there aren't many of them, and partly because they are clearly marked.
All the parts you can interact with in some way are bright red, while the body of the leaf blower is green.
It's easy to insert and remove the battery. It even comes with battery indicators with three stages so that you can see when it's nearly time to recharge. The 2 Ah battery lasts about 15 minutes if you run the ALB 36 Li on maximum speed. It then charges back up again in an hour. We think the battery life is on the short side. But if you have other 36 V machines from Bosch, you can swap batteries between them.
The Bosch ALB 36 Li is strong for such a simple leaf blower. It can easily clean leaves off your terrace or patio. But if you're going to be blowing damp leaves off your lawn, or from another uneven surface, it probably won't cope so well. It also loses power when the battery starts to run down, which can be irritating. But at full charge the machine is quite powerful compared to many competing battery leaf blowers.
You can reduce the strength via a step-less control to save on battery life during simpler tasks. However, this function is rarely useful because you generally want to clean areas as efficiently as possible. The control doubles as an on/off button. The noise level on maximum strength is medium-high; it’s certainly not a noiseless leaf blower.
The ALB 36 Li is primarily suitable for blowing dry leaves from even surfaces such as asphalt drives or patios.
+ User-friendly design
+ Quite quick charging
+ Well balanced
- Struggles with damp leaves
- Rather heavy
- Slightly short battery life
The Stihl BG86 C-E is one of the most powerful leaf blowers that can blow everything from leaves to small stones. It also copes easily with removing pine cones from lawns and paths. With the flat blowing nozzle installed, it has no problems with damp leaves, and with the round blowing nozzle you can blow large amounts of leaves at once.
On the side of the BG86 is a button that, when set to the central position, enables the leaf blower to run on medium power automatically. This function is sufficient for most tasks, but if you know that you'll be working on sensitive surfaces such as gravel paths and flowerbeds with a visible layer of soil, you can also set the throttle in another position. You press the throttle in until you have achieved the desired power and then lock the button with another control. Unfortunately, there's not much difference between full throttle and idling, so it can be tricky to get the desired strength. But once you've got used to the machine it gets easier.
The button on the side of the BG86 is also used when you start the leaf blower. You set it to the furthest position for choke, and then you pull the starting cord and give it throttle – the button then returns to its original position. This works well once you've learned how to hold the leaf blower while starting it, and when it's relevant to use the choke. It often starts with 2-3 pulls.
The fuel lasts for about 45 minutes of active leaf blowing, which feels a tad short. However, while using it there are no problems holding the leaf blower on the right angle from an ergonomic point of view. It weighs just over four kilos and produces very few vibrations.
It gets a bit heavy towards the end, but underneath it there's an extra handle which is handy at these times. And it’s useful if you're going to be blowing on more awkward angles or where there's garden furniture in the way. The build quality feels good, and it's easy to change between different accessories. The rubberised grip is comfortable to hold, but the throttle could have been partially rubberised too.
Overall, this is a well-made leaf blower with a lot of power that's straightforward to use once you've got the hang of it.
+ Double handle
+ Quite powerful
+ Adjustable throttle
- A bit of a learning curve
- Hefty price tag
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