Garden leaf blowers and vacuums have been with us since the 1970's and have revolutionised how we care for our gardens at home and also commercially. They take the chore and hard work out of time consuming tasks such as clearing leaves and debris and assist the gardener in creating a clean overall appearance to their land. Simple and quick, this garden equipment can reduce hours spent on tedious garden tasks by half. Pathways, driveways, sidewalks and pool areas that have lawn clippings, sand, and debris or leaf droppings can be cleared in minutes so the garden enthusiast can enjoy more time on the more creative functions of gardening. It has also been an asset to the commercial world. The backpack leaf blower with its extreme lightness and carrying ease is perfect for cleaning large areas and keeping corporate outdoor areas tidy.
The rise and rise of the leaf blower and vacuum
Invented by Dom Quinto, the leaf blower was originally introduced to the United States way back in the 1950's. However its initial appearance was as part of an agricultural chemical sprayer. Following a survey, manufacturers realised that owners were tending to discard the chemical sprayer components and were just using the blower element. It then became quite clear that they were looking at an excellent and highly effective common lawn and garden maintenance tool. Thus the leaf blower was born and since then has spawned many different brands, sizes, makes, types and configurations.
So how does the Leaf Blower Actually work?
The basics of a leaf blower
Fundamentally the leaf blower comes in two varieties. It is either powered by gas or electric. In both cases, and like all garden equipment, at the hub is a two-stroke engine. We are more used to hearing the term four stroke engine when we are referring to our cars and aircraft. But a two stroke engine is more useful for this type of equipment for the following reasons:
• As two-stroke engines do not have valves, their construction is simplified and hence lowers their overall weight.
• Two-stroke engines fire once every revolution in comparison to four-stroke engines once every other revolution. This creates a huge power boost for the two stroke. Two-stroke engines also have the potential to pack about twice the power into the same space because there are twice as many power strokes per revolution.
• Unless it is upright a standard four stroke engine may have problems with oil flow. Two-stroke engines can work in any orientation. This is obviously important for this piece of equipment as it is likely to be used and various angles to gain optimum performance.
• All these advantages together make two-stroke engines lighter, simpler and less expensive to manufacture.
Within the engine itself is an 'impeller.' Together with the motor, the impeller pulls the air through a conduit that opens under the blower housing. At the same time, and to protect the engine, the air is drawn through an air filter. With petrol models bigger garden projects will require more horsepower as the two-cycle engines are often not as efficient as they could be in leaf blowers. At the exhaust end of the machine the air is now being expelled and used to blow leaves and debris away. You can also obtain convertible blowers where the bag can be attached to catch the leaves or debris which has been vacuumed up. This works in very much the same way as a lawn mower catching the cut grass in the 'grass box.' A mulcher facility compresses the vacuumed leaves into small packages.
One issue owners have complained about with the leaf blower and Vacuum is the excessive noise it makes. This is caused by the combination of the engine and the exhaust together. On the larger models which are used for commercial use the noise created has been recorded as high as 100 decibels. It is therefore highly recommended that when using a leaf blower the owner uses ear protectors. It should also be stated that electric motors are quieter than their petrol counterparts. Rather than this being to do with a smoother running engine, this is due to the fact that an electric model has not yet been developed with sufficient power to operate the larger machines.
Once the air is produced from the engine within the leaf blower and expelled through the exhaust, it is centrifugal force which actually 'blows' or moves the leaves in your garden to orderly piles.
Electric, petrol and battery operated
There are different types of leaf blower on the market which use different types of energy source. The three main ones available are gas, electricity and battery. All three uses the same engine set up as described earlier but they vary in the sense that different models are useful for specific tasks. For instance as electric models do not have as much power they are not normally used for the bigger jobs. However they are effective because they are lighter and so are more likely to be found in a domestic environment. The drawback with the electric model is they need a lead attached to the power source, and so the user is slightly restricted as to how far they can travel with their equipment. Where it is likely to be a large expansive piece of land that is worked on, it is more useful to consider a petrol powered leaf blower or a battery operated machine. However you should also be aware that battery life with a two stroke engine tends to be quite short.