Leaf blowers and vacuums have become almost a necessity for the house proud, the garden enthusiast and the businessman. They can save time, reduce financial outlay on tedious outdoor corporate cleaning tasks, and make keeping your garden clean and tidy a joy, rather than a frustrating and back breaking experience. There are various models on the market - all the big brands do their own designs and some versions are better for some tasks than others. So this article is all about dividing the wheat from the chaff (and the leaves!), getting down to brass tacks and finding out exactly what is out there and the best way to buy.
Sifting through the different brands
All brands will present a plethora of different models, shapes and sizes and it is a little awe-inspiring sometimes to try and work out what is good, and what is not so good. Below is a short list of fundamental points you should look out for basically these are all factors to do with your safety and how the individual model fits with you:
• First of all the leaf blower should comprise of an efficient vibration-dampening system to minimise vibrations from those parts of the machine that the user comes in contact with. This is essential if you are using the leaf blower for long periods as the constant vibration can be uncomfortable over the long term.
• Whatever the work you are doing you want a machine that suits the task, but at the same time all engines should be powerful and easy to start.
• Before purchasing your blower pay attention to the air speed which is produced and the subsequent air flow. This is going to be the 'tool' to make your task easy. The more powerful the better but don't buy a machine that is more expensive because it is more power than you actually need.
• When choosing a backpack model it should have a comfortable and load-reducing harness with hip belt and wide shoulder straps. This will lead to comfort and an even balance of weight during your garden or cleaning task.
The right Equipment for the task
The different leaf blower and vacuums you will see are:
• Backpack: This is usually a petrol powered blower where the machine is actually carried on the back in a canvas type rucksack. A lever juts out at the wearer's right elbow where the throttle is housed. This model is more powerful than its hand held counterparts and this is recognised by the larger exhaust at the front of the machine. Because this model is carried on the back the extra weight is not felt - in fact it is quite light weight. Because it is designed to be used over a long period of time (on large areas or projects) this model is much easier and more mobile than others.
• Handheld (petrol/electric/battery): Held in the hand this model is designed more for the homeowner clearing their garden and garage. Users may find it a little heavier to use than the backpack and you also have to manipulate direction a little more with the wrist action. As it is not as powerful as the backpack, it is perfect for a domestic environment. Due to the on board weight of the petrol it is a little heavier than the electric handheld counterpart. However the downside of the electric model is of course being restricted by the length of the lead to the power source. The solution to this problem is the battery operated handheld which by default is totally cordless. However it should be taken into consideration that the battery life on this equipment is relatively short.
• Walk behind Leaf Blower and Vacuum: The walk behind comes in different shapes and sizes but they are the heavy end of the blower market. They are really used more for industrial environments or if you are lucky enough to have large pieces of land that need clearing or tidying up. They work in the same way as a petrol mower. Easy to use with little need for exertion but the thing you need to take into account specifically is petrol use. Different models will need and eat up varying amounts of petrol. In the long run this could add quite substantially to your costs so pick one which is most thrifty energy wise.
Suck and blow
Sucking up the leaves and creating nice neat piles to leave patio, grassy areas and paths free is indispensible. You can also get blowers which come with a vacuum function. So as well as blowing the leaves and debris from the areas where you want them to be, you can also quickly vacuum them up into the machine. Some machines take this feature one step further with the 'mulching function.' What this does is suck the leaves up, shreds them and then compresses them to take up less space.
Silence is Golden
An issue to take into account when buying your leaf blower is they can be quite noisy. In fact records have shown that noise levels can be as high as 100 decibels. This may not be a problem for you (though it is advised you use ear protectors when ever you are using your leaf blower and vacuum) but there are your neighbours to consider as well. If noise pollution is an issue for you, consider an electric model as they tend to be much quieter.
Where to buy
Most people automatically think the most convenient place to buy gardening equipment such as a leaf blower is in the local DIY store - and it's true it is a great place to start. But don't forget there is probably an even more convenient place in your own home! The internet offers tons of articles and advice about how to use, maintain and look after your leaf blower. But more than that online stores make buying garden equipment an absolute breeze. In a good reputable online store you will not only get helpful hints, there will be an enormous range of brands, types and models. You will also have access to essential specifications at your finger tips.