The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of tech gear

How We Tested Cordless Leaf Blowers

Thursday July 11, 2019

To find out which cordless leaf blower really blew away the competition, we began by doing a huge amount of research on this category of products, then picked out which of these electric yard tools showed the most potential and had the best shot at winning. We then bought all these blowers to test out in a series of head-to-head evaluations and assessments, divided into four weighted rating metrics.

Power


Starting off, we rated and compared the power each blower has. The vast majority of these products measure — and heavily market — their maximum airspeed, this doesn't necessarily correlate to more performance, as it is a combination of both maximum air speed and air flow. To test out the blowing power of each leaf blower, we conducted a trio of different tests.

We took to some local bike baths to conduct some tests.
We took to some local bike baths to conduct some tests.

Starting off, we used these products in all sorts of different situations, cleaning off leaves and pine needles from decks, porches, and parking lots — even going around and clearing some local bike paths. After all that, we had a pretty clear idea of which blowers packed a punch, allowing you to quickly and easily clear a driveway sized area with minimal effort, and which ones were on the weaker side, requiring you to chase debris around to effectively move it.

Clearing off pine needles scattered about on a local bike path.
Clearing off pine needles scattered about on a local bike path.

However, we did want to do some quantitative power testing as well. First, we spread out some sand on our asphalt parking lot, then lined up the tube of each blower at the starting point and turned it on at its high setting, measuring how far away it could send the sand and awarding points based on its effective and absolute maximum range. Additionally, some of the blowers have a "Turbo" mode, so we repeated this test and tweaked their scores if the performance was markedly better and it was viable to actually use this mode to clean. We did notice that all of these blowers have a spike in power right when you turn them on if the battery is at 100% charge that quickly dissipates, so we ran each cordless blower for two minutes on medium before this test to account for that.

Starting the sand test.
Starting the sand test.

Finally, we added a bit of whimsy to our testing procedure and measured how high each blower could levitate a beach ball for our final power test.

The RY40460 sending our beachball out of reach.
The RY40460 sending our beachball out of reach.

We set up each blower with the nozzle level, then delicately placed an inflated beach ball into the air stream and let it settle. We then scored each blower on the height between the top of the nozzle to the beach ball.

Battery


Following our power assessments, our next set of test dealt with what makes these cordless leaf blowers cordless: batteries. In this metric, we looked at how long each blower lasted and how long it took to recharge a 100% depleted battery.

To test out and compare the effective battery life of each blower, we started each product with a fully charged battery, then ran it on high until it died. However, we did take into account the different tools that had a Turbo mode and repeated the test on this mode for those models. We then awarded points for those blowers based on simulated normal use, assuming you use them on High for 70% of the time and Turbo for the remaining 30%.

The battery on this model slides in really easy.
The battery on this model slides in really easy.

Once we had completely discharged a battery for each tool, we timed how long it took to recharge completely with the included charger, awarding scores based on how it compared to the rest of the group and to the manufacturers' claimed recharge time.

Ergonomics


Next, we had our testers and judges rate and score the ergonomics and comfort level of each leaf blower. Primarily, we compared how a product felt to grab and how balanced it is, as well as its overall weight with a battery installed and the location of the air intake.

We had a variety of different people use the blowers to see how comfortable the grip is for different hand sizes, having our judges note any products that had a particularly uncomfortable grip or any that had sharp edges or pressure points that would cause discomfort after extended periods of use.

We like the easy to press button to activate cruise control.
We like the easy to press button to activate cruise control.

Following that, we looked at how balanced each leaf blower is. By balance, we are referring to the angle of the nozzle when holding it normally. We were looking for products that naturally held an effective angle for sweeping and blowing leaves without any additional work on your part, as it becomes exceptionally fatiguing if you have tartinghold up the leaf blower to get the proper angle.

Models without a trigger can be gripped anywhere.
Models without a trigger can be gripped anywhere.

Speaking of fatigue, we then measured the weight of each cordless blower with the battery installed, awarding the most to the lightest and the least to the heaviest product.

Finally, we also compared the location of the air intake, deducting points from models that were prone to trying to suck in your clothes when switching hands or during normal use.

Noise


For our final round of tests, we rated and compared the noise level of each blower while in operation. Using an SPL meter, we measured the noise at the ear of the user while holding the blower normally.

Some models are much louder than others.
Some models are much louder than others.

Additionally, we also measured the noise level at a distance of 50' from the tool while in use on flat ground.

Conclusion


At this point, you should — hopefully — have a good idea of exactly what we did to test these products and have faith in our selection process for our award winners and overall scores.