5 On Your Side

Electric, gas blowers have different benefits

Posted October 12, 2010 4:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2010 5:51 p.m. EDT

When leaves cover the ground, a power blower is one quick clean-up solution.

Consumer Reports compared the pros and cons of various blower models so people can make a choice that is easier on their ears.

There is no question power blowers are noisy. Consumer Reports tested 32 blowers at a distance of 50 feet. Gas blowers are louder, but they are generally more powerful clearing up the yard.

Electrics are nowhere near as noisy, and they cost a lot less, too. The problem is, some electric blowers like the $30-dollar Homelite proved pretty wimpy.

A Toro Ultra Blower Vac tested almost as good at clearing leaves and debris as the best gas blowers.

“I like this Toro. It's powerful. It's lightweight, and the noise is easy on the neighbors," said tester Peter Sawchuk.

At $70, it's a Consumer Reports top-rated electric blower.

"A big drawback of all electric power blowers is that you need an available outlet. You're limited to the length of the power cord, which is about 100 feet," Sawchuk said.

A homeowner with a bigger yard will have to go with a gas-powered blower.

Consumer Reports says a good choice is a $140 model from Stihl (No. BG55). It did a great job cleaning up, and it wasn't as noisy as some of the other gas blowers.

Testers also recommend wearing ear protection, regardless of the type of blower someone chooses. Even low-noise blowers pose a risk to the user’s hearing.