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Leaf blowers are handy tools to call upon for big outdoor clear-up jobs, and cordless leaf blowers hold many advantages over their petrol-powered cousins. They carry less mechanical parts (so there’s less to go wrong), the lack of fuel reservoirs means you’ll have a lighter tool to lug around, and best of all they are considerably quieter – a factor your neighbours are sure to appreciate.
Why is it worth buying a cordless blower instead of a petrol one?
Cordless blowers can be a bit pricey when bundled with a battery pack and charger, and it can be difficult to justify the initial outlay, but most manufacturers will have a range of cordless tools in their portfolio which share interchangeable batteries. If you own an existing tool in the range, you can save a bit of cash by sharing the batteries and charger and just purchase a bare unit.
Because of the power leaf blowers need to generate, the operating times afforded by the batteries can be a little short lived, but most of the units below offer variable blowing speeds. Besides, you won’t need to run your blower at maximum speed for all the jobs in your garden. Less puff equals longer runtime.
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What should I do with the waste?
In most scenarios, the best way to use a leaf blower is to corral your leaves and twiggy waste into a sheltered corner of your garden or yard, then pounce on them with a broom and a bag.
Just be aware that it takes a lot of effort to shift damp leaves on wet ground, so try to schedule your job for a dry day or support your clean-up operation with a large, plastic-headed rake.
It should also go without saying that leaf blowing when it’s windy outside is madness and is like trying to herd cats. The best strategy here is to grab a cup of tea and wait for things to blow over.
We’ve been huffing and puffing with some of the best blowers on the market. Here’s five top choices to help keep your garden neat.
Cobra BV6040VZ 40v Cordless Leaf Blower / Vac
Bare unit £79.99 Cobra 40v Fast charger £39.99 Cobra 40V 4.0Ah Battery £124.99
This clever bit of kit from Cobra blows AND sucks (in the best of senses).
For leaf blowing action, the narrower of the two supplied barrels slots onto the body, with variable blowing power controlled by a thumb dial on the pommel. Flip the unit 90 degrees, attach the larger barrel and clip on the bag and the tool transforms into an effective outdoor vacuum.
Controls are easy to access and the unit feels well-balanced in use, with manoeuvrability being only slightly compromised when in vacuum mode.
The vacuum bag capacity isn’t huge so you’ll be making quite a few trips to the compost bin if you use it to tackle a leaf-strewn lawn in autumn (and expect a few ‘bagpipe’ jibes as you stride around the garden) but it’s brilliant for clearing up after chopping a box hedge or if you need to suck up small clippings from flower beds and borders.
Bosch ALB 18 LI
£129.99 (including battery and charger)
Bosch’s budget blower is aimed for light garden use and is powered by a Li-ion 18V battery – interchangeable with Bosch’s ‘power for all’ cordless range which includes both garden and workshop tools.
It’s super-light and agile in use, and whilst it might not be the most powerful blower on test, the pursed, curled-up lip on the barrel makes it ideal for reaching into tight spaces and helps maximise the blower’s performance.
Don’t expect to use it for big garden clean-up jobs (10 minutes of gusty fun is all you’ll get from a 3.5 hour charge) but for flushing leafy debris from delicate plants and for evicting dead leaves from a shed, you can’t go wrong.
Mountfield MBL 40 li
Bare unit £99 4.0 AH battery £128 Standard charger £33 Fast charger £78
Mountfields foray into the cordless blower market comes resplendent in burgundy and black and forms part of their Freedom 500 range, new for 2021.
It boasts a large 48V battery pack that slides in the rear of the unit, with ignition engaged via the electronic touch pad situated above the trigger. It takes a few moments for the 650W brushless motor to spin into action, but packs a real punch when in full flight, offering up three speeds.
At its lowest setting you can happily work away for a couple of hours – at top speed expect to get around 20 mins of furious leaf-blasting action. It’s a lovely, well-balanced unit to use, and feels reassuringly solid.
After use, the blower barrel detaches easily without a fight, ready for space-saving storage in your shed or garage.
STIHL BGA 86
Bare unit: £219 WithAP300 Battery and AL300 Charger: £551.20
For swift, silent shifting of garden debris, look no further than this windy wonder from Stihl. We found this a beautifully balanced, lightweight tool to use, with a responsive trigger switch enabling speed control with absolute precision.
With a gentle squeeze of your finger, you can move from breezy to storm force – ideal for clearing leafy debris from a gravel driveway without inadvertently pebble-dashing your car.
The barrel of this blower can be extended at a twist to suit your posture, and the unit can be used either left or right-handed. When loaded with a fully charged AP300 battery you’ll get around 20 minutes of furious, leaf-blasting fun.
Husqvarna 120 iB
Shell only £139.99 With BLI 20 and QC80 Charger £199
This smart, punchy blower from Husqvarna is a great choice for taming small to medium gardens.
Control settings are accessed via a touch keypad – a design feature on garden tools that’s not always receptive to cold fingers encased in muddy garden gloves – but we found it compliant and responsive to our demands.
The blower offers up three speed settings which should cover most scenarios – the lower setting gentle enough to work amongst delicate plants with the highest speed providing enough clout to shift twigs, leaves and clippings from the wet lawn we tasked it on.