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How we test leaf blowers

By Adelaide Gray

Find out how we test leaf blowers to reveal which collect autumn leaves with minimal effort. Only the best become Best Buys.

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Our recommended Best Buy leaf blowers and leaf blower vacs take the hard work out of clearing autunm leaves. They shift piles of leaves so your garden looks smart and tidy, and they're easy to use.

Our field tests and reviews of corded electric, cordless battery-powered and petrol leaf blowers and leaf blower vacs are designed to sort the outstanding models from the poor machines that require too much effort to collect the leaves.

Read on to find out the lengths we go to in the Which? field tests to find the best leaf blowers and leaf blower vacs. Our reviews answer all the most crucial questions about leaf blowers and leaf blower vacs, including:

  • How well will it shift wet leaves?
  • Will it blow the leaves everywhere?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • How noisy will it be?
  • Can it tackle leaves on gravel?
  • Should I buy it?

Go straight to our leaf blower reviews to discover the best and worst models. To find out more about our testing, read on.

How well will it blow leaves?

We test each different type of leaf blower on a range of surfaces, including hard surfaces, gravel and grass.

When testing leaf blowers, we measure how much time and effort it takes to blow an area of lawn clear of leaves, and how well each leaf blower clears wet, stuck-down leaves from a patio. We rate how easily it blows out leaves trapped in a flower border, too, and whether it damages the surrounding plants. 

We rate how easy it is to blow the leaves into a neat pile

We have a range of testers who rate each blower on how easy it is to use. Our ease-of-use tests cover how easy the leaf blowers are to assemble, how comfortable the operating position and controls are; how easy it is to get to leaves stuck around obstacles; and how easily the blower is to clean and store after use.

Will the leaf blower vac collect all my leaves?

There are big differences in how well leaf blower vacs collect leaves. Some models collect all the leaves, even if they're damp, and can cope with the occasional twig or crab apple, but others will regularly get blocked. We test all leaf blower vacs on gravel to make sure they suck up any garden debris but leave the stones behind. Check the star ratings in the test results section of each of our leaf blower vac reviews to see how different models stack up.

It’s also helpful to know how well leaf blower vacs shred the leaves and fill the collection bag.  We’ve come across leaf blower vacs that pass the leaves virtually uncut into the bag, meaning that it needs emptying frequently and then leaks water from the damp leaves all over your leg, which is why each of our reviews shows you how we rate the collection bag of each blower vac. 

Is the leaf blower or blower vac easy to use?

A great leaf blower or leaf blower vac should take the hard work out of clearing your autumn leaves. But some models are much easier to use than others, so we carry out tests and checks to find out which will help you collect without any hassle and which ones will give you a hard time.

  • We weigh the leaf blowers and blower vacs so we can tell you how much you’ll have to lug around.
  • We check how easy (or not) it is to assemble and take apart each leaf blower or blower vac, including removing, replacing and emptying the collection bag, and how easy the machine is to store.
  • We also test the convenience of using the controls and manoeuvring the blower or blower vac around obstacles.
  • Finally, we note other essentials such as how long the cable is, how long the battery lasts on cordless models, and how easily the force of the air can be controlled.

Our overall ease-of-use star rating takes into account these factors, so you can see at a glance how easy a leaf blower or leaf blower vac is to use. The rating also takes into account feedback from our gardening experts about how easy the models were to use. Check the test results page of each leaf blower or leaf blower vac review to see star ratings for overall ease of use.

Should I buy it?

Each of the assessments described above goes part way to making up a total test score, which is the percentage figure we award each leaf blower or leaf blower vac. But certain assessments are more important than others and so carry different weights:

Leaf blowers

  • 60% How well the leaf blower clears leaves from flower beds, lawn and hard surfaces
  • 40% Ease of use

Leaf blower vacs

  • 30% How well the leaf blower clears leaves from flower beds, lawns and hard surfaces
  • 30% How well the leaf blower vac clears leaves from gravel and lawns and shreds the leaves
  • 40% Ease of use

Leaf blowers and leaf blower vacs need to score 70% or over in our tests to be awarded a Best Buy.

Don't Buy leaf blowers and leaf blower vacs are models that have scored less than 40% in our tests.

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