Leaf blowers are a quick and convenient way to clear off sidewalks, driveways, patios and parking lots. They are available in varying sizes and strengths and can be mounted on your back or gripped in your hand. Electric blowers are better for the environment but are limited in power and range of use. Gas-powered blowers offer more power and greater convenience, but they are significantly louder and pollute the air. Determine what type of leaf blower to buy by factoring in the size of the yard, how often you will use the blower and how much power you need.
Calculate your yard size. If you have a large yard that will require an extension cord beyond 150 feet, a gas blower will work best. A gas blower is also best if you have many areas that require frequent cleaning of leaves and debris. For homeowners with smaller yards, an electric blower will be sufficient.
Decide whether a backpack blower or hand-held unit is best. Backpack blowers offer more power than hand-held blowers and are gas-powered only. They are heavy (13 to 23 pounds), so if weight is an issue or if your back cannot take the strain, purchase a hand-held unit. Hand-held blowers vary in weight (7 to 12 pounds), with electric blowers being lighter.
Test some hand-held units by picking each one up and holding it for several minutes, as if you were blowing off your driveway. Note the difference in weight and bulk in each unit.
Study each unit's specifications. Smaller electric hand-held blowers have an airflow somewhere around 120 miles per hour. That is sufficient for blowing off your driveway and flower beds. Gas-powered hand-held units have an airflow of around 140 miles per hour, which will move wet leaves very well. Backpack blowers have an airflow of around 180 miles per hour, enough to move dirt, gravel and sand.
Check the noise level in each unit, which is measured in decibels. The higher the decibel rating, the noisier the unit. Noise pollution is a consideration in areas where homes are close together and neighbors will be affected.
Stay within your price range. Electric blowers cost $40 to $75, as of early 2010. Gas hand-held blowers cost $85 to $240. Backpack blowers cost $200 to $470. Brand names, such as Echo and Toro, generally cost more but will be higher-quality. For infrequent homeowner use, less expensive units will suffice.