How we test leaf blowers and blower vacs

CHOICE reviews leaf blowers and blower vacs in real-life situations to see which ones perform best.

Leaf blowers and blower vacs

If the leaves are starting to pile up in your yard, you may be considering buying a leaf blower or a blower vac with a built in vacuum. But how do you know which model is best for you?

Our expert tester

Our tester, James Thomson, knows how to find out which blowers are worth buying and which are just blowing hot air. When testing performance and ease of use, we use the leaf blowers in a real-life situation to see how they compare when it comes to clearing leaves and twigs from lawns and, in the case of blower vacs, vacuuming up the pile.

How we choose what to test

Leaf blowers come in electric, petrol and battery-powered cordless varieties, while some also have a vacuum function. For our review we include electric, petrol and cordless leaf blowers, and some with a vacuum function.

Our product researchers survey manufacturers to find out what the latest models are, as well as specifications. We try to include a range of brands and models found in both mainstream and specialist hardware stores.

Once a list featuring a range of brands and price points is chosen, our buyers then go through the arduous process of ordering the leaf blowers and blower vacs just as a consumer would, to ensure the manufacturer has not tampered with the unit in any way.

Looking for the best blower vac?

See our expert product reviews.

Blower vac reviews

How we test


The blowing test is conducted by spreading five kilograms of dry leaves and small twigs on a 20 square metre grassed area, to closely replicate a home lawn environment. Our tester James times how long it takes for each blower to blow all the leaves into a pile. He penalises the battery powered models that run out of power before completing the job. He tests the vacuuming performance of the blower vacs by timing how long it takes to convert from blower to vacuum mode and vacuum up a one kilogram pile of leaves and twigs, then he repeats the test with a two kilogram pile of leaves only. He uses the fastest times as the basis of the blowing and vacuuming performance scores.

He also measures the noise produced by each blower and we publish the highest noise level in our review.

Ease of use

James looks at:

  • Ease of manoeuvring the leaf blower, taking into account the absence or presence of a power cord and the weight of the blower.
  • Ease of using the leaf blower, checking how easily the machine becomes blocked, intensity of vibrations, trigger comfort and ease of switching between modes for blower vacs.

Test criteria explained

The overall score is made up of:

  • Blowing performance (65%)
  • Ease of use (35%)

As not all models have a vacuum, the vacuum scores for blower vacs are not included in overall score.

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