Blowing Through Our History of Leaf Blowers
Preparing for this leaf blower comparison, I found myself reminiscing on the various leaf blowers we’ve owned over the years.
Audio Article – Cordless Leaf Blower:
During our landscape maintenance days, we used a 30 pound Echo backpack leaf blower. Resembling a jetpack, its two-stroke engine could move a lot of leaves in a hurry. It was also really loud. With the engine so close to the ears, heavy earmuffs were worn.
The Echo was a great machine, but it developed a persistent fuel leak that was never fully resolved at the repair shop. Eventually, we sold it and having less need for a commercial blower, we replaced it with an electric corded type.
A consumer magazine’s top rated electric model for homeowners, the Toro Ultra, performed except for the occasional issues you get with any corded leaf blower. The cords on corded blowers invariably hang up on something.
The other issue for us is that a single 100-foot cord never quite reached to the end of our drive, which means an extension cord was also needed. Then there was always the extra task of rewinding and stowing the cord. Yet, the leaf blower itself certainly was lighter and easier handling than the backpack blower.
Eventually, the Toro gave out after several years. It seemed related to having been left out in the rain… the kinds of incidents that happen more often with a young teen family member taking over as the primary user. The next blower, another Toro Ultra model, lasted around two and a half years with its teenage operator, and this time, the power switch failed. It was well beyond its warranty.
Given the potential added wear and tear of male teens, we can’t say for sure if it was man or machine that contributed to the demise of the Toro. But we moved on and decided to give the battery powered leaf blowers a shot.
Battery Powered Leaf Blower Comparison – Stihl and Greenworks
Greenworks Leaf Blower
Our next leaf blower replacement was a cordless 40-volt battery powered leaf blower manufactured by Greenworks.
This choice was actually due to an earlier purchase of a Greenworks battery powered pole saw. The investment in the pole saw, its power supply, and its charger incentivized us to purchase their cordless leaf blower that used the same kind of battery.
When we purchased the Greenworks leaf blower, we ordered another longer use time battery. Our experience with anything and everything battery powered is that there never seemed to be quite enough juice to finish the job.
To get the job done, you’ll want extra batteries.
So, a general recommendation for those out there looking for cordless tools is to consider if the manufacturer has other tools that use the same kind of battery. We have done this with the cameras, drills, flashlights, and various other devices. Greenworks also makes a battery-compatible cordless weed trimmer and a cordless chainsaw.
TOOL TIP: When purchasing any battery powered tool, consider investing in brands that use the same kind of batteries.
Stihl Leaf Blower
Having several properties to maintain, we saw the need for another leaf blower. Stihl is a familiar brand of well made and well reviewed outdoor equipment. Like Greenworks, Stihl also makes a line of cordless power tools, including a 36 volt blower.
We have used Stihl gas-powered chainsaws and weed trimmers for years. So, we decided to look into their BGA-56 cordless leaf blower.
A demonstration at our local Ace Hardware Stihl dealership showed us how well the Stihl blower worked. Of course, we went against our own advice and got a different brand rather than have two Greenworks blowers. This also set up for a side-by-side comparison.
Which is the best cordless battery operated leaf blower? Stihl or Greenworks? Here’s how they matched up.
Cordless Leaf Blower Comparison
The first thing we noticed about both the Stihl and the Greenworks blowers is how lightweight they are. With battery, the Stihl weighs in at 7.3 lbs while the Greenworks with battery weighs in at 9.5 lbs.
Weight can make a difference in operator fatigue when blowing a lot of leaves for a stretch of time. Also, both blowers are relatively quiet. Earmuffs or earplugs are not really necessary.
Weight Comparison with Battery
- Stihl 7.3 lbs
- Greenworks 9.5
Both the Stihl and the Greenworks cordless leaf blowers are relatively quiet, no earmuffs needed.
Which Blower has the Most Cordless Power Tools?
10 Implements compatible with GreenWorks 40 Volt system
- Pole saw
- Weed trimmer
- Hedge trimmer
- Powered garden cart
- Extension hedge trimmer
4 Implements compatible with Stihl Model 56/AK 36 volt system
- Hedge trimmer
- Weed trimmer
BONUS FEATURE: A blower to blower contest on a semi-closed track of dead leaves. Which blower does the better, faster job? Check it out here!
We noted also how well one leaf blower left a cleaner track than the other, though it’s not clear if it was the operator or the machine. 😉
Cordless Blower Speed Comparison
The Stihl has a variable speed trigger, however, it doesn’t vary so well. It’s actually a challenge to get the Stihl blower to blow less.
Stihl Blower: tends to function at mostly one speed.
The Greenworks has a dial for five different settings plus a button that maximizes the air force. It’s easy to manage blowing leaves off pine needle and bark mulch plus other situations where a lower speed is desired.
Greenworks Blower: variable speeds work well.
Leaf Blower Battery Life
We are equally impressed with the battery life on both units.
Greenworks makes a 2.0 Ah (Ampere hours), said to be good for about 15 minutes. We use use a 4.0 Ah in the Greenworks with the fully charged 2.0 as backup. Our observation on battery life is that it runs about 25 to 30 minutes Naturally, runtime depends on the power settings, ambient temperature, and user operation.
- Greenworks’ 4.0 Ah battery lasts 25-30 minutes.
- Greenworks’ 2.0 Ah battery is said to last 15 minutes.*
*NOTE: Exact battery life varies dependent on a number of conditions, such as temperature and power setting. We found that on an Indian Summer afternoon, at full speed, the Greenworks’ 2.0 Ah battery lasted 9.35 minutes.
The Stihl BGA-56 comes standard with a 2.8 Ah battery and lists a 20 minute run-time. They also sell a more powerful 4.8 Ah.
While the 36 volts motor is slightly less than the Greenworks the airspeed is quite similar. Check out our contest in the video above.
- Stihl’s 4.8 Ah batteries is said to last around 40 minutes.
- Stihl’s 2.8 Ah is reported to last 20 minutes
Leaf Blower Lithium Battery Systems
Two things to know about these lithium battery systems.
- Batteries operate at full power until failure
- Limited number of recharging cycles
Both blowers are designed to operate at full power without fading as the batteries drain. This is very efficient and you know definitely when your battery charge is spent.
The second feature is that these lithium batteries have a limited number of re-charging cycles. Both come in around 2000 charges before needing replacement.
Both batteries feature lighted power level display that shows approximate use time.
Best Way to Buy Cordless Blowers
The charger-blower-battery bundles are cheaper than separately purchasing the different components.
Rather than separately buying the main tool, the battery, charger, and any accessories you might need, it’s likely you’ll get a better deal if you buy them as a kit. An extra battery is also handy and you can alternate charging as the first battery powers out. While buying another compatible implement, consider going with the kit option as well.
Which Leaf Blower is Best?
If you are wondering which is the best leaf blower, here’s our take.
You can’t go wrong with either of these leaf blowers.
Leaf Blower Prices and Warranty
The Greenworks is priced about fifty bucks lower and has considerably more compatible tools. The Stihl has a lighter weight yet, at least as much, if not more power.
Stihl has a dealership network that offers support, service, and products. If pressed, we’d have to give Stihl bonus points for that. On the other hand, we really like the airspeed adjustment feature on the Greenworks.
- Greenworks carries a four-year warranty on their products.
- Stihl holds a two-year warranty on their blowers.
For the money, we believe Greenworks is the best cordless leaf blower.
One stealth feature we neglected to mention was that our Greenworks blower comes with a leaf vacuum attachment. The vacuum takes up leaves and shreds them into a bag.
While we like this added feature, we’re concerned about the potential for accidental ingestion of material other than leaves, such as sticks or small stones would do damage to the impeller blades.
Our history with leaf blowing equipment has certainly evolved from heavy, noisy 2-cycle gas burners to lightweight, low-decibel battery powered leaf blowers. By sharing our journey and offering a review of two high performing leaf blowers, we hope you found this helpful.
Leaf Blower Reviews from the GardensAll Community
Donna sent us an email and said:
“Yall need to try EGO on the cordless leaf blowers, FANTASTIC and VERY POWERFUL. I have the ENTIRE LINE.”
“Home Depot line… I even have the 56 volt batteries. They are heavier than the original ones, but well worth the extra weight and money. My push mower will last me an hour or more, depending on the height of the grass. It even has a headlight which I have utilized. The last piece I have to add is the trimmer, but waiting a sale, lol!”
Thanks for that tip, Donna! We’ll definitely look into it!
We welcome your, comments, observations, and photos on this timely topic. How are you managing with your leaf fall? We’d love to know… drops us a note.
G. Coleman Alderson is an entrepreneur, land manager, investor, gardener, and author of the novel, Mountain Whispers: Days Without Sun. Coleman holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. He’s a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a licensed building contractor for 27 years. “But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And in the garden, as in life, it’s always interesting because those lessons never end!” Coleman Alderson