As its name suggests, a handheld blower is designed to be carried by the user in his or her hands. This is achieved by shrinking the blower’s engine and fuel tank or a battery (with the obvious exception of corded blowers) to a reasonable size and weight for this exact purpose. The two above mentioned components compose the body of the blower, which is equipped with a handle. The body is connected directly to a nozzle, which should be long enough to reach the proximity of the ground comfortably.
Characteristics – What to expect from handheld leaf blowers
One of the necessities and frankly shortcomings of the handheld blower is its limited weight, which only allows for the use of smaller batteries, fuel tanks, and less powerful engines. This is reflected in their severely limited CFM, as illustrated by the graph below. The MPH remains reasonable in most cases, which is achieved by a smaller diameter of the nozzle.
Summarized in a single sentence – while the speed and consequently the impact force of the emitted air is enough to propel leaves, its volume per unit of time is significantly smaller compared to other leaf blower designs.
You can learn more about these parameters, visit our guide which breaks down CFM and MPH in further detail.
Handheld blowers allow for the utilization of all available power sources.
An electric handheld leaf blower may be powered by a power cord or a battery, both of which have their advantages and shortcomings. As far as the power source alone is considered, a power cord allows for larger currents and voltages, compared to a battery. However, it is often the case that the absence of a battery is the result of a cheaper design, rather than utilization of a more demanding engine.
A handheld gas leaf blower most commonly utilizes a 2-stroke engine, which requires oil and gas mix to operate. 4-stroke designs have appeared on the market in recent years as well. However, even those in some cases require the mixture, such as Stihl 4-Mix engine.
Handheld blowers offer a variety of common features, which we have grown used to seeing, such as variable speed controls and easy pull starters. Handheld leaf blower vacuums are also available on the market, along with mulching capacity, allowing for a convenient and less messy disposal of piles of leaves.
Amongst the electric models, the issue of autonomy vs. range must be considered. Battery-operated leaf blowers offer an unlimited range. However, once their batteries, which have a very limited capacity due to the weight limits of a handheld design, are depleted, you will be required to wait for up to several hours of recharging time before continuing your work.
On the other hand, corded designs limit the range of your device to the length of its power cable – they do, however, provide unlimited autonomy. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the size of your lawn and proximity of a power socket in mind when choosing between the two.
There are two issues to consider when dealing with the handling of a handheld blower – their weight, and the shape of the handle.
The topic of weight is straightforward, as it depends upon the physical abilities of the user and the intended amount of time spent carrying the device around – both of which can be estimated within reason by the size of your lawn. As for the exact values – the weight of small handheld blowers starts at 3.7 lbs for the lightest handheld leaf blower and the truly heavy devices can weight up to 17 lbs.
The choice of a handle is somewhat less obvious and usually requires good imagination, or better yet personal experience with the device itself. Since you may spend up to hours carrying your device around, it is wise to choose the most comfortable handle possible.
However, what must also be considered is the ability to carry the device two-handed, which allows for better accuracy when “aiming” your leaf blower. Not all handles allow for two-handed use and in addition, those which do are often designed asymmetrically and thus are unsuitable for left-handed users.
The main role in noisiness of a blower is played by its power source – electric leaf blowers will always be rather more quiet than their gasoline counterparts.
In comparison with other designs, handheld blowers can be in general less noisy due to their smaller size, although the modern designs of backpack gas leaf blowers may often feature noise reduction. Thus, in many cases, the values for the two are comparable, especially when dealing with those which go beyond 70 dB and in case of some brands exceed 100 dB. Thus, noise rating alone should not be the reason for a purchase of a smaller handheld device, rather than a backpack.
The prices of handheld blowers vary wildly, starting at roughly $16 for the cheapest handheld leaf blower and reaching $526 on the high end. However, it is reasonable to assume that lower-priced devices may be of questionable quality. But in general, the handheld blowers are, of course, less expensive than backpack and walk-behind blowers.
Our data suggests that the most popular blowers are produced by the following brands – Stihl, Ryobi, Worx, Echo, Toro. Some of these brands can be characterized by their niche, such as Stihl, which is a raw-power oriented manufacturer, or, on the other hand, Echo, who are known for the most quiet gas-powered blowers on the market.
Who are they for?
Handheld blowers are suitable for both amateur and professional users. However, they are limited in their power and autonomy – thus, unsuitable for large areas. On the other hand, the ease of use of these devices and their maneuverability outmatches other leaf blower designs. Summarized, handheld blowers are suitable for small-scale operations or tricky terrain where concerns over ease of use and price outweigh those of autonomy and power.
Handheld leaf blowers are easily the most accessible and user-friendly of all leaf blower designs. They rarely cost a fortune and due to their low weight can be utilized by almost anybody. They offer a wide range of viable power sources and have the widest selection of electrically powered models amongst the designs.
However, handheld blowers are limited by the weight which the user can comfortably carry and thus are less powerful and have lower autonomy times than their backpack or walk-behind counterparts.
- Easy to use
- Not expensive
- Often less powerful
- Limited by fuel tank/battery capacity