Garden Leaf Vacuums, Mulchers and Blowers
Garden leaf vacuums, mulchers and blowers are versatile, multifunction devices, designed for cleaning tasks in backyard gardens, lawns, driveways and similar areas. Such vacuums, mulchers and blowers may be powered using gas, mains power or they feature onboard batteries.
Regardless of their power source, these units share many similarities and design details, which can be very important when buying a new garden leaf vacuum, mulcher and/or blower.
Published: March 1, 2019.
Leaf Vacuums, Mulchers and Blowers Features and Specifications
When looking for a good leaf vacuum/mulcher/blower, there are several very important details to look for. These include:
- unit weight: these units weigh from just few pounds to dozen or so pounds. The lightest models are carried and operated with single hand, medium size units use shoulder straps to support longer use, and the largest ones are designed as backpack leaf vacuums, mulchers and/or blowers.
- air speed: medium size leaf vacuums create air speeds of up to 250 mph (400 km/h), allowing the units to tackle even with wet leaves and grass clippings. Large gas operated leaf blowers create even faster air flow, but they are often commercial units, optimized for 'leaf blower' operations.
Note: doubling the air speed, requires four more power, but the faster air can do cleaning tasks faster.
- air volume: volume of vacuumed air in combination with air speed shows actual power of leaf vacuum and its capability to do the work. Air volume depends on the power source and leaf vacuum/blower, but generally it varies between 200 and 600 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute).
- nozzle types: in order to do two opposite tasks properly (leaf vacuum vs. leaf blower), these units feature different nozzles, optimized for individual purpose. When being converted from blower to vacuum and vice versa, most of the units don't require additional tools - if they do need special tools for some reason, be sure to check it and if you don't like it, move to another unit.
- impeller types: most mulchers feature metal impellers which are heavier than plastic impellers and need more energy and time to rev up. However, metal impellers are much tougher and more durable when being used as mulchers. Good mulching impeller can shred grass, leaves and even smaller branches in 1:10 to 1:16 ratio - 10 to 16 gallons of loose leaves can easily fit into 1 gallon mulch bag.
- collector bags are used to collect vacuumed and shredded leaves, grass clippings and other organic material. Most garden vacuums feature collector bag positioned under the unit, just after the impeller, while some backpack garden vacuums feature backpack style collector bags. Also, some manufacturers offer large collector bags with or without carts and a long and flexible vacuuming hose. Which system will be chosen, depends on the individual needs and preferences.
- power source: there are basically three types of common garden leaf vacuums/mulchers/blowers and these include gas leaf blowers, corded leaf vacuums and cordless leaf vacuums.
Gas Leaf Blowers
Garden leaf vacuums/mulchers/blowers can be powered by internal combustion engines, but most of these units are designed as gas leaf blowers.
Gas leaf blowers use two- and four-stroke engines with onboard carried gas tanks. Two-stroke engines usually operate using fuel-oil mix, while four-stroke engines usually operate using fuel only, with oil being stored in separate tank, or withing the engine itself.
Gas leaf blowers are commonly rather strong units, featuring high air velocities with large volume and are able to blow away moist/wet leaves, grass clippings, branches and even sand and gravel.
Also, these units don't depend on the external power source and when the fuel tank gets empty, it can be filled quickly.
However, gas leaf blowers tend to be louder than electric units, they exhaust engine fumes and gases, their carbon footprint is not zero, when compared with electric unit they are maintenance intensive tools etc.
For short, gas operated leaf blowers are commonly used in commercial applications. For domestic use, electric garden leaf vacuums/mulchers/blowers are perhaps better solution. But, this is highly individual ...
Electric Corded Leaf Vacuums, Mulchers and Blowers
Electric corded leaf vacuums are powered using electricity and long extension cords, thick enough to supply 10-16 Amps of current with minimum of loses.
Electric corded units can be rather strong units, with impressive air velocities and large air volume. Also, they are much quieter than gas leaf blowers and very energy efficient, thanks to the newer brushless motors.
However, electric corded leaf vacuums depend on the presence of mains power and mains wall power socket. If they are not present, energy can be supplied via gas generators, but in that case, gas operated units are simpler option that can be even more energy efficient.
Most of the corded units feature so-called pigtail power cord - a very short power cord, requiring the user to have or to order properly dimensioned extension cord.
Extension cords used in the backyard gardens, workshops, lawns etc. should be thick, durable and colored brightly so that they can be spotted easily, even in the tall grass, thick layer of leaves etc.
As long as the mains power is present and the extension cord is long enough, electric corded units can do the job.
Electric Cordless Leaf Vacuums, Mulchers and Blowers
Electric cordless leaf vacuums, mulchers and blowers are powered via onboard batteries, supplying the required energy.
Cordless leaf vacuums may feature high velocities and large air volumes, but their operating time in such conditions can be rather short, for example, 20 minutes at most.
In order to extend operating time on a single battery charge, cordless units feature fine power adjustment systems, allowing the user to set the unit to desired/required level.
On the other hand, cordless units are rather quiet during operation, they have zero carbon emission, they don't depend on the mains power being present on location and when the battery is discharged, it can be quickly replaced with the new, fully charged battery.
Also, when being compared with gas operated units, electric cordless and electric corded units are much easier to store, use and maintain.
Note: cordless units are powered using lithium batteries which are far from being cheap. But, most popular brands manufacture various tools that can be powered using the same batteries. Thus, if you have the battery or batteries from one manufacturer, getting 'bare' cordless garden vacuum that uses the same batteries can be rather cheap.
Long Story Short: regardless of their power source, garden leaf vacuums/mulchers/blowers are not toys and they should be used according to the instructions, taking all required safety precautions and recommendations into account.
If you are not sure about something, check the manual/instructions or call support of the brand that you have - in most situations, they will gladly help.