What would the perfect cordless leaf blower be? Wait…can we even call them leaf blowers? I certainly don’t use mine for leaves, I use them to blow sawdust on my job sites, my tools, out of my van and tool shed, or to clean off my patio and porch. They’re just blowers!
Comparing 15 Blowers
Fifteen manufacturers sent us their best handheld cordless blower. The majority of these blowers can be found in kit configuration and are sold at most common and online retailers. In past testings, we’ve received comments that we should include Harbor freight tools, so in this head-to-head test, we’re happy to welcome Harbor Freight’s Atlas blower to this test.
Model – 56994
Voltage – 80V
Battery Watt Hour – 288 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 150
CFM’s – 605 CFM’s
Length – 35-⅜”
Weight – 4lbs, 6oz
Price – 274.99 (when added kit components)
Model – CMCBL730P1
Voltage – 20V
Battery Watt Hour – 100 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 110
CFM’s – 410 CFM’s
Length – 33-½”
Weight – 5lbs, 7oz
Price – $149.00
Model – DCBL772X1
Voltage – 60V
Battery Watt Hour – 180 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 125
CFM’s – 600 CFM
Length – 36-¾”
Weight – 6lbs, 2oz
Price – $299.00
Model – DPB-2500
Voltage – 56V
Battery Watt Hour – 252 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 158
CFM’s – 549 CFM’s
Length – 36-¼”
Weight – 5lbs, 6oz
Price – $199.99
Model – LB7654
Battery Watt Hour – 280 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 200
CFM’s – 765 CFM’s
Length – 36-½
Weight – 4lbs, 11oz
Price – $329.00
Model – BLB489
Battery Watt Hour – 180 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 170
CFM’s – 730 CFM’s
Length – 37-1/8
Weight – 5lbs, 8ozs
Price – $342.99
Model – HLB07VNM
Battery Watt Hour – 180 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 155
CFM’s – 600 CFMs
Length – 37-⅜”
Weight – 6lbs, 12ozs
Price – $138.00
Model – KLB 1040A-03
Battery Watt Hour – 160 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 120
CFM’s – 520 CFM’s
Weight – 5lbs, 4ozs
Price – $169.00
Model – GBU01M1
Battery Watt Hour – 160 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 143
CFM’s – 565 CFM’s
Length – 33-1/2″, 35-1/2″, 37-1/2″ (ADJUSTABLE)
Weight – 5lbs, 5ozs
Price – $439.00
Model – 2824-20
Battery Combined Watt Hour – 288 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 145
CFM’s – 600 CFM
Length – 37-⅜”
Weight – 6lbs, 1oz
Price – $707.00 (not kit)
Model – R01601K
Voltage – 18V
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 130
Battery Watt Hour – 288 Wh
CFM’s – 510 CFM’s
Noise dB – 83.1
Length – 34-¼”
Weight – 5lbs, 7ozs
Price – $241.53
Model – RY404100
Voltage – 40V
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 190
CFM’s – 730 CFM’s
*Battery Watt Hour – 144 Wh
Noise dB – 84.6
Length – 37-⅞”
Weight – 6lbs, 4ozs
Price – $269.00
*Wh based on one battery
Model – BL4713-c-11
Battery Watt Hour – 100 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 193
CFM’s – 500 CFM’s
Length – 36”
Weight – 4lbs, 3ozs
Price – $159.00
Model – BGA 86
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 154
Battery Watt Hour – 337 Wh
CFM’s – 459 CFMs
Length – 38-½” (ADJUSTABLE)
Weight – 6lbs, 5ozs
Price – $839.97 (not kit)
Model – 51822
Voltage – 60v
Battery Watt Hour – 216 Wh
Max Air Speed (MPH) – 157
CFM’s – 605 CFMs
Length – 37-½”
Weight – 5lbs, 8oz
Price – $290.03
Cordless Blower Testing | 7 Criteria
Our goal was NOT to verify marketing claims, instead, we used ANSI testing standards as a guide, to create consistent, repeatable, and measurable data that you can make intelligent decisions on.
Our team scored the blowers on seven criteria, each ranked independently, and the “Overall Best Cordless Blower” was determined using the combined test results.
We include but did not rank price and best value categories, but list them here for your own informational purposes.
7 Scoring Criteria
- Pitot Tube Run-time Testing – Directly measure air speed with a pitot tube and calculate MPH and CFM during a runtime performance test
- Weighted Sled Test – tested the thrust performance with a sled rig on rails.
- Ergonomics and Features – Ergonomics is really important to users and an important category to consider when purchasing any power tool.
- Balance – Measured the balance and resulting rotation in the off and full throttle states.
- Noise -Measured Decibels at full throttle
- Best Value – Not ranked.
- Price – The kit price at the time of publishing. Not ranked.
Anemometer | Pitot Tube Air Test
I’ll be honest, I had to ask Jeff what a Pitot tube was. Jeff, also a helicopter pilot, explained that a pitot tube probe measures the pressure difference of an air stream and can calculate fluid flow velocity. The Pitot Tube was invented by a French engineer, Henri Pitot, in the early 18th century.
Pitot tubes are widely used to determine the airspeed of aircraft, the water speed of boats, and the flow velocity of liquids, air, and gasses in various industries.
When manufacturers test their blowers to come up with the MPH and CFM values they follow an American National Standard (ANSI) procedure to measure the force or thrust. This is effectively an electronic scale that measures the force in Newton’s 5 inches from the blower nozzle.
Using fluid dynamics theory and measured environmental parameters like temperature, pressure, and humidity, the average and peak MPH and CFM values can be calculated.
We replicated this ANSI procedure to validate the measured MPH values gathered from our pitot tube instrument. Both measurements aligned. Here’s a summary of that procedure:
- We used a 13.8 in ± aluminum plate as a force plate for our electronic scale.
- We vertically mounted and centered the blowers in our rig and off the force plate 5”.
- The blower was operated for 10 seconds, and the result was recorded.
- Three tests were performed for an average measurement.
- Barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity were recorded
- Used ANSI blower performance equations to calculate theoretical peak and average blower speed
Anemometer and Pitot Tube | Testing
The Pitot Tube was set up 5 inches from each blower in the center of the air stream. Batteries were fully charged and measurements were taken at full throttle. The data was collected at 1 Hz sample rate or once per second until the battery was drained.
An ExTech HD350 Pitot Tube Anemometer was used to perform this test. The chart below shows data for all 15 blowers.
Using this data we were able to determine and calculate 4 important metrics for each blower, ranked them separately, and also combined them for an “Airflow Performance” winner.
- Run-time in minutes
- Average Speed
- Average CFM
- Total air moved
Run-time | Sustained Performance Winner | Stihl
You can see from the chart that the Stihl ran the longest, at 25.4 minutes. Second place was ECHO with 19.4 minutes, followed in third place by Milwaukee at 16.7 minutes.
This is a good time to talk about open and closed-loop battery control and how it relates to sustained performance. One of the biggest complaints with cordless blowers is their poor run-time and tendency to suffer a drop in sustained performance over time, as the battery discharges.
Three blowers Makita, Milwaukee, and Stihl all have closed-loop control on the battery output enabling them to run at a consistent [not peak] speed, for the life of the battery. While these blower batteries may have more power that could be drawn from them, these closed loop controls limit the output so an expected level of sustained performance can be delivered over a longer period of time. This is a feature that appeals to Pro users.
In contrast, most of the blowers, we tested, showed open-loop control. Their peak performance was delivered within the first few moments of battery discharge, and then a variable level of declining performance results, as the battery discharges. For example, the Ryobi blower showed a 22% drop in performance when comparing a fully charged battery to one that is half “empty”.
The three closed-loop control blowers we tested, all handle the dwindling voltage of their batteries a bit differently:
- Makita ran at a consistent speed until it quit.
- Milwaukee ran at a consistent speed for over 90% of the battery life before rapidly fading.
- Stihl ran consistently for over 80% and then when the voltage began to drop, it forced a reduction to 75% peak power to continue on for an additional 5 minutes.
As pro tool users, we feel that having a blowers power stay consistent, and maintain its performance over the entire battery charge is really important.
Average Speed Winner | Stihl
Speed is measured in miles per hour and measures air velocity, or more specifically, the rate at which air passes through the blower’s nozzle.
A higher mph rating, results in the ability to push more dense or sticky debris like gravel or wet leaves. One interesting fact is that many tool companies market their blower’s performances by their PEAK measurement. We used average recordings to give you the MOST realistic and honest measurement.
The Stihl performed the best with an average speed of 124.5 mph. Second place was Milwaukee at 119.8 mph and closely followed in third place was Makita at 119.5 mph.
Note – The chart shows the EGO with the highest initial peak speed, but its average performance over time dropped, resulting in a fourth placement.
CFM Winner | EGO
Cubic feet per minute or CFM was calculated by taking the measured speed data and combining it with the area of the nozzle opening, to calculate the volume of air moved per minute.
The EGO came in first with 659 CFM. Second place was Makita with 643 CFM, and third was HART with 628 CFM.
The higher the CFM value, the more air your blower produces, resulting in a wider area cleaned in a shorter time.
Total Air Moved Winner | Stihl
The winner of this category is a combination of run-time and average CFM. This is an indication of the total amount of work performed on a battery charge.
The Stihl performed the best, coming in at 11,550 cubic feet, followed by ECHO with 11,126 cubic feet. Third place was Milwaukee with 10,032 cubic feet.
Overall Airflow Performance Winner | Milwaukee
It’s important to note that two of the above categories are power performance values, and the other two are indications of battery size and runtime. In order to level the playing field between tortoises and hares we combined all four categories to see how the blowers performed in totality.
The winner was Milwaukee, followed closely by EGO and Stihl.
Weighted Sled Test | Power Test Winner | EGO
Who doesn’t like a strong-man contest? We’ve touched on the importance of MPH and CFM, but the importance of where these two values intersect is the overall “force or thrust” that a blower can produce.
Manufacturers measure this force in Newtons in their development and testing. We developed a test rig to indirectly measure thrust and provide a good visual understanding.
We built a weighted sled that rides on low-friction wheels attached to inclined rails.
Prior to each blower test the rails and wheels were cleaned and lubricated with silicone. To perform this test we placed each blower’s tube onto a v-shaped rest, mounted to the sled. We placed the blower body onto a tool rest setting the blower in the same plane as the sled rails. Once set, we ran each blower for a 10-second count and recorded the sled movement on a measuring tape mounted to the sled. Three tests were completed for an average measurement. All blowers were tested with a 5.5 weight placed on the sled rig.
Two blowers maxed this test out, they were the EGO and Ryobi. We then added a second 5.5. lb plate and retested both blowers. The Ryobi was able to move the sled approximately halfway, while the EGO maxed out the rig a second time!
The sled topped out at 70 inches. Our chart below does not account for the additional weighted tests for EGO or Ryobi. EGO was the clear winner, Ryobi was second followed by Harbor Freight’s Atlas blower which was able to move the sled 66 inches.
Blower Nozzle or No Nozzle | What’s Best?
We wanted to see the direct impact of the nozzles on our weighted sled rig. The nozzles are designed to narrow the opening of the chute and increase the speed of air coming out.
Many people don’t realize that manufacturers will often use a nozzle to measure higher peak MPH values and will use the wider chute opening without the nozzle to list their peak CFM number. The same blower, but tested with different configurations.
Most manufacturers supply a nozzle because many users feel it increases performance, and they ask for it. The reality is that adding a nozzle may increase the localized air stream speed, but the added friction and constriction reduce the overall performance. [E.g Milwaukee reduces from 17.5 to 17 Newtons, but increases from 145 to 155 mph]
Our sled test results showed that adding a nozzle to the blower drastically reduced the blower’s performance on the sled test. For example, the Ryobi which was able to max out the test sled at 70-inches without a nozzle, was only able to achieve 58-inches with a nozzle. Similar results were observed with EGO and Milwaukee nozzles.
Ergonomics and Features Winner | EGO
This category is compiled from the combined opinions of the TBB crew after using the tools. Grip, throttle, battery removal, intake placement, and adjustable chute length were evaluated.
The EGO eked out a win with 10 points, followed closely by Makita and Milwaukee which tied for second place each with 11 points.
While all blowers had relatively comfortable grips, both the EGO and Milwaukee stood out. They have base stands that can double as a two-handed hold for overhead use or off-balance use.
Throttle | Trigger | Power On
When it came to evaluating the blower’s throttle, the TBB crew favored blowers with a single point of activation. Unfortunately, most blowers employ a boost button, which we feel is an unnecessary hassle and a marketing gimmick. Some of the blowers, like the Craftsman, have boost features that can be locked on – we preferred that to having to hold the button down. Pro users definitely do not want to have to engage a second button.
The Milwaukee throttle stood out with ambidextrous use and had a very responsive throttle control and no boost button.
Lastly, some blowers have a power-on switch, or safety feature, in order to power on the trigger. Most of the crew found these features frustrating.
Battery Insertion and Removal
When considering the battery removal and installation, the crew really liked those blowers, like the Kobalt, that offer a spring-loaded ejection.
Milwaukee lost points in this category by being the only blower to employ dual batteries.
Makita, along with Stihl offers an adjustable chute, with several configurations. We felt this may appeal to users who might want to adjust their blower chute to their height.
Air Intake Location
Intakes were also evaluated. The team favored rear-mounted over side-mounted intakes due to side-mounted intakes sucking in the user’s pant legs when held close to the body.
Balance and Rotational Force Winner | ECHO
Too much rotational force can result in a blower that you’re constantly fighting to control, or worse results in a wrist injury like tendonitis. Wrist tendonitis is frequently caused by activities requiring sideways motion of the wrist while gripping. Activities such as using a blower in a side to side motion can lead to Dequervain’s tendonitis.
Rotational Force Rig
We built a rig to hold each blower’s handle to simulate a neutral grip position. The rig allowed the blower to rotate freely on this axis.
We used some image analysis to capture the angle of the blower chute relative to the horizon. The angle at rest with the blower powered off was measured, followed by the blower in the full throttle state.
We considered two values to be the most important when analyzing this data and used their individual rankings to determine the blower with the best balance.
- Angle under load
- Difference between no-load and full load
The first was the angle under load relative to the horizon. We found the most strain on the wrist was felt when the blower wanted to pitch down directly at the ground, forcing the user to pull the blower back up to a useful working angle.
The blowers we tested pitched down between a comfortable 40 degrees, to a very uncomfortable near vertical 89 degrees.
The second value we considered important was the change or Delta between the blower at rest and under load. A well-balanced blower should have minimal change in pitch when the throttle is activated. A bower that swings a large amount is likely to be harder to control. The smallest delta observed was 15 degrees and the highest was 57 degrees.
The ECHO took the best Balance category. The Echo had a no-load balance of 19 degrees and deflected to 40 degrees down under full throttle. This comfortable 40 degrees nose-down attitude coupled with the relatively small change of just 19 degrees scored it top marks.
Craftsman came in second with a no-load measurement of 31 degrees and a full load of 46 degrees. Stihl followed in third place with 19 and 41 degrees.
Cordless Blower Noise Winner | Stihl
OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure based on a worker’s 8-hour work day. For noise, OSHA’s permissible exposure limit is 90 dB.
To measure relative decibels mounted the blowers. back into our rotational rig, and mounted a decibel meter 24” away from the blower to simulate the distance between a user’s ear and wrist. Three readings were captured and an average was recorded.
The blower that was the quietest was the Stihl coming in at 81.5 dB. The second quietest was the RIDGID averaging 83.1 dB followed by the RYOBI averaging at 84.2 dB.
The blowers that were the loudest were the DEWALT and ECHO averaging 97.9 db.
Best Price Winner | Hart
When purchasing tools, price is unquestionably a crucial factor, particularly for those of you who are just beginning out in the trades or are DIY/Homeowners just starting out.
We ranked pricing as *kits and with blowers that weren’t sold in kit form, we included a battery(s) and charger to even the playing field.
* Ryobi kit comes with 2 batteries.
At the time of testing, the best-priced blower kit was the Hart coming in at $138.00. The second lowest price was the Craftsman at $149.00 and the third was the Skil at $159.00.
The most expensive blower we tested was the Stihl BGA 86, coming in at $839.97. The majority of these blowers can be purchased at ACME Tool or your local big box store.
Best Value Blower Winner | Hart
Price and quality will continue to be the top deciding factors for consumers. In today’s economy, consumers are looking for ways to stretch their dollars further, and tool companies need a solution to deliver a well-made, powerful tool at a competitive price, without sacrificing quality.
As we have indicated, we do not include pricing in our overall scoring, but we include it and always suggest our pick for best value.
The Hart was an easy decision for us, it performed exceptionally well in our testing, and is priced the lowest, guaranteeing a seat at the “best value” table. Hart scored in the fourth place in noise, and mid-pack on pretty much all the other categories scored, finishing in 6th place.
Best Cordless Blower Winner | Milwaukee
Milwaukee 36-volt cordless blower came in first place scoring a total of 20 points. It scored tops in airflow performance, second in features and ergonomics, and fourth in balance.
The Milwaukee operates easily in either user’s hand and has a responsive trigger. Its sturdy base plate doubles as a secondhand grip, and the heads-up battery display is a nice touch. The crew appreciated that there was no boost or turbo button to engage, everything you need comes from the trigger. Milwaukee did suffer in the ergonomic battery scoring category due to the fact that it was the only blower in the lineup with two batteries. That second battery, while inconvenient, clearly helped push the power and runtime up where it needs to be.
The formidable EGO came in second place with 22 points. EGO scored tops in both ergonomics, features, and the sled thrust test. The EGO was clearly the most powerful of the blowers out of the gate. The open loop battery control and resulting performance drop over time coupled with the mediocre balance numbers pulled the EGO down from walking away with the top spot.
The EGO is a powerful blower but some users will find that they have to fight to hold it in position, it has a recessed throttle control which the team appreciated. Like Milwaukee, the EGO has a base stand that allows the user to place a two-handed hold for overhead use. Ego also has a nice spring-assisted battery removal feature, which one would not appreciate unless you were testing 15 blowers!
Stihl took third place with 25 points. Stihl took tops in noise and third place in both balance and airflow performance. The Stihl is a robust tool with a nicely designed spring-assist battery removal setup. The team liked that it has an adjustable-length chute, but did not like having to manipulate the awkward safety lever to power it on.
If you’re considering purchasing a blower you should first think about the application, you’re using it for, and then performance. A lot of these blower measurements we shared result in a compromise, so if you want our advice, we feel you should choose a blower that is “stronger for longer.”
Our Head-to-Head tests take time to complete and we are ultimately limited in scope as we’re not a professional testing company. We cannot do long-term testing that would shed light on longevity or durability, and we can’t possibly test every application that you might use a blower for.
We receive a lot of comments about how we arrive at our winner. We’ve openly shared ALL the data from our tests, and you can rank the tools however you want. In this article, if you hover over the line or column in our graphs, you’ll be able to see the actual values. Hopefully, you’ll find this Head-To-Head useful when comparing compact cordless blowers.
If you have a moment, please check out our other Head-to-Head Tests.