Important facts to remember when closing in on a blower purchase

April 19, 2023 -  By
Manufacturers design backpack blowers to provide comfort even on time-intensive jobs. (Photo: Stihl)

Manufacturers design backpack blowers to provide comfort even on time-intensive jobs. (Photo: Stihl)

Blowers are a key piece of many maintenance jobs. They offer an effective way for contractors to move materials like grass, leaves and more. With efficiency as crucial as ever, they are a time-saving machine for crews.

John Powers, director of product management at Echo, and Jeff Taylor, product services manager for Stihl, offer tips on how to decide if a backpack or handheld blower is best for your maintenance operation.

What’s it for?

The No. 1 thing to know before you purchase a blower — either of the handheld or backpack variety — is what jobs crews will use them for the most.

“There are several things to consider, including power and versatility,” says Taylor. “If you plan to use your blower for extended periods of time, a backpack blower can provide a more comfortable design. A backpack blower is also good if you have a large clearing site or if you need to move wet leaves and other heavy debris.”

Taylor says handheld blowers are solid options for contractors who need to blow grass clippings off small areas like driveways, sidewalks and patios. They also weigh less than their backpack counterparts. Although handhelds are lighter and easier to transport, Taylor says backpack blowers are still the preferred option for many jobs.

“The weight is evenly distributed on the user’s back, making them more comfortable to carry,” he says. “(A backpack blower) will also offer a higher blowing force (newtons) and air velocity (mph) than a handheld blower.”

What else?

In terms of output, Powers says the difference between a backpack and a handheld blower is significant.

“They’re usually multiple times more powerful. We’re not talking just 10 or 20 percent,” he says. “Because of that power difference, (backpack blowers) are significantly better for moving heavier material or clearing off larger areas.”

Another significant difference between the two options is price. Generally, handheld blowers are less expensive than backpack blowers. Taylor says a heavy-duty commercial handheld blower will typically run equivalent in cost to an entry-level backpack blower.

Powers suggests having a mix of both types of blowers available for crews in case their routes or properties require both.

“Sometimes it’s a good idea to have a mix (of both handheld and backpack), and we’ve seen contractors who do that to cover all of their bases,” he says.

Charged and ready

Although traditional gas-powered backpack blowers remain popular with contractors, their battery-powered equivalents have continued to gain popularity.

“The industry continues to make advancements on the battery side to provide the power and run times needed for working professionals,” says Taylor. “Battery technology is advancing as well with the development of power-laminate cell technology.”

While that technology is indeed advancing, Powers believes there’s still a long way to go. Much of that gap between gas and battery comes from energy density, he says. 

“The issue is run time, and a lot of that comes down to just the energy density of lithium-ion batteries versus gas,” he says. “Gas is much more energy dense, which allows gas backpack blowers to have longer runtimes because they’re able to carry more energy in the fuel tank relative to a battery.”

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Rob DiFranco

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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