Blower vacs on test
Autumn is prime time for garden tidying. Rosie yeomans tests and rates 11 leaf blower vacs so you can find one to suit your needs
Make clearing leaves a blast
If you’re looking for ways to make light work of the autumn clear-up, you might be tempted by a blower vac. With leaf-fall season upon us, we’ve tested combination garden blowers, with vacuum and shredding facilities, to help you make the best choice. These machines blow leaves, grass and light hedge clippings into a heap, which they then vacuum up and shred into a holding bag. The products we tested are powered either by petrol engine or electric cable and our comparison test showed that weight and noise levels varied between individual machines, the loudest ones rating at a similar level to a motorbike for noise. If your garden is large, then the cable-free flexibility of petrol-driven models, with powerful motors that clear leaves quickly, make them a sensible choice. Cabled, electric machines are lighter, a bit quieter, less expensive and less powerful, making them the practical choice for smaller gardens and lower budgets. You can buy a cordless blower but cordless combination machines for the garden are not currently available at a domestic pricepoint. All machines needed some assembly when taken out of the box and, once in use, most needed a change of attachments when moving from blower to vacuum mode – which adds time to the task. We’ve grouped the electric machines into ‘single-use assembly’ for those that need changing, while the ones that switch functions without the attachments being changed are labelled ‘combined assembly’. Testers found it easier and therefore enjoyed using the machines that had both modes available without a need to switch attachments, however, these did not always achieve the best results for performance.