PROD­UCT TEST TEAM: TORNADIC BLOWERS

THE NEW GEN­ER­A­TION OF BAT­TERY-POWER BLOWERS MAKE AN IDEAL TOOL FOR THE FARM.

Successful Farming - - CONTENTS -

The look on Cory Hall’s face said it all when I handed him the tool I had asked the Win­ter­set, Iowa, farmer to eval­u­ate. “I’ll ad­mit, I was dis­ap­pointed,” Hall re­calls. “What in the heck was I sup­posed to do with a leaf blower around here?”

Due to ad­vances in bat­tery ca­pac­ity and brush­less mo­tors, leaf blowers have grad­u­ated to high-vol­ume blowers, of­fer­ing farm­ers the ul­ti­mate por­ta­ble clean-up tool for their op­er­a­tions.

“My dad and I soon dis­cov­ered it could be used to clean out our trail­ers,” says Bryson Hall (pic­tured above blow­ing out a trailer with a live floor). “That thing will blow a foot of corn out of a trailer in no time.”

The Halls also found myr­iad chores for their Worx Tur­bine WG591 to tackle – from clean­ing out grain bins (“They cut clean­ing time in half,” Cory ob­serves) to blow­ing out a com­bine (“With­out hav­ing to get air hoses and a com­pres­sor out. We can use it in the field at the end of the day,” Bryson adds).

Agri­cul­ture.com reader Buck­farmer uses his blower to “su­per­charge a burn­ing brush pile or stump. A pile that may take a day can be burned in just a few hours with the help of lots of air,” he ex­plains.

OF­FER­ING CA­PAC­I­TIES NEARLY AS GOOD AS GAS

Cer­tainly gas-power blowers are avail­able that turn out more air (some mod­els turn out up to 700 cfm) than the bat­tery-power units com­pared in this Prod­uct Test Team re­port (see page 38). But the ad­van­tage to bat­tery blowers is their con­ve­nience. They don’t need fuel (and you avoid the mess of mix­ing gas and oil re­quired for two-cy­cle en­gines), en­gine oil, or re­lated main­te­nance items such as fil­ters.

In ad­di­tion, bat­tery-power blowers gen­er­ate less noise and heat, and they are lighter and smaller than gas-power mod­els. As long as you keep the bat­ter­ies charged (recharge times vary from 30 to 90 min­utes), bat­tery blowers of­fer in­stant on-the-spot start­ing.

SIZING UP CA­PAC­ITY

Un­like other cord­less tools that of­ten re­veal their work ca­pac­ity by the tool’s volt­age, higher volt­age doesn’t al­ways equate to greater work power with cord­less blowers. In­stead, the first-cut gate to em­ploy when sizing up a tool is how many miles per hour (mph) and cu­bic feet per minute (cfm) the blower gen­er­ates.

A mph rat­ing is self­ex­plana­tory but can be de­ceiv­ing when this mea­sure of per­for­mance is used alone. Of­ten, man­u­fac­tur­ers will only list mph rat­ing. A blower that turns out 160 mph ap­pears im­pres­sive. But if the vol­ume of air that blower gen­er­ates at that speed is low, the tool will have a lower ca­pac­ity to move ob­jects.

As such, you will want to first fo­cus on a blower’s cfm ca­pac­ity. This rat­ing mea­sures the vol­ume of air mov­ing through the blower in one minute.

A sim­plis­tic ex­am­ple of mph vs. cfm can be made by com­par­ing a house broom to a shop broom. A house broom, mea­sur­ing 12 to 15 inches wide, can be swung back and forth faster creat­ing (in this sim­plis­tic com­par­i­son) a higher mph rat­ing. But a 24- to 36-inch-wide shop broom moves more dirt with one mo­tion, creat­ing more work vol­ume, or cfm.

But cfm is mean­ing­less if it is not mov­ing fast enough, which is why mph is also im­por­tant. Ide­ally, you want the best of both worlds: a blower that turns out a high vol­ume of air at a high speed.

The other fig­ure worth con­sid­er­ing when buy­ing a blower is a tool’s watt hours. Un­for­tu­nately, this fig­ure is rarely dis­played on the

tool. In­stead, man­u­fac­tur­ers pre­fer to list a tool’s out­put volt­age, which is a gen­eral in­di­ca­tor of power.

An­other rat­ing of­ten listed by man­u­fac­tur­ers is bat­tery amp hours. In sim­plis­tic terms, “amp hours de­scribe the size of the bat­tery’s fuel tank,” ex­plains Bob Hunter, tool eval­u­a­tor for Wood mag­a­zine, Suc­cess­ful Farm­ing mag­a­zine’s sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion. “The higher the amp-hour rat­ing, the longer a cord­less tool will run.”

There is an in­ter­re­la­tion­ship be­tween bat­tery volt­age and amp hours. This ex­plains why the Mil­wau­kee 2728-21HD, which has the low­est volt­age of the tools listed be­low, can still turn out a high vol­ume of air. The Mil­wau­kee tool feeds from a 9-amp-hour bat­tery.

To level the field when com­par­ing bat­tery blowers, cal­cu­late a tool’s watt hours by mul­ti­ply­ing its volt­age by amp hours. In the case of the Mil­wau­kee blower, that would be 162 watt hours. Team the Mil­wau­kee blower up with that com­pany’s newly in­tro­duced 12-amp-hour bat­tery, and you have a tool that turns out 216 watt hours of work, which makes it com­pet­i­tive with blowers with higher volt­age.

Other fea­tures

There are a num­ber of fea­ture dif­fer­ences that ex­ist among cord­less blowers that are worth con­sid­er­ing when buy­ing these tools.

• Brush­less mo­tor. This state-of-the-art ad­vance in cord­less tools elim­i­nates brushes and a phys­i­cal com­mu­ta­tor, greatly boost­ing mo­tor life and ef­fi­ciency.

• In­line fan de­sign. All the mod­els listed be­low (ex­cept for the DeWalt unit) use ax­ial fans to pro­pel air in one di­rec­tion through the blower, which can boost tool ef­fi­ciency com­pared with cen­trifu­gal fan blowers. All the in­line fan mod­els listed draw air in from the rear of the blower and away from cloth­ing, which can re­strict air­flow.

• Vari­able speed. Be­ing able to slow a blower down comes in handy when fin­ish­ing out a grain bin or a shop floor; it raises less dust.

• Cruise con­trol. Some form of a trig­ger lock­ing mech­a­nism is avail­able on all the blowers listed ex­cept the Stihl unit. The ad­van­tage of a lock is that it saves stress on the trig­ger fin­ger.

• Bat­tery gauge. A gauge that in­di­cates bat­tery level may not seem like a big thing, but this fea­ture proves its worth on blowers since they are en­ergy hogs com­pared with other cord­less tools.

Bryson Hall

Cory Hall

The 56-volt Worx MaxLithium Tur­bine (model WG591) that the Halls eval­u­ated em­ploys an ax­ial fan de­sign to pull air di­rectly through the blower, which re­duces air fric­tion and in­creases ef­fi­ciency.

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