by Brad Nelson 8/12/16
My reliable, if difficult-to-start, Black and Decker leaf blower finally gave up the ghost. It was a gas-powered unit. The advantage of gas-powered is freedom from an electric cord. And that’s about the only advantage I can think of. They are noisy, hard to start, smelly (I have to air it out before storing it indoors), and messy.
I got so frustrated with the problems of a gas leaf blower that I took a good look at the electric-powered ones. And you’ll never, ever get around the problem of the electric cord. But I’ve found it’s a trade-off well worth it.
I settled on the Toro 51619 Ultra Blower/Vac ($69.00) because of the preponderance of good reviews. And I don’t regret it. This sucker has power. And, unlike my old Black and Decker blower, this Toro unit actually does suck which is a yuge advantage. If you’re just blowing stuff into a neighbor’s yard, you don’t need to suck anything up. But eventually you’ll blow stuff into a pile and the ability to vacuum/mulch the leaves is a huge plus. It’s easy and quick.
Plus, the vacuum/mulcher is great for vacuuming hard-to-blow areas such as beauty bark. I can suck leaves right off the top of it. And I find myself using the vacuum feature as much as I do the blower. Sometimes it’s just easier to suck the stuff up than to just blow it all over, especially if it’s a day with any kind of wind.
Also of extremely valuable use is the variable-speed dial on this unit (which is why you don’t want to get the next cheaper unit down). If you need to dial it back around flowers and such, this is great. And, of course, just the ability to turn it off for a moment is convenient as opposed to a gas blower which is more problematic in this regard.
Get yourself a long cord and you’ll be fine. The slightly more expensive $99.00 Model 51621 has a metal shredder (for finer shredding — 97% as opposed to the 51619’s 88%). It also has an “oscillating nozzle kit” that automatically sweeps from side to side without moving the wrist. I’ll move my wrist, thank you. And the more expensive model is a little heavier (8.9 lbs. as opposed to 8.5). I opted for the less expensive unit because the lighter the better and the advantages of the other features seemed dubious.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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