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Power blowers tested to find most effective

September 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A power blower can be a quick way to clean up your yard, but your neighbors probably hate the noise. Many municipalities restrict when you can use blowers and how loud they can be. Consumer Reports reviewed dozens of blowers to see if there is a good one that's relatively quiet. Consumer Reports tested 32 blowers at a distance of 50 feet and found that gas blowers are the loudest.

The electrics are nowhere near as noisy and cost a lot less too, but gas blowers are generally more powerful clearing up the yard.

By contrast, tests show some of the electric blowers, like the $30 Homelite blower that was tested, proved pretty wimpy.

But Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports found some electrics from Toro that were almost as good at clearing leaves and debris as the best gas blowers.

The Toro Ultra Blower Vac, which costs $70, is a Consumer Reports top-rated electric blower.

"It's powerful. It's lightweight, and the noise is easy on the neighbors," Sawchuk said.

Sawchuck said a big drawback of electric power blowers is that you need an available outlet.

"And you're limited to the length of the power cord, which is about 100 feet," he said.

If you have a bigger yard, you'll have to go with a gas-powered blower. Consumer Reports says a good choice is the $140 Stihl. It does a great job cleaning up, and it isn't as noisy as some of the other gas blowers.

Consumer Reports says with just about any blower, even an electric one, you should wear hearing protection when you use it so you don't damage your hearing.

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