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hsvhobbit
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Posted: 11/13/2013 11:52:41 AM
I've got a healthy crop of leaves this year and to help move them out of the way so I can pick up my pecans I've decided to get a leaf blower. Does anyone have anything to offer in the way of experience with these things? I've had good experience with Stihl products so admit to some bias there. No close dealers for Shindiawa but husqvarna and echo dealers are an option. I'm looking at handheld in the sub $200 range if that's feasible.

This won't be something that ill use often. Probably once a week for the next month or two so an expensive backpack blower just isn't in the running.
Ironmaker
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Posted: 11/13/2013 12:01:19 PM
Buy the blower/vac combo. It is not that much more than the blower and the vac works great.
Never follow anyone shorter than you; they can walk under things that you can't.
walt_l
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Posted: 11/13/2013 12:02:33 PM
I've had a stihl for a long time but I'd have an Echo any time. ALWAYS starts and blows like a $3 whore!
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Posted: 11/13/2013 12:20:20 PM
As much as I love Stihl, I have about 5 saws riding on my truck right now, and 1 blower, I feel their hand held blowers have gone downhill. You used to be able to get German or US made, but now they all seem to be China sourced engines. My experience with Chinese Stihl products is not too favorable. Every saw on my truck is German, and they are stone reliable.

To be honest, I doubt you will find anything other than a Chinese blower in the sub $200 new price range. At least if you buy a Stihl, you will have the dealer network to back you up.
155mm
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Posted: 11/13/2013 1:24:06 PM
If you get the leaves every year, it might be worth it to get a backpack blower. The volume of air moved just can't be compared. What takes an hour with a handheld can take just 15 minutes with a backpack blower. So get that Stihl BR600
Sand_Man
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Posted: 11/13/2013 2:02:53 PM
[Jump To Reply]Originally Posted By Pvt_Becker:
As much as I love Stihl, I have about 5 saws riding on my truck right now, and 1 blower, I feel their hand held blowers have gone downhill. You used to be able to get German or US made, but now they all seem to be China sourced engines. My experience with Chinese Stihl products is not too favorable. Every saw on my truck is German, and they are stone reliable.

To be honest, I doubt you will find anything other than a Chinese blower in the sub $200 new price range. At least if you buy a Stihl, you will have the dealer network to back you up.


I second this. I own a Stihl backpack blower (BR600), line trimmer, and saw. Outside of some of their very high end saws I am getting less impressed with Stihl...I'd probably pick Husky for a saw these days. Like the last poster mentioned I think you should also consider a backpack blower if you have anything more than a small driveway to blow. The handhelds all struggle compared to a bp blower, w/the handhelds you have to be right next to what you're blowing but a bp blower will get the job done from 20ft away if you have a lot of ground to cover. I would opt for a Shindaiwa or Echo over the Stihl when it comes to handhelds, Stihl's homeowner grade stuff is over priced for what you get. Good luck.
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Posted: 11/13/2013 2:14:43 PM
To be fair, Husqvarna has the same issues to my knowledge. All I use are the professional line of Stihl products. They used to make a nice professional grade hand held blower, but that stopped at least 5 years ago.
hsvhobbit
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Posted: 11/13/2013 2:19:40 PM
Thanks for the advice and suggestions. While I'd love the extra oomph of a nice bp blower there's a significant price delta. If I was using this all the time I'd do it in a heartbeat. For the little use ill get from this though, I just can't justify the extra $3-400. While I'm looking this evening ill check out the husqvarna stuff but I noticed that even on the husky website the reviews of their own blowers are pretty harsh.
bmwguy
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Posted: 11/13/2013 8:34:53 PM
Get a back pack blower. they are worth it.

Use it as double duty.. I use my to blow dry my vehicle after I wash it.
armyintel87
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Posted: 11/14/2013 12:49:49 AM
Used to do landscaping in college. We used Stihl leaf blowers. Outstanding...always started and ran like a champ.

Now...our Echo leafblower...not so much.
jmt1991
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Posted: 11/14/2013 7:02:32 AM
I've had a Stihl BR350 for several years now and can't recommend it enough.
I thought about getting the BR550, but the 350 is more than powerful enough. I think the 550 might have moved my house off its foundation.
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Posted: 11/14/2013 11:06:36 AM
[Jump To Reply]Originally Posted By jmt1991:
I've had a Stihl BR350 for several years now and can't recommend it enough.
I thought about getting the BR550, but the 350 is more than powerful enough. I think the 550 might have moved my house off its foundation.

Yeah, they are like a jet engine.

One thing I've learned over the years is the "buy once, cry once"thing is REALLY sage advice. If the OP would spring for a couple hundred more he will forget the cost in two months, then revel in the benefits and glory for decades. My first Stihl chainsaw was made in the early '80s in West Germany and is still like new--with significant use every winter, as I own a woods and heat (part time) with wood.
hsvhobbit
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Posted: 11/14/2013 11:44:34 AM
Ok small update here. Went by one of the Stihl dealers and they've got me semi convinced about the 86c handheld blower. When I compared the numbers with a 350 and the 86 moves a higher cfm at a higher speed. The 350 is also twice the weight though that's mitigated by being a backpack. I can get the 86 for around $249 with the 350 being almost $390. Why is the 350 a better unit?

I get the buy once/cry once but I also weigh the benefits vs needs aspect. So help me see what I'm missing.
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Posted: 11/14/2013 11:50:19 AM
[Jump To Reply]Originally Posted By hsvhobbit:
Ok small update here. Went by one of the Stihl dealers and they've got me semi convinced about the 86c handheld blower. When I compared the numbers with a 350 and the 86 moves a higher cfm at a higher speed. The 350 is also twice the weight though that's mitigated by being a backpack. I can get the 86 for around $249 with the 350 being almost $390. Why is the 350 a better unit?

I get the buy once/cry once but I also weigh the benefits vs needs aspect. So help me see what I'm missing.

I'm basing my comments on my brother's experience--he's had one for about 20 years and he claims you will find uses for it far beyond what you expect. You can never have too much of several things in life, and power in power tools is definitely one of them.
155mm
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Posted: 11/14/2013 5:45:41 PM
[Last Edit: 11/14/2013 5:51:19 PM by 155mm]
I'm a bit confused by your post, I just looked at their website and you're comparing a professional unit (86) to a homeowner unit (350). The 86 is actually a little more powerful than the 350, even though the 350 is a backpack blower.

BG86: 459 cfm, 9.7 lbs.

BR350: 441 cfm, 10 lbs.

Edit: If you're going to spend $380 for the backpack blower, may as well spend another $50 for the smallest professional backpack model, the BR430 (500 cfm). Of course at that price point, you may as well spend another $70 and get the BR600, 712 cfm If you've ever been frustrated with a blower not moving wet leaves or crap like that, then you will never be frustrated again. Trust me, this thing will move rocks at full throttle!
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Posted: 11/14/2013 9:59:05 PM

i have a BG86 and it's a good piece of gear. i have put some serious hours on it in the last 3 years and it's a trooper.

that said, this year i bought a walk behind blower, and honestly i am kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

so now i use the BG86 first to push the leaves away from the perimeter of the house, out from behind the bushes etc, and into the lawn.
then, i push the Macho Grande walk behind around and blow everything (i mean everything: leaves, sticks, walnuts, squirrels, small children, etc) into the ravine.

the walk behind blower is EASILY 10 times faster than using any sort of man-portable blower. i can clear an acre in 40 minutes.

ar-jedi
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SigOwner_P229
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Posted: 11/15/2013 1:57:13 PM
[Jump To Reply]Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:
I'm basing my comments on my brother's experience--he's had one for about 20 years and he claims you will find uses for it far beyond what you expect. You can never have too much of several things in life, and power in power tools is definitely one of them.

This is so true. Once you have it you will find so many uses for it.

Some unusual things I use mine for are below.

Beekeeping: I use it to blow bees off the comb when harvesting honey.
Camping: when car-camping in a tent, with an air-mattress it's the best air-mattress inflator money can buy; or rather, why buy an air-matttress pump when you have a leafblower? Starting fires in wet wood and need to "blow" on things to get it going? Why sit there huffing and puffing and choking on smoke when you can sit in a comfy chair with your leaf-blower idling away on the fire? Control the air volume by restricting the air-inlet more or less.
Cleaning the best of my truck after hauling wood etc it makes cleanup a snap.
Sweeping the garage floor? Open the door, fire up the leaf-blower and send it all outside.
Numerous uses. I got my BG86 new this spring for just over $200. It was money well-spent for sure...
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Posted: 11/16/2013 12:54:16 PM
[Last Edit: 11/16/2013 12:55:44 PM by glorifiedG]
I have a Stihl BG 55, it does fine. I think it was under $200.
I call it as I see it, but not always..... Strategery
hsvhobbit
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Posted: 11/18/2013 2:10:54 PM
I went out Saturday and came back with the 86c . Got a limited chance to try it out on some damp leaves but I think it'll do just fine for me. Very easy to start and handle. Thanks for the help, y'all clarified some thoughts for me and gave me ideas for extra uses for this thing m
Boomer
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Posted: 11/18/2013 3:53:44 PM
[Jump To Reply]Originally Posted By Ironmaker:
Buy the blower/vac combo. It is not that much more than the blower and the vac works great.


Not in my experience. The vacuum function sucks, and not in the good way that it is supposed to. II has been pretty much useless to me.
Ironmaker
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Posted: 11/18/2013 4:04:00 PM
[Jump To Reply]Originally Posted By Boomer:
Originally Posted By Ironmaker:
Buy the blower/vac combo. It is not that much more than the blower and the vac works great.


Not in my experience. The vacuum function sucks, and not in the good way that it is supposed to. II has been pretty much useless to me.


I'm not sure what you are trying to do with it. My m.o. for rodeo'ing leaves is to blow them into a line or pile with the wind direction (which is often the opposite direction of my tree lawn). Then, switch it over to vac and suck up the leaves and carry them to the tree lawn. It works so well, my neighbors make piles and I suck theirs up too.

What I find does not work well is trying to suck up thin layers of leaves spread out on the ground (the vac wants to suck to the ground). It works much better when the leaves are in somewhat of a pile.
Never follow anyone shorter than you; they can walk under things that you can't.