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To start, CFM simply stands for the Cubic Foot per Minute. It is the unit of measurement for the amount of air a leaf blower can blow out in a single minute. Typically, the best leaf blowers have very high CFM while being light enough to be maneuverable.
This is in line with leaf blower manufacturers who aim to extract the highest CFM possible while ensuring all other factors such as cost remain constant. CFM is often confused with mph (miles per hour), which is a measure of how fast the air leaves the leaf blower. When manufacturers optimize their leaf blowers to shine on the CFM and mph front, the end product is a high-quality leaf blower that can best get rid of those pesky leaves and debris.
A leaf blower with a high CFM not only blows leaves fast but also blows them even further. This means you can clear up your leaves a lot faster than you would otherwise. It can also help you form better heaps of leaves, allowing you to work a lot more efficiently. This lets you get your work done a lot faster, leaving you time for other things.
What is a Good CFM for a Leaf Blower?
Though important, CFM is not the only metric that makes a good leaf blower. Leaf blowers come in all kinds of variations. Some are small and handheld, while others are larger and wheeled. They also range in their power sources, with some being corded electric, battery-powered, and some being gas-powered.
Handheld Leaf Blowers
These are the lightest and smallest leaf blowers. This makes them easy to move around and get into small spaces. For this leaf blower, an optimum CFM is from 350 to 600 CFM and pushes air at over 190 mph.
For the corded variety of the handheld leaf blower, you will typically find them ranging from 225 CFM with an airspeed of about 270 mph. These tend to be more comfortable to use since they do not have a battery and they become a lot easier to handle and maneuver.
Cordless handheld models have a range from 350 CFM at about 120 mph to about 580 CFM at 170 mph. Since they are powered by batteries, they tend to weigh a lot more when compared with their corded counterparts and demand a higher price tag. Their runtimes are comparable to the gas-powered and corded variety, though the batteries typically have a limited lifetime and have to be replaced.
Gas-powered leaf blowers have runtimes that match electric ones. Since they are handheld, they are designed to be light in order to maintain maneuverability.
Backpack Leaf Blower
These are big heavy machines that have to be strapped on your back to be maneuverable. They typically have a high CFM rating making them suitable for large properties with large piles of leaves. Their size makes them difficult to use in smaller spaces like under overhanging branches.
A good backpack leaf blower would have a CFM of about 580 at 145 mph to 632 at about 180 mph. These ratings and the ability to put them on your back means you can use them for long hours at a time.
Wheeled Leaf Blowers
These are the largest variety of leaf blowers, and as such, have the most CFM and blow air at the highest speeds. They are most effective for wide-open spaces such as public parks. They typically have a CFM that ranges from about 1080 at about 200 mph to about 2600 at about 200 mph.
Due to their size, they are not suitable for cleaning tasks as would be the case with other smaller models. Since they are wheeled and quite heavy, using them can be quite tasking on your body. Wheeled leaf blowers deliver a ton of power which gives the user a lot less control, especially for work that needs to be a lot more precise.
Are CFM Values a Reliable Guide?
When comparing leaf blowers, the CFM is not the best value to use. Since CFM is a calculated value, each manufacturer has its method to get it making comparisons between manufacturers difficult.
When strictly looking at CFM, you will often encounter a handheld with a higher CFM when compared to a wheeled leaf blower. When you compare the two side by side, the absurdity of the situation becomes that much more apparent. As such, CFM quickly becomes an unrealistic method of comparing leaf blowers.
If you are in the market for a leaf blower, you should choose an established brand with a reputation for quality. CFM and mph are only rough guides when comparing different leaf blowers. Now that you know the information that we have outlined above, you can make the best decision for your needs and preferences.