This is powerful. Just for fun, and because it's monsoon weather outside, we retreat to an empty polytunnel and pitch the Mitox petrol machine against the Makita in a game of blow-leaf.
A barrow-load of leaves is emptied in the centre and two operators try to force the leaves past each other to the end of the tunnel. After a few seconds, nearly all the leaves have been pushed past the Mitox's goalie. Then we realise the Makita has a flat nozzle and the Mitox a round one. When they are both fitted with round nozzles, it's advantage Mitox, but the game certainly shows how much battery power has come on.
On a serious note, there is loads to like about this Makita blower. It has the freedom of a petrol machine but without the noise, smell or weight. Its power comes from two 18V lithium-ion batteries working in series to supply energy to the 36V DC brushless motor.
The batteries are easy to insert and lock with a positive click. Their power levels are displayed on the dual battery gauge and operation is as simple as squeezing the trigger. The trigger is variable speed but a dial on the side allows six volume/velocity settings to be programmed and a lock button lets you maintain a constant air speed. It gets maximum points when it comes to control.
We love the soft start - there is no sudden jolt into operation but neither is it so painstakingly slow that you lose time waiting for the machine to run.
Makita offers the blower as "body only". You may need to buy batteries and charger separately, which could spike the price. But maybe you already run Makita kit that has 18V batteries. Or perhaps you need a brushcutter and hedge trimmer so can spread the cost between several items of kit. The advances made in cordless technology, along with recent developments that have taken the kit into something with commercial potential, make this worth a closer look.
Battery Two 18V lithium-ion
Motor 36V DC brushless
Air velocity 54m/sec (high speed), 27m/sec (low speed)
Max air volume 13.4m3/min
Sound pressure level 79.1dB (A)
Vibration level 2.5m/s2
Runtime 35 minutes, depending on speed setting
Charging time 22min (3.0Ah), 36min (4.0Ah) or 45min (5.0Ah)
List price £350 (body only) + VAT
Tel Makita UK - 01908 211678.
Tested This Issue
- Mitox 280BVX
- EGO 56V lithium-ion
- Lawnflite MTD SC4
- Makita DUB362Z twin 18V
Mike Baldwin Director of learning, Broomfield Campus, Derby College
Mark Ekin Course lecturer, Broomfield Campus, Derby College
Leaf blowers are indispensable tools in the autumn, able to clear fallen leaves and debris quickly and with little effort from the operator. But they can have other uses too.
After mowing with a rotary, a leaf blower is perfect for cleaning the pathway and blasting the clippings back onto the lawn. Similarly, following hedge-cutting duties the blower can round up the fallen material for collection and then send any remnants flying into the bottom of the hedge.
Leaf blowers are also great for dispersing water. They are marvellous tools to grab if you need to quickly dry off a park bench or a picnic table. The machines can also be used to dispel dew from lawns, enabling an early start to grass cutting.
In this test we looked at just four models. All are handheld. But we are keen to see whether today's cordless models can match the power of petrol, so we put two petrol units, the Mitox and the MTD, up against the Makita and EGO, both of which take their energy from lithium-ion batteries.
The test was conducted at Derby College's Broomfield Campus and weather conditions were wet. We will return later in the year to test the latest backpack blowers.