Battery blowers Reviewed: will battery blowers go the distance?

Stihl BGA85 blower - all images: HW
Stihl BGA85 blower - all images: HW

Fed up of having to start and restart blowers? Then there is the refuelling, mixing the two-stroke and carrying a spare can. Once running, emissions can be unpleasant and noise from a petrol engine demands earmuffs be worn. An alternative is battery power.

It is portable and petrol-free. No fuel, no emissions, low noise, low vibes and no pull cord — start work straight away. The battery can also be used to power other cordless products such as hedge trimmers, brushcutters, chainsaws and possibly even a mower.

The argument against these blowers is that they eat batteries. Blow for 10 minutes and you are stuck for an hour while the unit recharges. Not any more. 

In this review we found some of the latest battery blowers give you as much work time as you need. Choose one of the powerful backpack batteries and you will find sufficient power for other jobs too.

Our test took place at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire where, with 72ha of grounds and more than 42,000 trees and shrubs, blowing leaves and trimmings is an essential part of the job. Test day conditions were sunny and hot.

Blowers tested

  • Stihl BGA 85 and BGA 100 
  • Husqvarna 525iB and 530iBX 
  • Makita DUB362 
  • EGO Power+ LB5300E, LB6002E and LBX6000 commercial

Review Panel

Ian Bawcutt, deputy head gardener, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire Aron Clay, gardener, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire

Stihl BGA 85 (main pic) and BGA 100

With its multifunction handle, the controls on Stihl’s compact and lightweight BGA 85 are at your fingertips and it is a doddle to operate — a single lever giving continuous adjustment of airspeed and volume. A locking button prevents unintentional activation of the blower when the battery is inserted and the LED charge indicator keeps the operator informed about power availability.

All in all, it is a nice machine and, as Clay puts it, "perfectly adequate for blowing leaves and clippings around". But should you want more grunt to shift heavier debris, we recommend you take a look at Stihl’s BGA 100.

This is a professional blower for gardeners and contractors. It carries the Quiet Mark, making it ideal for noise-sensitive areas such as private gardens, school grounds, residential areas and hospitals. Yet, while it is low-noise, it delivers high torque. It works best with the AR 3000 backpack battery, although it will perform for short spells with a belt-pouch battery if you already have tools using the company’s 36V AP 300 batteries.

Top of the range, this machine has all the features you need — powerful brushless motor, three power levels with boost function, blower tube adjustable for three lengths, soft handle and a comfort carry ring for extended work. Clay and Bawcutt are impressed with the ease of use, variable control, balance and weight of the units. But what impresses them most is the power of the 100.

"Given the choice, side by side, I would go for the BGA 100. It’s got lots more power and I would be very happy to use it for an hour or more," says Clay. Bawcutt agrees, adding: "It’s also lighter on your arms and more manoeuvrable when you have the battery on your belt or if you use the backpack battery — and it’s definitely got that bit extra to make quick work of moving debris."

Specifications

Model BGA 85/BGA 100
Max airspeed 125mph (56m/s)/167mph (75m/s)
Max airflow 845cu m/hr/840cu m/hr
Blowing force 10N/17N
Sound pressure level 83dB(A)/80dB(A)
Sound power level 98dB(A)/90dB(A)
Recommended battery AP 300 6Ah 1.8kg (£158.33 + VAT)/AR 3000 29.3Ah 8.2kg (£710.00 + VAT) Runtime with recommended battery Up to 24min/Up to 395min
Charger for recommended battery AL 300 (£58.33 + VAT)/AL 500 (£100.00 + VAT)
Charging time to 100% 60min/160min
Equipment Round nozzle (flat nozzle available as an optional accessory)
Weight (body only) 3.2kg/2.5kg
List price (body only) £216.67/£265.00 (both + VAT)
Tel Stihl — 01276 20202

Husqvarna 525iB (above) and 530iBX (below)

If you are in the business of making money out of the tools you use, then you need to try these — especially the 530iBX. Husqvarna never brings out a battery product unless it is at least on par with its entry-level pro machines — the 25cc units.

We love the power on these models and they have many features we would like to see on all blowers. For starters there is a keypad and "live" indicator. You have to turn these machines on. The light shows the unit is live and ready for action. If you do not use the machine for 60 seconds, it turns itself off. "

That’s good," says Bawcutt. "If you put down an idling petrol machine, you can hear it and you know if anyone touches the trigger it will start working again. Battery machines just sit silently and, if it is live, you don’t want anyone clutching the trigger without being ready to use it."

The keypad is easy to use and the cruise control on both machines means you can apply full focus to blowing leaves and debris. There is also a power boost mode to maximise blowing speed — just a short burst when you need it to shift stubborn wet leaves or heavy litter. Each blower has a metal ring at the end of the tube for reduced wear and tear, and the batteries can be used to power a range of other Husky kit.

We find the smaller, handheld blower well-balanced. It feels a little weighty on the wrists when the battery is inserted. It is not horrendously heavy but sufficient for Clay to question whether a shoulder strap might help. The battery gives about half-an-hour of blowing time in "savE" energy-saving mode, which is good for a grab-and-go blower to tackle quick cleanups. But we are keen to check out the 530iBX working in tandem with the backpack battery.

This is closer to a 40cc machine. It has the same features as the handheld blower and offers the same benefits, but there are two big differences. The first is the air intake. With the 530iBX, air is drawn in through the rear of the machine rather than on the side, as with the integral-battery model. This makes the machine even quieter. When air is drawn in from the side, it has to bend round the corner before blowing down the tube. It can give giro forces — that feeling of your arm being pushed out from your body — and adds to the noise. Draw air in from the rear and it has a straight passage down through the tube.

The second difference is the backpack — and it makes a big difference. Not only does it mean that you can work for two-and-a-half hours or more, but the tool in your hand is lightweight and much less tiring to use. "You can feel the power, and a bit of kickback when you press the boost," says Bawcutt.

Clay adds: "I like the ability to give that extra powerful blast when needed and I would be happy to use the backpack for a couple of hours. It’s a very nice machine." Comfortable and oodles of power — what more could you want?

Specifications

Model 525iB/530iBX
Max airspeed 125mph (56m/s)/125.4mph (56.2m/s)
Max airflow 789cu m/hr/846cu m/hr
Sound pressure level 82dB(A)/91dB(A)
Sound power level 98dB(A)/106dB(A)
Vibration level 0.5m/s2/0.4m/s2
Recommended battery BLi200 5.2Ah (£175.00 + VAT)/BLi950X 31.1Ah (£958.33 + VAT)
Runtime with recommended battery Up to 35min/Up to 210min
Charger for recommended battery QC300 (£79.17 + VAT)/QC500 (£112.50 + VAT)
Charging time to 100% 50min/175min
Equipment Round nozzle
Weight (body only) 2.4kg/2.9kg
List price (body only) £316.67/£350.00 (both + VAT)
Contact Husqvarna — customer.support@husqvarna.co.uk

Makita DUB362

Makita’s strength lies in its cordless technology — just think of all the power tools used by the building trades. This compact and lightweight blower takes two Makita 18V batteries — those used in the company’s drills and angle grinders — running in series to supply energy to the powerful 36V motor drive system. Just slide the batteries into place, 5Ah is better, and feel the force. This one is soft start yet quick to spin up.

We especially like the dial-in six settings for volume/velocity, with variable speed control by the trigger. It means you can adjust the speed according to the material being blown and get better performance out of the batteries. If you run it on "6" all the time you will empty the battery in around half-an-hour, but the choice is yours. A lock-on function with buttons either side of the handle means it does not matter whether you are left- or right-handed. A dual battery fuel gauge lets you know how much juice is left.

"You can be gentle or blow a gale — it’s all under control. Just calibrate the force to the job," says Bawcutt. Clay is impressed with the throttle lock. "They’ve taken that from their drills," he notes.

We also like the three-stage telescopic nozzle. It adjusts by up to 100mm, just enough to ensure user comfort and effective blowing. Blowing performance is also aided by the grip-to-frame angle, which provides a perfect nozzle-to-ground angle. Balance is spot on.

Specifications

Max airspeed 120.5mph (54m/s)
Max airflow 804cu m/hr
Sound pressure level 79.1dB(A)
Sound power level 93.5dB(A)
Vibration level 2.5m/s2
Recommended battery/charger Two × 18V (4Ah or 5Ah)/DC18RD twin charger
Runtime with recommended battery Up to 61min (4Ah batteries)
Charging time to 100% 45min
Equipment Nozzle and shoulder strap
Weight (body only) 3.5kg
List price (body only) Expect to pay around £119.00 including VAT
Tel Makita — 01908 211678

EGO Power+ LB5300E (above), LB6002E and LBX6000 commercial (below)

When I have taken EGO kit to other test sites, reviewers have studied the machines and made comments such as: "Is it a transformer toy? What will it turn into?" Or: "It looks modern but is it too gimmicky?" As
I watch Bawcutt and Clay eye up these machines, again there is a little suspicion written on their faces.
But that quickly changes. "Good machines. They are a contender to the lead brands. I think we will see a lot more of these guys," says Clay. In short, these machines give bang for your bucks.

Attractively priced, EGO blowers feature high-efficiency brushless motors and advanced aeronautics jet turbine technology combined with a large-diameter tube to give maximum airflow — up to 900cu m per hour. The trigger provides variable speed and a "Turbo" blast is activated by a thumb button.

First we use the handheld LB5300E and we reckon it is perfectly adequate for moving leaves or grass and hedge clippings around if you are running a garden maintenance business or have a site that just needs a quick clean.

You definitely want the 5Ah or, preferably, the 7.5Ah battery to get the most of the unit in terms of worthwhile runtime — although the 4Ah will allow 120 minutes of "Low" blowing, 35 minutes on the "High" setting or just 16 minutes if you go all out on "Boost". Of course, bigger batteries do weigh more. "

It’s a bit weighty compared to a backpack — not too excessive but could be an issue with some users," notes Bawcutt. Clay agrees: "Good machine but after a period of time you get fatigue in the arms. It would be nice to use with an adaptor and put the battery on your back." That is what we do with the LB6002E. Compatible with all EGO batteries, we put a 5Ah battery into the special backpack carrier harness and sling it on our backs. That’s better — and it gets more comfortable. Not only is this sturdy backpack harness well padded and a comfy fit on the back, but the handle will adjust for reach control. Now we can have up to two hours in "Low" without straining the arms. The harness costs £99.99 including VAT, but we reckon it is well worth it. It is a joy to wear once it is adjusted to suit the individual.

Finally, we move onto EGO’s new commercial blower, the LBX6000. This one is designed to be used with the backpack battery BAX1500 to give up to 350 minutes of blowing. There are four level settings plus a "Boost" and it shifts an amazing 1,014cu m of air per hour, with airspeeds exceeding 130mph while your arms are carrying a mere 2.7kg. "

Of the three, this is the nicest. It’s light, no fatigue but a lot of power," says Bawcutt. Clay adds: "You can feel the force. It moves stones. The four setting options are good and the backpack is comfy. I am very happy to use it." If you are looking to work in a more environmental fashion, this could be the way to go.

Specifications

Model LB5300E/LB6002E/LBX6000
Max airspeed 109mph (49m/s)/99mph (44.3m/s)/131mph (58m/s)
Max airflow 900cu m/hr/1,020cu m/hr/1,014cu m/hr
Blowing force 19N/19N/20N
Sound pressure level 82dB(A)/83dB(A)/80dB(A)
Sound power level 97dB(A)/97dB(A)/93dB(A)
Vibration level 1.35m/s2/1.5m/s2/2.5m/s2
Recommended battery 5Ah or 7.5Ah/5Ah/BAX1500
Runtimes Up to 150min (5Ah) or 225min (7Ah)/Up to 120min/Up to 350min
Recommended charger 5Ah: CH5500E, £74.99 inc VAT. BAX1500 commercial: £119.00 inc VAT.
Weight (body only) 2.2kg/5.7kg/2.7kg
List price £149.00/£369.00/£600.00 (all including VAT)
Contact EGO Power+ — www.egopowerplus.co.uk


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