Keeping your yard tidy can be a challenge, especially if you don’t want to spend your free time raking leaves. Ultimately, the best way to avoid having to do that is to invest in a leaf blower. Yet, those devices have plenty of flaws too, the most notable one being the amount of noise they produce. With that in mind, I wanted to show you how to go about finding a quiet leaf blower that will get the job done in a matter of minutes without making too much racket.
Now, yards are a hot commodity whether you live in the country or an urban area. But keeping them clean isn’t simply a matter of keeping up appearances. There are serious consequences to having all those leaves strewn about your yard.
Just recently, I wrote about how having a mess in your yard creates the perfect environment for crickets. And if you’re dealing with crickets, their natural predators won’t be far away either. So if you don’t want to add chirping to the list of sounds you’re trying to block out with soundproofing methods, you’ll need to clean your lawn every once in a while.
Fortunately, a leaf blower should make that easy. But let’s see why these helpful devices tend to be more trouble than they’re worth.
What Makes Leaf Blowers Noisy?
If you’ve never had the misfortune to hear the roar of a leaf blower, count yourself lucky. Some of them can produce sounds that are louder than 100 decibels — which is almost as loud as a chainsaw.
The reason for that similarity is that leaf blowers and chainsaws have a similar internal structure. Specifically, both kinds of devices can be either gas, battery, or electric-powered. You can hear the difference in the sound the different kinds of leaf blowers make in this video.
It should come as no surprise that gas units tend to be the noisiest of the bunch. But as you can hear, they’re hardly the only noisy kind of leaf blower. In any case, engine noise isn’t the only thing you’ll have to contend with when it comes to leaf blowers. The sound of the air whooshing out is pretty noisy in and of itself — as you can hear.
In fact, some people would say that the most annoying sound a leaf blower can produce is the high-pitched whining that is the result of the air output. Prolonged exposure to that kind of noise can have serious consequences. Aside from the potential hearing loss, users may also experience high blood pressure and cholesterol due to the additional stress noise puts on the body.
How to Find a Quiet Leaf Blower
Before I recommend a few of the quietest leaf blowers I’ve seen, I wanted to give you some tips you can use to find a unit that suits your needs. So let’s start by briefly discussing how manufacturers measure the amount of noise their blowers produce.
Learn What the Noise Levels in the Product Descriptions Mean
As I have previously mentioned, most leaf blowers produce sounds that measure upwards of 100 decibels. That’s incredibly loud, especially for the person who happens to be standing right next to it. If you’re exposed to that kind of noise, you’ll probably keep hearing it long after you’ve turned the blower off.
However, some leaf blower manufacturers can be a bit dishonest when they describe how noisy their products are. They’ll say that their product makes about 60–70 decibels. But they neglect to mention that that measurement was taken from about 50 feet away.
That number basically tells you how loud your leaf blower will be to your neighbor. Even then, depending on the kind of neighborhood you live in, your closest neighbor may be much closer than that. Besides, some people are less concerned about the impact the noise will have on their neighbors and more worried about their pets.
So when it comes to determining the real noise level a blower will produce, do your research. Make it a point to find videos, preferably with decibel measurements, and find the quietest unit.
Decide If You Want a Battery, Electric, or Gas-Powered Unit
As I have mentioned, gasoline-powered leaf blowers are usually the loudest of the bunch. They’re incredibly powerful but the amount of noise they produce doesn’t make them particularly appealing if you’re aiming for subtlety. Furthermore, getting a gas blower basically means that you’ll have to keep up with engine maintenance and purchase fuel.
Electric models, on the other hand, are more affordable and lightweight in comparison to gas blowers. They’re reliable, easy to use, and emission-free. Some of them even have additional functionality for vacuuming and shredding leaves and debris. However, they’re not ideal for blowing around trees and obstacles, or if you don’t have an outdoor outlet.
As far as I can tell, electric and battery-powered blowers make about the same amount of noise. Neither of them is silent, though. In fact, that high-pitched sound is more noticeable once you get the engine noise out of the equation. Still, they’re certainly quieter than gas units — though that can make them slightly less powerful.
Battery-operated leaf blowers are more expensive than electric units, but they’re more convenient in many ways. Even though the battery adds weight, you should be able to hold them in one hand. And since they’re cordless, they’re much easier to walk around with.
The only problem is that you’ll have to charge the battery after every use. And there’s always the possibility that it’ll run out of juice before you’re done with it.
Figure out What Kind of Leaf Blower You Need
There are three basic kinds of leaf blowers: wheeled ones, backpack units, and handheld models. The biggest jobs require you to have either a wheeled or a backpack unit. However, as powerful as those kinds of blowers are, they are also incredibly expensive and heavy, not to mention loud. After all, their engines are always gas-powered, which makes them some of the loudest blowers you’ll come across.
Handheld units, on the other hand, can work on electricity, Lithium batteries, or fuel. The amount of noise they produce will depend on that power source. They’re usually reasonably priced and they can come with a wide variety of features on top of the blower function. Those additional factors can really make or break a leaf blower — so let’s see exactly what’s on offer.
Keep the Other Basic Features in Mind
In addition to the features I’ve already mentioned, there are a few other things you should keep in mind when you’re looking at leaf blower specifications. For example, make sure to take note of the:
- Maximum air velocity and speed settings. As always, slower means quieter, but you want to have the option to speed it up if you need to.
- Weight and carrying handle. You’re the one who’s going to have to lug the thing around. So get a blower that has a solid handle and maybe even a second grip to give you better control.
- Vacuuming and mulching functions. Usually, units that have it also come with a bag that can collect the processed or unprocessed leaves. Actually, if that’s something you’d like to have, you should know that some of the quiet shop vacs I’ve recommended can double as leaf blowers or collectors.
- Nozzle attachments. Flat ones will give the air a more horizontal direction, which is great for pushing leaves around. Conversely, round nozzles are better for dislodging debris.
- Location of the air intake. If the blower takes the air from the back or the side, it may try to suck in your clothes. So look for blowers with the air intake on the bottom side.
These little things may mean the difference between a leaf blower you love to use and one you dread. So figure out what you want before you start looking for your quiet leaf blower.
Examples of Great Quiet Leaf Blowers
As we have established, when it comes to finding quiet leaf blowers, you’ll want to stick to electric or battery-powered units. So let’s see what kinds of products are available right now.
To begin with, let’s look at a tried and true brand — DEWALT. Their 9.8-pound handheld electric leaf blower has a variable speed trigger that allows it to run quietly on the lowest setting. According to the company, this unit has a 69 dB(A) noise rating, which is about as loud as a vacuum cleaner. It also comes with 3 nozzles that have a real impact on the volume of air that can come out of the blower.
If you’re not sure you can carry around all that weight, I have another recommendation that weighs in at only 4.4 pounds. You could get the 10-Amp blower from Sun Joe, which is a great option if you’re shopping on a budget.
- The standard round nozzle of this electric...
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Battery-Powered Leaf Blowers
As for battery-powered leaf blowers, there are a few I’d like to recommend. Once again, a 7.1-pound DEWALT blower leads the charge with a truly fantastic noise output of only 61 decibels (according to the company). It has a brushless motor and a 20V Lithium battery, much like this 2-pound blower/vacuum from KIMO.
If you want an even more powerful unit, you can go for the LiTHELi 40V leaf blower, which supposedly makes somewhere around 66 dbA. According to the manufacturer, its battery can run for about an hour on a full charge. That’s about twice as long as some other units I’ve seen.
In fact, that seems to be the biggest complaint people have about battery-powered leaf blowers. So I would love to see them come with two batteries, so you can charge one while you’re using the other.
- Battery operated leaf blower gets up to 400...
- High-efficiency brushless motor maximizing...
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Can You Make a Leaf Blower Quieter?
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but there’s pretty much nothing you can do to make whichever leaf blower you already have quieter. However, there may still be some way to prevent the noise from bothering your neighbors and protect your hearing.
Cover Your Ears
So let’s start with protecting the person who’s going to be the closest to the leaf blower. If you’re going to be the one operating it, I suggest picking up some earplugs. There are plenty of different kinds you can choose: disposable or reusable, foam or silicon.
On the other hand, if you’d rather not have to stick something inside your ear, I recommend using noise-canceling headphones or earmuffs (like these). For these kinds of tasks, headphones with active noise cancelation technology would be especially helpful since they would successfully muffle the constant droning of the leaf blower.
And if you’re not interested in active noise cancelation or you’d rather try your luck with regular headphones, pay attention to the kind of headphones you use. After all, there’s a world of difference between in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear headphones. If you want to rely on your regular devices while you tidy your yard, you should at least avoid on-ear ones, which are notoriously bad at muffling outside noise.
Reduce Noise for Others
As we have already established, electric or battery-powered units are much quieter than gas blowers. However, being quieter doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re completely silent. Your neighbors and family may still be able to hear you go at your lawn even with the windows shut.
But don’t worry — I’ve got a few ideas for circumventing that issue. As always, when it comes to soundproofing a room from outside noise, you’ll want to focus most of your attention on sealing the windows.
Now that you’re technically the noisy neighbor, you might take a different approach to my article on blocking noise from the neighbor’s yard. Still, you can use some of the tips I wrote about there. You can even forward that article to your neighbor (but try not to be snarky about it).
On the other hand, you could just practice basic neighborly courtesy and let the people around you know when you’re going to fire up the blower and how long you’ll use it for. You could also thicken up your fence or make it taller, so it’ll muffle some of the noise you’re making. You may even use MLV to bolster the fence. And if you really want to invest in your privacy, planting some tall trees around the perimeter of your yard may help to diffuse the sound as well.
Blow ‘Em All Away and Enjoy Your Clean Yard
Let’s face it: nobody likes the sound leaf blowers make. That’s why hundreds of cities across the U.S. are currently trying to regulate their use — even outright ban gas-powered units. So you might as well get a quiet leaf blower before legislation catches up with you.
Even Elon Musk has seen the potential in this market. Last year, he stated that Tesla would develop a quiet, electric leaf blower. Granted, it was on Twitter, so take it with a grain of salt.
Still, if the idea pans out and none of the blowers on the market appeal to you, you might get a new contender soon. Until then, keep calm and carry on raking — or just get one of the smaller handheld blowers I mentioned.
- Best Quiet Electric & Gas Lawnmowers
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- How To Block Noise From Neighbors’ Yard
- Soundproofing A Fence With MLV