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What Is a Good CFM for a Leaf Blower?

Lawn upkeep requires a lot of work as any home or business owner knows. The old days of having to remove leaves and debris from lawns using rakes are gone thanks to modern technology and leaf blowers. When shopping for a leaf blower, you may get confused about which one to choose. What does it all mean? What is CFM? How much CFM should you look for before buying?

Leaf blowers come with two numbers that measure performance: cubic feet per minute (CFM) and miles per hour (MPH). The more important determinant you should consider before purchase is the CFM.

The CFM is the indicator of the power a leaf blower. The number reflects the power of the air volume as it is expelled through the machine in the span of one minute. The MPH measures the speed of the air as it exits the machine in one hour. For example, a leaf blower with a CFM of 120 can push 120 cubic feet of leaves and debris in one minute.

The CFM measurement is more valuable because it measures the force of the air. You can have a high speed, but if there is a low air volume the blower will not be as effective. You want the force to be with you.

So what CFM do you need? That depends on several factors. One factor is the size of your property and the size of the job. For most homeowners who just want to clean up their driveways or patios, an electric or gas leaf blower might be a sound choice. Electric leaf blowers are generally handheld devices that come corded or cordless while gas blowers are all cordless. These handheld devices usually have a CFM falling somewhere from just under 200 to 400. They are also relatively quiet so you won’t have to worry as much about disturbing the neighbors. You should check ahead of time about any local ordinances that set limits on noise levels.

If your property is an acre or more, you will probably want a leaf blower with a CFM between 400 to 700. These machines are noisier and obviously more powerful with the ability to handle both wet and dry debris. Many of these models come as backpacks so your shoulders handle most of the added weight they can have.

The most powerful leaf blowers are the push behind models. Push blowers can give you CFMs up to 3,000 and are good for moving both wet and dry leaves as well as dirt and even rocks from properties. They are gas powered for ease of mobility around large areas and suitable for commercial complexes such as parking lots. You should be forewarned: they are very noisy so, again, you may want to check with any noise ordinances in populated areas.

These are general guidelines when it comes to choosing a leaf blower based on CFM. Other considerations before purchasing one of these machines include ease of use, weight, and cost.

About the author

Mark Kelly

Hi, I'm Mark the owner of Yard Care Gurus. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment
Kyle Winters - August 2, 2017

Considering that the entire job of a leaf blower is to blow leaves it is easy to understand why the CFM measurement is so important. Depending on how many leaves typically fall on your property during Autumn then you might need one with a bit more power. If you’re still not sure, it might help to ask a technician or whoever is selling the leaf blowers what they think.

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