Confused about the difference between a leaf blower’s CFM and MPH? We were too. Here’s everything you need to know about picking the right leaf blower for your needs.
CFM is a measurement of volume. It stands for cubic feet per minute. Leaf blower CFM refers to how many cubic feet of air come out of the blower’s nozzle every minute.
In other words, this is the amount (volume) of air being pushed through the end of the leaf blower. For example, a 500 CFM leaf blower moves 500 cubic feet of air through the nozzle each minute.
A higher number CFM means the leaf blower will have more power to move things. Some leaf blowers have very high CFM ratings. For instance, a leaf blower CFM of more than 500 will have the power to move large piles of leaves and possibly even sticks or small rocks.
A leaf blower CFM of more than 800 will have the potential to blow small rocks and other debris. It’s very important to remember and be aware of how strong your leaf blower CFM is, and use it with extreme caution when you’re around others.
CFM has more to do with power than speed. MPH stands for miles per hour and it refers to how quickly the air is moving when it comes out of the nozzle. Fast moving air tends to be stronger than slow moving air, but that’s not always the case, and it’s not a direct correlation.
Purchasing a leaf blower with a high MPH rating doesn’t always mean its stronger. Even a low MPH leaf blower will be very strong and have a lot of power if the CFM specification is high. Generally speaking, if you want to move more leaves, look for a higher CFM, not a higher MPH.
A higher CFM rating typically comes from a larger, heavier motor, with more horsepower. You end up with a heavier leaf blower strapped to your back, but you can move your leaves in about half the time. Some people choose to trade comfort for speed.
So, what is a good CFM for a leaf blower?
It depends on the size of your yard and the volume of leaves you need to move. Larger yards will potentially require moving more leaves further than small yards. If you’ve got anything over 1/2 acre you should aim for a high-CFM model.
The RedMax EBZ8500RH is the highest CFM leaf blower on the market at 908 CFM. It moves an incredible amount of air with a ton of power. It’s also pretty lightweight with a cooled back pad to keep you comfortable. In fact the RedMax was our pick for the best backpack leaf blower on the market.
It has great fuel economy so you get more done, much faster—plus the oversized straps and contoured back pad make it really comfortable. But it’s a pricier solution than others, so the tradeoff is a high upfront cost for all of these great benefits.
The Ryobi RY38BP is another high CFM leaf blower option at 760 CFM. It’s not quite as powerful as the RedMax, but it’s still powerful enough to tackle large yards and mountains of leaves.
It’s a fantastic budget-friendly leaf blower at less than half the cost of the RedMax, but the tradeoff is that the brand isn’t as well-known. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy some really great features packed into this affordable powerhouse. It has cruise control, and anti-vibration technology, making it comfortable and easy to use.
The Echo PB-770T is another great high CFM solution at 765 CFM. Price-wise, it falls somewhere in between the other two, but it’s incredibly quiet. However, it doesn’t have the same fuel capacity, so you’ll find yourself refilling it more often.
Choosing which model leaf blower is right for your yard will ultimately depend on a lot of different factors. The size of your yard, how many trees you have, how much weight you can lift, how much you can afford, and the features you want and need will all factor into your decision.
A good rule of thumb is to purchase the most CFM you can in the budget you can afford. However, there’s certainly more to it than that. Yes, doing so will get you the most power you can afford, but if you’re purchasing a leaf blower that weighs too much or doesn’t have all of the features you want, it still won’t be the right choice.
For most homeowners, cleaning up your driveway or patio is easy enough with an electric leaf blower that is affordable and doesn’t have a ton of power. You can get away with between 200 and 400 CFM if you just need to clear a few leaves or grass clippings away every now and then.
If you own at least an acre, though, you may need between 400 and 700 CFM, depending on how many trees you have, and how quickly you want to clear up that acre. You will likely end up with a bigger, noisier machine, but it’ll be powerful enough to move both wet and dry leaves, as well as some small sticks, dirt, or sand.
If you have more than an acre, a lot of trees, a commercial business, or you tend to help out your neighbors more often than not, you may benefit from a bigger unit that pushes up to 1000 CFM, because it can get these bigger jobs done in much less time. But its not all about power. Proper leaf blowing technique is also important.
We hope we’ve made a clear delineation for you between CFM and MPH. Together, these two give your leaf blower the power it needs to do the job you need it to do. You can purchase leaf blowers that range from 200 to 1000 CFM, and sometimes even more.
If you are considering purchasing a new leaf blower, think about the size of your yard, the price you’re willing to pay, and the other features that are important to you before deciding which one is the best solution for you.
Jason is a work from home dad who has a passion for DIY projects, yard work, and SEC Football. His background is IT, but he's always fancied himself as a part-time ship welder, landscaper, and short order cook. During the week he can be found on his laptop 10 hours-a-day, but on the weekends he escapes to the local DIY Cave to play with REAL toys. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and can contact him via email.