What is a good CFM for a leaf blower? Should you prioritize it over MPH?
Getting your first leaf blower can be challenging, especially when faced with different features and specifications to choose from.
Luckily, we’re here to help you make the best possible purchase for your next leaf blower.
Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to get the right leaf blower for you.
What Is CFM?
To start, it’s important to explain what exactly CFM is.
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute and is the volume of air that comes out of the leaf blower’s tube every minute.
A higher CFM would mean that the leaf blower is displacing more air.
Normally, this is a result of a big nozzle diameter, which allows more air to come out at any given instant.
Therefore, a higher CFM is necessary for clearing up a big area, provided the leaf blower also has a decent airspeed.
You need massive air displacement for the leaf blower to actually move or displace objects, like leaves, stones, and other debris.
What Is MPH?
Another measurement often mentioned when talking about leaf blowers is their MPH.
MPH stands for miles per hour and is often used to measure the speed of an object.
For instance, you’re probably familiar with using MPH as a way to know how fast your car is going.
In the same vein, MPH refers to the speed by which air escapes the leaf blower’s tube every hour.
CFM vs. MPH
Just as CFM is important in displacing multiple objects at a given time, a good MPH is crucial for moving things around the lawn.
For example, even if you have massive air displacement, if airspeed is low, you won’t be able to move the leaves in the direction you want.
It will just be like using a small fan to move the leaves around.
They will move, certainly, but only in a small distance and not in the direction you probably want to take them to.
A high MPH is also necessary if you want to move heavier objects, like pebbles, out of the way.
If the air isn’t strong enough, you can keep pushing air out of the tube, but it won’t be able to move the pebble at all.
Still, this doesn’t mean that MPH is more important than CFM.
In another example, imagine you have a leaf blower with an impressive airspeed (MPH) but a very small tube (CFM).
This would mean that your leaf blower has a lower CFM, and consequently, poorer air displacement.
Do you think you will be able to move the leaves around efficiently? The answer is still no.
With high airspeed but low air displacement, you might be able to blow away leaves, but you’ll only be able to do it one at a time.
It will also slow down your progress, if not deter you from making any progress at all.
Hence, it is extremely necessary to have the right balance of CFM and MPH; you shouldn’t prioritize one over the other.
With good values for both of these factors, you’ll definitely find a reliable leaf blower for your yard.
What Is a Good CFM for a Leaf Blower?
How exactly do you know what a good CFM value is? How do you know if your current CFM is enough or not?
Well, the answer depends on your needs and the kind of leaf blower you want.
Determining CFM Based on Your Needs
To choose the leaf blower that’s right for you, you should consider the following:
- Size of your property
- Kind of debris you’ll remove
- Noise limitations (if any) in your neighborhood
Are you planning to use your leaf blower for a small yard or other areas at home like patios and driveways?
If so, a small CFM rating should be enough. This could be around 200 to 400 CFM, which is common in most lightweight leaf blowers.
If you have a bigger lawn, at around an acre or more in size, you should go for a stronger leaf blower.
We’re talking about 400 to 700 CFM for these areas.
This way, you’ll be able to blow leaves away quickly and efficiently, as well as handle relatively heavier debris.
Now, if you have an extremely large property or plan to buy leaf blowers for commercial use, you can go up to 3,000 CFM to ensure your needs are covered.
Again, don’t forget to consider the noise restrictions in your area.
The stronger your leaf blower’s engine, which usually translates to a higher CFM, the louder it tends to get.
Therefore, if you live in a small neighborhood where things should be quiet, don’t go for a 3,000 CFM leaf blower.
Doing so will likely wake the whole neighborhood up.
Instead, work around the maximum allowable noise level and buy a leaf blower that meets these requirements.
Determining CFM Based on Your Choice of Leaf Blower
Are the leaf blower’s size and weight primary considerations for you?
Chances are, you’ve already pegged a type of leaf blower you think is best for your property.
Usually, you’ll be choosing from handheld leaf blowers, backpack units, or wheeled models.
Now, it’s no surprise that the more powerful your leaf blower, the bigger it will likely be.
These different types of leaf blowers also differ in terms of the maximum CFM they have, which is a direct result of their engine size.
Let’s check them out one by one:
Handheld Leaf Blowers
For lightweight, portable, handheld leaf blowers, do not expect exceptionally high CFM ratings.
If you’re lucky, you might come across high-end ones with around 400 to 600 CFM; you should get these if given a chance.
You will also find this CFM rating available for corded and cordless models, which often run on either gas or batteries.
In reality, the typical range for handheld leaf blowers is around 200 to 400 CFM.
Anything within the higher end of this range should be good enough for a small area.
Backpack Leaf Blower
Backpack leaf blowers are heavier and have better CFM ratings than handheld ones.
These are perfect for maintaining a large property with a huge pile of leaves in multiple areas.
For this leaf blower type, you should look for a unit at 580 to 630 CFM.
Finding a backpack leaf blower at a higher CFM shouldn’t be a problem, too. You can certainly go for a higher CFM rating if it’s available.
Wheeled Leaf Blowers
The heaviest and strongest of the bunch, wheeled leaf blowers are built for big, open spaces, such as parks.
These are heavy and are therefore challenging to bring around in rough terrain.
Therefore, we don’t recommend it for big yards with multiple steps, trees, and other items you will need to avoid and weave through.
A good wheeled leaf blower should fall within a rating of 1080 to 2600 CFM.
Of course, any unit with a CFM higher than this will be a better bet, but make sure you can handle the noise.
Since wheeled leaf blowers produce a loud sound, remember to wear protective coverings for your ears before using them.
You already know what is a good CFM for a leaf blower, but keep in mind that a decent CFM rating is not be enough without good airspeed.
When choosing a leaf blower, pick one with a speed of at least 120 MPH for smaller models and around 150 to 200 MPH for bigger ones.
With the right balance, there is no doubt that your leaf blower’s efficiency will be top-notch.