While researching which leaf blower to buy, you’ve likely come across the acronym CFM. So, what does CFM mean for leaf blowers, and what do you need to know when making a purchasing decision?
What Does CFM Mean?
CFM stands for cubic foot per minute. It may also be expressed as CFPM or ft³/min. As it relates to leaf blowers, CFM is a volume measure that indicates how many cubic feet of air pass through the leaf blower’s tube in the space of a minute.
By contrast, the MPH (miles per hour) rating given to a lawn blower tells us at what velocity, or speed, the air is being pushed out of the tube. Together, the air speed and velocity rating determine how powerful the leaf blower is.
Higher powered leaf blowers will have both high air volume and air speeds. Generally speaking, the most powerful blowers are gas powered.
Which Is More Important – Air Speed or Air Velocity?
When it comes to determining the power of a leaf blower, the air flow (CFM) measurement is more important than the air speed. While speed is important, higher air volume means that you’ll be able to move more leaves in less time.
Think of it this way: if you’re trying to clear a leaf pile by blowing air through a straw, does it really matter how fast you’re blowing into it? Of course not. Without a larger opening, air volume is restricted, and therefore, less can be moved.
In order to determine how powerful a leaf blower is, you’ll want to pay more attention to the CFM rating than the MPH.
How Much CFM Do You Need In a Leaf Blower?
As mentioned above, the higher the CFM rating, the more powerful the leaf blower. Of course, this translates into higher prices, as well. When shopping for a new leaf blower, ask yourself how often you’ll be using it, and what kinds of jobs you plan to use it for. Typical CFM ratings for leaf blowers are between 200 and 600 CFM.
If you’ll just be blowing light debris off of sidewalks or out of your garage, you can safely go with a lower powered leaf blower with a lower CFM rating. If you have large piles of leaves to move, or bigger jobs to complete, you’ll want to purchase the highest CFM rated leaf blower you can afford.
High CFM Leaf Blower Example
A good example of a leaf blower with high cubic feet per minute air flow is the Tanaka TBL-7800 leaf blower. This model reaches air volume of up to 805 CFM. This is a large, commercial grade gas blower, and is probably too powerful for most residential jobs.
Lower CFM Leaf Blower Example
An example of a lower CFM air flow rating is the Toro 51585 Power Sweep blower. This leaf blower is a lightweight, electric blower and reaches air volume of 155 cubic feet per minute. The Toro 51585 makes a good choice for those with small leaf and lawn clean up jobs, or if you just need to keep driveways, sidewalks and garages clear of light debris.
Once you’ve determined how powerful you need your leaf blower to be, take some time to read through some leaf blower ratings and compare a few different models. Keep in mind that electric blowers tend to have lower CFM measurements, and will usually be best for lightweight leaf and debris clean up. Gas powered models are usually more powerful, with higher CFM air flow and will be better for heavier lawn jobs.
Image Credit: Paradoxotaur