Husqvarna Backpack Leaf Blower Speeds Cleanup

Husqvarna 130BT leaf blower / Credit: HusqvarnaNow that many of us are hopelessly deep into leaf season, any resentment toward a leaf blower that’s more noise than breath has surely surfaced. If you’re ready to upgrade from a handheld blower to a backpack, the $250 Husqvarna 130BT is worth considering. Granted, you can find newer models. But you won’t even stumble across this dealer-sold model if you do all your shopping at your local home center.

One obvious attraction to the 130BT is its light weight. At about 15 1/3 pounds fueled up, the 130BT weighs much less than the beefiest backpack leaf blowers, including Husqvarna’s own 150BT, $300, which is seven pounds more before you add gas. Both models have two-stroke engines. While lighter than four-stroke, they require that you mix a specific oil with the gasoline at a 50:1 gas/oil ratio. For easier starting time after time, we recommend you use ethanol-free 50:1 fuel, which would address the concerns of most people who’ve posted user reviews online about the 130BT.

Testing the Husqvarna 130BT
Setting the blower up was a snap, with clear directions for piecing together the blow pipe and attaching the operating handle. You won’t find electric start or automatic choke here, but setting the choke and priming took mere seconds before the couple of pulls the 130BT needed for it to come alive.

The adjustable harness is padded, making for a comfy fit, and vibration dampening kept us from feeling any trace of discomfort even after a few long periods of use. We also liked the throttle-lock lever, which won’t clear its setting as some button-style speed locks do should you inadvertently press the throttle trigger. This lever also lets you lock in speeds less than full-throttle, which saves fuel and might annoy the neighbors less.

Husqvarna claims the 130BT blows air at 130 mph out its round nozzle, with 425 cubic feet per minute of airflow in the pipe. But specs matter far less than what you see as you’re clearing actual leaves. If not as powerful as some backpack blowers could be, such as the 150BT, it nevertheless had ample muscle for blowing oak and maple leaves out of dense pachysandra groundcover.

And in a comparison with several handheld leaf blowers from Stihl, Toro and Worx, the 130BT completed a test course over grass in under six minutes. The best any of those did was 10 minutes, though it’s no knock against those brands; a decent gas-powered backpack blower should outclass any handheld on the market.

The verdict
If all you want is to carry blowing power on your back to keep yourself from reaching out with a handheld, the Husqvarna 130BT might offer more oomph than you need. This backpack blower, however, also shortens blowing time to help you finish the job and get back to enjoying the fall. Take care of it, with no fuel left in it for long periods, and you should get several years of fine performance.

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EGO Trots Out Its Latest Cordless Power Gear

EGO Power+ Snow Blower / Credit: EGOWhether you’re clearing leaves or snow, it’s typically the gas-powered gear that will help you finish in the least time. But every year, the manufacturers of electric tools—including battery-powered models—surpass more of their fuel-burning competition. EGO is one such brand, and the latest models of its 56-volt Power+ line, a snowblower and a backpack leaf blower in a choice of batteries, further advance the line.

EGO Power+ Snow Blower
If snowblowers were pets, electric models have been the runt of the litter, good for snowfalls no deeper than about 6 inches, less if it’s moist. EGO, however, is shooting the moon with claims that its Power+ Snow Blower is the “only cordless snow blower that’s as powerful as gas,” has “the power to clear heavy, wet snow” and “can handle what the city snowplow leaves behind.”

What you find at the end of your driveway the morning after the snowplow has come through has sometimes frozen solid. At that point, even a beefy 28-inch gas model is sweating. Whatever the reality, though, you can’t fault the company for selling its product short. One helpful feature is overload protection, which protects the motor is it’s working too hard.

As with many single-stage snowblowers, which generally use a rubber paddle alone, EGO’s model has a 21-inch clearing width. The unit’s brushless motor should help with longevity, though the residential warranty is five-year (three-year for the batteries and charger). There’s also a variable-speed control, a handle-mounted chute-adjustment lever and LED headlights. We haven’t tested this model but would like to check out its throwing-distance claim of up to 35 feet. The handle folds for easy storage, no surprise given the typical ergonomics of this brand.

The snowblower comes in three variations, all pertaining to the dual 56V ARC Lithium batteries it uses. If you already own something from the EGO Power+ line and have two batteries and the EGO rapid charger, the bare product (sans batteries and charger), Model SNT2100, costs $400. Model SNT2102, sold with two 5-amp-hour batteries, is $600. And for the most run time, opt for Model SNT2103, which has two 7.5Ah batteries and will set you back $800.
EGO Power+ Backpack Leaf Blower / Credit: EGO

EGO Power+ Backpack Blower
The Backpack Blower uses just one 56V ARC Lithium battery, but that coupled with turbine-fan technology helps the unit deliver a rated 600 cubic feet per minute. Since there’s no gas engine, you also get one quiet machine—as we could hear in demos at the Green Industry & Equipment Expo last month. The variable-speed control lets you power down to 260 cfm, but there’s also the usual power-eating turbo button for when you need the most power, such as for moving gobs of wet leaves. And lefties, this model’s controls are right-handed along with other backpacks.

As with the snowblower, the motor is brushless, and the nearly 13-pound product carries the same warranties. For $200, you can buy the backpack blower without a battery and rapid charger, Model LB6000, if you already have those. Model LB6002, $300, comes with a 5Ah battery and charger; Home Depot says the runtime is 120 minutes, but that’s at low speed—what you wouldn’t typically be using. (The manual claims 22 minutes at high speed, 15 minutes on turbo.) For the most runtime, pay $400 for the LB6004, whose battery is a 7.5Ah.

It’s still a bit early for user reviews on the snowblower—especially since most of us haven’t gotten our first real snowstorms. But so far, the bulk of customer comments on the backpack blower have been positive. If you buy from Home Depot, these products’ primary outlet, you get a 90-day return policy if you’re unhappy. EGO doesn’t seem worried.

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