Product: Lehr Propane Eco Blower
One local topic making the rounds lately is the ban on gas-powered leaf blowers used by home owners and their gardeners in Los Angeles. Make no mistake, we're no fans of the loud garden tools ourselves; there has been too many early mornings where we've been awoken by their characteristic "rrrrreeeeehrrr" and the fumes of gasoline lingering in the air. But amongst gardeners, ban or no ban, these are standard issue garden tools of convenience and efficiency. So we were intrigued when a LA company reached out with their line of marketed "environmentally friendly technology" garden tools that didn't fall under the ban; their Eco Blower, which forgoes gasoline and uses cleaner propane (the same fuel as your BBQ grill), claimed lower operational cost and quieter performance. We decided we'd give it a go.
Wearing its green cred right there with its green and black plastic construction, the Lehr Eco Blower is different from a typical blower/mulcher, as it uses common propane canisters as fuel. With up to 2 hours of operational use per canister, there's no concern about gasoline fumes, 97% fewer particulates spit out while in use and refueling is simplified to a twist and lock system. The inclusion of propane as a fuel seems a no-brainer improvement, making for safer operations and easier consumer maintenance; no worries about storing or spilling gasoline is a big plus for residential use.
Out of the box, we got the Eco Blower up and running in about 5 minutes, most notably making sure to add a sufficient amount of oil in the crankcase. The clamp didn't lock as easily around the propane canister as we would have liked, but it was noted the "very first time a tank is installed, it may be tight but soon will take a set and latch easier". We primarily tested the unit in blower mode (the unit can also be used as a vacuuming mulcher, with included bag/vacuum attachment, converting leaves, small branches and undoubtedly a few bugs into mulch at a 14:1 ratio); we traveled all the way to my mom's house out in suburbia to give the Eco Blower a real world backyard test. It took six pulls to get the unit started the first time, but once running, I suddenly understood why gardeners love these things: they make quick duty of a tedious task. Both Emily and my mom stood a safe distance, eyeing me suspiciously, as I walked around like Pvt. Vasquez in Aliens with her Gatling gun with the gleeful expression only afforded to the armed.
The Eco Blower might be a nicer, eco-friendly option, but it still performed like it's meaner gasoline powered equivalent from what I could tell. At the pull of a trigger, the hum of the 25-cc, 4-stroke engine would ramp up to a rice-rocket whir and start blowing everything I pointed at it with enough force to dislodge small pebbles (producing up to 150 mph air velocity). Note, I foolishly wasn't donning protective eye gear, let alone shoes (a case of laziness after taking them off in a no-shoe household), while I gave the Eco Blower a test, but I highly recommend you operate anything like this with more common sense.
I was able to clean my mom's backyard wood deck in a matter of a minute, blowing away a considerable amount of dirt and particles from the surface, which warmed her up to the device (albeit, still from a safe distance). But despite its quieter operational volume, it's still loud. Not so loud you have to shout while using it, as it is indeed noticeably quieter, but you're definitely going to drown out any soft musical musings of James Taylor while using the Lehr garden rool. And despite checking the crankcase and the oil levels, the unit did emit a slightly unpleasant smell; it might have been an odor which dissipates after first use and it didn't bother me all too much considering how much fun I was having using it.
Despite a good amount of lighter weight plastic used for parts like the blow tube and exterior housing, the Eco Blower is still heavy enough to require two hands for safe operation. Initially awkward, using it becomes easier with practice, but I cut the test short after realizing I wasn't really doing anything but maniacally looking around for something news I could blow far and fast. With great powers come great responsibility.
The Lehr Eco Blower is approved for use in all 50 States by the EPA, including certified California C.A.R.B. compliant. A 2 year limited warranty for the blower and 3 year limited warranty for the carburetor covers you from any major construction issues. We still believe you should resort to the standard truly-eco friendly and quieter rake for garden duties, but if you're going to tackle large yards and tasks that do require a leaf blower, you wouldn't be doing yourself a disservice by considering this propane powered garden tool. If anything, we wish we could just gift all the local gardening crews one of these each for more peaceful mornings.
Pros: Powerful, zero evaporative emissions, quieter than typical leaf blower, uses affordable propane, reduced odor/no leaks, dual blower/mulcher
Cons: Still loud, propane canister didn't lock easily
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.