Buyer's Guides Leaf Vacuums

Best Leaf Vacuums in 2020: In-Depth Buyer’s Guide

man with leaf blower

In the fall, the best leaf vacuums are in high demand. Regardless of the type of yard you have, there’s no doubt that a leaf vacuum will come in handy and can keep your yard well-maintained. These powerful tools can make cleaning up your sidewalks, driveway, and yard a cinch, allowing you to quickly clear away debris. But finding a top of the line model, one that’s powerful enough to handle your yard maintenance needs isn’t as easy as it may seem. You’ll come across many models that claim to offer the type of power and high-performance action you’re looking for, but in reality, many of these vacuums tend to overheat easily or you may notice a significant dip in their performance in a matter of weeks. Because of this, I decided to create a buyer’s guide that includes all of the important features you should look for in your next model, the benefits that come with purchasing a leaf vacuum for your yard, and I’ll go over which models are currently dominating the market. I’ve tested out several of the best-selling vacuums and created a list of the top four must-have leaf vacuums that are packing some serious power. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of the models that made it onto my list, their best features, and how they rated.

Leaf Vacuums Comparison Chart

ProductPowerWeightSpeed SettingsRating
Greenworks Cordless
Leaf Blower/Vacuum

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Battery5.6 LBS6
BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1
Leaf Vacuum

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Electric7 LBS2
WORX WG505 3-in-1
Leaf Vacuum

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Electric9.5 LBS6
Lawn Master Red Edition
Electric Blower Vacuum

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Electric8.8 LBS2

Greenworks Cordless Leaf Blower/Vacuum


Our Rating: (5/5)

For a battery-powered leaf vacuum, this model offers an impressive performance. Operating at 185 MPH with a 340 CFM rating, this lightweight vacuum weighs in at just 5.6 pounds and has a runtime of twenty-six minutes. It can handle both hard surfaces and grass and is a great buy for small to moderately sized yards. Of course, the cordless design is one of the biggest selling points since this will allow you to quickly and easily handle yard duty, without using extension cords. This model not only suctions up leaves, it blows them and it can also turn them into mulch. This type of versatility will allow you to get more use out of this power tool. Unfortunately, the shorter runtime will be a dealbreaker for some potential buyers, especially those with larger properties.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Powerful
  • Mulches
  • Six speeds

Cons

  • Short runtime

Conclusion

Lightweight, built tough, and easy to use, this multifunctional vacuum will be an asset in the yard and will make short work of leaves found on sidewalks, in driveways, in flower beds, and more. If you’re looking for a model that’s easy to maneuver and carry, and a vacuum that offers more versatility, then hit that buy now button.

BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Leaf Vacuum


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model will vacuum up leaves, blow them, and mulch them, making yard cleanup faster and easier. The vacuum offers two speeds to choose from, so you can select the power setting based on the task. The air speed comes in at 210 MPH, which is better than average. This is an electric model, so you’ll need to use extension cords if you have a larger property. The vacuum comes equipped with a built-in mulching bag, so you can suck up the leaves, mulch them, then spread them around the yard to prepare plants and flowers for colder temperatures.

Pros

  • Mulches and blows leaves
  • Easy to use
  • 210 MPH
  • Low price

Cons

  • Only two speed settings to choose from

Conclusion

While using a cord can be a hassle, the fact that you don’t have to worry about a runtime or a battery dying on you in the middle of a job is a huge selling point for most buyers. Of course, the fact that the vacuum only comes with two speed settings to choose from can be a big drawback, especially for potential buyers who have very delicate plants. This can limit you in terms of where you can use the vacuum, since an air speed setting that’s too high can potentially damage fragile plant life.

WORX WG505 3-in-1 Leaf Vacuum


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model offers three functions in one, working as a blower, vacuum, and mulcher. Switching modes is as easy as flipping a switch, so you won’t even have to stop during use to change the function. In terms of power, this model offers 210 MPH, which is better than average. The six adjustable air speed settings will allow you to switch up the speed based on what type of materials you’re suctioning up and the type of plants you’re working around. The vacuum also allows for one-handed operation, however, for some, this model will be too heavy to use for long, considering it weighs in at just under ten pounds.

Pros

  • Six air speeds
  • One-handed operation
  • Three modes
  • 210 MPH

Cons

  • Heavy

Conclusion

This heavy-duty leaf vacuum can also work as a leaf blower and will mulch leaves, so you’ll have some nice ground cover for the lawn during the fall and winter months. It comes equipped with six air speeds to choose from, which is a huge selling point for buyers since a lower speed is needed for fragile plants and a higher speed is required when you’re dealing with wet leaves. Priced affordably, built tough, and loaded with power, this is one vacuum that you can rely on season after season.

Lawn Master Red Edition Electric Blower Vacuum


Our Rating: (4/5)

This is one of Lawn Master’s biggest sellers, featuring a three-in-one design that will allow you to vacuum, blow, and mulch leaves. The powerful twelve-amp motor features max air speed and volume, coming in at 240 MPH and 380 CFM. Unfortunately, while powerful, it only offers a couple of air speeds to choose from.

Additionally, it weighs in at eight pounds, which is decent for an electric leaf vacuum. The maintenance free design will be a big selling point, especially for those homeowners who are tired of dealing with the high maintenance needs of gas-powered power tools.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Powerful
  • Mulches and blows
  • Low price

Cons

  • Only includes two air speeds

Conclusion

In terms of power, this model is at the top of the list, but when it comes to air speed options, the two air speed choices are pretty disappointing. In terms of overall quality, this leaf vacuum is a great buy, but when it comes to extra features for blowing and suctioning power, this model is somewhat lacking. However, if you’re searching for an affordable, powerful, lightweight leaf vacuum that offers a variety of functions, then this is a model you can depend on and one that’s tough enough to handle wet leaves and terrain like a champ.

Leaf Vacuums Buyer’s Guide

While related to a standard leaf blower, you’ll find that the vacuum operates in the opposite way. A leaf blower will disperse leaves by blowing them away, while the vacuum works to suction up any fallen leaves and debris through a long tube where the debris is then placed in a bag that’s attached to the end. These power tools can come in handy when you want to quickly tidy up your yard and get rid of leaves that are trapped in flower beds and under hedges.

When you’re shopping for a new leaf vacuum, you’ll find that they come in a variety of power levels and sizes. Low-priced models are a great choice for smaller yards, while bigger, more powerful vacuums can handle larger properties and wet leaves.

Some models will offer multiple functions that will allow you to switch from vacuuming to blowing and mulching. A model with a mulching function can turn a large pile of leaves into a bag of rich compost that you can use for your garden.

Benefits of Leaf Vacuums

blowing fallen leaves

  • One of the biggest advantages of using a leaf vacuum is how much time it can save you. If you’re tired of spending hours in the yard every season, raking up leaves, then a leaf vacuum is a great choice. These tools will cut the time you normally spend maintaining your yard in half.
  • A leaf vacuum comes with a large bag that stores all of the leaves and debris that’s suctioned up, making these power tools a better choice over a blower, since with a blower you’ll still need to spend time picking up and bagging piles of leaves and other yard debris.
  • Investing in a top of the line leaf vacuum is a more affordable option than paying a high monthly professional landscaping fee.
  • Most models are very beginner-friendly and designed with speed in mind.
  • While a vacuum may not be the best choice for wet leaf cleanup, they’re fast acting when it comes to cleaning up a large amount of dry leaves, allowing you to skip the pile stage and shoot the leaves straight into a bag.
  • When it comes to fragile plants, you need to avoid using a leaf blower at all costs since they can snap and damage these delicate plants. Using a vacuum, you can easily move between the plants and suction up those hard to reach leaves without ripping up or damaging plants.
  • Some models will come with specially designed attachments that can be used for vacuuming out gutters. Keep in mind, this task should be done when the leaves and debris in the gutters are dry.
  • Larger leaf vacuums come with a mulching option which will shred up the leaves as they’re suctioned up, which will allow you to make use of the mulch later on. Not only does this allow you to use a more environmentally friendly method when it comes to dealing with leaves, but you’ll also enjoy the added benefit of using this eco-friendly mulch to protect grass and fragile plants from cold winter weather.
  • Some people will use their leaf vacuums to clean out mowers, tractors, and other types of equipment when they’re coated with grass clippings and other yard debris. It’s a fast and simple way to clean things while avoiding tough maintenance later down the line.

Now that you know more about the biggest benefits that come with using a leaf vacuum, let’s take a look at the important features to look for and how to choose a new vacuum based on your yard maintenance needs.

Must-Have Features

One of the biggest and best advantages that comes with using a leaf vacuum is the debris collection bag. When you’re out in the yard vacuuming up leaves, all of the waste is pulled into the vacuum bag. This means you won’t have to deal with the final step in your usual cleanup process, which is bending over and struggling to get all leaves you’ve piled together into a trash bag. But aside from this important advantage, these handy tools will make yard cleanup fast and simple, so you can get back to enjoying your weekend. But before you dive in and order the first vacuum you come across, you need to learn more about the features that determine suction power and efficiency. Additionally, you’ll also need to choose from four different types of vacuums, based on your cleanup needs and the size of your yard. Below, you’ll find all the information that can help you choose a model that will be perfect for your yard and maintenance needs.

MPH and CFM Rating

Before you buy, be sure to take a look at a model’s CFM and MPH rating. As you probably know, MPH stands for miles per hour. For a leaf vacuum, this measurement will refer to how fast the air is suctioned into the unit via the tube. Most models will run around one hundred to one hundred and eighty miles per hour. Commercial models can offer a rating of two hundred miles per hour or more.

Cubic feet per minute, or CFM, is somewhat more important than airspeed. This measurement will tell you how much air travels through the vacuum in one minute. This indicates how powerful the tool is. While miles per hour will give buyers a rough idea of how fast the leaves will go through the tube, cubic feet per minute will tell us how much can go through at once. The standard cubic feet per minute rating for these vacuums can range from one hundred up to six hundred. A model that has a rating that’s under two hundred may be adequate for cleaning up a small yard, but a larger property will need a higher cubic feet per minute rating.

Speed Settings

Variable speed settings will control how fast a vacuum suctions up leaves. Some models will have a fixed speed setting, while higher priced models offer multiple speed settings to choose from.

Reduction Ratio

A reduction ratio involves the ratio between the number of bags the leaves were reduced to by mulching capabilities and the number of bags of debris that was present.

Two Cycle and Four-Cycle Engines

A two-cycle engine offers a nice balance of weight and power. However, these engines operate on both oil and gas. The oil can be mixed prior to use or you can purchase it premixed.

A four-cycle engine uses gas only, so you don’t have to worry about mixing gas and oil. Models with a four-cycle engine tend to be heavier than vacuums with a two-cycle engine.

Types of Leaf Vacuums

man working on blowing the leaves

There are currently four main types of leaf vacuums to choose from:

o   Gas-powered backpack

o   Gas-powered handheld

o   Electric backpack

o   Electric handheld

A blower and vacuum combo allow you to both blow debris and suction it up, where the debris is trapped in a bag that’s attached. Vacuum style models make it much easier to dispose of yard debris.

Electric Handheld

These vacuums work well in smaller yards and feature a compact design, which is its biggest advantage. These vacuums are quiet-running, especially during start up. Of course, with this type of vacuum you’ll have to deal with a cord, which can be very limiting if you have a large property.

Electric Backpack

These vacuums work just like handheld models in terms of running off of electricity, but they often come with larger motors, making them more powerful and heavier, hence the need for a back harness.

Gas-Powered Handheld

If you need more power than an electric model can provide, then gas-powered is the way to go. Of course, these leaf vacuums are notoriously noisy, but because you don’t have to deal with a cord, they can be easier to work with and handle. These models are also heavier than electric models, but they do offer a more powerful performance.

Gas Powered Backpack

If you’re looking for a powerful vacuum for a large property, then this type of vacuum is the perfect choice. In most cases, this is the go-to style of vacuum for commercial use. These vacuums often weigh twice as much as a handheld vacuum, which is why they’re carried around in a harness. While these vacuums were originally designed for commercial use, many homeowners purchase this type of vacuum because of how effective it is. Additionally, considering how powerful they are, users will find that they can handle yard work in a fraction of the time it would take with an electric model.

Corded and Cordless

When you use a corded leaf vacuum, you can expect a consistent performance, without the added weight of the battery. However, the cord will restrict the user’s mobility, which makes them a better choice for smaller yards. Cordless models offer high mobility. Higher priced models will come equipped with batteries that offer higher voltages that provide a longer runtime and a solid performance. However, the battery also adds plenty of weight.

Disposable Bag

Models that use disposable bags to collect debris are more convenient to use than solid bags since all you have to do when the bag is full is tie it off and attach a new bag. With a regular bag you’ll still need to dump the full bag out in the garbage can or yard debris bags. Disposable bags eliminate the need for this extra step.

Weight

How much a vacuum weighs can have a major impact on how long and how often you use it. Vacuums that are heavier can be difficult to hold for a longer period of time and can be hard to maneuver.

Bag Size

Bag size matters. A larger bag means you won’t have to stop what you’re doing to empty out the bag frequently. If the bag is too small then you’ll find yourself stopping frequently to handle this messy task, which can really slow you down. If the bag is too big, then it can make the vacuum difficult to use once it’s over halfway full.

Nozzle

These power tools come with a variety of nozzle sizes and shapes, all designed to help you get the job done faster. A rounded, wider nozzle is a good choice for garden use. Some will also come with wheels at the end that are designed to help support the weight of the machine, which makes maneuvering the vacuum around the yard much easier.

Some nozzles may also come with a built-in scraper so users can easily dislodge debris that’s fixed or stuck to the ground.

Safety Tips

When using one of these power tools, there are some safety measures you should follow during use.

  • When using a leaf vacuum, always wear earplugs to protect your hearing, even if you’re using a quiet-running electricity model.
  • Wear goggles and a dust mask. Doing so can prevent debris from getting in your mouth, nasal passage, and eyes.
  • Before using the vacuum, check the yard for large rocks, branches, and small animals.
  • If you have a vacuum that runs on gas and oil, routine maintenance will be essential and can keep your vacuum in good working order.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Leaf Vacuums Work Well?

Yes. Using a leaf vacuum can cut the time you normally spend out in the yard in half. The spaces between flowers and small plants aren’t the only places that will benefit from cleanup with one of these power tools. Thanks to their large nozzles, these leaf vacuums are also a great choice for picking up dirt and debris from window wells and gutters, or any other narrow channels where a leaf blower would cause debris to scatter too far.

Can Leaf Vacuums Pick up Stones?

A leaf vacuum is not designed for suctioning up rocks since this can damage the power tool. If you need to pick up leaves from soil or a pebble pathway, then you may need to do so by hand.

What is the Best Way to Remove Leaves?

The simplest way to pick up leaves is to use a leaf vacuum. Since these power tools come with their own attached bag, you won’t have to stoop over to pick up the leaves, so your work will be done faster and more efficiently.

Can You Use a Leaf Vacuum on Gravel?

Dry leaves weigh much less than gravel, so it’s possible to use the vacuum on them. However, you must test this out and make sure you have the vacuum switched to the lowest setting. Avoid using the vacuum on pebbled driveways, since pebbles are very light and may get suctioned up, which can damage the vacuum. If the vacuum starts to suction up the gravel, stop using it and remove the leaves by hand or carefully rake the area.

Final Thoughts

The best leaf vacuum will be comfortable to use, can offer the type of powerful performance you need based on the size of your yard, and can make the entire yard cleanup process fast and more efficient. The models I’ve included here in my top four lineup are all designed to do just that and more. By reading this buyer’s guide and choosing one of the models in my best-of list, you’ll have no trouble handling your leaf problem this autumn, and you’ll get the job done in a fraction of the time.