Best Leaf Vacuums

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best leaf vacuums

People love the shade and beauty of trees in the spring and summer. But in the autumn, you may start cursing those trees on your property. When the leaves fall to the ground, your beautiful trees suddenly become a lot of work. Raking leaves by hand can be a challenge, and a power leaf blower still requires someone to pick up the piles (although you may be tempted to just blow your leaves into your neighbor’s lawn when he’s at work).

The best solution is a leaf vacuum, which looks like a leaf blower, except that it sucks the leaves into a collection bag for disposal or recycling. Many leaf vacuums even allow you to switch between blowing and vacuuming functions, making this a versatile outdoor power tool.

To learn more about how a leaf vacuum can make your autumn more enjoyable, check out our guide, which is full of information and tips on what to consider before you shop. If you’re ready to buy, take a look at one of our top recommendations.

When operating a leaf vacuum, don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry around it. Tie back long hair, too. These items could become entangled in the machine.

Key considerations

Size and style

  • A handheld leaf vacuum is a common style for many homeowners. It has a handle to make it easy to carry and aim. Oftentimes, the collection bag will fit over your shoulder.
  • A backpack leaf vacuum is another option, which allows you to carry the heavy part of the unit over your back. These usually are a little bigger than handheld models.

  • Large vacuums look almost like a walk-behind lawn mower, sucking leaves quickly into a large bag. Very few homeowners will use this type of device, as it’s made for large properties or commercial use.

Electric vs. two-cycle leaf vacuums

Some leaf vacuums will use a two-cycle motor. This means you’ll mix gasoline and oil to fuel the motor. These are loud units, but they deliver significant power.

Other leaf vacuums will run on electricity. A corded leaf vacuum must be plugged into a wall outlet while you use it. You’ll want a long extension cord for this style of leaf vacuum for better freedom of movement. Some electrical units may use a rechargeable battery, giving you even more freedom.

Electric leaf vacuums are easier to maintain and use than two-cycle units. They also weigh less. But they don’t have as much power as the two-cycle leaf vacuums.

Features

Versatility

Oftentimes, leaf vacuums will also have the ability to work as a leaf blower or leaf mulcher. It’s nice to have some versatility in this type of machine, as having a three-in-one unit is convenient for conserving storage space.

Accessories

Certain models of leaf vacuums will give you the option of adding accessories for extra features. These accessories can help you complete certain jobs faster. Accessories include kits for blowing leaves out of gutters, disposable leaf bags, extension tubes, and shoulder-strap collection bags.

Vacuum tube size

Larger diameter and longer vacuum tubes will suck up more debris in less time. This allows you to complete your jobs faster.

Leaf vacuum prices

Inexpensive: Basic handheld leaf vacuums will cost roughly $40 to $100. Typically, these units will run on electricity. They don’t provide a lot of power compared to more expensive models. They’re good for clearing sidewalks and small patio or lawn areas.

Mid-range: For $100 to $250, you can find leaf vacuums that may be either handheld or backpack-style units. Both two-cycle and electric-powered leaf vacuums will be available in this price range, and they work nicely for an average-sized yard.

Expensive: Large walk-behind leaf vacuums can cost $250 and up. Commercial units may cost as much as a few thousand dollars. These units do require some maintenance to keep running, but they’ll speed up a big leaf-removal job.

Tips

  • Hold the vacuum close to the ground for greater suction power. But be careful: if you place the tube directly on the ground, you may pick up sticks and other debris in addition to leaves. This extra debris could damage or clog the machine.

  • Some leaf vacuums will allow you to use a setting that mulches the leaves while they’re vacuumed. If you mulch as you vacuum, you’ll be able to fit more yard waste into the collection bag, perhaps up to three or four times as much.

  • Because you’ll often have to stop vacuuming to empty the collection bag, this job can take a long time. For extremely large yards with multiple trees, you’ll want a large-capacity leaf vacuum or a large collection bag to finish the job more quickly.

  • You can use a smaller leaf vacuum more efficiently if you blow or rake the majority of the leaves in the yard first. Then, you can use the leaf vacuum to quickly suck up the leftover leaves, finishing the job.
If using an electric-powered leaf vacuum with an extension cord, only use a cord that’s rated for outdoor use.

FAQ

Q. What safety equipment should I use with a leaf vacuum?

A. Manufacturers may have specific safety recommendations, so always read the user manual for your model. At a minimum, you should wear safety goggles to protect eyes from flying debris, such as sticks. Wear ear protection, as these machines will generate excessive noise. Some people will want a dust mask if the leaves are especially dry.

Q. Are leaf vacuums really noisy enough that I need ear protection?

A. These are extremely loud outdoor power tools. Repeated or extended exposure to these machines could lead to hearing damage. They’re loud enough that some neighborhood associations ban their use during certain hours of the day. Some areas have banned the use of leaf vacuums and blowers entirely.

Q. How does a leaf vacuum work?

A. A leaf vacuum will work similarly to the vacuum you use in your home. Just aim the vacuum tube of the leaf vacuum at the leaves and tiny debris you want to collect, and the unit does the rest. The leaves and debris will be pulled into a collection bag. Once it’s full, you’ll empty the bag and start working again.

Q. What are some downsides to using a leaf vacuum?

A. The primary drawback to a leaf vacuum is the noise it generates. Additionally, if you have a model with a tiny collection bag, you might become frustrated with how often you must empty it. However, larger collection bags make the leaf vacuum more difficult to carry over your shoulder. Take care when working around rocks or large sticks. With a powerful leaf vacuum, some of these items may be sucked into the unit, which may cause damage or create dangerous flying debris.

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