Blowers, Vacs and Sweepers: handheld and backpack machines

Battery technology is widening choice and petrol models are also improving, Sally Drury reports.

EGO backpack blower: can run for two hours and features padded adjustable harness - image: EGOPower+
EGO backpack blower: can run for two hours and features padded adjustable harness - image: EGOPower+

Never before has the grounds maintenance industry had such a variety of equipment available to it.

Although petrol power tools remain popular, cordless technology is evolving at a rapid pace and is becoming increasingly sought after — and it is simple to see why.

Stihl GB head of marketing Simon Hewitt says: "Not only does cordless technology match, or in some cases better, the performance of petrol models but a battery powered system has fewer moving parts, helping the tool to be cheaper and simpler to run while reducing servicing and machinery downtime.

"In addition, cordless technology is so quiet in operation that wearing ear defenders is not often required. For example, our BGA 100 cordless blower has been specifically designed for use in urban, noise-sensitive areas, keeping any disruption to an absolute minimum and allowing ground maintenance work to be carried out in any location at more convenient times."

Cordless technology is also helping to improve existing petrol equipment. "Our BR 450 C-EF high-performance blower uses lithium-ion technology in its ElectroStart technology," says Hewitt. "This allows the operator to start the engine at the flick of a switch without the effort of removing the tool from their back, enhancing the overall efficiency of the machine. "Offering exceptional performance, ease of maintenance and use, quiet operation and carbon footprint reduction, cordless technology offers the grounds maintenance market more options than ever."

Stihl’s BGA 100 retails at £310 as body-only. As a kit with battery and charger, the RRP including VAT is £1,260. Model BR 450 C-EF, with 63.3cc 2-MIX engine, costs £540 including VAT.

At EGO Power+ Europe, European marketing manager Steve Roskell agrees that battery power is getting more popular. "Battery technology is becoming the power source of choice for professional users. It’s a no-brainer really," he says. "A key benefit is low vibration, which makes a real difference for those using products for extended periods. Likewise, the eradication of fumes and the need to refuel, as well as lower noise, make it an easy choice."

With this mind, as a battery technology specialist, EGO has launched new backpack products. "We have a backpack battery that is interchangeable across the range but we also have an innovative backpack blower that has phenomenal power," says Roskell. "It has the ability to blow over 1,020cu m per hour (that’s 17cu m per minute), so it is right up there with the best petrol blowers. It can run for up to two hours and has a padded adjustable harness so is as comfortable as it is powerful." Including 5Ah battery, rapid charger and VAT, the EGO backpack blower retails at £369.

Also introduced this year, the 56V LB5750E handheld blower joins EGO’s battery kit line-up. It features jet turbine technology and a turbo fan to give maximum air volume of 977cu m/h (16.3cu m/min) and an air speed of 212kph (59m per second). Like the backpack model, the LB5750E has a brushless motor and "keep cool" cell technology. RRP is £169 including VAT but excluding battery and charger.

580BTS features X-Torq engine blower - image: Husqvarna

Turbo boost

Cobra Garden manufactures battery and petrol blowers, including a 43cc backpack model, a 26cc blower/vac and a 24V handheld blower with a short runtime of 20 minutes but 65m/s air speed turbo boost.

Husqvarna, a leading producer of forest, park and garden products, has a wide range of high-performance, low-vibration battery and petrol blowers. "Our 536LiB is a well-balanced, comfortable and efficient cordless battery leaf blower, ideal for professional use in noise-sensitive areas," says Husqvarna UK category manager Andrew Lees. "The exceptionally low noise level allows you to work with this industrial leaf blower in the most public settings."

The 536LiB uses Husqvarna’s patented "SavE" keypad, meaning the machine instantly starts at the touch of one button and the cruise control function saves energy while allowing full operator focus on clearing leaves and debris. The rechargeable leaf blower uses a 36V Li-ion battery, features a "boost" mode that gives the user extra power for tough debris and is compatible with the BLi200 battery and QC330 charger. Expect to pay £340 including VAT.

For larger tasks, especially where significant walking is expected, and if you prefer to put the weight across your shoulders and hips rather than straining one arm, Husqvarna offers a backpack Li-ion blower for professional use. "The 536LiBX offers the lowest noise level and highest airflow on the market, meaning it is perfect for the public setting," says Lees. "The well-balanced design makes it one of the most comfortable products around, especially during long shifts."

Like its handheld counterpart, the BX model has a boost mode for occasions when extra power is needed. It is compatible with the BLi940X battery backpack and QC500 charger. RRP is £420 including VAT.

Larger tasks: 536LiBX for public settings - image: Husqvarna

Professional grade

A new addition to the Li-ion battery market this year, Echo Power Tools offers the DPB-600 Power Blower with 50V 4Ah battery as a professional-grade tool for leaf and debris clearance.

Pellenc, a pioneer in battery grounds care kit, launched its second-generation blower in autumn last year.

More powerful, accurate and comfortable than the previous model, Airion 2 is suited to work around hospitals, schools and residential areas, particularly for end-of-day clearing of trimmings and clippings.

Weighing just 2.55kg, this version has been enhanced by 30% compared with the first model and is the only battery blower on the market with a thrust of 17.5 Newtons. Noise is recorded at 79dB(A). The Airion 2 is also waterproofed to IP54 standards.

As with all Pellenc products, Airion 2 uses the ultra-high-capacity technology of Pellenc’s lithium battery and comes with a three-year commercial warranty as standard. Leicester City FC grounds manager John Ledgwidge not only uses the Airion to clear leaves and debris but also blows dirt and moisture off his machinery. "Everything that goes into our store has to be clean and dry so we haven’t got water sitting on any of the products," he says. "For that reason, we use the Airion on the highest setting, which knocks all the water out of the bearings or joints."

If you are looking for petrol-powered blowing of large volumes of debris in the commercial world, take a look at the 580BTS from Husqvarna. The most powerful in the company’s range, this blower boasts a large airflow and high air speed provided by an efficient fan design and Husky’s powerful X-Torq engine. A commercial-grade air filter is intended to give trouble-free operation and the harness, with its wide shoulder straps, claims to offer greater comfort than other blowers. Including VAT, the RRP is £690.

Makita already offers 18V, Twin 18V and 24cc four-stroke handheld blowers but this year added a new backpack blower to its portfolio. The latest edition is a four-stroke petrol model, using Makita’s MM4 engine for low noise, low emissions and low fuel consumption. But what sets it apart from previous models is the airflow volume and air speed.

"Our new EB7660TH backpack blower has increased airflow and air speed, with the maximum power output speed from the MM4 75.6cc four-stroke engine increased to 7,200rpm," says Makita business development manager Mark Earles.

Padded harness: EB7660TH four-stroke blower - image: Makita UK

Great airflow volume

Maximum airflow volume is raised to 20cu m/min and maximum air speed velocity is increased to 92m/s. Vibration has been reduced to 3.5m/s2 with the engine mounted on four damper springs to isolate the engine and fan to reduce vibration on the operator’s back.

The carry frame has a padded harness with adjustable straps and the long, telescopic pipe with nozzle gives control of the airflow. An extended distance from the nozzle to the throttle grip avoids static electric-shock risk created by the air exiting the nozzle.

The MM4 engine delivers 3kW of power, runs on straight unleaded petrol, has a diaphragm carburettor and a decompression valve plus primer pump for easier starting. "It is highly sustainable with low-noise output, has exceptionally low fuel consumption and low exhaust emissions in compliance with EPA Phase 2 and EU Stage 2 regulations," says Earles.

"An anti-icing valve directs air warmed by the exhaust to prevent the carburettor icing up in cold conditions." Weighing 10.9kg without fuel, the EB7660TH is aimed at professional landscape maintenance contractors. 

Pellenc Cleanion - image: Etesia UK

Cleaning hard surfaces the Cleanion way

Called the Cleanion, Pellenc’s new pedestrian battery powered brush is suitable for removing debris from natural and artificial grass, pavements, car parks and other hard surfaces.

The self-drive unit is powered by the ULiB battery and can also be fitted with a snow blade for winter clearance work.

The Cleanion features adjustable speed and direction as well as variable speed control for forward and reverse. Brushing pressure is reflected in the LCD screen.

Pellenc products are distributed in the UK by Etesia UK.

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