In most cases, higher CFM on a blower is going to be considerably better. It means that the leaf blower pumps out more air per minute, which makes it easier to clean larger areas.
CFM isn’t the only metric that you need to pay attention to when purchasing a leaf blower, but it is a very important one.
What does CFM stand for?
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. It is a measurement of the amount of air that is coming out of the nozzle of a leaf blower. Although, it can be used for pretty much anything that blows air.
What is CFM?
The CFM rating tells you how much air the blower is able to produce per minute. For example, if you see a rating of 600 CFM, then you know that particular blower is able to pump out 600 cubic feet of air per minute.
What does a high CFM on a leaf blower mean?
The higher the CFM on a leaf blower, the faster the blower can work. After all, the more coming out of the end, the more air it has to blow away leaves, and whatever else you are looking to clear from a specific area.
Is CFM the only thing you need to pay attention to with a leaf blower?
No. You will also need to pay attention to the speed that the air moves at. If the air moves at a slow speed (measured in MPH), then it doesn’t matter how high the CFM on the leaf blower is, it will barely be able to clear anything.
What is a good CFM for a handheld leaf blower?
Anywhere between 400 CFM and 700 CFM seems to be good for a handheld leaf blower.
You can get handheld leaf blowers that are lower than 400 CFM, but they tend to be best for more precision work.
What is better, high CFM or high MPH on a leaf blower?
It depends on what you are planning on doing with the leaf blower.
If you want a good general-purpose leaf blower (I.e. one that can clear your garden quickly), then you would want both the CFM and the MPH to be high.
Does a higher CFM mean that the leaf blower is louder?
A lot of the time, yes. While many of the better-quality leaf blowers on the market will have noise-dampening built into them, the higher CFM models will always be noticeably louder than those with a low CFM.
Remember, the speed at which the air is moving (MPH) will also play a role. The higher that is, the louder the leaf blower is going to get.
What happens if you have a high MPH leaf blower with a low CFM?
Leaf blowers with a high MPH but a lower CFM will tend to be better for precision work. This is because they often have smaller nozzles.
You may find that a high MPH, low CFM leaf blower is going to be best for dealing with leaves and the like in gutters.
What happens if you have a high CFM, but a low MPH on your leaf blower?
A high CFM, but a low MPH will very rarely be useful. While you will be able to blow air onto larger areas with ease, the air won’t be coming out fast enough to move the leaves properly.
The only time that a high CFM, low MPH leaf blower tends to come in useful is if you are planning on making a leaf pile in a very specific area of the garden with the least amount of work imaginable.
Does higher CFM require more gas?
Yes. Since the leaf blower is going to be moving a lot more air at once, it needs a lot more power. If you have a gas-powered leaf blower, it will guzzle the gas quicker. If you have a battery-powered leaf blower, then expect to be charging those batteries a lot more frequently.
Is CFM adjustable on leaf blowers?
Sort of. The only real way to control the CFM on a leaf blower is to change the nozzle. The smaller the nozzle, the lower the CFM.
Many of the better leaf blower manufacturers will have interchangeable nozzles for their leaf blowers. You will need a narrow nozzle if you want a low CFM, and a wider nozzle for high CFM.
Does the CFM impact the MPH?
Not really. While having a narrower nozzle may slow down the air ever so slightly, it is unlikely to be a noticeable difference.
MPH will be based upon the quality of the fans inside of the leaf blower, rather than how much air the leaf blower is able to pump out per minute.
What is the minimum MPH for a leaf blower?
You should only ever purchase a leaf blower with a minimum of 190 MPH. If you go much lower than this, then the leaf blower may struggle to move wetter, bundles of leaves in the garden. It almost certainly wouldn’t be able to move sticks.
Is there a maximum MPH for a leaf blower?
Theoretically, no. However, we suggest that you do not venture far beyond 200-250mph for your leaf blower, the closer you can get to 190mph, the better.
You have to remember that the faster the air is leaving the leaf blower, the harder it is to control the leaves in your garden. In fact, if the MPH is too high, then you may be creating more mess in your garden than you are cleaning up.
Do you need a larger CFM if you have a larger garden?
Yes. It will allow you to quickly move leaves about. If the nozzle of the leaf blower is too narrow, then it is going to take an age to clear your garden.
Most companies recommend that if you have a garden or area to clear larger than 1-acre, then you should be opting for a 900 CFM blower, at minimum.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.