How a Leaf Blower Vacuum Works – the Science and Fun Behind It

How a Leaf Blower Vacuum Works

We all love it when our lawns look neat and the neighborhood is attractive. In order for that to happen, though, a leaf blower has to be put to good use. But how does a good leaf blower vacuum work? We take a quick look at the science behind this amazing power tool.

The Basics

Primarily, a leaf blower works by pushing air produced by the engine to move leaves into a specific direction. At the same time, this creates a centrifugal force, which creates a temporary vacuum that sucks in debris.

How the Engine Functions

There are two types of leaf blower engines. The most common category is the gasoline powered type which uses two stroke pistons. The other motor-type if electric powered.

Gasoline Engine

When you turn your gasoline powered machine on, you essentially fire the spark plug. This causes the mixture of fuel and air to explode causing the pistons to move downwards. This downward movement compresses the air-fuel mixture creating pressure that drives out the exhaust gases.

Once the piston finally hits the bottom, it uncovers the intake port. And since the piston’s movement pressurizes the engine’s crankcase, it creates a displacement creating room for a fresh charge of fuel. This way, the crankshaft starts pushing the piston back to its initial position for yet another compression stroke.

Note that, as the air/fuel mixture is compressed, a temporary vacuum is created in the crankcase opening the reed valve that sucks air in.

This movement inward and outward movement of air creates a centrifugal force that eventually results in leaves and general debris being sucked in.

Electric Engine

Electric-powered leaf blowers, though lighter, are also increasingly becoming popular especially for small-scale use. The operation of these is relatively simple. When you switch on the machine, the motor spins in turn causing the fan to spin. And since the motor unit is firmly bolted in place, the fan is capable of moving larger volumes of air at high speeds. This movement of air eventually creates a centrifugal force that blows the leaves and cleans up debris.

It is worth noting that electric blowers have several limitations. For instance, they are limited by power availability – and because most homes rely on 120 volts and 20 amps, mathematically, there is no way to create the necessary wattage to create a force equivalent to what you can get from a gasoline powered unit.

Yet another limitation is length of the power cord. The longer the cord, the lesser the voltage received by the motor and this further reduces effectiveness of the motor. For those two reasons, the professional landscapers generally prefer gasoline powered units as opposed to electric ones.

But it is not all doom and gloom for electric motor powered leaf blower vacuums. Since they are lighter, quieter and capable of handling household tasks pretty well, they remain a popular choice among small-scale landscapers.​


A leaf blower is indeed an excellent time-saver. It can help you shred debris and deal with piles of twigs and leaves without a fuss. However, in order to get the best results, you need to invest in a unit that is optimized for your kind of job. And now that you understand how a leaf blower vacuum works, it’s my hope that you will be able to make just the right pick.

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