The latest options in debris management
Backpack blowers have long been a mainstay in debris management equipment on any landscaper’s trailer. They are powerful, agile, easy to control and work equally well gently blowing leaves out of flowerbeds or moving piles of leaves across a lawn. In recent years, advancements have been introduced to backpack blowers to make them more powerful, yet they remain relatively quiet and produce lower emissions than their older counterparts. In fact, their output is nearing that of wheeled blowers, which are not nearly as mobile or agile in certain scenarios.
Shindaiwa’s EB802 is one of the company’s more powerful backpack blowers, released in fall of 2008. The EB802 has a 79.2cc engine producing about 4.3 hp. This translates to a 191 mph airspeed at the nozzle with 730 CFM output. “The EB802 backpack blower is the latest high-technology product from Shindaiwa featuring efficient two-stroke technology to meet EPA Phase III regulatory standards,” says Robert Stanley, Shindaiwa’s product manager. Stanley explains the two-ring piston design, along with the closed-ported, four-bolt, chrome-plated cylinder, offers maximum power with maximum durability. Shindaiwa also offers a pleated paper, automotive-style air cleaner with a foam pre-filter for maximum protection against debris. The air cleaner cover features tool-less removal thanks to two large thumbscrews. Among the several innovations that the EB802 possesses is a newly designed intake cover, which minimizes the risk of overheating the engine from leaf blockage. The downward-sloping fins prevent total clogging, as leaves held there will fall to the ground during idling in conjunction with the vibration from the engine. As far as operator comfort goes, Stanley points out that “Our EB802 blower features a newly designed and ergonomic lightweight frame with a unique lumbar support system that reduces pressure points felt by the operator.” This means the longer the operator wears the blower during operation, the less likely that discomfort will be felt. This is beneficial during the height of leaf season for sure. The shoulder straps are thickly padded for comfort, and Stanley adds, “The dual shoulder strap adjustments allow the user to easily fine-tune the fit for nonbinding comfort and reduced fatigue.” There is also an EB802RT version, which has the throttle mounted on the blower tube instead of the flexible hip-mount location. Stanley says the EB802RT also has a special “hush mode,” which runs the engine at 3,850 RPM, measuring only 65 dB per ANSI B175.2 standard at 50 feet, making it ideal for operation in locales with noise ordinances governing power equipment.
Husqvarna’s 180BT and 180BF backpack models represent the best and most powerful blowers in the Husqvarna line. “Our 180 series is one of the most powerful commercial backpack blowers available,” says Gary Hardee, director of product management with Husqvarna Power Products. “The powerful X-TORQ engine, with an efficient fan design, provides air velocity in excess of 200 mph and air volume greater than 700 CFM.” The 180 series has a 72cc, two-stroke engine that reduces emissions up to 60 percent with 20 percent more fuel efficiency. There is a heavy-duty, two-stage air cleaner system sporting a pleated paper element with a foam pre-cleaner for longer run times in between filter maintenance intervals. The top-mounted filter casing provides easy access via two large thumb knobs. The 180 series is also comfortable on the operator, as Hardee points out: “The harness is ergonomically designed with padded shoulder straps and a waist belt that distributes the load for comfort and productivity.” The waist belt fastens in front of the operator via a large Fastex-type buckle, and the belt itself features two large padding areas to help stabilize the blower on your back to prevent excess movement, as well as distribute the weight of the blower over a larger area so the harness straps do not press into your shoulders as much. The rugged blower frame also includes a large grab handle at the top for loading and unloading off and onto trucks and trailers. Husqvarna offers two distinct versions of the 180, with the 180BT (tube-mounted throttle) and the 180BF (hip-mounted throttle).
Echo’s PB-755T blower is their top-of-the-line backpack unit and comes with a 63.3cc Power Boost Tornado engine for cleaner emissions and powerful 625 CFM output. Says John Powers, product manager for Echo, “[This engine] provides maximum power for moving large piles of leaves using proven two-cycle engine technology, and is emissions compliant.” The PB-755T features the Posi-Loc pipe system, which ensures secure pipe connections so the tubes stay together for the life of the blower. This helps prevent tubes from coming apart during use, even through the toughest conditions. Another advantage is the large, automotive-style, pleated paper air cleaner, which traps more debris and extends the air filter maintenance intervals. “It provides fantastic filtration qualities even in extremely dirty or dusty conditions,” says Powers. The extra-long flex tube coming off the blower housing that the pipes attach to provides excellent tube mobility, even in colder ambient temperatures where rubber becomes stiff. For operator comfort, Echo includes thick-padded shoulder straps and a specially designed backrest, which helps in both making the blower comfortable on the operator’s back as well as absorbing some vibration from the engine. The 755 is available in a hip-mount throttle (755H) as well as a tube-mount throttle (755T). “The ‘T’ version is the best seller,” says Powers. “Many landscapers like the simplicity of the controls, which leaves their left hand free during operation.”
Offering up a 65cc engine and an 850 CFM output, the Tanaka TBL-7800 will make quick work of any debris removal job. According to Mark Woodling, Tanaka’s marketing manager, the engine does not require any valve adjustments or expensive synthetic oil, making it cost-effective to maintain and run. In addition, it features a large, thick, dense foam air cleaner for effective trapping of debris particles. Its 65cc engine and wide tubes will move a lot of yard debris quickly. Not to mention, it is very comfortable to use. Says Woodling, “For maximum operator comfort, Tanaka’s largest blower features either a side-mounted throttle control arm or a tube-mount throttle control handle; heavy-duty, extra-wide shoulder straps; a contoured back pad; a four-point anti-vibration system; and is one of the lightest blowers on the market, which translates to less operator fatigue.” The TBL-7800 tips the scales at a mere 22.9 pounds, making it ideal for those who use backpack blowers frequently. Another feature worthy of mention is the extra-large grab handle situated on the top of the blower housing. Most blowers have their grab handles integrated into the backrest of the blower frame, but with this positioning, the weight of the unit is balanced in your grip, making it easy to lift off and onto trucks and trailers.
Stihl’s BR600 Magnum backpack blower combines light weight, superior operator ergonomics and fuel efficiency into one powerful blower. Powered by a 64.8cc, four-cycle engine that runs on standard 50:1 ratio gas/oil mixture, the BR600 Magnum’s engine is lightweight, yet offers outstanding acceleration. Adam Hanks, Stihl’s industrial products product manager, says the BR600 Magnum’s exhaust valve is made from a nickel chromium-based super alloy. “This material is highly resistant to chemical corrosion and has extraordinary strength under high-stress conditions,” he points out. Also, it is perhaps one of the “greenest” blowers on the market today. However, being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean it lacks the power necessary to complete debris removal jobs. Says Hanks, “It is one of the most powerful blowers on the market, with an air volume of 712 CFM and an air velocity of 201 mph.” Another couple of major advantages are the weight and operator ergonomics of the backpack blower. “At only 21.6 pounds, it is one of the lightest weight backpack blowers in its class,” Hanks says. This translates into less fatigue for the operator if they use a backpack blower for an extended period of time. “The harness is made from 100 percent nylon all the way around for better wear resistance while still maintaining the padding on the straps and the back pad for comfort,” says Hanks. The dual-adjustment, comfort-fit harness straps can easily and readily adjust to fit any size operator. There is also an anti-vibration system built into the back plate of the blower frame, says Hanks. The blower tube nozzle is engineered for long life, and there is a 4-inch wear area on the tip of the nozzle that, according to Hanks, extends its useful life. Replacing the nozzle is only necessary when the 4-inch wear area has been used up. There is also a single-hand throttle control blower tube handle that puts all of the blower’s controls at the operator’s fingertips for safe and efficient operation.
RedMax’s EBZ8001 is the company’s entry into the high-end backpack blower market. It features RedMax’s Strato-Charged engine technology, says Tommy Tanaka, product manager for RedMax Zenoah America. The EBZ8001 has a 71.9cc engine producing 4.4 hp, with an output of 685 CFM at a 201 mph airspeed. RedMax also incorporated some ergonomic enhancements to make the blower more comfortable to use over an extended period. “The shoulder straps and pads are wide and thick; very well-cushioned,” says Tanaka. There are also vent holes integrated into the back pad to promote an active airflow and keep the operator’s back cool. Tanaka points out that “the engine is placed closer to the frame and operator’s back, reducing fatigue.” The large, dual-element air cleaner is mounted on top of the blower housing and connects to the carburetor via a remote snorkel tube. Inside, there is an automotive-style, pleated paper filter with a foam pre-filter.
These are just a few of the manufacturers and models of backpack blowers. For more brands and more models, check out our All-Industry Directory at dev.turfmagazine.com.
Dexter Ewing is a freelance contributor and former LCO based in Winston-Salem, N.C.