24 votes

The first thing we do, let's kill all the leaf blowers

47 comments

  1. [6]
    vord
    Link
    Could we just ban all gasoline powered tools, with a possible exception for generators? I don't even care about the emissions problems. It's maddening to have these super-loud lawnmowers and...

    Could we just ban all gasoline powered tools, with a possible exception for generators?

    I don't even care about the emissions problems. It's maddening to have these super-loud lawnmowers and leafblowers going all the time.

    Could we also abandon the idea that we all need perfectly manicured grass lawns that need perpetual mainatainence? We'll all save a ton of time and effort by letting meadows and forest soil form again. Living soil is always a welcome addition, and can certainly capture more carbon than dead dirt.

    19 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      California is doing it: Gasoline-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers to be banned under new California law I was surprised that generators are included, but apparently you can buy lithium-ion...

      California is doing it:

      Gasoline-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers to be banned under new California law

      I was surprised that generators are included, but apparently you can buy lithium-ion batteries that are pretty good these days.

      7 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        You can, and largely agree but if you're stuck without grid power (or other insufficient ways to charge batteries, like solar panels in winter), it's not a great option. Plus it is quite expensive...

        You can, and largely agree but if you're stuck without grid power (or other insufficient ways to charge batteries, like solar panels in winter), it's not a great option. Plus it is quite expensive to get a whole-home, multi-day battery relative to a generator.

        I have a natural gas generator and solar panels. I intend to add a saltwater battery to the mix when I have more funds. Having that battery buffer reduces need for generator for shorter outages.

        3 votes
    2. [3]
      hungariantoast
      Link Parent
      I can't wait for solar generators to come down in price. Looking at something like the Jackery, I can get a combustion generator that makes almost 10x the power for half the price. It just does...

      I can't wait for solar generators to come down in price. Looking at something like the Jackery, I can get a combustion generator that makes almost 10x the power for half the price.

      It just does not make sense to buy a solar generator versus a combustion one if, for instance, you live in a non-functional state like Texas where you actually need a generator once a year because something always knocks the power grid offline.

      If you want a generator for your sailboat or tailgate party though, that's another story.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        In much the same way I wish that compact ground-level wind turbines would become affordable as well.

        In much the same way I wish that compact ground-level wind turbines would become affordable as well.

        3 votes
  2. [30]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link

    This particular environmental catastrophe is not news. A 2011 study by Edmunds found that a two-stroke gasoline-powered leaf blower spewed out more pollution than a 6,200-pound Ford F-150 SVT Raptor pickup truck. Jason Kavanagh, the engineering editor at Edmunds at the time, noted that “hydrocarbon emissions from a half-hour of yard work with the two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 3,900-mile drive from Texas to Alaska in a Raptor.”

    The two-stroke engine found in most consumer gas-powered leaf blowers is an outmoded technology. Unlike larger, heavier engines, a two-stroke engine combines oil and gas in a single chamber, which gives the machine more power while remaining light enough to carry. That design also means that it is very loud, and that as much as a third of the fuel is spewed into the air as unburned aerosol.

    11 votes
    1. [17]
      Octofox
      Link Parent
      I recently tried an electric leaf blower and they are shockingly powerful in a tiny package. Not a whole lot of reason to still use combustion. The thing was smaller and lighter than a hand held...

      I recently tried an electric leaf blower and they are shockingly powerful in a tiny package. Not a whole lot of reason to still use combustion. The thing was smaller and lighter than a hand held vacuum

      14 votes
      1. wycy
        Link Parent
        Can confirm. I have an battery-powered electric leaf blower and most of the time I'm using it at half-power anyway. It's fantastic. I used to have a corded electric leaf blower which was even more...

        Can confirm. I have an battery-powered electric leaf blower and most of the time I'm using it at half-power anyway. It's fantastic.

        I used to have a corded electric leaf blower which was even more powerful (unnecessary), but being tethered to a cord was pretty annoying. Modern battery-powered yard tools are pretty good.

        6 votes
      2. NomadicCoder
        Link Parent
        I went full electric on my tools about 15 years ago and would never go back. I'd much rather deal with a cord than storing gas, pouring gas, dealing with hard starts, etc, etc... The only thing...

        I went full electric on my tools about 15 years ago and would never go back. I'd much rather deal with a cord than storing gas, pouring gas, dealing with hard starts, etc, etc...

        The only thing that I miss from the gas blower is that the gas blower was just perfect at idle for some of the final cleanup, and my electric blower with its box emblazoned with "infinitely variable speed control" (aka, 6 discrete steps) is a bit too powerful at the lowest setting. I've been thinking of taking it apart and modifying it to have an even lower speed (was thinking of a low-range, high-range switch), but if I haven't done it in that long, I probably won't ever do it. :)

        5 votes
      3. [14]
        AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        I also have an electric leaf blower, plug in as I didn't want to deal with another proprietary battery and I have outlets on the exterior of my house with more than enough extension cord to get...

        I also have an electric leaf blower, plug in as I didn't want to deal with another proprietary battery and I have outlets on the exterior of my house with more than enough extension cord to get the whole property, and it truly is light and powerful.

        However...

        Most gasoline leaf blowers are going to be used by lawn care companies where a corded leaf blower isn't feasible and battery powered blowers don't last long enough (quick google says the longest lasting one gets you 30 minutes on high). It's a hard sell to get lawn care companies to buy battery powered leaf blowers and the dozen or so batteries they'll need to make it through each workday. Not to mention on truck/trailer charging infrastructure and constantly buying $250 batteries to replace those lost, damaged, or worn out.

        4 votes
        1. [10]
          streblo
          Link Parent
          That's because they don't have to pay for the actual cost of the gasoline leafblower. If we were properly pricing the cost of carbon emissions the comparably low price of batteries becomes more...

          That's because they don't have to pay for the actual cost of the gasoline leafblower.

          If we were properly pricing the cost of carbon emissions the comparably low price of batteries becomes more attractive.

          14 votes
          1. [5]
            AugustusFerdinand
            Link Parent
            If we're going to charge for the emissions of the gasoline leafblower then we'll need to charge for the emissions of the battery production. A 5aH battery, produced in China like these all are,...

            If we're going to charge for the emissions of the gasoline leafblower then we'll need to charge for the emissions of the battery production.

            A 5aH battery, produced in China like these all are, creates (on the low end) 32kg of CO2 for manufacturing just the battery cell (we'll ignore the case, wiring, electronics, etc). Per the EDF, the true cost of CO2 is $50 per ton. To pay for the emissions the fuel needed in a gasoline blower and the battery would need to increase by $2.85. Not much at all, but...

            A CO to CO2e table says that makes each battery equivalent to 52 hours of gasoline runtime at the emissions listed in another comment here. With 30 minutes ran per day, ignoring the emissions from charging it, one battery will need to be used for 104 days before it his emission equivalency with running a gasoline blower. Three and a half months for something the size of a big burrito, that lives on an open trailer, to not get lost/damaged in a commercial environment is a longshot and a financial risk. Per Stihl's cost to run website a leaf blower will consume $800 per year of gasoline at current prices, so if three batteries are lost/damaged over the course of the year the costs don't make sense and the emissions are greater for the battery powered blower.

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              streblo
              Link Parent
              Absolutely, and depending on where you live you might even be charging them with electricity produced at a coal-powered plant. But we should at least have the true costs of these products as part...

              If we're going to charge for the emissions of the gasoline leafblower then we'll need to charge for the emissions of the battery production.

              Absolutely, and depending on where you live you might even be charging them with electricity produced at a coal-powered plant. But we should at least have the true costs of these products as part of the pricetag otherwise we are almost literally "robbing" the coffers of future generations.

              With 30 minutes ran per day, ignoring the emissions from charging it, one battery will need to be used for 104 days before it his emission equivalency with running a gasoline blower.

              Your napkin math skills are impressive. :) But I think we can count on running a battery for more than 30 mins per day. An operation that's running so many batteries would probably have quick chargers and a larger battery-pack in a truck for this sort of thing. I used to work at a company that manufactured these things and you can fit a lot of kWh in a pretty small package.

              6 votes
              1. [2]
                AugustusFerdinand
                Link Parent
                30 minutes per charge is what the best blower on the market is getting out of a 5aH battery. On truck/trailer charger setup might be an option, but I'd imagine it be more common for all the...

                30 minutes per charge is what the best blower on the market is getting out of a 5aH battery. On truck/trailer charger setup might be an option, but I'd imagine it be more common for all the chargers to be at a business where the trucks are parked each night. A friend is the operations manager at a local lawn company and their goal is to average 30 minutes per site and 12 sites per day for each crew. So that works out to a dozen batteries per blower, one blower per crew and he's a small outfit with 10 crews, $30k in batteries alone to get started.

                Sent him a text to ask if he loses/breaks equipment often and he said he buys those plastic fuel cans by the pallet because the crews lose one on average once a month. Nothing huge at $30 a month, but bump that to a $250 battery per month, per crew and you're resetting the 104 day timer and have a $30k per year expense just for lost batteries, not including those that get damaged or wear out (as a battery is infinitely more fragile than a gas can).

                I have an electric mower, weed eater, hedge trimmer, and leaf blower. They're great, but I'm a one man operation at a single house, electrics just don't work on the commercial scale yet. The obvious and feasible solution right now is to make the requirement for new production blowers be a 4-stroke engine instead of 2-stroke and put a catalytic converter on it.

                5 votes
                1. streblo
                  Link Parent
                  I think the former is actually more economical -- you can buy a 2 kWh battery pack for $800 USD and that will charge up to 8 6Ah batteries on a single charge. So instead of buying 12* $250 per...

                  On truck/trailer charger setup might be an option, but I'd imagine it be more common for all the chargers to be at a business where the trucks are parked each night.

                  I think the former is actually more economical -- you can buy a 2 kWh battery pack for $800 USD and that will charge up to 8 6Ah batteries on a single charge. So instead of buying 12* $250 per crew you're looking at 3*$250 per crew + $800 which is about half the price.

                  As for losing equipment -- I get it I've worked lots of similar jobs. But I don't think we can equate the probability of losing a $30 item vs a $250 item. You're not gonna get chewed out for losing a $30 jerry can.

                  And ultimately I think trying to math things out as feasible/infeasible as of today is besides the point. No one would think hiring a contractor to reno their kitchen at $5/hour would be a great deal comparably if they were going to inflict $20,000 worth of damage to other parts of your house in the process. Maybe a carbon tax would similarly price out lithium batteries in places where energy is particularly dirty but until we have priced in the externalities we're not really comparing apples to apples.

                  The obvious and feasible solution right now is to make the requirement for new production blowers be a 4-stroke engine instead of 2-stroke and put a catalytic converter on it.

                  Agreed. But we might get more professionals wanting something a bit lighter if the alternative to a battery-powered unit is lugging around a 4 stroke all day ;) .

                  5 votes
            2. NoblePath
              Link Parent
              You are only figuring CO2 emissions here. Two stroke engines emit way more nasties than that. As pointed out elsewhere, their hc emissions far surpass a big truck.

              You are only figuring CO2 emissions here. Two stroke engines emit way more nasties than that. As pointed out elsewhere, their hc emissions far surpass a big truck.

              1 vote
          2. [4]
            hungariantoast
            Link Parent
            Nor will a lawn care company ever have to. This is kind of a non-point

            That's because they don't have to pay for the actual cost of the gasoline leafblower

            Nor will a lawn care company ever have to. This is kind of a non-point

            3 votes
            1. [3]
              streblo
              Link Parent
              How so? A world where carbon is taxed accordingly seems likely in the future. I'm all for a ban or other solutions right now for egregious offenders like these because you're not going to be able...

              Nor will a lawn care company ever have to. This is kind of a non-point

              How so? A world where carbon is taxed accordingly seems likely in the future.

              I'm all for a ban or other solutions right now for egregious offenders like these because you're not going to be able to actually capture the true cost of carbon emissions via a tax in the short term but I don't think pointing out why battery powered solutions are often viewed as less economical is a non-point.

              9 votes
              1. [2]
                hungariantoast
                Link Parent
                I seriously doubt you're going to see lawn care companies getting taxed for using combustion equipment before it makes economic sense for them to move to electric anyways. That's why I said it's a...

                How so? A world where carbon is taxed accordingly seems likely in the future.

                I seriously doubt you're going to see lawn care companies getting taxed for using combustion equipment before it makes economic sense for them to move to electric anyways. That's why I said it's a non-point: people who do lawn care will never eat these costs

                Also, at least around where I have lived, "lawn care companies" are primarily familial units that go around doing lawn care for cash. There is no business entity to pass tax costs on to as much as there are just random people knocking on your door

                3 votes
                1. streblo
                  Link Parent
                  OK I apologize because I never really explained 'carbon tax' but we've had one in BC since 2008 so sometimes I assume familiarity. It's not perfect in any way but it was a decent starting point....

                  OK I apologize because I never really explained 'carbon tax' but we've had one in BC since 2008 so sometimes I assume familiarity. It's not perfect in any way but it was a decent starting point. More is needed now however.

                  Anyways, you can tax carbon at the point of sale, much like a GST that is applied selectively to high-carbon goods like fuel and electricity. You can even make it revenue neutral by reducing income/corporate taxes comparably. So no one is required to go hunt these lawn care companies down, they will just start paying more for their material and may/may not adjust their strategy accordingly.

                  6 votes
        2. [3]
          mtset
          Link Parent
          There might be a market for back-mounted battery packs for those things...

          There might be a market for back-mounted battery packs for those things...

          1. hungariantoast
            Link Parent
            That could be cool, but how much do they weigh and how much heat do they produce? I'm thinking about the folks doing lawn care here in Texas, where especially during the summer adding more weight...

            That could be cool, but how much do they weigh and how much heat do they produce?

            I'm thinking about the folks doing lawn care here in Texas, where especially during the summer adding more weight and more heat to their working conditions is a big ask.

            Honestly it would just be nice if state legislatures could start subsidizing the costs for businesses to adopt "electric operations", helping them eat the expenses of things like buying extra batteries for electric leaf blowers.

            3 votes
          2. AugustusFerdinand
            Link Parent
            Doesn't change run time. The longest running model has a backpack battery model, but it uses the same battery so still gets 30 minutes. They have a double capacity battery just for the backpack...

            Doesn't change run time. The longest running model has a backpack battery model, but it uses the same battery so still gets 30 minutes. They have a double capacity battery just for the backpack and while it doubles the run time, it is also twice the price. Potato, potato; only now you're spending twice as much if a battery is lost or damaged.

            2 votes
    2. [12]
      spctrvl
      Link Parent
      Not that I disagree with the article, but that line about the 3900 mile drive is super fishy. It makes it sound like the leaf blower is spewing out more carbon and other air pollutants than the...

      Not that I disagree with the article, but that line about the 3900 mile drive is super fishy. It makes it sound like the leaf blower is spewing out more carbon and other air pollutants than the truck (which would be absurd), not just more unburned fuel. Still bad, especially for the entirely pointless and destructive tedium that is leaf blowing, but not "leading cause of climate change" level.

      4 votes
      1. [11]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Apparently not so absurd, since that's what they recorded as being the case. From the source: Edmunds' InsideLine.com FTP 75 Emissions Test Results (in grams per minute) Non-Methane Hydrocarbons...

        It makes it sound like the leaf blower is spewing out more carbon and other air pollutants than the truck (which would be absurd)

        Apparently not so absurd, since that's what they recorded as being the case. From the source:

        A consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, according to tests conducted by Edmunds' InsideLine.com, the premier online resource for automotive enthusiasts.

        The tests found that a Ryobi 4-stroke leaf blower kicked out almost seven times more oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and 13.5 times more carbon monoxide (CO) than the Raptor, which InsideLine.com once dubbed "the ultimate Michigan mudslinger." An Echo 2-stroke leaf blower performed even worse, generating 23 times CO and nearly 300 times more non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) than the Raptor.

        "The hydrocarbon emissions from a half-hour of yard work with the two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 3,900-mile drive from Texas to Alaska in a Raptor," said Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor at Edmunds.com. "As ridiculous as it may sound, it is more 'green' to ditch your yard equipment and find a way to blow leaves using a Raptor."

        Edmunds' InsideLine.com FTP 75 Emissions Test Results (in grams per minute)

        Non-Methane Hydrocarbons (NMHC) Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) Carbon Monoxide (CO)
        2011 Ford Raptor 0.005 0.005 0.276
        2012 Fiat 500 0.016 0.010 0.192
        Ryobi 4-stroke leaf blower 0.182 0.031 3.714
        Echo 2-stroke leaf blower 1.495 0.010 6.445

        To compare the emissions of these vehicles and the leaf blowers, Edmunds' InsideLine.com staff conducted FTP 75 emissions tests — one of the primary yardsticks in the U.S. certification of light-duty vehicle emissions and fuel economy — at the American Automobile Association's (AAA) Automotive Research Center in Diamond Bar, CA. The test simulates 11.04 miles driven over 31.2 minutes and includes idle periods, accelerations, decelerations and cruising. The leaf blowers were adjusted to full speed during the cruise periods defined by the FTP 75 and observed the same designated idling periods.

        p.s. I imagine the lack of a catalytic converter on the leaf-blowers, compared to the truck and car which have them, probably played a big part in these results.

        9 votes
        1. [8]
          spctrvl
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Not all pollutants are equal. Non-methane hydrocarbons, which is where you get that gargantuan difference, is going to mean mostly unburned fuel and oil. Nasty stuff to be around locally, which is...

          Not all pollutants are equal. Non-methane hydrocarbons, which is where you get that gargantuan difference, is going to mean mostly unburned fuel and oil. Nasty stuff to be around locally, which is enough reason to ban two stroke lawn equipment alone, but hardly worse for the planet than a transcontinental drive in a truck, which is what was implied.

          Basically it's comparing on a kind of pollutant that one type of engine doesn't really release and another type does, and using the ratio of the two, which will of course be absurd, as a signifier of total impact across all areas, which I think is super misleading.

          7 votes
          1. [7]
            arghdos
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Also soot. CO is also about 20x, according to the table. So 2/4 major pollutant categories are way higher and NOx is ~ equal (table doesn’t list CO2).

            is going to mean mostly unburned fuel and oil

            Also soot.

            CO is also about 20x, according to the table.

            So 2/4 major pollutant categories are way higher and NOx is ~ equal (table doesn’t list CO2).

            3 votes
            1. [6]
              vektor
              Link Parent
              CO degrades relatively quickly in atmosphere, so it's also "only" a local pollutant. I'd lump that in with spctrvl's overall point that the emissions from two-stroke engines are locally harmful...

              CO degrades relatively quickly in atmosphere, so it's also "only" a local pollutant. I'd lump that in with spctrvl's overall point that the emissions from two-stroke engines are locally harmful (which is of course important in it's own right) but globally not too critical.* The statement as phrased by the author "A 2011 study by Edmunds found that a two-stroke gasoline-powered leaf blower spewed out more pollution than a 6,200-pound Ford F-150 SVT Raptor pickup truck." - certainly lacks any nuance here.

              Nitpicking aside, fuck two-stroke leafblowers.

              -* In fact, I'd hazard the guess that replacing a working two-stroke leaf blower with an electric one is going to be an investment that (GHG emissions-wise) is not going to pay off for a long time, possibly ever. It's not ever going to pay for itself if the electric one has a substantially shorter lifespan than the fuel powered one. Given how simple and repairable two-stroke engines are, how good we have become at building tools to a price and how little experience we have building electric leaf blowers by comparison, this might not even be unrealistic.

              3 votes
              1. [3]
                spctrvl
                Link Parent
                On that last point I doubt it. Electric motors are stupid simple and reliable. Electric lawn equipment should last much longer than its equivalent two stroke equipment. It's also been manufactured...

                On that last point I doubt it. Electric motors are stupid simple and reliable. Electric lawn equipment should last much longer than its equivalent two stroke equipment. It's also been manufactured for a long time, though the switch to cordless is relatively newer.

                5 votes
                1. [2]
                  vektor
                  Link Parent
                  Yeah, the motors are stupid simple and reliable, I agree. If the leafblower was just a battery, an electric switch and a motor these things would be almost unbreakable. However, I would expect the...

                  Yeah, the motors are stupid simple and reliable, I agree. If the leafblower was just a battery, an electric switch and a motor these things would be almost unbreakable. However, I would expect the usual failure points: Probably a circuit board that has high-power transistors, maybe some circuitry to accomodate speed control. The fan has to be mounted, and where the bearing meets the clamshell might be a failure point too. Add in that with these speed controls come more sophisticated controls surfaces, which can break.

                  Watch AvE tear down some broken electric tools and you can get damn cynical about this stuff. Though to be fair, very little of that is to do with "electric tool" and more to do with "built to a price". As we agree, you can make these things stupid reliable, you just have to spend a few extra bucks here and there.

                  E: The above holds for brushless motors. For brushed motors, things get a bit more complicated and the electric motor is actually a failure point. The other common failure modes for electric motors (overtorque and overheat) should be moot for a leafblower.

                  5 votes
                  1. Akir
                    Link Parent
                    While it's true that you'll probably see some basic circuitry in power tools, they are simple enough that they are typically servicable by any halfway trained electronic tech. The vast majority of...

                    While it's true that you'll probably see some basic circuitry in power tools, they are simple enough that they are typically servicable by any halfway trained electronic tech. The vast majority of parts that get used in them are discrete electronic parts; diodes, transistors, capacitors, etc.

                    6 votes
              2. [2]
                arghdos
                Link Parent
                I probably should have been more specific, CO is not just a local problem: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/carbon-monoxide...

                I probably should have been more specific, CO is not just a local problem:

                Carbon monoxide (CO) affects atmospheric chemistry by contributing to tropospheric ozone formation and interfering with methane destruction in the stratosphere.

                https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/carbon-monoxide

                Why do CARB and U.S. EPA focus on carbon monoxide?

                Air quality regulators are concerned about air pollutants which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare. There is substantial evidence that CO can adversely affect health, participate in atmospheric chemical reactions that result in formation of ozone air pollution, and contribute to climate change.

                https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/resources/carbon-monoxide-and-health

                Carbon monoxide is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and it does not have a direct effect on the global temperature, like methane and carbon dioxide do. However, carbon monoxide plays a major role in atmospheric chemistry, and it affects the ability of the atmosphere to cleanse itself of many other polluting gases. In combination with other pollutants and sunshine, it also takes part in the formation of lower-atmospheric (“bad”) ozone and urban smog.

                https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/global-maps/MOP_CO_M

                3 votes
                1. vektor
                  Link Parent
                  Huh. I'm by no means qualified enough to judge the net effect here, but that looks to me like three sources talking about lower-atmosphere ozone, which is quite reactive and I assume (found no...

                  Huh. I'm by no means qualified enough to judge the net effect here, but that looks to me like three sources talking about lower-atmosphere ozone, which is quite reactive and I assume (found no source on this at a glance) removes itself quite effectively. (Justification for that: Its main harm is that it likes to form radical oxygen compounds spontaneously, a process which eliminates the ozone itself.) Therefore, I would lump lower ozone in as a local pollutant as well.

                  As for interfering with methane destruction in the stratosphere: Gas exchange between the troposphere and stratosphere is relatively slow, so I'm not sure to what degree CO from surface sources contributes to stratospheric CO, considering its transient nature. It sure sounds like running your engine mix rich while flying really high is probably not so good though.

                  Again, not saying CO is fine. It very much isn't. But the comparison isn't nearly as one-dimensional as originally presented.

                  If you're an expert on atmospheric chemistry let me know what you think, as my last bit of formal education on this topic is almost a decade old. Still very much interested though.

                  2 votes
        2. [2]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          Ooooof. What’s even more shocking is that all those little auto-rickshaws/tuk-tuks in Asia are also larger versions of the same type of engine. Granted most of the air pollution there comes from...

          Ooooof.

          What’s even more shocking is that all those little auto-rickshaws/tuk-tuks in Asia are also larger versions of the same type of engine.

          Granted most of the air pollution there comes from people burning trash, but this certainly doesn’t help.

          7 votes
          1. meff
            Link Parent
            At least lots of Asia has started trying to move to CNG auto-rickshaws. But yeah, it's the trash fires that need to be tackled first.

            At least lots of Asia has started trying to move to CNG auto-rickshaws. But yeah, it's the trash fires that need to be tackled first.

            1 vote
  3. [11]
    mat
    Link
    Um. This is going to sound like a stupid question, but what are leaf blowers for? I mean I know obviously they're for moving leaves. That's not what I'm unclear on. But why do people want to move...

    Um. This is going to sound like a stupid question, but what are leaf blowers for?

    I mean I know obviously they're for moving leaves. That's not what I'm unclear on. But why do people want to move leaves in the first place?

    At various houses, including my current one, I have lived with both trees and lawns and I've never once blown or raked a leaf and everything has seemed to be fine. I assume I am missing something. But it seems like simply banning leaf blowers would be an easy fix for this one.

    (edit: I have not read the article because paywall, perhaps it explains there)

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      My driveway is under a big tree that loves nothing more than to shed leaves and seeds everywhere. Sweeping the driveway is possible, but it takes a long time and a lot of effort. With a leafblower...

      My driveway is under a big tree that loves nothing more than to shed leaves and seeds everywhere. Sweeping the driveway is possible, but it takes a long time and a lot of effort. With a leafblower I can clear the whole thing in <60 seconds and minimal effort. I can also just blow it under my car to clear out that area, instead of having to move the vehicle to sweep underneath it. A leafblower doesn't really do too much that you can't do by other means, but it does do those things much more efficiently.

      That said, I have a battery-powered one that's not very noisy at all (I don't have to wear ear protection with it even on its highest setting), so I'm not really worried about bothering neighbors when I use it.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        kfwyre
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        cc: @mat Double posting here, because I just used my leafblower and an attachment to clean out my gutters, and it was so much quicker, easier, and safer than busting out the ladder and doing it by...

        cc: @mat

        Double posting here, because I just used my leafblower and an attachment to clean out my gutters, and it was so much quicker, easier, and safer than busting out the ladder and doing it by hand.

        It got messy, as it blew out a lot of leaves and dirt and mud that sort of rained down around and on me, but I’m going to keep doing it moving forward. I climbed up the ladder afterwards to check whether it was effective or whether it was just moving the leaves around inside, and I was surprised to see how well it worked. My gutters are now spotless.

        I also was able to blow out my downspouts, which often get clogged. I can’t clean them by hand because the opening is too small for me to reach inside, so this was an easy and effortless way of handling that as well. I’m sharing this because it’s one more use for a leafblower for your list, and I’d recommend it to anyone with gutters who’d be able to reach them with that sort of attachment.

        5 votes
        1. cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          You can buy a similar set of attachments for pressure washers to clean your gutters out too. That's how we clean ours every year. They do a fantastic job, and are also super effective at clearing...

          You can buy a similar set of attachments for pressure washers to clean your gutters out too. That's how we clean ours every year. They do a fantastic job, and are also super effective at clearing out even the most stubborn of blockages (e.g. bird/squirrel nests). The only downside is that it's probably a lot messier than the blower version though, since not only do you get filthy, you also get soaking wet too. :P

          2 votes
    2. streblo
      Link Parent
      Maybe I'm oldschool but I'm definitely team rake. However, I can think of a few examples where they are handy. I have a garden bed with a bunch of perennials and a handful of fruit trees, and it's...

      Maybe I'm oldschool but I'm definitely team rake.

      However, I can think of a few examples where they are handy. I have a garden bed with a bunch of perennials and a handful of fruit trees, and it's all covered in bark mulch. I already have insulation with the bark mulch (we get about 3 feet of snow in the winter) and if I leave the mulch and the leaves I risk my perennials getting smothered in the spring. It's also a pain in the ass to rake leaves from bark mulch, so a blower would certainly help. Currently I just chuck my shop vac on reverse and push em all out that way.

      4 votes
    3. [2]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Gas-powered leaf blowers are used by professional landscape companies to remove leaves (and other detritus from lawns, streets, walkways, driveways, etc.), mostly for aesthetic reasons. However,...

      Gas-powered leaf blowers are used by professional landscape companies to remove leaves (and other detritus from lawns, streets, walkways, driveways, etc.), mostly for aesthetic reasons. However, they do address some practical concerns too. E.g. Despite decomposing, a thick blanket of leaves can take a long time to do so, and can end up killing some (or even all) of the grass underneath it as a result. And since making lawns flourish is a huge part of what people are paying landscapers to do, it doesn't make sense for them to risk damaging the lawns under their care by ignoring the leaves that fall on them. That, and walkways can also be much more dangerous in winter if they aren't cleared of leaves too, so removing them is the responsible thing to do, and also reduces liability.

      (am former landscaper)

      IMO, mulching leaves instead of blowing and removing them is what everyone should really be doing anyways, since they break down much faster when mulched, are less likely to kill the grass that way (since they don't block as much light), and are a decent fertilizer once broken down. However, in order for home and business owners (and HOAs) to accept that taking place, the culture around lawns in North America unfortunately needs to change first, since pristine lawns with no visible detritus on them is still seen as the ideal.

      You can't really mulch the leaves that fall into flower beds though, so even then, blowers would still have their place... although electric ones would probably suffice in that case.

      4 votes
      1. mat
        Link Parent
        I was thinking about your comment as I drove through some of the more expensive parts of my city today and noticed that exactly none of the leaves had been moved off the ground, people's lawns,...

        I was thinking about your comment as I drove through some of the more expensive parts of my city today and noticed that exactly none of the leaves had been moved off the ground, people's lawns, flower beds, pavements (sidewalks), etc. Not making any sort of judgement, it just came to mind. Cultures differ and all that. Each of our flower beds at home has a tree in it or right next to it (mostly apples and mulberry, one hazel). Never cleared a single leaf. Flowers return every spring no problem. I suspect most of the leaves blow away over the winter rather than decompose where they are.

        I just bought a battery powered angle grinder. If that thing can run on batteries and chew through steel at the rate it chews through steel, a souped-up hairdryer will have no problem... :)

        2 votes
    4. [4]
      Bonooru
      Link Parent
      When you edge a lawn, there are grass clippings that end up on the sidewalk. The leaf blower moves the leaves back onto the lawn and therefore reduces the mess.

      When you edge a lawn, there are grass clippings that end up on the sidewalk. The leaf blower moves the leaves back onto the lawn and therefore reduces the mess.

      1 vote
      1. mat
        Link Parent
        That's not even leaves! Pfft. Disappointed. Also that's not a very convincing use case, especially if trying to oppose the proposition of banning leaf blowers. A brush would work just as well for...

        That's not even leaves! Pfft. Disappointed.

        Also that's not a very convincing use case, especially if trying to oppose the proposition of banning leaf blowers. A brush would work just as well for the job you're describing - arguably better because it's more controllable - plus it requires zero power.

        3 votes
      2. [2]
        MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        But someone could do that with a broom or rake?

        But someone could do that with a broom or rake?

        2 votes
        1. cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          An individual homeowner can and probably should do that, if they're able. However, gas-powered leaf blowers are used by professional landscape companies that do maintenance on hundreds/thousands...

          An individual homeowner can and probably should do that, if they're able. However, gas-powered leaf blowers are used by professional landscape companies that do maintenance on hundreds/thousands of lawns per month, and raking that much land every fall would likely be economically unfeasible.

          p.s. Just to be clear, I'm not defending the use of gas-powered blowers. See here for what I think is the better alternative.

          4 votes