For nearly 15 years we’ve kept a ga- powered backpack blower in our work van. Why? Because a lot of dust is generated on a framing site, especially when we router windows or cut stairs. We like to keep the floor as dust free as possible while we are framing. A clean site is a safer site, but it’s also is good for our reputation. When potential customers drive by, an inspector visits, or the neighbors wander over, an organized and clean jobsite adds to our credibility as professionals.
A few years back we bought a little cordless Milwaukee blower, which was great for keeping the work van clean and basic clean up like blowing dust off the tools, but it couldn’t match our backpack blower in terms of volume of air output, which is related to volume of dust moved. This year, though, things have changed due to higher output cordless blowers hitting the market.
Late last spring and into the summer DeWalt, Makita and Milwaukee sent us their higher output blowers to review. After using them for the past several months, and comparing them during use, I feel comfortable reviewing them. An important point to note: None of these blowers lasted very long when turned on full-speed (see individual write-ups for actual time). While initially disappointing, we found it didn’t matter much because we don’t use a blower on high speed for very long. We’re typically using it to blow off the floor after lifting each outside wall and then randomly as are framing; we’re not using the blowers to push an acre-full of leaves around.

TIM Uhler

DeWalt Flexvolt 60v Max Handheld Brushless Blower. This is a relatively lightweight device at about 10lbs that runs off DeWalt’s Flexvolt battery platform. According to DeWalt, this unit has a noise rating of 67DB. Without the concentrator attachment, this blower will move air at 423 CFM. With the concentrator attachment, it goes to 287 CFM though at a faster speed of 175 mph.
The variable speed trigger can be locked into position, which is convenient if you need it on for longer than quick bursts. The rubber grip is very comfortable to use and I found I didn’t get fatigued using this blower.
The only negative thing I would say is that it is best to use it right handed because it pulls air in from the right side. Using it left handed is ok, but you can’t let it sit against your leg or you’ll get less output.
As far as runtime,we got 15 minutes out of it at full speed on a 9Ah battery. But, practically speaking for a jobsite, it lasts all day. I found it online for $250.

Makita 18v X2 36v Brushless Blower. Makita has a line of 2 battery 36v tools and so far they have been impressive to use. This brushless blower has plenty of power for our use delivering 473 CFM at 120 mph. On the handle is a 6-stage dial to adjust and then lock in speed.
I found this blower to be well-balanced and though my sound meter app showed it only slightly less loud than the Milwaukee and DeWalt, it seemed much quieter. I don’t know how to account for that and frankly it doesn’t matter since I am religious about hearing protection.
Runtime at full speed was only 11 minutes. It’ll still last the day for us, though. I found this kit online for $329.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Blower Kit. This brushless blower from Milwaukee is very comfortable to use and balanced even with a 9 ah battery attached at the rear. The maximum air speed is 100mph and air volume 450 cfm. Milwaukee claims a 63 noise rating according to the ANSI B175 test. I found the runtime at full speed 19 minutes at continuous use. It costs about $280.

Comparing the Three
I had 3 other guys use the blowers and then I collected their opinions.The Makita hands down cleaned up fastest. What a couple of guys commented on, and I noticed as well, is that the Makita seemed to have more kick. It would actually move my arm back when I pull the trigger at full speed.
A caveat here though, is that all three of these units had different nozzle widths and even length. Milwaukee was the largest diameter and this is good for blowing out the van or shop because it moves a lot of dust without kicking it up. The DeWalt and Makita feel more powerful, but I think that is because the nozzle is smaller in diameter.
All three were reasonably quiet and won’t bother the neighbors but I’ll state it again, we are diligent about using hearing protection.
So I can’t say which really is the winner, but what I can say is that if you’ve invested into a cordless platform, buy a blower. We use them all the time, don’t have to deal with stocking fuel mix, and there are no fumes to deal with.

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