Stihl gas powered leaf blower for review
Photo: Courtesy of Stihl
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Stihl SH 56 C-E

Type: Gas blower-vac
Blower rating: Excellent
Vacuum rating: Excellent
Impeller blade: Plastic

Balance and comfort: Good balance, with very little twisting toward the user. The auxiliary grip you need to use during vacuum mode is too small.

Overall: One of the easier engines to start and a solid performer. Its 14-to-1 mulching ratio—how well it turns whole leaves into mulchable confetti—is the best of all the blower vacs we tested. Both the blower and vacuum tubes are securely attached, but they require a time-consuming two-step procedure to lock them and a tool to unlock them. When starting the engine, the choke automatically adjusts once you pull the trigger, but the unit lacks a sealed on/off switch or cruise control. (These details are found in premium Stihl models.) The two-part blower tube's length is slightly adjustable.

Specs: 11.5 pounds. 27.2 cc. 18.3-ounce fuel tank. Maximum blower speed/volume at tube end: 143 mph/418 cfm. 70 dB at 50 feet. 14:1 mulching ratio. 1.5-cubic-foot bag. Two-year warranty.

About $220; STIHL
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