What Does CFM Mean for Leaf Blower Airflow

what is cfm airflow for a leaf blower, what does cfm mean and stand for? Your guide to buying the right one

When looking for a new leaf blower, you might come across a few units of measurements in product descriptions; MPH, CC, dB and CFM. Among these four, CFM meaning is likely something that doesn’t ring a bell. When you’re trying to buy a powerful leaf blower, one question you need to know, is “What is CFM airflow”.

In this article, we’ll discuss what does cfm stand for and what does CFM mean. Plus, what is an air speed calculator to understand the difference. The performance of a leaf blower is based on these important facts.

Four Air Flow Measurements for Leaf Blowers

To get things started, it is important to have a working knowledge of how these units of measurements come into play and what do they say about a leaf blower. What does CFM stand for and what is cfm?

  • Cubic Feet Per Minute and CFM Definition: What Does CFM Mean? The CFM calculator refers to the volume of air that comes out of a leaf blower’s tube in one minute. Therefore, a leaf blower CFM of 550 can push 550 cubic feet of leaves and debris in one minute. In other words, CFM meaning is a leaf blower’s blowing strength or air power.

Using an analogy, the CFM airflow is like the width of a traditional rake’s head. Generally, the bigger the mouth of the leaf blower, the bigger the airflow.

  • Miles Per Hour (MPH): It indicates the speed by which air escapes from the tube in an hour. Expanding our earlier analogy, MPH is the speed by which the rake sweeps through the area. Now, if you have a small rake head (330 CFM) going at a higher speed (100 MPH) and a longer rake head (480 CFM) sweeping at a lower speed (92 MPH), which do you think will get the job done faster? Let us talk more about this later.
  • Cubic Centimeters (CC). This refers to the size and weight of the machine. So this should give you an idea if it is something you can hold, carry, or push with ease.
  • Decibels (dB). This measures how loud or noisy a thing is—in this case your leaf blower. The higher the dB, the louder it is. This is an important measurement because there are local ordinances limiting levels of noise pollution, especially in residential areas. And because of this some cities have a leaf blower ban from using one.

Which One Matters More—Leaf Blower CFM vs MPH—for Blowing Efficiency?

To answer this, let us go back to the question earlier: “If you have a small rake head (330 CFM) going at a higher speed (100 MPH) and a longer rake head (480 CFM) sweeping at a lower speed (92 MPH), which do you think will get the job done faster?”

Many of us think that an MPH is all that matters when buying a leaf blower. But in the two scenarios, a difference of eight MPH isn’t much when you look at a difference of 150. Definitely, the one with 480 CFM airflow at 92 MPH will perform the job more efficiently.

What is CFM Requirements When Buying a Powerful Leaf Blower?

What is the needed leaf blower CFM airflow for my yard work is answered with three more questions: “What’s the size of your property?”, “What kind of debris are you working on?”, and “What noise limitations are set in your area?”

For small areas like driveways, decks, and patios, you’ll find electric top leaf blowers with 200 to 400 should suffice. Properties that are an acre or little more in size, a leaf blower with 400 to 700, like that of backpack leaf blowers, is up to the task.

In regards to larger areas, leaf blowers with as high as 3,000 cfm will provide you better coverage in a less time. A leaf blower this amount of air flow are strong enough to turn over even small rocks.

Lastly, before you head out and buy a leaf blower, you need to check the permissible noise levels in your area. In principle, the higher the CFM airflow of the leaf blower, the noisier it is. Now, you wouldn’t want to buy a high-powered leaf blower that you are not allowed to use, right?

Hence, it would be helpful to learn about the different types of leaf blowers to find a workaround and other scenarios.

What are the Different Types of Leaf Blowers?

The three main types are:

Handheld leaf blowers

These are relatively lighter and least powerful. They can come in CFM airflow from 200 to 400 and work quite well with light and dry debris. In some instances, you can find new generation handheld leaf blowers going as high as 550.

Handheld leaf blowers can be battery, gas, or electric powered. The first two will allow you more mobility since they are cordless. The battery powered ones though can easily run out of charge. Overall, with a lower air flow, handheld leaf blowers are considerably quieter.

Backpack leaf blowers

As the name suggests, they are strapped on the back, which is more comfortable when working for longer periods. Most backpack leaf blowers are gas-powered with engines measured by the size of their motor in Cubic Centimeters(CC). Gas engines produce higher CFM’s ranging from 400 to 700.

There are a few exceptions that can go up to 900. Generally, backpack leaf blowers can be much noisier than the handheld ones.

Walk-Behind leaf blowers

These are the beasts of the leaf blowers. They can have CFM airflow as high as 3,000 and can push back even small rocks. What will take you days to finish they will cut back significantly. Of course, being gas-powered and walk-behind leaf blowers are extremely noisy and have higher sound Decibels(dB).


So, what is CFM airflow for a powerful leaf blower? Different types of leaf blowers today are designed to provide higher and lower cfm airflow.

Your best bet would be to purchase an electric model that has vacuum and mulching capability or a gas powered model.

This also depends on the size of the property and the kind of debris you’ll be working on, plus the noise level set in your area. And while it is tempting to overlook the MPH altogether, don’t.

The trick and our advice is to find a leaf blower that should allow a good coverage (high CFM’s) at a sustainable speed (high MPH).

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