If you have a lot of debris you need picked up fast and easily, you definitely want to check out a leaf vacuum. Leaf vacuums are amazing in that, some models will pick up everything from rocks, bottles, trash, and not to mention leaves! I've always heard or read about these but got to see one for the first time last fall while walking around on the Plaza here in KC, MO. This guy was pushing around the Billy Goat leaf vacuum and sucking up everything in site. I was impressed so I snapped a picture... although I must say he was a little confused as to why I was so interested in his work.
I would consider many of these models to be in the commercial leaf vacuum category as I wouldn't consider them cheap or at a price point the average home-owner can afford. With that said, we'll take a look at a few here which some of us may be able to afford. Basically we'll put the leaf and lawn vacuum into four different categories: hand-held leaf vacuum, walk behind leaf vacuum, tow leaf vacuum, and commercial leaf vacuum.
For leaf vacuum reviews, we'll look at a few of the most popular models and list a few features, commentary, and general consensus of what owners and users like/dislike about each product. With that said, the only one of these that we have actually used or seen in action is the Billy Goat which you can find some pretty decent deals on eBay. However, our goal here is to list several different types and models in one place so you can get an idea on price, features, etc.
Obviously the type of vacuum you consider is going to have a lot to do with what your overall goal is. Do you have a large yard, parking lot, or area that gets a lot of leaves or trash? Then you'll probably want one of the tow behind or commercial types. However, even the walk behind vacuums can cover quite a bit of ground and have large wheels designed specifically for covering a lot of ground. Obviously the walk behinds will work better on asphalt and smooth services, so if you have a large grass area, the tow or commercial leaf vacuum is probably your best bet. That's also considering you have something to pull it with like an ATV or lawn tractor.
Billy Goat Leaf Vacuum
The Billy Goat is one of the more popular type leaf and debris vacuums. We’ve seen these used a lot for area parks and shopping centers. The Goat is touted as being a “lawn and litter” vacuum ideal for property maintenance and residential buildings and would consider this product to be in the commercial leaf vacuum category. Watching one of these pushed around, we’re amazed at the ease of mobility with the large 12” wheels. Depending on the model, it comes with an on-board chipper as well which comes in real handy.
Billy Goat Specifications:
- Performance: 3550 RPM 35,640ft.2/hr
- Wheels: 12” semi-pneumatic turf
- Debris Bag: Hard bottom bag that opens using nautical fasteners
- Housing: 14-gauge horizontal steel
- Impeller: ¼” steel, 5-blade
- Drive System: Differential rear wheel drive
- Nozzle: Polyethylene high density 27”
- Height Adjustment: (From handle) 4 position
- Length: 62”
- Width: 27”
- Height: 42”
- Weight: 132-141 lbs. (depending on model)
- Productivity: 35,640 square feet per hour at 3 miles per hour
Another great feature not mentioned in the product specs is an optional hose kit handy for getting in between shrubs and tough to reach places. One HUGE feature about the Billy Goat Leaf vacuum is the bag capacity. We had to dig to find the average size, but found that up-to 7 cubic feet is average. This is one of the reasons to go with a more expensive lawn leaf vacuum. You’ll find that most of the hand-held ones and others have just a few cubic feet which means you’ll be emptying the bag more then you’ll be sucking up debris and leaves.
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Toro 51599 Ultra 12 amp Variable-Speed Electric Hand-Held Leaf Vacuum/blower/mulcher
We searched for the best reviewed and sellers on hand-held’s and the Toro Leaf Vacuum came out the winner with (at time of this writing) 827 reviews and 4 ½ stars. Which is pretty good reviews. Again, these hand-held’s have a much smaller bag capacity and can be a real pain emptying them every few minutes. However, with this model you’re also getting a blower but no chipper functionality but it does do leaf mulching. One nice feature we noticed about the Toro 51599 is the ease of switching from blower to vacuum and the magnesium serrated metal blades. Many other models in this price range have plastic blades. Also, electric is always better for the environment. When receiving this item, in the box you’ll find blower tubes, vac tubes, vac ba, power unit, and operators manual. The product also claims to shred leaves using the magnesium blades.
Toro 51599 Ultra 12 amp Specifications:
- Maximum Velocity: Up to 235 mph
- CFM (blow): 255
- CFM (vacuum): 390
- Motor: 12 amps
- Weight: 7 ½ lbs.
- Metal impeller for mulching
- Reduction (leaf shredding): 16:1
We were actually amazed at the great leaf vacuum reviews this item received. Most owners (although admitted to originally looking for a gas powered option) liked the leaf shredding capabilities and light weight.
Troy-Built 3-in-1 lawn vacuum (self propelled)
The Troy-Built 3-in-1 lawn vacuum can do it all; chip, shred, vacuum. Receiving 3 ½ stars out of (at time of this writing) 24 reviews on Amazon. One thing we noticed however when looking at these locally and online is the wheel size. Compared to the Billy Goat 12” wheels, the Troy-Built’s 10-by-4 inch pneumatic rear wheels don’t seem to us that it would be as easy to push around the yard. Yes it’s self-propelled so that would definitely help while in the yard. However, if you want to zip around your driveway or along the gutters of your street, you’re going to be restricted by the self-propelled speed. Several reviews also mentioned that this item was difficult to start. Having owned similar lawn tools that are hard to start… well, that is just a pain.
Troy-Built 3-in-1 Specifications:
- 6.5 horsepower
- 205cc Briggs & Stratton OHV engine (up to 2 inch capacity chipper)
- Debris reduction: 10:1
- Includes vacuum nozzle, chipper chute, and shredder
- Not compliant for Sale in California (Non-Carb compliant)
Overall this is a pretty well-rounded product. This is priced for most consumers and having the 3-in-1 options is nice.
In all our research for tow-behind Lawn Vacuums, the Swisher Lawn and Swisher Poly Lawn vacuum models continually comes up. We even see them around town quite a bit so figured we’d finally take a good look at one. However, with that said, we’re going to do a brief review of the Swisher LV87537 2-in-1 Lawn Vacuum and Dump Wagon. We believe that you can get a better all-around vacuum in that price range under $2K. Although you may check out the Swisher Poly version which is generally listed for a few hundred dollars less. Meaning, although it’s advertised as a 2-in-1, the “two” things are vacuum and dump wagon. Are you kidding? Surely we can find something with a great chipper for that price. According to the Swisher LV87537 features, it will “shred small twigs and grass clippings that are vacuumed up from the mower deck.” After rigorous research, we haven’t found a really good all-in-one tow behind leaf vacuum and chipper. Which in some aspects makes sense and goes along with our belief is “do one thing, but do it well.” The common issue is that in order to have a large motor to power the chipper, the placement is difficult with tow-behinds. The only logical place (and where most are located) is on the tongue of the trailer part causing issues with weight distribution.
So if you really want to find a good leaf and lawn vacuum (and received good lawn vacuum reviews) that also boasts a relatively good chipper, take a look at the Merry Mac Walk-Behind Chipper. The Merry Mac is well built and sales for around $1,399.99 (price may vary depending on season. This item is self-propelled with 3 forward speeds and also a reverse (which we thought was a nice feature not found on some other self-propelled models).
Merry Mac Walk-Behind Chipper/Vacuum Specifications:
- Engine: Briggs & Stratton
- Bagger Volume: 4 bushels
- Max. Cutting Thickness: 2 7/8 inches
- Material Type: Cast iron sleeve
- Front Wheel: 8 x 1 ¾ semi-pneumatic
- Real Wheel: 10 ½ x 3 ½ pneumatic
- Dimensions: L 67” x W 25” x H 43”
- Warranty: 24 months parts/labor
The Merry Mac Walk-Behind Chipper works well for picking up not just leaves, but debris as well.
Regardless of your leaf vacuum needs or budget, we hope to have provided you with some things to consider and some products to suite your needs.