But hey! No leaves on the patio come Tuesday! #worthit
Benzene may be more acutely poisonous than some other molecule which also has six carbon atoms, but from the planet's perspective, it's just six carbon atoms.
If you're breathing any exhaust, you're taking in CO. Less pungent smelling exhaust is not any better for you.
Well, yes. Doing things that are good for the environment and our health is going to cost more money than not doing those things.
For small things, the only place that seems to justify 2-stroke is a chainsaw. This is partly because weight matters much more, and partly because a chainsaw is held at many different angles. Oil flow in a 4-stroke engine is difficult when you can't rely on gravity going in any particular direction.
Given that the whole point of a leaf blower engine is to move air, I have to wonder if the best solution might be a turbine.
Best bet: electric corded (120 Volts AC) leaf blowers: cheap, powerful, reliable, light and easy to maintain. No danger of battery fire/explosion due to abuse/age.
I've overhauled my last temperamental gas carb. The end of gas lawn gear is indeed in sight.
A petrol lawnmower still wins for long runtimes, though even that can be mitigated by having multiple batteries. It’s fair to say the electric upsides are marginal with mowers.
Whereas with hand tools like leaf blowers and line trimmers, the benefits are massive. Professional electric garden tools place the battery pack on a backpack so that the handheld component is light weight. They are quieter so no ear protection is needed, no sooty emissions so no face mask needed, and less vibration so it’s far less fatiguing for all-day use.
Either way, with electric you’re not breathing in concentrated nitrous oxide and two-stroke oil soot. To deal with dust you’d only need a light and relatively comfortable fabric mask like they use in hospitals (or on Japanese public transport).
But the pros have $10,000 zero-radius, four-stroke machines made to run for 12 hours a day. Different beast.
I don't think you can find batteries that will last that long.
New 5A batteries are $150. I had some 2A batteries from other lawn equipment but the mower eats through those in 10m, plus puts another charge cycle on them.
I finally got feud up and got a Honda self-propelled gas mower for $400 that should last 10 years. I think battery mower is great for tiny lawns, say 0.1 acres or less. Anything bigger and li-ion tech is going to be too expensive over the years.
Love the battery weedeacker and hedge trimmer though. The battery blower is great for blowing the porch or driveway, but for fall cleanup or gutters it's the same story; get a corded electric for that.
Maybe I've just been lucky, but I've had exactly the opposite experience. I've mowed a large lawn with a Li-ion battery-powered mower for four years and I can't detect any degradation in the batteries. Maybe you already know and do this, but I'll note that some basic battery temperature management will greatly prolong their life. Don't let them bake in the sun, don't store them or charge them in a hot garage, etc.
On the other hand, all of the gas-powered mowers I've ever used, even really expensive ones, were heavy, fiddly, stinky, obnoxious things that eventually drove me to use a reel mower for a short time before I went electric.
I do still have a gas-powered machine. It's a tiller with a four-stroke engine. It's new and high-quality, and it's a fucking pain in the ass. It's hard to start, loud, smells like shit when it's running and the fuel stinks up my garage. Unfortunately there are no electric tillers, but we'll get there some day.
Thing that sketched me out about the Kobalt is that once it fails or the battery is discontinued, you're on your own. I opened the battery up and it had 20x 4v cells but they were so tightly wired and glued that replacing all 20 would have been a pain in the ass, plus would've run around $80 for the cells.
Tillers are another beast, you don't drive them around the yard, they drive you. At least in the North Carolina clay...
Honda is the best, no doubt. I did a lot of research before I bought this damn thing, and reviews and recommendations kept leading back to Honda.
I've heard of problems with Kobalt Li-ion stuff before. It's too bad they're giving electric tools a bad name.
maybe this one:
The problem is that the batteries needed to sustain running the leaf blower at high speeds are very heavy.
I just shlep a cord through my yard, but that would not work if leaf blowing was my profession
This is not believable. Think of how many tankfuls of gas that will go through in 100,000 miles. Every atom of carbon going out the tail pipe is "pollution".
A day's use of a gas leaf blower has a vanishingly small carbon and NOx footprint compared to 100K miles of a fossil-fueled Ford truck.
I also have Ego's lawn mower and weed whacker. The mower is fucking amazing. It's so quiet that you often can't hear it inside the house, and easily powerful enough as long as I don't try to mow wet grass. I can do my entire ~3000 sq meter yard on two batteries, which take just a moment to switch out.
Same with the weed whacker. I have a second home in the mountains where I maintain the grounds solely with the weed whacker. I can throw it in my car with an extra battery or two, drive up there, and trim up the entire place in a couple hours. I feel like I'm living in the future.
Love my Ego tools. Bought the mower because I wanted to be able to stow it vertically for space.
You and I are now friends.
Wish we could standardize modern rechargeable batteries the same way we did with old lead acid models.
That's their standardised battery pack - it fits dozens of different tools:
Aren't most companies working on a standardized battery (at least within their brand) so you can swap batteries between your drill, blower, trimmer, etc? It would seem that if that's the case, changing battery form factors would be a real bad idea.
That's the kicker. I have DeWalt, Makita, and Rigid brand electric tools. They all have different, incompatible (yet same voltage/amp) batteries and chargers, each costing as much as the tool. At least gas goes in any gas tool.
I'd rather they be regulations on the amount of pollution (both air and noise) allowed.
And I'm not sure I agree with your assessment of the reliability of gas powered tools. Our lawn mower needed repairs frequently...
Meanwhile, my neighbor's expensive new gas-powered mower has been in the shop twice in the past few years. When it does work it's loud and smells like shit.
I disagree. Until relatively recently all battery powered devices had removable batteries, which is why we have standard battery sizes in the first place. Welded and sealed proprietary battery packs are a backward step.
Sure you have. Any device with removable single-cell 'batteries' has removable cells.
> Imagine the increased complexity/cost and decreased reliability if each of the 6 cells in a standard car batter was individually replaceable.
Car batteries are already removable and replaceable, and come in standard sizes, which is precisely the point.
That way even if the manufacturer decides to switch battery pack standards in a few years, someone with the necessary knowledge can still get some 18650 cells and be fine.
Me? I don't employ anyone to blow my leaves so I'm a winner in this transaction.
As for one person’s choice, I wish all my neighbors would make the same choice.
I'd share some concern about transition, in particular because I live in Arizona, but I guess things will be better in the long run.
An F150 consumes ~2 litres of fuel an hour at idle and provides 400 watts of power through its outlet. A Bosch leaf blower is 2400 watt. Petrol powered leaf blowers do not use 12 liters of fuel an hour.
Sure, the emissions in some ways will be lower, but it's not an unambiguous gain and it's not anything close to an environmentally friendly way to run a leaf blower.
This is clearly a niche for PHEVs or BEVs.
Where'd you get this number? AFAICT this is not true.
More like a little less than 1 liter for a 4.6L V8 motor.
(And yes it would, and that's great!)
My impression is that pollution scales roughly linearly with the size of a power plant, while power output scales exponentially.
It's so good. It has turned a dreadful experience into a long slightly noisy walk in my yard.
I used to have a number of minor breathing problems when mowing my lawn, mostly due to the exhaust. No longer having to deal with smelly, burning chemicals is absolutely awesome. I ended replacing almost all of my other yard tools with an electric equivalent as soon as I could.
This is a major change since I last tried electric (and especially battery powered) yard tools, which were flimsy, low powered and died quickly. The modern ones are quite good for most things and since I'm more inclined to use them, I end up dealing with easier to mow/chop/trim yard stuff than before.
Upon reflection, using the gas powered equipment today feels like barbarism.
Most of the author's points about sound come down to hand waving and weasel wording. He says hearing loss is "coming up fast on the list" of public health problems (a meaningless assertion), and then he never presents evidence that leaf blowers are a significant cause of this. He started with the conclusion (leaf blowers make an annoying sound), and then did his best to argue the sound that annoys him should be illegal.
On the other hand, he's right that 2 stroke engines are dirty as hell, and his statistics to that ends are a bit more convincing.
It's not complicated - people don't like loud annoying noises and air pollution.
No weasel words in that.
70 dBA is at the threshold for hearing damage (65-70 dBA range). It's below the OSHA limit of 85 dBA, but that is not the threshold for hearing damage, it's the threshold for acceptable  hearing damage.
 where "acceptable" means that a person exposed to 85 dBA for an average of 40-hrs per week for 10 years can still understand conversational speech in an ideal environment.
Or it is slightly different, since music in ear is more distracting than ambient music? (Ie. hear your own voice clearly with headphones on)
I often do a "can I hear my normal speaking voice?"check with headphones in as a way to see if they're quiet enough. But that might not be the right standard.
Given that campuses are eager to ban smoking, which produces vastly less pollution by volume, leaf blowers should be a no brainer.
My gardeners don’t use leaf blowers and people are always asking what chemicals I use to keep my garden looking so lush. I don’t use any of those either; the process is called “nature”.
Look, I am as fanatical about soil biome issues as anyone that you are going to find, but your assertion is overly simplistic. If you look at a soil type map for large parts of Sili Valley, you will see big chunks labeled "Adobe". As in clay. As in it doesn't percolate. As in naturally sparse in organic matter. As in gardening contractors in Milpitas own not rent jackhammers, and it has nothing to do with the long term effects of leaf blowers.
You just have to look at the "nature strip" in front of my house compared to my neighbors on the same street. We're all on the same terrain. Mine is the only one with grass (and flowers despite people getting out of cars and treading on them).
You seem out of touch with reality (I intend this in the gentlest way possible).
I detest noise, but judging by the popularity of Harley's I must be in the minority.
There could be a middle ground: Allow lawn care only one day a week. That's what the $FAR_TOO_EXPENSIVE place down the road does.
Motorcycles can be far more efficient than cars, so fight the noise, fight the obnoxious riders.. but not the vehicle.
Many riders believe that loud
pipes make them safer
Banning motorcycles will not fix loud noises. They'll just buy loud trucks and cars and/or "upgrade" them to be loud.
I watch for other motorcycles because motorcyclists wave at each other as they pass. Around here (Colorado) it's maybe 1/20 motorcycles that are louder than a car under normal conditions. Probably 1/12 or so that are louder than a car when they're driving like an asshole.
I honestly encounter loud cars more often than motorcycles, usually when some idiot thinks I pulled up to the light on my motorcycle to race them in their civic. (When I'm just on my way to or from the damn grocery store)
Though if you're looking for the loudest thing on the road, I'll grant that it's usually some 60 year old dude on a Harley.
Actual enforcement would go a long way though...
The problem is not motorcycles. The problem is people who think loud vehicles of any kind compensate for their shortcomings.
I was responding in kind.
You were fine up until here. Insulting people for wanting to use an easier option isn't a great look.
If they waited until 8 on weekdays and 10 on weekends they did their part in waiting until most people were awake.
Dogs bark, lawn mowers cut grass, motorcycles or trucks have engines that are a cut above the rest in noise. People throw the odd celebration.
Get over it. You're not the only person in this world.
“Selfish” is not a protected class.
Also this: the leafblower ban was voted on and passed. The majority of Washingtonians thinks that running your petrol toy in public is so rude and bothersome that the practice needs a city ordinance banning it.
Talking to environmentalists who have no appreciation for nuance, is like being gay and talking to a evangelical thinking I'm destined for hell.
I have an electric lawn mower. I drive a hybrid. I recycle.
Environmentalism isn't a pissing match, nor is it a purity test.
This culture of sneering down on people is why so many working class people become contrary at environmentalism.
It's self-righteous, snobbery and elitism as it's finest
It takes me a half day with a leaf blower.
Between October and Feb I may have to pick up leaves 3 or 4 times to keep it from killing my grass or at the very least not be a bad neighbor and allow my leaves to blow over into the yard of people who just picked up theirs
I have a kid to take care of, other house upkeep to do, a 40-50 hour a week job.
This whole thread is filled with young, urban kids who have never been responsible for property
One solution would be to hire outside help to keep the excess of stuff clean, but that may be expensive. There's another solution, to cut down on the amount of stuff. When I was a kid the lawn would take 30 minutes to mow with a push lawnmower, and maybe 45 minutes for raking. Once a week. On Saturdays, because Sundays is quiet day.
Washington told its citizens to either earn enough and keep quiet or downsize to keep quiet. It's a good start.
It's time that other peoples' ostentatiousness stopped spilling over in my domain. Leafblowers are just one symptom. SUVs are another.
Portlandia isn't for everyone.
Leaf blowers are a god send for people with medical problems that 8+ hours of raking would seriously harm them or be impossible for them.
Also, good luck raking on the side a small, but steep, hill - you can't even stand on the hill without lots of pain and damaging the surface. But you can use a leafblower from the top.
i.e. just because you have a limited experience in the world, doesn't mean others do too.
(I own exactly 2 pot-plants, FWIW.)
Plus even if you have flowers and such you don't want lots of leaves there.
And, in my limited understanding of horticulture, I thought leaves happened later in the year than flowers. Don't they blow off or turn into fertiliser before spring?
And of course, that's the big issue here. By taking more time, raking makes cleaning the yard more expensive. When it comes to people in houses, that makes yard care more of an expense, which means some people will have to spend more time doing it rather than hiring a service. When it comes to condos or rentals where it's included, it makes rent more expensive.
But hey, some louts won't have to put up with the sound of a leafblower for a few minutes a week. Who cares if everyone is worse off?
It's more than just sound. Leaf blowers mostly use dirty, dirty two-stroke engines. Tons of emissions--which, regardless of the smell, we should be minimizing--and an awful stink.
If you can afford a house, you can rake the lawn and sweep the driveway. Or, as the article notes, even in Totalitarian Hellscape Washington you can buy a battery-powered leaf blower. What a horrible horrible sacrifice you must make.
I have medical problems limiting just how much I can exert myself. This wasn't true when i initially bought the home.
Raking leaves, is a 3-5 times event that could take me about 16 hours (an entire weekend) each time.
Blowing the leaves takes about 5-6 hours.
I had an electric blower for a long time and honestly, it only shaved off maybe a 10th of my time b/c it simply wasn't strong enough.
I recycle, i drive a hybrid, i compost and garden, i have an electric mower.
But for some people who spout endlessly about "externalizes", it's like there's no end to minimizing my foot print until i just up and commit suicide. You all sit back with your high and mighty judgements and half of you are just kids who've never been responsible for anything but yourselves, or dorky urbanites who have half a putting green for a yard in high crime areas. Or hell..both things at once.
Using a rake takes me 2 days to rake my yard. (about 16 hours)
An electric blower, 1.5 days (roughly 10-12 hours)
A gas blower takes me about 4 hours.
I have 2 medical conditions going on right now and can't pay someone $200 every single time i need my yard picked up. I spend enough in medical bills right now.
Hand held tools and scooters can be electric, small outboard motors for marine applications can be four stroke or propane fired.
In the first world, two stroke is obsolete in every form.
Personally I’m in favor of limiting noise output rather than outright banning.
Otherwise it’s tyrannical for a minority to tell the majority what they may and may not do.
Plus the article is more about pollution than noise so limiting noise doesn’t help with that does it.
The majority can still have their electric leafblowers.
Your liberty to blow leaves ends where damage to my hearing and breathing begins. When the minority is imposing direct negative health effects on the majority, it's not tyranny to prevent them from harming everyone else.
So, if you want to design a quiet, outdoor HEPA vacuum, go for it!
The lower frequencies generated in the two stroke options output link to human biological issues over time as well as the distance traveling issue of the sound at the heart of the article.
Isn't the tyranny the leaf blowers creating noise for everybody around them?
I have used a light, wide broom for the same purpose. I use technology, and I am not a Luddite, but leaf blowers don't seem to have enough pluses for me to think otherwise. You still have to strap on a leaf blower, and wave the blower, wear earmuffs (or go deaf), procure and fill it with fuel, and haul it back to your truck or shed.
I've never used one personally, but it sounds like a LiquidPiston engine would solve every problem this writer discuss.
But a few years ago I got one as a fire management tool, after seeing Parks workers use them for that purpose along the roadside. They're an awesome way to train a burn, and useful if it starts to get away from you.
Also, aren't all leaf's technically gas powered?
D.C. has Arlington Cemetery too, so I'm not sure what they'll do. Maybe they have an exception.
Once that seed of skepticism seeps in, you really reel at the sheer mass of wasted time and money which this country spends on manicuring lawns.
There are products now where you could easily get through a work day by swapping out for a charged battery two or three times. The extra batteries are a bit of a cost, but in a professional context could pay for themselves with saved gasoline.
Noise pollution in cities is an insidious problem. I'm happy to see that DC managed to reduce it somewhat. Although, 3 more years to wait is a bit of a kicker.
Most people in suburban areas end up with tooo many leaves to compost or to try to mulch with a lawn mower.
>to teach us, the widespread degradation and depletion of soil and other resources leads to a civilization’s collapse.
This is why I can't ever take this hippy dippy shit seriously. Because I pick up my leaves society is going to collapse? Okkayyy....
Yet people act surprised when articles about insect and worm population collapse come up.
The total area of ‘yards’ where leaves are picked up is so utterly insignificant that I wonder if you have ever been outside. In any case, the article is about D.C. and, regrettably, there will never be a shortage of worms in the capitol.
Public parks, office perimeters, college campuses, busy roadsides, and yes, home lawns are all locations where people gather up leaves to burn them or send them off to the garbage. These are spaces in which billions of people spend all day and expect to be “cleaned” of leaves, so yes, the impact is significant.
You could nuke every city in America and the 'worm' population wouldn't even notice.
It's amusingly myopic to worry about the leaves in an urban area where, most likely, all the trees have been cut down and replaced with buildings and asphalt. Real honestly, nobody cares what the soil is like in an urban/suburban area as (a) the 'soil' was most likely carted in from somewhere else to begin with and (b) the plants and trees one finds in a suburban/urban area aren't native anyway.
I really don't care about the leaves or lack thereof on your 'college campus.' But, I find it astounding that, very often on HN, there is this absolute lack of awareness of how BIG this country and is. Some posts come across as if the author's only interaction with the 'real world' is watching BBC nature documentaries and picnicking in the 'public park.' No offense intended.
I'm very used to people around me gathering up acres of leaves to burn.
Your argument is exactly the same as what's used by climate change deniers. America has forests, yeah. But half the country is dedicated to agriculture and towns. A lot of the untouched land is fairly mountainous or lacking in deciduous trees, i.e., not great territory for worms and insects.
It's bizarre how people still deny obvious human actions having affects on populations of the little creatures below us. We know that their populations are dropping faster every year. Spraying poison and depriving the ground of nutrients are pretty strong candidates for causes.
we can't even properly feed the billions of us on this planet and you think everyone has their own leaf blower - much less suburban or rural property in which to use it?
But in my opinion, two-stroke gas leaf blowers and lawnmowers are the best engines to take apart and learn engine repair on -- repair and maintenance being cornerstones of mechanical engineering. I love doing small-engine repair and these were my gateway drug.
Plus... the smell of mixed grass trimmings and gas is something magical. (Wait, is that weird?)
> Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.
Same with light bulbs.
A tax that reflects the actual externalities of the usage would be functionally the same as a ban and impossible to actually manage.