Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things That Should Be Solar Powered: Leaf Blowers

I decided to start a new segment today called 'Things That Should Be Solar Powered.' The reasoning behind this is that often I will see something that (at least in my mind) should be powered by solar power.

Today's segment focuses on the leaf blower.

"I'm going to enjoy nature with my gasoline powered leaf-blower"
As you would expect from Autumn in Chicago, all the trees have been losing their leaves for the past few weeks which would inform the heightened level of lawn-care going on in all the surrounding suburbs. It has gotten to the point that every morning I am awakened by the sound of leaf blowers that sound like chain-saws, which frankly is the exact sound I don't want to be woken up abruptly by in my bed.

I have a few common complaints about leaf blowers:

  • What happened to good ol' fashioned child labor where neighborhood kids were paid one dollar to pickup leaves?
  • Is a rake really that troublesome to use? No wonder people are so out of shape.
  • A leaf blower makes little sense in an area that has been dubbed 'The Windy City.'
  • Must they all reek of gasoline? These engines can't be as efficient as they could be.

The last bullet point about gasoline use is probably my most serious point (right after child labor). Using gas to essentially power a big fan seems like a huge waste to me - especially when you can smell these damn things from 40 yards away.

I don't see any reason why a company can't develop a leaf-blower that you can initially charge by plugging into a wall and then mitigate power loss by having a solar cell attached to the blower. Most of these leaf-blowers already have a backpack for the engine or a fuel tank - so just 86 the tank and replace it with a solar cell and there you go.

I'm looking at you, engineers.


  1. So thinking real world, how much would it cost to make these, how much could you sell them for, and how much of an impact would it have from a sustainability standpoint? Meaning if all the gas blowers (haha gas blower) in the world changed to solar power, how would that compare to other industries outside of landscaping?

  2. Ugh. Real World.

    I imagine in the grand scheme of things, leaf blowers and other products like it will be the last to "adopt" solar power.

    Some of the most wasteful uses of our natural resources occur within the lawn care sector (excessive watering, mowing a lawn too much, over using chemicals, etc) and if lawn care took a more sustainable route, it would definitely make a dent.

    With that said, these 'what should be solar' segments are mostly going to be random things that pop into my head and it is probably a safe bet that readers should suspend reality when I start ranting about these things.

  3. Plugging into a wall, sure. Those are easy to find.

    Solar powered, I don't think so. That would be quite the panel to allow it to charge while running. Also consider to energy and resources to make the panel itself. Better off just charging the batteries with solar power.