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Commercial Backpack Blowers Review, Initial Impressions, Stihl Magnum 600, Husqvarna 380 BFS and RedMax 7150.

Are you a landscape professional, a landowner who needs the power of a commercial blower to keep your property in order, or just a homeowner who wants the power and speed of the largest available blowers? These three blowers will handle your largest jobs.  Many blowers tout high wind speed, these not only have high velocity windspeeds, they have the volume to handle large areas of debris fast.  However there are differences between these models that may make one unit more appropriate for your needs. (For High Res Large Images, click on the photos)

The Stihl 600 Magnum is a favorite among the smaller framed testers. Stihl combined lightweight and high power into the 600.  Even full of fuel, the Stihl feels much lighter than the other tested units.  With its high fuel efficiency, the 600 has a nice run time.  I also give Stihl engineers a plus for trying to design a backpack strap system that imitates those found on backpackers’ traditional packs  (backpacks used for wilderness camping, not backpack blowers. ) Load leveler straps are nice, and allow the user to adjust the pack to its most comfortable position.

Stihl uses a thick padded shoulder strap on its Model 600 Blower

With an added hip strap, the 600 would even distance itself more from the competition in terms of comfort.  One of our testers commented that the 600 was a nice improvement from the Stihl 550 model his town currently uses for its landscaping and grounds keeping department. The 600 Magnum list 21.6 pounds as its weight. The lightest of the tested units by far. (For more on the Stihl 550 Blower see here, http://blog.extremehowto.com/2010/06/11/extreme-how-tos-fathers-day-gift-guide-for-do-it-yourself-dads/ .)

Husqvarna’s 380 BFS  commercial blower is a new model to the United States and is the top of the line model for the largest outdoor power products company in the world.  The first impression of the Husqvarna’s most powerful blower, the 380 BFS is the amount of air it moves. When I added the additional tube to the blower, I was able to move hardened clay from a concrete driveway.  This was clay that had washed onto the drive and had been packed hard into the concrete by traffic. The Husqvarna 380 simply lifted it up and blew it away.   The 380 is a large unit and its hip belt does a nice job of transferring weight to the hips instead of the shoulders.  Being an avid backpacker, I usually adjust 60-70 percent of the weight to ride on my hips and leave 30-40% on my shoulders, enough to keep the top of the back from shifting and causing a loss of control.

Hip belt on Husqvarna 380 transfers backpack's weight to hips

The advantage of a hip belt is that weight carried on the hips allows a user to work longer without causing blistering and fatigue of the shoulders.  Backpacks used by the military and those used by  Boy Scouts at Philmont, will average 40-50 pounds and run higher than 70 pounds in some cases.  If the engineers pay closer attention to the pack frames and straps, the weight issue will be of less importance.  The Husqvarna is a big unit, just under 30 pounds, but the extra pounds bring additional power and for me it’s worth the added weight.

RedMax plays only in the commercial sandbox, with all of its units being designed for commercial use.  We had wanted to sample its 8100, but the backorder log was too large for us to get our hands on what many consider to be the most powerful blower. Instead we were able to get our hands on a demo 7150 unit.  The 7150 may not be the biggest dog on the porch anymore, but very few would try and run him off anytime soon.  Like the Husqvarna, the 7150 is a large unit compared to the Stihl. Does it have more output than the Stihl, not really, more than the Husqvarna,no.  Weight-wise the RedMax falls between the lightweight Stihl 600 and the Husqvarna 380 at 25.7 pounds.

RedMax uses Vents to route air between user and the backpack blower, to keep the user cool in hot conditions

However, RedMax wins the comfort award.  Absolutely a brilliant concept to route air through the space between the user and the backpack to keep the operators back cool while in use. Our first round of testing these blowers was in 100 degree weather and 90 percent humidity, and the comfort factor was probably exaggerated by the summer meltdown going on here, but whoever decided to put the cooling feature on the RedMax Blowers, I owe you a beer.

Commercial Backpack Blowers Reviewed, Husqvarna 380, RedMax 7150 and Stihl 600 Magnum

These three machines have plenty of power to handle your needs, whether you are a commercial entity, landowner or homeowner who just wants the best and coolest power tools in the neighborhood.  I am beginning to see many Stihl units in homeowner hands, and talking to them, they are wildly pleased, often commenting their only regret was not changing over to the larger models sooner.  Husqvarna has a homeowner division, but I think for many homeowners it would be wise to take a look at the larger commercial units.   My neighbor was using a smaller handheld blower and I saw him struggling to move wet leaves. I took the Husqvarna 380 over and the wet leaves were gone in minutes.  The only issue was making sure I had the blower pointed in the direction I wanted the leaves to go when I hit the throttle. Big power can make a big mess if you aren’t careful.  I hate saying it, but for just cleaning up grass clippings, I felt like I had a bulldozer to handle a spoonful’s worth of work. The wet leaves were a much better indicator of what these machines can do.

The Stihl is an obvious choice for smaller frame users. My 80 year old mom tested it and gave it her stamp of approval.  I think for Christmas, a 600 Magnum would be an excellent choice for her. She was like a kid with a new toy. At first, she was intimidated. But after starting it up and adjusting the straps she took off with it, looking for anything to blow around.  She still had a big smile on her face when I made her stop.

The Husqvarna 380 is a powerful machine. Larger than the other two units. But the additional weight means additional horsepower and we like Extreme here.  The hip belt allows the user to support the machine’s weight on his hips and not overload his shoulders.  This blower had an additional tube included which allowed me to get the blower tubes just above ground level and for wet material this really made a difference.  Husqvarna has really made an effort to provide commercial users with a quality high powered blower and I think they have succeeded.

RedMax has an old school feel to it. No flashy designs, it just looks as though it was built for the guy who is tough on his tools and expects them to keep working. In my book, there is nothing wrong with old school quality.  The 7100 is 100 cfm less than the 8100, but for most applications the 7100 is plenty powerful.  Obviously with the backlog of 8100s on order, the end users are wanting the additional cfm. I can understand wanting the biggest and baddest tool, but the 7100 reminded me that for most of my applications, a good solid performing tool will get the job done.

Any way you look at it, the Stihl 600 Magnum, the Husqvarna 380 and the RedMax 7100 are big dogs among blowers.  And if you have access to a dealer support system in your area, then I would recommend each of them.

Commercial Blower Specifications

Stihl BR 600 Magnum Husqvarna 380 BFS RedMax EBZ 7150
Engine Displacement 64.8cc 71.9cc 64.9cc
Engine Power 4.0 HP 4.43 HP 3.9 HP
Weight 21.6 pounds 29.54 pounds 25.7 pounds
Fuel Capacity 47.3 ounces 72.02 ounces 70.9 ounces
Air Flow In Tube 712 cfm 685.1 cfm 586 cfm
AirFlow No Tube 1012 cfm 914.65 cfm 812 cfm
Noise Emission 75 dba 77 dba 77 dba

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