Leaf Blower/Vacs: Echo vs. Toro

Here we have it: a head-to-head comparison between the Toro Super Blower/Vac and the Echo ES-210 Shred ‘n Vac. I’ve used the Toro for 3 or 4 years now, and recently bought the Echo. First things first: I’ve always liked the Toro. But, it’s electric, and the cord has always driven me nuts. One of the things I use it for is clearing around my swimming pool. And, corded tools and swimming pools just don’t get along well. Half of the time is spent routing the cord so it doesn’t fall in the pool or get snagged on stuff. And then, the cord is never quite long enough to go everywhere I need to use the unit. So, my primary motivation for buying the Echo was to get a unit that performs similarly to the Toro, sans cord. With that in mind, here’s how the units compare in various departments.

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Performance: Both units have about the same amount of power, that is to say, they’re both adequate for clearing paved surfaces, which is my primary use for them. The ES-210 has Echo’s smallest blower engine (21.2cc). It’s not going to move big piles of wet leaves in tall grass, but that’s not what I bought it for. Vac performance is similar for both units as well.

Controls: The Echo is a little more versatile in that it has a gas engine with a variable throttle, so I have more control over the blower velocity. The Toro has a two-speed motor (although there is a different model available, the “Ultra Blower Vac”, with a variable speed motor).

Ergonomics: Being gas powered, the Echo is heavier than the Toro, with a dry weight of 9.7lbs plus the weight of the gas. That’s a tradeoff you have to make with gas vs. electric. Operator fatigue will become an issue with any handheld blower after a certain amount of time which varies inversely with the weight. However, for the length of time I typically use the thing, it hasn’t been a problem for me. FWIW, 9.7lbs isn’t too bad as far as handheld gas blowers go — Echo’s next model up, the ES-230, is almost 2 pounds heavier.

In vac mode, the Toro’s ergonomics have always seemed a little awkward to me. The Echo is better in this department.

Convenience: For blowing, you can’t beat a gas blower for convenience. Just take it down, start it up, and blow away. No cord to unspool, set up, and put away when you’re done. Of course, that convenience goes away if the blower doesn’t start easily. With two-cycle gas engines, it’s worth it to pay a bit more and get a brand like Echo or Stihl. The payback is an engine that starts reliably every time, and saves countless hours of aggravation. Don’t waste your time or money on cheap two-cycle engines.

With these particular units, another important convenience aspect is the ease of converting from blower to vac and back again. The Toro has the edge here. With the Toro, I can convert in just a few seconds. All of the pipes have quick release tabs, so it’s just a matter of pulling off the blower pipes and snapping on the vacuum pipes and bag. With the Echo, I have to twist the blower pipe on and off, which is harder to do than with the Toro. Then I have to secure the vac pipe to the unit, which requires a screwdriver to tighten a band clamp. Tho whole process takes a couple of minutes, which is still acceptable, but it’s slow and cumbersome compared to the Toro.

Maintenance: Another department where the electric wins, for obvious reasons. A gas engine requires periodic maintenance while an electric one doesn’t. Of course, there’s not too much that needs to be done with a two-cycle blower.. very few moving parts, no oil to change, etc. End-of-season maintenance shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes. In my case, I already have 6-odd other gas engines that I maintain, and taking this one on wasn’t really an issue for me at all.

Price: Toro: $60. Echo: $200. Nuff said 🙂

In conclusion: It’s hard to go wrong with either unit. The deciding factor is the cord. If you can deal with the cord, buy the Toro. If not, buy the Echo. Of course, you may think you can deal with the cord at first (as I did), and then find that it’s too much of a hassle. In my case, it’s also a potential hazard. So, I switched to gas and I’m happy. YMMV!

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