Are Leaf Blowers 2-Stroke or 4-Stroke?

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Knowing the difference between a 2-stroke and 4-stroke engine is necessary if you want to use a leaf blower. These two are different from each other in terms of performance, ease of use, functionality and cost. Being able to distinguish the two makes it easier to determine what suits your needs.

The biggest difference between a 2-stroke and 4-stroke leaf blower is a 2-stroke mixes oil and gas, while a 4-stroke has separate tanks. Most leaf blowers run on a 2-stroke engine because it is less expensive to manufacture and simpler to use.

The terms stroke and cycle are used interchangeably. A 2-cycle engine is the same as a 2-stroke and this applies to 4-stroke as well.

What are the Benefits of a 2-Stroke Leaf Blower?

A 2-stroke leaf blower engine completes a power stroke in one revolution (comprised of two stages), whereas a 4-stroke requires two revolutions or four stages.

Low cost. The most important advantages of a 2-cycle engine are cost efficiency and simplicity. These engines are less expensive than a 4-cycle to make so manufacturers are able to pass that on to consumers.

SR-6400L2-cycle leaf blowers have a simple mechanism. The simpler the design the lower the overhead cost. As with any product or service, the lower the cost to manufacture, the lower you can set the selling price. A good example of a powerful and efficient 2-stroke leaf blower we like is the SchröderSR-6400L as it packs a lot of power and reliability.

This video shows you how a typical 2-stroke or 2-cycle engine works. While these engines are used in different types of vehicles, tools and machines, the working principle is the same.

Easy to use. A simple design translates to ease of use. If this is your first time to use a leaf blower, you will find a 2-stroke easier to use. For most, an inexpensive and easy to use leaf blower are the most important criterion. These reasons, along with affordability, make 2-stroke leaf blowers the most widely used.

Portable and powerful. Its weight to power ratio is better than a 4-stroke leaf blower. You get a lot of leaf blowing power without sacrificing portability. This makes a huge difference with handheld leaf blowers and similar portable designs.

Low maintenance. A basic design also means less maintenance required. Problems like oil leaks, engine flooding and others will be easier to fix.
Finding replacement parts for 2-cycle leaf blowers is easier because it is widely available. These parts are also cheaper than those for a 4-stroke.

What are the Drawbacks of a 2-Stroke Leaf Blower?

Noise. Because of the way 2-cycle engines work, it produces more noise. This has always been an issue with leaf blowers so if you are going 2-stroke, look for those with a noise reduction feature. Even then people should be at least 50 feet away.

Low fuel efficiency. 2-stroke engines do not burn fuel as efficiently as a 4-stroke. It causes more pollution and consumes fuel faster.

Mixing required. 2-stroke leaf blowers require a 40:1 ratio or 3.2 ounces of oil for a gallon of gas. You have to use the exact ratio. Too much oil or gas can cause the engine to overheat, stall and smoke. Once you get used to a 2-stroke leaf blower, mixing is easy. But for beginners this can be challenging.

What are the Benefits of a 4-Stroke Leaf Blower?

A 4-stroke or 4-cycle leaf blower engine differs from a 2-stroke in many ways. But the most important is one, oil and gas are not mixed. Second, the engine requires two revolutions per power stroke. While not as popular 2-stroke, there are clear benefits.

Fuel efficiency. 4-stroke engines burn fuel more efficiently. It produces less pollution compared to a 2-stroke and gives you more mileage. If you are looking at it from the long term, a 4-stroke leaf blower saves money when it comes to fuel. One that we can recommend is the Makita EB5300TH as it has all the benefits of a 4-cycle engine and more.

Durable. 4-stroke engines are made from more sophisticated components. These are also built to withstand heavy use in different environments. Head to head, a 4-stroke engine lasts longer than a 2-stroke. It is less vulnerable to wear and suited for heavy duty use.

Less noisy than a 2-stroke. 4-cucle engines are quieter than a 2-cycle, and that makes a huge difference for many. Some neighborhoods have strict regulations about leaf blower noise, so a 4-stroke is better suited for these situations.

No fuel mix needed. Because 4-cycle leaf blowers do not require fuel mixing, mistakes will not happen. No need to worry if the mix is right or wrong. Just add the gas and oil in their respective compartments and the leaf blower is ready.

What are the Drawbacks of a 4-Stroke Leaf Blower?

Expensive. The fuel efficiency and durability comes at a price. A 4-cycle engine costs more to make so these leaf blowers are more expensive compared to a 2-stroke. Because these engines are durable it is going to last. But if something breaks down the replacement parts will cost more.

Heavier. A 4-stroke engine is more complex than a 2-stroke so it weighs more. The difference may not seem much – a few pounds or so – but it does. If you use a leaf blower for long periods, every pound counts. A heavy leaf blower can be a strain on the wrists and hands, so it is something to consider.

Not as powerful. A 4-stroke leaf blower does not generate as much power as a 2-stroke. The difference in power is getting narrower but for now 2-stroke engines are still more powerful.

Is My Leaf Blower 2 or 4-Stroke?

If you use the wrong fuel your leaf blower will not rev so knowing if the engine is 2 or 4-stroke is critical.

Fuel compartments. A 2-stroke leaf blower has one fuel reservoir for the oil and gas. A 4-stroke leaf blower has two separate compartments for the fuel. You never mix fuel in a 4-stroke engine.

Aside from the fuel tank, there are other ways to tell the difference between a 2 and 4-cycle engine.

Ratio indicator. The fuel compartment in most 2-stroke leaf blowers have a ratio mix indicator on it. You might see something like 40:1. That is the fuel mix ratio. 4-stroke leaf blowers do not have this feature because its gas and oil are separate.

Check the manual. Look in the owner’s manual. The product name or specifications will tell you if it is a 2 or 4-cycle engine.

Whether it is a 2 or 4-stroke, most leaf blowers use unleaded 87 octane gas. The ethanol level has to be 10% or lower. You should be able to use any type of fuel, though some manufacturers recommend a specific type.

Which to Buy: 2-Stroke or 4-Stroke?

Now that we know the differences and similarities between a 2 and 4-stroke leaf blower, the question is which do you buy? Which is better suited for you?

This table gives you a general comparison between the two.

2-Stroke Pros 4-Stroke Pros
LightFuel efficient
AffordableQuieter than a 2-stroke
Low maintenance Durable
Good weight to power ratio No fuel mixing needed
2-Stroke Cons4-Stroke Cons
Noisy More expensive than a 2-stroke
Does not burn as well as a 4-stroke Not as powerful as a 2-stroke engine

2-stroke leaf blowers offer more benefits compared to a 4-stroke leaf blower. It is lighter, simple to use and costs less. If you use leaf blowers like most people, a 2-troke model is going to last a long time.

The efficient weight to power ratio is another significant factor. If you are going to use the tool extensively, portability is a must.

The biggest issue as we have noted is the noise level. The good news is that a lot of manufacturers have developed mechanisms to reduce the noise somewhat.

Of course if you can get your hands on a 4-stroke leaf blower, go for it. If it is not too heavy and has a reasonable price, then it is worth buying.