Small, compact and exceptionally well balanced, the Karcher KBL 2 is a well-designed leaf blower that's easy to use. In our tests, it struggled to move wet leaves across a damp lawn, as well as bigger bits of debris, such as thicker sticks. For use on hard surfaces or in smaller areas it can do a good job, but most people may be better off with a more powerful model.
- Well balanced
- Clever battery technology
- Easy to use
- Not very powerful
- Battery takes a long time to charge
- Review Price: £149.99
Built for smaller gardens, the Karcher LBL 2 is a super-light and simple leaf blower. It’s exceptionally easy and comfortable to use, and ships with a flat nozzle-cum-rake for agitating stuck leaves.
Performance in tests left a lot to be desired, with this basic model better for dealing with dry leaves and, in particular, on hard surfaces rather than lawns. For smaller jobs it may work well, but those with larger gardens or tougher messes may find they need an alternative product.
Karcher LBL 2 design and features – Very light, and very easy to use
- Exceptionally well balanced and easy to use
- Decent range of accessories in the box
- Bundled charger takes some time to charge
Weighing 2.42kg including the 2.5Ah battery, the Karcher LBL 2 is one of the lightest leaf blowers I’ve used. It’s also brilliantly designed, with the angled handle that helps to push the nozzle at the optimal angle for leaf blowing. It’s great, since it means very little hand fatigue – even if using it for longer periods of time.
The LBL 2 is compatible with the Karcher 18V battery range, so you can buy the set barebones (£90) or as a set with a 2.5Ah battery and charger (£149.99). If you don’t have existing accessories, then the latter is the best option – although there’s one big problem: the battery charger provided is exceptionally slow, taking 4hrs 30mins hours to recharge.
There’s a faster battery charger available, which may be a good investment, particularly if you have multiple tools and batteries. There’s a larger 5Ah battery, too, which doubles the runtime from 22 minutes to 44 minutes.
What’s undeniably brilliant about Karcher’s batteries is their inclusion of an LCD screen on the back. This displays the battery charge as a percentage when the blower is off; turn it on and you get a live countdown in minutes, so you know exactly how long you have left before the battery dies. Cleverly, if you insert the battery into a different Karcher product, then the runtime remaining updates for that tool.
Inside the box, you’ll find the standard round nozzle, but there’s also a clip-on flat nozzle, which gives you a more concentrated blast of air. This nozzle features a rake underneath, so you can agitate leaves caught up in grass, for example.
There’s no power control on this model, of the type that features on the similarly priced Makita DUB183Z. Instead, there’s an on/off slider switch that you can operate with a thumb. This setup means that you can’t accidentally trigger the blower when carrying it around, but it makes it more difficult to give a quick burst of power and pulse control to line-up leaves: I found it’s all or nothing.
Karcher KBL 2 performance – Alright on hard surfaces or with dry leaves, but it struggles with tougher messes
- Relatively quiet in operation
- Copes well on hard surfaces with loose leaves
- Wet leaves caught in grass prove troublesome
To see how well the Karcher KBL 2 performs, I started by measuring its airflow at the nozzle using an anemometer. I saw a reading of 21.06m/s. With the nozzle having a diameter of just 4.6cm, this works out as an airflow of 126m3/h. Larger leaf blowers tend to have larger nozzles and faster airspeed, pushing a lot more air through them; the Stihl BGA 57 moves 601m3/h.
In use, the Karcher KBL 2 is easy to hold and direct, but it lacks power, even with the flat nozzle. I couldn’t even get larger bits of debris, such as thick sticks to move. Clearing the concrete path of leaves was easy enough, although the comparatively low airflow meant that this took a while: you could use this tool for clearing a workshop of sawdust.
Moving to the wet grass and leaves, I started with the looser leaves sat on top of lawn. Here, I had a bit more success, although the limited airflow and smallish nozzle meant that I could only work on relatively small areas at a time, and some leaves were left behind.
Moving to tougher leaves that were caught up in the grass, and the KBL 2 struggled even more so. I found it hard to dislodge a lot of the mess, and even after a few minutes’ use, the lawn still looked messy. The rake helps a little for some tough leaves, but it isn’t enough to make it quick or fast to clear tricky lawns.
In terms of noise, I measured the leaf blower at 83.9dB, which is about as loud as a vacuum cleaner on its maximum setting. I have to say that the Stihl BGA 57 is both (slightly) quieter and more powerful.
Should you buy the Karcher KBL 2?
Well built and extremely well designed, the Karcher KBL 2 just hangs in the hand at exactly the right angle. There’s a lot to like about Karcher’s battery technology, too, which displays a live countdown on its screen.
Yet, for all this, performance slightly lets it down; I found that this leaf blower struggled on a damp lawn with wet leaves. If your outside space is mainly of hard surface to clear, and you can get out there when the leaves are dry, the Karcher KBL 2 may be able to do the job for you. If you want a reasonable leaf blower, for not much money then the Makita DUB183Z could be for you. For a more powerful leaf blower, the Stihl BGA 57 offers excellent value if you can buy it barebones without a battery. Don’t forget to check out our list of the best leaf blowers for even more choice.