Using a leaf blower is such an easy way to clear up your yard – and it’s fun too! However, not all states allow you to use one. So where are these machines banned?
Leaf blowers are illegal or banned in certain towns and cities in the states of California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Vermont. The bans can apply to both gas and electric leaf blowers.
Let’s dive down into the subject of leaf blower bans in more detail, and discover what you can and can’t do, with what, and at what time, where (you know what I mean!) 🙂
Where Are Gas Leaf Blowers Banned?
With an ever-growing public concern about such things as air pollution (including climate change), noise pollution, and even emotional and mental health, gas leaf blowers have become an increasingly popular legal target, especially in areas of higher population density.
If you’re a fan of gas leaf blowers, you should become familiar with local, county, and state restrictions on them. This is especially true if you already own one and are moving or are planning to purchase.
Locations With a Leaf Blower Ban
So, where are gas leaf blowers outright banned or illegal?
Not a surprise that one of the most environmentally-friendly states has some of the hardest restrictions on the use of gas leaf blowers. In places where they’re banned, you don’t have to worry about purchasing them. But if you’re moving to California and already own one, below is where they are currently forbidden:
- Belvedere, Berkley, Beverly Hills, Carmel, Clarmemont, Del Mar, Hermosa Beach, Indian Wells, Lawndale, Laguna Beach, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Los Angeles, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Menlo Park, Mill Valley, Newport Beach, Ojai, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Solano Beach, Tiburon, and West Hollywood.
If you notice from the above list, the vast majority of these areas are ones of high population density. And if you read their laws, the reasoning is often related to noise and blowing yard debris onto other public or private property.
However, it should also be noted there is a movement in the California legislature to ban gas leaf blowers completely state-wide.
- Aspen, Carbondale, and Westminster
- Arlington, Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Wilmette, and Winnetka (use in Fall season allowed often)
- The Township of Montclair
Not surprising, following behind California in the number of locations where gas leaf blowers are banned is New York. Again, if you already own one, below are the places where they are banned if you’re planning a move or if you already live there and want to open up the garage and fire up your current model:
- Bronxville, Dobbs Ferry, Great Neck Estates, Greenberg, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Oyster Bay, Russell Gardens, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, Thomaston Village, Village of Tuckahoe, White Planes, and Yonkers
- Kidding. You knew Texas would be on the outright banned list. 🙂
- Burlington (compliance goes into effect by May 2022)
The above lists, again, are where gas leaf blowers are banned outright. There are plenty of places that have restrictions on when they can be used (usually during normal business hours) and how loud they can be.
As laws are constantly in some form of proposal (like the California leaf blower ban) or amendment, these lists should be considered fluid. You should always check with the local city council for any and all updates to gas leaf blower laws.
Where Are Electric Leaf Blowers Illegal?
You would think because electric leaf blowers are more environmentally friendly, there wouldn’t be a ban on them anywhere, right?
Although they have a better emission standard, they still face the challenge of noise pollution. And being able to still blow yard debris onto other private and public property.
In many places, the same restrictions on decibel levels that apply to gas leaf blowers also apply to electric models. However, in a few places, every type of leaf blower is banned. And they’re all in California. Not to mention they’re all places close to the beach. Population and tourists! Below is where you’ll be using a rake:
- Del Mar, Hermosa Beach, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica
Are Leaf Blowers Considered Noise Pollution?
Before answering the question of whether leaf blowers are considered noise pollution, it’s probably better to first understand what pollution is and why noise is a concern in the first place.
So first, pollution. What is it? Well, it’s basically the introduction of something foreign into the environment, whether that be the sky, a river, or your neighborhood, that can have harmful effects.
Can noise be harmful? Yes. Anything above 80- 85 dB (decibels) can be harmful to hearing. Of course, it depends on exactly how loud the source of the noise is and how long you’re exposed to it, but anything above 80 dB is considered to be potentially harmful over extended periods of exposure.
If a leaf blower is louder than 80 dB and is introduced to your environment (neighborhood) for an extended period of time, then yes, it could be considered noise pollution. According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to a gas leaf blower louder than 80 dB for 2 hours or longer can cause hearing damage.
Can an electric leaf blower cause noise pollution? If it gets above 80 – 85 dB, you bet it can. That’s why the noise restrictions implemented in many places include both gas and electric leaf blowers.
Why Are Leaf Blowers So Loud?
Gas leaf blowers are mainly so loud because of the engine. Engines operate on a cycle that involves the following in order:
- Intake of air
- Compression of the air
- Injection of fuel in the form of mist
- Electrically igniting the fuel through a spark to create combustion
- Combustion converted to energy to perform work
The whole goal of the engine is to create energy through internal combustion, which is then translated to work. In a car, that energy is translated to work in the form of movement. In a gas leaf blower, that energy is converted to the rotation of a fan. That fan then creates the movement of air that makes leaves fly around.
Now back to the noise. Engines are loud. Gas leaf blowers have engines.
- Intake Air
- Squeeze Air
- Inject air with something highly flammable
- Ignite highly flammable something
- Energy made
The fan also makes a lot of noise, too. It’s more of a whirling, whistling, whining sound as it draws the outside air in and pushes it through a narrowing funnel. It’s like a pump. Like all things with moving parts, there’s going to be noise. This is why electric leaf blowers can even be loud. No engine, but it still has a rotating fan.
How Loud is a Leaf Blower?
The loudness of leaf blowers tends to vary depending on if you’re an operator or just a bystander. For the operator, depending on whether it’s a gas or electric leaf blower, decibel ranges can run anywhere from 95 – 115 dB.
For a bystander, measurement averages usually use a 50-foot distance away as a standard, with the goal being 64 – 78 dB.
What Time Can You Start Using a Leaf Blower?
Depending on local restrictions, the average time of day you’re allowed to use a leaf blower for personal use or business varies widely. It’s best to consult your local city council or ordinances for legal hours.
However, in most cases where there are hour restrictions, legal use times tend to be during normal working hours (anywhere between 8:00 am to 6:00 pm or daylight hours).
What is The Quietest Leaf Blower?
The quietest overall leaf blower:
Electric. The quietest electric model can range from 59 – 65 dB. Different sites will give you their own opinion on which electric model is the best. Do your homework but remember 59 – 65 dB is the range you’re looking for if you want the quietest of the electric variety.
The quietest gas leaf blower:
The Echo Leaf Blower used to be considered the quietest gas leaf blower at 65 dB. However, technology is ever-improving. Like with electric models, do your homework because site reviews and tastes do vary.
So there you have it – I’m afraid if you’re in quite a few areas of the following states then you’re out of luck when it comes to using your leaf blower.
Just to recap, the states with bans in place are California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Vermont.
When you think about it, the information in this article could save you a lot of money if you were about to buy a new leaf blower and it’s actually illegal to use it in your neighborhood. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >