Lawn & Yard Care

Black & Decker High Performance Blower/Vac/Mulcher (BV3600): Product Review


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When you need to remove fallen leaves from your lawn or garden, a combination leaf blower, vacuum and mulcher is a convenient option. The difficulty is finding a combination blower/vac/mulcher that works well in all three modes. We put the BV3600 high performance model from Black & Decker to the test in a variety of conditions. Watch the video below but don’t forget to read the review for all the details!

Assembling the Parts

The Black & Decker high performance blower/vac/mulcher arrives un-assembled, but assembly is a snap (sorry, bad pun). The two parts of the blow tube snap together and can also be taken apart if needed, although it can be a bit of a struggle if there’s grit between the parts.

The concentrator nozzle attaches to the end of the blow tube with a tab that snaps over a raised post on the tube. It’s a little finicky to get on and off, and over time I can see the tab breaking off, but it works adequately.

The two vacuum tube parts also snap together. Be sure the notches and triangles on the upper and lower tubes are properly aligned before you push them together because they are not designed to be taken apart.

Black & Decker High Performance Blower/Vac/Mulcher Parts

Shown (clockwise from the left) are the blower tube parts, grill cover, motor, vacuum tube parts (before they were put together) and leaf collection bag.

Quick & Easy Conversion

Converting the Black + Decker blower into a leaf vacuum (and vice versa) is easy. In blower mode, the fan is covered with a grill cover. This is removed by pressing the spring-loaded release button and pulling the grill cover away from the unit. Then snap the vac tube in place. Make sure the catch is fully engaged so it doesn’t fall off when you start vacuuming.

This blower/vac has one of the easiest mechanisms we’ve seen for switching between modes (with the exception of the WORX Tri-Vac on which you only have to flip a switch to go from blower to vac, and vice versa). But be aware that it may require a fair bit of force to depress the release button if there’s a lot of dust or grit in it.

Black & Decker High Performance Blower/Vac/Mulcher Grill

The grill cover easily comes off and the leaf vac tube can then be snapped in place

Cord Retention

There’s a good cord lock on the BV3600 that takes even a commercial grade extension cord.

Variable Speed

One of the really nice features on this blower/vac is the variable speed dial. While it’s tempting to simply crank it up to full speed and start clearing everything in sight, the BV3600 puts out a lot of air (up to 230 mph or 270 cfm) and you can blow away more than you intended when using it at high speed. Not surprisingly, it also gets louder as you turn up the speed.

Black & Decker high performance blower on dry leaves

The blower makes quick work of dry leaves on a hard surface. It also works well on wet leaves on grass.

At lower speeds it’s perfect for moving dried leaves and grass clippings, as well as removing leaves and debris from garden beds where you want to leave the mulch in place and avoid damaging the plants.

At high speed, the blower does a very good job of moving wet, heavy leaves and larger garden debris. If you need more force, say to move matted leaves, then attach the concentrator to the end of the blower tube and turn up the speed.

The concentrator nozzle is also excellent for getting into nooks and crannies, between rocks, under roots, etc.

The Black & Decker high performance blower/vac/mulcher Vacuum

The vacuum sucks up dry leaves with ease but note the dust coming through the bag.

The variable speed also works with the unit in vacuum mode; at lower speeds it picks up smaller, dried leaves and grass clippings, while at higher speeds it vacuums large leaves, wet material, twigs, gravel, sand, mulch, and more. Use the speed that allows you to vacuum what you want and not the stuff you don’t want.

Comfortable to Use

Weighing in at 8.1 lbs, the unit is lightweight for a combo blower/vac/mulcher.

It’s also well balanced and can be used with either one hand or two (use the large knob at the front of the handle to grip it with your second hand), making it comfortable to use for extended periods of time.

Adequate Mulching

The mulcher reduces debris by a 10:1 ratio (so 10 bags of leaves would theoretically be reduced to only 1 bag after mulching). It does an adequate job of chopping up leaves, as well as small twigs.

Black & Decker high performance blower/vac/mulcher leaf bag

With a 10:1 mulching ratio, the leaves get chopped up but not into tiny bits. Still, it makes a good mulch or starter for making leaf mold.

The box mentions that you can vacuum up pinecones. I suppose this means you can mulch them, since there’s no way to vacuum without mulching, but I can’t see anything but the smallest pinecones being able to pass through the impeller without damaging it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any pinecones to test it on.

Plastic Impeller

This is one of few negatives we found for the Black & Decker blower/vac/mulcher. The impeller is the part on a mulcher that chops leaves into smaller pieces. Obviously, you want that part to stand up to being hit with all kinds of debris, like gravel and sticks. While a plastic impeller is designed to withstand impact from pretty much anything you throw at it, it’s still more likely to fail than a metal impeller. Then again, a plastic impeller generally weighs less than a metal one.

impeller on Black & Decker high performance blower/vac/mulcher

The plastic impeller mulches debris and can be damaged by hard objects like stones and large pieces of wood.

Leaf Collection Bag Needs Improvement

The adjustable shoulder strap on the bag is very narrow, making it quite uncomfortable as the bag fills with leaves.

You can tell by the motor sound and vacuuming performance when the bag is getting full (it’s pretty obvious).

The 1.5 bushel bag itself is lightweight (which is good) but feels flimsy. While there’s a piece of mesh fabric sewn inside the bag at the intake (to protect the bag from flying projectiles), it’s quite thin. I don’t anticipate the bag lasting more than a single season. Thankfully, replacement bags are available for the BV36000, as are disposable leaf bags.

The bag material is not tightly woven; as a result, dust goes right through it and flies everywhere. After using the vacuum and bag on dry leaves, we needed to use the blower to blow all the dust off Jack! I’d advise wearing a dust mask if you’re vacuuming (or blowing) in dry conditions.

The zipper seems sturdy enough but it starts underneath the bag so you either have to contort yourself to open the zipper when the bag is full, or remove the shoulder strap. Not a major problem, just a little inconvenient.

The bag is attached to the intake tube with two zip ties. Although they’re plastic and so will become brittle and break over time, they’re easy to replace. It’s better than the elastic we’ve seen on some vacs but not as good as a metal clamp.

opening to leaf collection bag

The bag is attached firmly to the intake tube with two zip ties. There’s a mesh “deflection shield” to protect the bag itself.

Specifications for the BV3600

  • Motor: 12 amp
  • Maximum air speed: 230 mph
  • Air volume: 270 cfm in blow mode, 385 cfm in vacuum mode
  • Mulch ratio: 10:1
  • Weight: 8.1 lbs
  • Variable speed control
  • Leaf bag: 1.5 bushels
  • Warranty: 2-year full warranty

Note that the blower/vac is double-insulated, rather than being grounded. Don’t try to add grounding or service it yourself.

Recommendation

5 Shovels Rating from Gardening Products ReviewAs a Blower – The variable speed allows for good control, it’s easy to hold with either one or two hands, and it really moves leaves!

4-shovel rating from GPRAs a Vac / Mulcher – The vacuum works well and the two speeds are nice here. The mulcher doesn’t chop up leaves as finely as some other models we’ve reviewed but does an adequate job. The leaf bag needs improvement.

Where to Buy

The Black & Decker BV3600 leaf blower/vac/mulcher is available in many hardware stores, as well as directly on Amazon for under $60.

Now over to you – Have you tried an blower/vac/mulcher before? What did you like or dislike? Let us know in the comments below!

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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Black & Decker for giving us a free Blower/Vac/Mulcher to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.

Please note that the Amazon links (and only the Amazon links) above are affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase products through these links, GPReview will make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that helps to support this website and our gardening product reviews. Thank you!

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