Black & Decker High Performance Blower/Vac/Mulcher (BV3600): Product Review
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.
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.
There’s a good cord lock on the BV3600 that takes even a commercial grade extension cord.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As 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!
As 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.
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