Redback 120V Lithium-Ion Cordless Blower: Product Review
Power meets light weight, maneuverability, and long battery life.
Available on Amazon
Earlier this year, I tested and fell in love with the Redback 40V Lithium Ion cordless hedge trimmers (see my review here). Since then, I’ve wanted to get my hands on this leaf blower! But as often is the case with the better things in life, such as fine wine and aged cheese, I had to wait. While Redback launched their 40V cordless blower a couple of years ago, the 120V wasn’t ready until recently.
So was it worth the wait?
|Weight:||5.5 lbs without battery; 9.5 lbs with battery|
|Length:||27” without battery and tube detached; 48” with battery and tube attached|
|Starting system:||Push button start|
|Power source:||120V lithium-ion battery|
|Power settings:||3 adjustable touch-controlled speed settings plus turbo mode|
|Airforce:||122 MPH maximum|
|Air volume:||514 CFMs|
|Runtime:||90-120 minutes on medium|
|Warranty:||5-year limited warranty (3-year on battery pack and charger)|
OUT OF THE BOX
When the Redback 120V Lithium-Ion Cordless Blower arrived, I found myself torn between excitement (“It’s finally come!”) and irritation (“I have no leaves to blow yet!”). Nonetheless, I ripped open the box and pulled out the contents.
While I waited for the battery to charge, I flipped through the instructions. Then I attached the included sling by squeezing the retaining hook to the housing that sits atop of the unit.
Next, I attached the blower pipe by lining up the slots and turning clockwise. While the instructions don’t reference this, the unit comes with 2 small screws that I believe are provided should you wish to further secure the pipe to the unit. If I thought I needed to use the blower heavily for the entire season, I might take the time to attach the screws. I didn’t bother, and I had no problem with the pipe coming off until I wanted it to come off.
Since I have acquired quite a garden tool collection, I am always concerned about how much space a new tool might require. Without the battery (FYI, you don’t want to put cordless tools into storage with the battery inserted) and with the blower pipe disconnected, the Redback took up around 27”.
Charging the Battery
Batteries and chargers have come a long way since the first generations. Today’s lithium-ion battery—like the one included with the Redback blower—goes from drained to charged in less than 45 minutes (for answers to common FAQs about Li-Ion batteries, see our article here).
I used to worry that I would put a battery in the wrong way and break the battery or the charger. Today’s models are pretty idiot-proof. They will go in only one way.
Attached to the charger is a pictorial “cheat sheet” that lets you know that a blinking green light means the battery is still charging, and a solid green light means you’re done.
Once I inserted the full battery and heard a solid click to let me know it was secure in the back of the unit, I reattached the pipe and measured again: the overall length now reached about 4 feet.
Lightweight & Well Balanced
Sliding the strap of the unit over my shoulder, I felt a little like Indiana Jones…had Indiana Jones ever used a leaf blower in one of his movies. I guess I mean that the unit just felt right. Compared to other units I’ve used, this featherweight Redback seemed nimble. Even though the unit seemed long, it felt perfectly balanced in my hands. The nose instinctively leaned towards the ground, which is exactly where you want the business end to the point.
SAFETY (FOR YOU AND THE UNIT)
The instructions include the usual safety information you’d expect of any power tool, such as wearing ear and eye protection (such as our favorites from Wiley-X), keeping the unit away from moisture and water, and preventing hair or clothing from blocking the air vents.
LOCK AND LOAD!
Even though I didn’t have many leaves on the ground yet, I decided to test it the best as I could under the three specific conditions most homeowners will face: (1) blowing over the pavement, (2) blowing over grass/brush, and (3) blowing over mulch/gravel. And if enough leaves fell, I wanted to conduct a final test, (4) blowing large piles of leaves.
For the second time that day, I experienced a mixture of emotions: excitement when I turned the unit on and saw leaves start to fly across the driveway, and then disappointment when the unit stopped working.
Excellent Customer Service
Let me make a long story short. I called Redback customer service in Colorado and told them what happened. They’re excellent folks, very responsive. They told me that it’s likely a bad battery, so they shipped me a new battery. When it came, I charged it, inserted it into the unit, and tried again. Nada. The unit made a beeping noise, but nothing happened. I called Redback again. This time, they sent me a new unit.
Since the first unit didn’t work, I rated the QUALITY score at a 4. You can decide for yourself if a 4 is too high or too low for you, but I’ve been around the block enough times to know that all companies will pop out an occasional defective product. Don’t even get me started about the day I bought three new microwave ovens, and none of them worked! So given that the company has a 5-year warranty, and they shipped me out a new product that worked great, I believe that I got the rare problem unit. Additionally, the fit and finish of the tool seemed more refined than what many comparable units offer.
LOCK AND LOAD 2!
Even though Redback resolved the problem quickly, two months passed before I had time to put the unit through its paces. From a review standpoint, this worked out well. Because by the time I tested it, I had plenty of leaves on the ground!
Convenient Controls & Adjustable Speed
The Redback 120V Lithium-Ion Cordless Blower has a 3-speed adjustable motor plus an additional Turbo mode for short bursts requiring a little more blowing power. Controls are conveniently located on the top of the unit, and they include Start, Stop, and an Up and Down arrow (that controls the speed). To turn the unit ON, push the Start button, and then push the Up arrow 1 (slow), 2 (medium), 3 (fast) or 4 (Turbo) times. To reduce power, touch the down arrow to the desired setting. To help you know what speed you’re using, the LED light bar display will show 1-4 bars to coincide with your speed.
Note: A word about using speed 4, aka, Turbo mode. To give you longer battery life, the Turbo mode lasts for about 30 seconds before it resets itself to fast speed. If you still require more power, touch the Up arrow and you’re back in Turbo mode for another 30 seconds. Turbo mode is powerful, but you will see a quick drain on your battery if you use it frequently.
Test #1: Blowing over pavement
Dry leaves have no problem moving across the dry pavement, which is why the leaves from your neighbors’ property have no problem blowing across the street to yours. Perhaps that’s why the Redback worked well, blowing leaves across pavement even using the lowest speed. For fun, I hit the Up arrow to the middle-speed setting, but at that speed, the mulch under the leaves started to move, so I backed it down.
Test #2: Blowing over grass/brush
While pavement offers little friction, it’s much more difficult to move leaves over grass, plants, bushes, and brush.
Bumping the speed up to fast, the blower had no problem clearing leaves from the foot of bushes, winter flowers, and tall weeds. Again, the 4-foot length and the natural tendency for the pipe to face the ground really helped this tool work.
Test #3: Blowing over gravel/rocks
I recently installed several tons of medium and large-size river rock around my koi pond. While it looks great and helps (supposedly) deter snakes from getting into the pond, those rocks really hold onto pine needles and leaves.
So how did the Redback do blowing pine needles across the rocks? Good, not great. To be fair, nothing works great with those rocks. At low speeds, the pine needles stay stuck; at Turbo speed, the river rock gets displaced…and the needles still manage to stay stuck. However, the unit did a GREAT job on the leaves. Given their bigger surface area, the leaves blew free without a problem.
Test #4: Blowing large piles of leaves
I woke up one morning to find that the ornamental pear trees lining my driveway had dropped half of their leaves overnight. Redback to the rescue! Careful to remove leaves without disturbing the mulch edging around the drive, I created a tidy pile of leaves in no time. On Turbo mode, the Redback easily kept my pile moving and growing until finally, it reached its limit. Turns out, its limit was huge! Eight large wheelbarrow loads later, and my driveway looked clean…for about 10 minutes until more leaves started to drop.
PROS AND CONS OF THE REDBACK
Is this the right tool for you? Here’s what I really liked about the Redback 120V Lithium-Ion Cordless Blower:
- Strength and power options: Regardless if you’re moving leaves over pavement or out of bushes, this unit has plenty of oomph to get the job done. Initially, I didn’t understand why a blower would need more than a full power and off mode. But now I get it. When you turn the unit to Turbo mode, leaves tend to explode into the air like fireworks! The top speed has no problem moving leaves, but the optional lower speeds allow you to move them with more precision.
- Weight and balance: The Redback weighs as much as an average housecat. Have you ever picked up your cat and thought, “My goodness, you’re heavy! I have to put you down!” Probably not. And I never needed to set the Redback down because my arm, shoulders, or back grew tired. Neither did my wife or 10-year-old daughter. The unit’s balance distributes the weight, making it feel lighter still. The lightweight and nice balance add up to maneuverability. Using the shoulder strap to hold the unit, you can angle the blower with a simple rotation of your wrist to clear leaves from any surface.
- Long battery life: I got nearly 2 hours of continuous use of low and medium power with the Redback. I don’t believe I own another single power tool that will run that long between charges. That means I spent more time clearing leaves than waiting for the battery to finish charging.
- Convenient: I am much more likely to grab the Redback blower instead of reaching for my gasoline-powered or extension corded units. Premixing gas and dragging out extension cords is a serious commitment. Maybe I’m getting old, but sometimes I’m worn out from getting a tool ready to use before I ever use it! But with the Redback, when I see leaves piling up on my driveway or in my yard, I just grab it, work for 10 minutes, and then put it away.
- Feel: I can’t think of another word for it, so I’m going to stick with the word feel. I’ve given many tools high marks because they performed very well compared to the price or other alternatives on the market. The Redback has a long battery life, an ease of use, a powerful motor, and a lightweight overall package. But beyond that, it just feels like an extension of my arm.
But on the other hand, I did have a problem with the first unit.
- Quality?: While I found the fit and finish of the Redback to be superior to others in its class, I can’t overlook the fact that the first unit I received for testing failed to work properly. I’m less concerned about a unit that fails to work out-of-the-box than I am one that falls apart in my hands over the course of rigorous testing. I put the new unit through 5 full cycles of charging and use over the course of a month, and I had no problems whatsoever. When the first unit failed, I’m happy to say that the Redback customer service team in Colorado made it right quickly and professionally.
Redback offers a 5-year limited warranty on the blower, battery, and charger.
The cost of the Redback 120V Lithium-Ion Cordless Blower falls at the lower end of comparable tools by other manufacturers. Having tested others, I find the Redback a great value. Power meets light weight, maneuverability, and long battery life. What’s not to like?
WHERE TO BUY
And now, over to you! Does the convenience and long battery life of a newer cordless leaf blower make you want to upgrade from what you have now? Let us know in the comments below!
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