Toro UltraPlus Electric Leaf Blower Vac (51621): Product Review
With fall comes fallen leaves and the question of what to do with them. Some people compost them to create leaf mold, others use them as mulch on garden beds, and others choose to dispose of them entirely. But one way or another, you have to first collect those leaves. That’s where a combination leaf blower, vacuum and leaf shredder like the Toro UltraPlus comes in handy.
We put together a video review so you can see the UltraPlus in action, but don’t forget to read the review below for all the details!
Read the instructions before using the UltraPlus. It’s simple to use but you’ll need to know what the various parts are for and how to put them together. It comes with the following attachments:
- Blower tube
- Oscillating nozzle
- Concentrator nozzle
- Power insert nozzle
- Inlet cover (to protect the impeller while in blower mode)
- Vacuum tube (2 parts)
- Leaf collection bag with shoulder strap
Advantages of the Toro UltraPlus Leaf Blower Vac
We put the Toro UltraPlus to the test against wet Texas Olive tree leaves and fallen fruit on sand, gravel and a brick patio. These are tough leaves – almost like leather covered in Velcro – and after several days of rain they were heavy and matted down. Here’s what we found …
Well-balanced – At 8.9 lbs, the UltraPlus is a little on the heavy side. But it doesn’t feel that way due to the way weight is distributed. Jack found it easy to use with just one hand; I appreciated the knobs at the front and back of the blower/vac that allowed me to easily and comfortably use it with two hands. Either way, both the blower nozzle and the vacuum tube can be easily positioned for optimal blowing or suction, regardless of your height.
Variable speed control – Sometimes you need full power to blast through a pile of wet leaves; other times you need a more gentle flow of air to blow lightweight debris out of the flower beds. In either case, the UltraPlus has you covered – as well as everything in-between. The variable speed knob lets you adjust the airflow from barely noticeable all the way up 250mph (or 350cfm maximum airflow) at full throttle.
Good “fit and finish” – All of the parts snap together and come apart easily. There’s no looseness or wobbling, and everything stays put where it should.
Different nozzles for different needs – The three additional nozzles for the blower tube make it even more versatile. At first glance we thought it was just a gimmick but the three nozzles did work significantly differently.
According to Toro, the strange-looking oscillating nozzle “uses differential air pressure to force the air from side-to-side (oscillate) without moving parts. The fanned nozzle angles the path of the air to the left and right of the normally centered air stream…”, meaning that you can clear a wider swath through fallen leaves, particularly on a dry, hard surface like a patio or driveway. It’s less effective at moving wet leaves or debris in longer grass. It also causes a strange vibration in the leaf blower when used at full air flow; it’s nothing to be concerned about, just a result of the air oscillating in the nozzle.
The power insert slides into the main blower tube. Be sure to drop it into the wide end of the blower tube and pull it firmly into place at the narrower end so that it wedges in place. By narrowing the opening at the end of the blower tube, it creates more air pressure coming out the end – perfect for moving wet leaves or heavier debris. There’s a noticeable difference between using just the blower tube and using it with the power insert.
The concentrator nozzle narrows the opening even further, creating an even stronger and narrower jet of air. Toro suggests using it in corners and crevices. We found that it worked well for clearing dirt and debris on a patio, spider webs on a pergola, and old birds nests in the eaves.
Metal impeller – Many mulching leaf vacuums, particularly at this price point, have an impeller made from impact-resistant plastic or nylon. Impellers (the fan-like part inside the main body that chops up leaves as you vacuum them) take the brunt of the impact from gravel, stones, twigs, or any other hard objects that are accidentally sucked up with the leaves. While other types of impellers can withstand some of the impact, metal impellers are almost impervious to damage from all but the biggest stones or metal debris – and you shouldn’t be vacuuming that up anyway!
Good mulching – When used in vacuum mode, the UltraPlus sucks up leaves and shreds them into a fine mulch. We were surprised at just how small the pieces were. Toro claims that it reduces leaf volume by as much as 97%, depending on the type and condition of the material you’re vacuuming. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I can say that a huge pile of Texas Olive leaves (which are thick and heavy) was quickly turned into a small pile of tiny pieces that were perfect for the compost bin.
Well-designed leaf collection bag – The bag is comfortable to wear if you adjust the strap to the right length. This is especially important because it fills up quickly and can get very heavy, particularly if you’re vacuuming wet leaves. The bag is attached to the vacuum with a zip tie, rather than the usual elastic. If it ever breaks, it’s easy to reattach the bag with a new zip tie. There’s a sturdy zipper across the bottom of the bag, making it simple to empty. And there are two extra flaps of fabric just inside the opening to the bag to prevent wear on the inside of the bag as leaves and debris are sucked into it.
Easy storage – The design of the leaf collection bag makes it easy to drop all the parts into it and hang it up when not in use. That way you won’t lose anything! Plus, the blower tube has a cord hook that allows you to wrap an extension cord around the machine for storage – no more searching for an extension cord when you want to clear leaves.
Vacuums well – The vacuum tube is long and wide so you don’t have to bend down or reach to suck things up. We tested it with wet, heavy Texas Olive leaves and found that it easily vacuumed them up when positioned directly above them – along with small twigs, fallen fruit, sand and even some gravel.
We recommend blowing the leaves and debris to a clear area on a hard surface before vacuuming. The gravel didn’t seem to harm the impeller but it’s best to limit the potential for damage or injury by avoiding it altogether.
Things That Could Be Improved
Overall, we thought that the Toro UltraPlus was a fabulous product – the points below are only minor issues.
Cord-lock doesn’t work very well – Although there’s a built-in cord retention system on the UltraPlus, it’s not effective in keeping a typical outdoor extension cord securely in place. We found that the cord kept slipping out of place and unplugging the power cord. It would work better if the cord-lock feature was a little tighter so that the power cord would wedge in place.
Bag should be double stitched – The mulch bag has a sturdy zipper at the bottom to let leaves out but the stitching that holds the zipper in place could be beefed up. With only a single line of stitching, it’s just a matter of time before it comes undone or breaks under the weight of the shredded leaves in the bag. Replacement bags are available from Toro.
Have to take it apart to change parts – This isn’t a major problem but it’s a little annoying. When you want to switch nozzles, say between the oscillating nozzle and the power insert, you have to take the whole blower apart and then put it back together. It’s simple to do but those extra steps made me less inclined to switch blower nozzles – I mostly just stuck with the power insert nozzle for all tasks.
This is an extremely well-made and well-designed combination leaf blower, vacuum and leaf shredder that really works. It’s easy to use and store, moves large quantities of leaves, and shreds them into a fine mulch. Combination tools often try to do too much and end up doing nothing particularly well; the Toro UltraPlus proves that it’s possible to make a 3-in-1 tool that does all three things very well.
Where to Buy It
The Toro UltraPlus Blower Vac (51621) can be bought in your local Home Depot, as well as online through an authorized Toro dealer or on Amazon for $99.
Now over to you – Have you tried a leaf blower vac before? How did it work? Let us know in the comments below!
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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Toro for giving us a free leaf blower vac 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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