on November 11, 2009
Our cheap homelight backpack blower died, and while I'll rebuild the carb and get it running, it'll still just be a glorified gas powered hair dryer. So I spent some time looking into getting a mid sized backpack blower and wound up with the Husqvarna 350BT.
I basically narrowed my choices down to Stihl 380, the comparable Echo, and the Husky 150 BT or 350 BT, which seem to be the same model. The Husky is just a Redmax EBZ5100 with orange plastic and a slightly different backpack system. Redmax has had a great rep among commercial users for a long time, so I can understand why husqvarna bought them and rebadged it.
Anyway, I ruled out the Stihl 380 since the echo and husky perform closer to the Stihl 420 but cost a bit less. The 380 and 420 seem to be essentially the same blower with different tubes. So I can't see why there's a $100 price difference. They have the same engine, and the same specs at the housing, but at the tube end the 420 has more volume. The Stihl is also an older design, but in it's favor, it's proven to be essentially bulletproof.
As far as how it works, it's an amazing product compared to the homelight, and the time we save clearing leaves makes me wish we'd bought it a long time ago. I really can't see making a decision based on the $30 price difference between the brands, so I chose the one I liked best based on performance and perceived noise. These light commercial grade blowers are all so close, I think the best advice is to pick the one that has a good dealer close by.
on December 4, 2012
First, let me say that I rarely rate any product 5 starts. This one is pretty close, but it takes either perfection, or completely blowing away my expectations to get a top rating. That said, I would actually rate this blower somewhere between 4.5 and 4.8.
Before I get into specific features, let me say a bit about what type of consumer should consider this product, and what competing products it is equivalent to. I've used both a Stihl BR420 and an Echo PB620, and the Husqvarna 350BT offers basically the same power and performance as these other two mid-range performers. Don't get too hung up on horsepower numbers, small variances in CFM, or MPH values. Even though the 350BT has less horsepower than the other two I mentioned, and even though it has a CFM value just slightly less than the other two, it really does hold its own against them.
If you are the "average", homeowner with a half acre or less yard, then you would definitely be pleased with the 350BT, but you might be able to get away with a less expensive model. A lot of this will depend on the amount of leaves you need to move each season. I found the smallest Echo backpack blower to be adequate on an average yard.
If you have a few acres of land, or less than an acre with excessive leaves, or even a small landscaping business, then the 350BT will probably work well for you. The only thing I wouldn't be sure about would be full-time 8-hour day usage -- maybe you need to step up to one of the big boys. But then again, if you need a big boy blower, you're probably not considering this blower anyway.
For comparison, I have 7 acres, not all of which is wooded. On a typical Saturday I will spend several hours blowing leaves and loading them up onto a 6x12 high-side utility trailer. I'll pile the trailer up to overflowing after packing it down every time I throw a tarp-full of leaves onto it. I'll load this trailer up 3 to 4 times on the typical day. I repeat this about 4 times each leaf season. I have found the 350BT to be quite enough for what I do.
Also, for comparison, a couple of years ago I bought a Stihl BR600 (the biggest blower on the market at the time). I found that blower to be annoying, unreliable, and not significantly more powerful than the 350BT. I can't explain this since the BR600 is what all the pro landscape companies use. I just don't see what they do in the Stihl, and my recommendation is to save your money.
Also, if you are comparing strictly the power of different models, you need to look primarily at the CFM rating AT THE PIPE. Ignore any numbers given as "at the housing", as those are meaningless. Next, I suggest you multiply the CFM rating times the MPH value to get a "total power" number. Do this for each model you are considering to see how they stack up. From my own experience, differences of up to ten percent are pretty much meaningless.
Now, as for the 350BT itself, I'm very pleased. It generally starts up on the 2nd pull regardless of whether it is hot or cold. When you first put it on it has some fairly heavy vibration to it, but it smooths out as you start using it, and vibration is no problem thereafter. The power is excellent, but you have to know how to use it. As with other pro blowers I've used, you don't point the tube too close to the ground--you have to point it out 2 or 3 feet away from you. The up-close, right-at-your-feet power isn't there. But, pointing the tube outward a bit causes the power to really show up in spades. I can literally stand on one side of the street and blow leaves all the way over to the other side of the street. In fact, you have to learn not to walk around too much because you are wasting your effort. The most effective use of this blower is to stand in one place, and to start about two feet away from you, then slowly lift the tube until you blow a huge pile of leaves several feet away. Then, shift the tube a little to the side and repeat. You can stay in place for a while, then move on after you've exceeded the range of the blower in every direction.
I also used the blower to clean out some gutters than had collected junk for over a year. There was two to three inches of wet, sludgy gook and leaves clogging up the gutters. I was able to blow it all out with the 350BT. I think that says as much about the power as anything.
The blower does NOT require premium fuel, and runs just fine without it. I highly recommend that you spend a little extra money and use a synthetic oil in the fuel mix. Don't forget to mix it at 50:1 and not 40:1. The fuel tank is fairly large, and you can get between 1 and 2 hours on a tank, depending on conditions.
One of the things I found nice about this blower that was not as obvious on the Echo or Stihl models is that it is just as happy to run at very low speeds as it is at full throttle. You can slow it down to an idle for delicate work, put it on mid-speed for more power, or run it full blast for the biggest jobs.
The only reason I didn't rate this blower with 5 stars has to do with the tubes. First, it is very difficult to assemble the blower tubes. There is a little note at the end of the tube assembly instructions that says to use some lubricant to make it easier. Well, you don't read that until you've already struggled trying to put the tubes together. I can maybe forgive that. But, the full tube assembly is very long, and just a little awkward to use because of the length. You can take out one or more of the 4 sections, which makes it less awkward to use, but I don't think it works quite as well with a section missing. So, the 350BT just barely misses being perfect.
Last of all, I have to say that I think there is no other value as good as the 350BT on the market. Echo has stopped making the PB620 (a MAJOR mistake), and the Stihl and more other brands are around a hundred dollars more. I couldn't believe how cheaply this model was selling.
And finally a word about Husqvarna. For those who don't know, Husqvarna is a huge company in Europe. It is like what GE is in America--they do everything. Unfortunately, we only see their small engine equipment here in the States. And, even more unfortunately, Husqvarna has deals with other companies to manufacture their lower-end products. So, they're good reputation has been polluted bad some lower quality products. However, if you buy the mid range and high range Husqvarna products, generally speaking you are getting some of the best products on the market. I have a high-end Husqvarna trimmer that I've owned for about 6 or 7 years. It has been a tremendous performer over the years. I've also owned two Husqvarna chainsaws. I did fall victim to the aforementioned product cheapening when I bought a Husqvarna riding mower 7 years ago. It starting give trouble last year and I finally had to park it this year and buy a new one. It was manufactured by American Yard Products, and not by Husqvarna. I was very disappointed to only get 7 years out of the mower.
In summary, I would recommend the Husqvarna 350BT to anyone looking for a good backpack blower.
on October 27, 2012
I thought I would be smart and buy a good and well known 'name brand' blower. I did and it ended up in the shop (without a warranty!) because it wasn't purchased locally (I'll get to that). Let me tell you, this actually is a great blower IF (and the IF is so huge that if you miss it, don't buy this) IF you mix the oil and P-R-E-M-I-U-M gas with Husqvarna oil. There may be substitutes you can use, but I don't recommend it. Also, since the gas they sell now has alcohol in it, it is vitally important that you run the gas out of this thing before putting it away. A day or two - no problem. But a week or more, I recommend you run the gas out. Basically just turn the blower off. Tilt the gas out into another container, and then run the blower until it dies. This will keep your Husqvarna running for years and year. Finally, (and Amazon won't like this) don't buy it here. Buy it from a qualified dealer in your area. If you have any troubles, Amazon won't honor your warranty because it's a 'gas' engine. So, buy the Husqvarna blower from a local dealer, mix the gas properly, run the gas out when done, and it will run and run. if you can't do that - buy an plug in electric blower, and forget about it. Enjoy.
on November 28, 2011
I picked this unit because of the brand and power for cleaning up the yard. I was extremely careful about setting the unit up and following the directions for use. After a 15 minutes to 30 minutes of use the unit powered down and seemed to have run out of gas. After taking it off and reviewing the unit, there was plenty of gas. I restarted the unit and began using it again, it lasted another 10 minutes then powered down again. I became very fustrated and went to my computer and searched multiple web sites to see if I could get any hints about what was happening. While there were multiple items concerning the choke and its proper use as well as the need for a high octane fuel with oil mixture, I did not find a smiliar problem.
When I went back to the unit, it was seized. My stomach fell, and I had to go back to raking all of the leaves.
I have registered the unit, but have not recieved a confirmation from the company as stated on their web page. And I have tried to use their consumer support line. I waited on the phone for 45 minutes this morning and I am writing this review while on hold during a second call (5:10 pm). The longer I wait my concern about this company increases. Previously, I was impressed by another review of this product on Amazon, where a Husqvarna employee responded to the complaint, and recommended that the individual call their consumer support line. But since there is no one to answer those calls, it is just another way to pretend to care publically but not in reality.
I have become very concerned about this after reading the company's web page and the question and answer section for consumers. It seems that they like to use the circular logic, "if the unit breaks, it must be a fuel related issue and is not a warrenty issue. The actual quality of the fuel does not matter since the failure is fuel related and therefore not a warrenty issue." They do not check the fuel, they just blame it for all of their troubles and walk away from the warrenty. I do not have the means to have my fuel sampled to prove this and will be very upset if they try and walk away from this unit.
Oh well, I am giving up on the phone call after 40 minutes.