An insulation blower is a specialty machine used during the blown-in insulation process. The blower forces cellulose, rock wool, or fiberglass insulation into wall cavities or attics.
The machine consists of a hopper (for dumping in bags of loose insulation), engine, blower, and hose.
Blower vs. Hand Distribution
While it is theoretically possible to shake out insulation by hand into attic joist cavities, delivery is far easier and coverage better distributed if you use a blower.
One major obstacle to hand delivery is the difficulty of manually hauling every bag of insulation into the attic and then removing spent bags.
Bottom line: You should rent a blower and not try to disperse it by hand.
Rental Yard vs. Home Improvement Store
It is possible to rent an insulation blower from rental yards or from home improvement stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot.
Provided that you have your materials already lined up, you should be able to blow an entire attic in a couple of days, and certainly within the span of one week.
Home improvement stores will often require that you purchase the cellulose as part of the blower rental package. Often, you can receive a reduced rental rate on the blower with the purchase of the cellulose.
Bottom line: Typically, the cheapest insulation blower rates are found at home improvement stores (like a Home Depot) on a one day or one-week basis. On a one month basis, rental yards and home improvement stores tend to have nearly the same rental rates.
Sample Rates and Worst Value Rentals
Sample going rates for a comparable insulation blower from a rental yard vs. a home improvement store like Home Depot:
|Rental Yard||Home Depot (No Insulation / Insulation)*|
|Half Day (4 Hours)||$205||$36 / $0|
|Full Day||$205||$50 / $0|
|Week||$510||$350 / $300|
|Month||$1,530||$1,400 / $1,350|
* First number refers to rental with no concurrent purchase of insulation from that store. The second number refers to the rental plus purchase of a minimum of 20 bags of loose-fill insulation (1 day free).
Bottom line: Rental yards offer the worst rates, with half-day rentals being extremely low value. Rental yard value spikes sharply on a weekly rental basis, but still nowhere approaching home improvement store rates.
Renting vs. Purchasing
Top-quality blowers have a large capacity and enormous speed. For example, the Heat-Seal 5500, pushes between 82 to 135 bags per hour (cellulose; fiberglass).
These contractor-grade blowers are true monsters: often exceeding 1,500 pounds, with dimensions of six feet by four feet. Purchase costs from manufacturers like Meyer and Heat-Seal, Inc. range from $13,000 to $16,000.
Not all blowers run over five figures in price. Intec is one manufacturer that makes more cost-effective insulation blowers—with lower capacity and volume specs. Intec Force 1 is typically found as a rental.
The Intec Force/2 has a 50 pound or 8 1/2 cubic. ft. capacity. This model can push out over 2,000 pounds of cellulose insulation or 428 pounds of fiberglass insulation per hour.
With wheels, this Intec blower weighs about 300 pounds—just about the right size for the back of a truck.
Whereas higher capacity insulation blowers have gas-powered motors, the Intec model runs off of two 20 amp household circuits.
To purchase an Intec Force/1 will set you back about $4,100; to purchase an Intec Force/2 will cost you about $6,400.
Bottom line: A typical rental insulation blower has a hopper capacity of 4.25 cubic feet or 25 lbs. pushing out 350 lbs of insulation per hour. Weighing 177 pounds, it will require a truck to transport it to your home.