Great for people who compost
Solid mulching feature
Vacuums like a dream
May be challenging for shorter people to operate
A slight learning curve to assemble
Not ideal for high-power needs
Limited range due to cord
We purchased Toro's Ultra Blower Vac so our writer could put it to the test in her own yard. Keep reading for our full product review.
If you shudder at the thought of raking up leaves or sweeping your outdoor spaces, a leaf blower/vacuum combo, like the Toro Ultra Blower Vac, can be an absolute game-changer. From routine tasks like tackling your spring cleaning list and preparing your yard for winter, to less obvious jobs like drying your car (streak-free!), there are many reasons to add a leaf blower to your arsenal. We tested the Toro Ultra Blower Vac on numerous occasions throughout the fall to see how it handled our half-acre yard which consists of ivy hillsides, six gardens, and more than 20 trees. Read on to see how the Toro handled and how it holds up to the competition.
Setup Process: No tools needed
Depending on what you’re using the Toro for, there are a few different ways to set it up. If you’re using it as a blower, you only need to complete a few steps. We placed the blower tube on the front of the machine, locked in the inlet cover on the bottom of the machine and plugged it in. The blower set up was straight forward and pretty intuitive.
To convert the blower to a vacuum, you’ll want to make sure your blower is turned off and unplugged, as a spinning impeller can seriously injure your fingers. With it safely off, we removed the inlet cover and attached the vacuum tube to the same spot on the bottom of the machine where the inlet cover was. Then, we attached the vacuum nozzle to the tube. The vacuum bag is then placed where the blower tube was and we adjusted the shoulder strap so it didn’t hang too low. Setting up the vacuum wasn’t hard and didn't require tools, but it was harder than setting up the vacuum and took a little finesse.
No matter which configuration you’re using, you’ll need to use the right extension cord. The Toro Ultra comes with a short two-prong plug and a 12-amp motor. If you’re working in a 50-foot range, a 16-gauge extension cord will work nicely. If you need to work 100 feet away from your power source, though, you’ll want to use a 14-gauge cord.
Design: Clever but not flawless
Overall, we like the design of the Toro Ultra. At 8.5 pounds, it’s a little heavier than other models, but being both a vacuum and a blower, this made sense to us. There are a few design issues we did notice, though.
First, as the vacuum bag fills, the Toro becomes unbalanced and is a bit hard on the shoulder. To avoid this, we’d recommend emptying the bag before it is totally full. It may mean more trips to your compost or leaf pile, but your back will certainly thank you.
The vacuum attachment is not the best at picking up and mulching wet leaves, either. The blower does a decent job of moving heavier yard waste, but if you need to move a lot of wet leaves, the Toro probably isn’t your best option.
We also read that users shorter than 5-feet, 3-inches tall may have difficulty operating this blower because of the length of the tube. My husband and I, both of average height, had no difficulty. But, if you’re on the shorter side, you may want to find a blower with a shorter tube.
The blower does a decent job of moving heavier yard waste, but if you need to move a lot of wet leaves, the Toro probably isn’t your best option.
Finally, because this leaf blower comes with a few different components, we wish it also came with a bag to store everything. You could put the nozzles in the vacuum bag itself, but we found that to be a bit of a messy option.
Performance: A great multitasker
The first thing to consider when purchasing a leaf blower is what, exactly, you need it to do for you. If you’re planning to blow leaves to the front yard where your city or municipality will pick up your yard waste, a powerful blower alone may be sufficient. If you’re intending to use your leaves as part of your compost for your herb garden, a vacuum with a strong mulching blade will serve you better. And, in our testing, that’s where we found the Toro Ultra really shines. The Toro Ultra Blower Vac isn’t just a leaf blower, it’s three yard work tools in one—a blower, a vacuum, and a shredder.
Using the Toro Ultra in blower mode was satisfactory. It blew our dry leaves with ease and we cleaned up a quarter acre of our yard in around 45 minutes. It’s not as powerful as some other models, as it only moves 250 cubic feet per minute, but it didn’t keep us from getting the job done. In areas of higher grass or ivy, we did note that some leaves were more stubborn to move along.
When it came to using it in vacuum mode, it was a totally different story. We genuinely loved cleaning our patio with the Toro in vacuum mode. It sucked up the leaves in all the hard-to-reach corners and left our patio looking fresh and well cared for. Plus, it was so nice to not have to worry about what to do with the pile of leaves once they’d been blown off the patio since we just dumped the mulched leaves into our compost pile out back. We tested the vacuum function again in our flower beds and were pleasantly surprised to see that leaves and debris got sucked up while the mulch stayed put.
When emptying the vacuum bag into something large and low to the ground like a compost pile, it’s essentially mess-free. We just unzipped the bag and shook it out. We can imagine that emptying this bag into a lawn or leaf bag could be cumbersome and messy, though. As a note, when you’re vacuuming up lawn debris, we recommend that you do so carefully, as sticks and rocks can damage the impeller. The vacuum is a great tool for freshly fallen leaves, but we wouldn’t recommend it for late-season clean up.
Price: Competitively priced
With a price tag just below $80, the Toro Ultra Vac is well-priced for the value it brings to your tool shed. There are cheaper options on the market, but none that perform as well in as many different functions as the Toro.
Toro Ultra Blower Vac vs. WORX Turbine 600
If you’re looking for more power and you aren’t interested in vacuuming and mulching, the WORX leaf blower boasts an airflow of 600 CFM, opposed to the Toro which moves a maximum of 250 CFM while on blower mode. If power is your main priority, go with WORX and save yourself $15.
A great buy.
The Toro 516 Ultra Blower Vac is an excellent multi-purpose tool. If you pride yourself on having a tidy yard and high-quality compost, it’s well worth the cost.
- Product Name Ultra Electric Blower Vac
- Product Brand Toro
- MPN 51619
- Price $76.99
- Weight 8.5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 9 x 41 x 14 in.
- Air Volume 340 CFM blow mode, 405 CFM vac mode
- Air Speed 260 MPH
- Warranty 2-year full warranty
- What's Included 2 nozzles (blower tube, vacuum tube), 1 canvas bottom zip bag with shoulder strap, bottom inlet cover