We were caught off-guard last year when Milwaukee introduced new outdoor power equipment (OPE) products at their 2016 New Tools media event. Milwaukee calls it their New Tool Symposium, but I don’t drink enough Earl Grey tea to call it that. Among the tools announced were a Milwaukee M18 blower, a string trimmer, and a hedge trimmer. We have yet to see a battery powered chainsaw in red as of yet. All of these new brushless tools were powered by the new Milwaukee 9.0 Ah High Demand battery . This battery is fully compatible with the M18 platform of tools and has 15 cells. It generates 162 Wh of energy.
Traditionally, battery-powered handheld leaf blowers suffer from short run-time. For many jobs, I want to get at least 30 minutes out of a tool like this. That’s very difficult with blowers. Eventually, any battery powered tool will need to be recharged, but run-time definitely matters.
Build Quality & Balance
Physically, the Milwaukee M18 blower is an inline axial or “jet fan” design. This is becoming more and more popular as it allows for less loss between the intake and the output. It ships compactly with the output tube detached. It easily slides into the body with a click. If needed, you can remove it by pressing the release lever at the bottom of the tool.
The tool feels well-balanced in the hand. I never felt as if I had to work my wrist to keep the blower aimed correctly. It’s also not improperly counterbalanced. That means that the tube is dipped slightly downward while you grasp the handle. That’s what you want since most people don’t use a blower to take cobwebs off the ceiling. The last thing to note about the Milwaukee M18 blower is how lightweight it feels. It’s literally half the weight of a comparable gas blower. That’s before you add the fuel. That’s going to feel a lot better when you use it.
Milwaukee M18 Blower Features
As you might deduce from the “Fuel” designation, the motor is also brushless. You control the air speed and power by pulling the trigger. Be careful, though, there’s no safety. You might…accidentally blow something over if you’re not careful. There might be children around…or small pets…
As mentioned earlier, the motor on the Milwaukee M18 blower uses an axial design. This takes air from directly behind the impeller and pushes it straight through the motor and out the blower tube. This type of motor moves air extremely efficiently with little drop in potential.
The maximum air speed at the tip is 100 MPH, but the blower moves 450 CFM (cubic feet per minute). That’s a good amount of air. Combined with the run-time, it’s a great balance of power and speed.
The trigger is aided by a “cruise control” dial on the top of the handle which lets you dial up the speed from zero to maximum. If you’re like me—or a Pro—you’ll likely use this all the time. I used it improperly…once. I set the blower down on my deck while it was on, and it skidded away from me faster than my kids trying to avoid bath time. As far as speed controls go, this isn’t the best I’ve seen. It does allow fo a full range of speeds, but some positive stops to prevent drift would be welcome.
Milwaukee 2728-21HD Specifications
- Battery: 18V 9.0Ah (included in -21HD kit)
- Air volume (max): 450 CFM
- Air speed (max): 100 MPH
- Noise rating: 63 (using ANSI B175)
- Run-time (High): 20 minutes (as tested)
- Run-time (Low): 59 minutes (as tested)
- Cruise Control
- Dimensions (LxWxH): 35.5 x 11 x 6.5 in.
- Weight: 5.7 lbs.
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $279
Using the Milwaukee Blower
During my testing, I used the cruise control function of the blower extensively. It made for easy blowing and allowed me to focus on my aim and not what my hand was doing. As anyone knows who uses these tools frequently, air volume over distance is key. I consistently got a large amount of work accomplished by aiming the blower about six feet out. It will blow farther than that, but six feet felt like the sweet spot.
This blower seems fairly loud, but measures respectably. On High, I got 82 dB(A) SPL at my ear using our Radio Shack SPL meter. It does have a pronounced whine around 2.4kHz that I’d love to see Milwaukee track down and kill. Since I tend to use ear protection this wasn’t a huge deal-breaker. Who knows, it might help you keep the squirrel population at bay.
On Low, the SPL meter read just 72 dB(A) SPL. That’s extremely quiet, and far lower in volume than any gas-powered blower will achieve.
Milwaukee Handheld Blower Run-time
I got a full 20 minutes out of the blower on High—almost to the second. Oddly enough, I also got 20 minutes from it when I backed off on the power a tad bit and re-ran the test. Here’s the crazy thing, though. On low (but usable) speed, the blower ran for over 1 hour and 26 minutes!
At the end of this, the Milwaukee’s 9.0 Ah battery pack was warm but not hot. I was using a spare 9.0 Ah pack that I had charged fully prior to starting the review. Incidentally, the supplied battery (which shipped with 1 bar) charged up to 3 bars in the same amount of time (roughly 30 minutes).
There is very little felt vibration on this cordless blower. It’s comfortable to use, even for longer periods of time. I maxed out around 40 minutes straight with it on High (2 batteries). Compared to every two-cycle blower I’ve used, this is going to feel a lot better.
Cooling Down the Pack
When we put one of our 9.0 Ah batteries in the Milwaukee Rapid Charging Station it was too hot to charge. This is where air-cooled batteries really have a slight advantage. If you can push some air through the pack via the charger then you can get that pack charging much more quickly. In this case, it took just over 5 minutes before the pack was cool enough to begin charging. Another 9.0 Ah pack started charging right away. Depending on how you use the blower, your battery charging experience will vary.
The Milwaukee M18 Blower has the power, air flow, run-time, ergonomics, and features to compete. A lot of handheld blowers use higher voltage batteries. These batteries have the potential for more run-time, but they also force you onto a new platform. Milwaukee is skirting this with its backwards-compatible 9.0 Ah battery. Given that other manufacturers have come out with backpack batteries, staying on the same 18V platform might turn out to be a really good call. Aside from a few niggles in the areas of speed control and noise, this tool represents a solid start into the world of OPE for Milwaukee Tool.