The Essential Harbor Freight Tool That Deserves A Spot In Your Garage

There are two types of people in the world — those who use leaf blowers and their cranky neighbors who hate leaf blowers — and Harbor Freight's Hercules 20V Compact Jobsite Blower isn't made for either of them. But that doesn't mean the $59.99 device isn't useful, only that it's not a leaf blower. Rather, it's an alternative to sweeping for people who want to tidy up their garage or workshop without spending half a day poking broom bristles under and around a zillion obstacles. We've noted before that a blower is the perfect, practical tool to make cleaning your garage a breeze. And for that, Harbor Freight's option seems to work brilliantly. The blower has 4.7 stars on 454 reviews on the company's website, with 95% recommending the blower (more on which reviews we examined later). We found that the few negative reviews were mostly people who were looking for a different product, usually a leaf blower.

Harbor Freight touts the Hercules 20V Compact Jobsite Blower as a 120 cubic-feet-per-minute (CFM) cordless blower, and its small size was a surprise for some. With three speeds and up to 200 miles per hour (MPH) airflow, it's adaptable — tame enough for blowing up inflatables (adapters are included), but powerful enough to sweep out a shop. It's lightweight enough to use overhead but reasonably rugged, and its internals resist corrosion, making the blower suitable for some outdoor uses. It's sold as a tool only, and HF recommends a 5Ah battery, which is not surprising for a brushed motor of this capacity.

It has enough power, but not all the power

Unsurprisingly, a $59.99 blower won't send a basketball skittering out of the driveway and down the street. The 200 MPR rating might give the impression of storm-of-the-century-level winds, but the tool is only moving a little air at that speed. The blower is rated at 120 CFM — only a little more than most Lowes bathroom exhaust fans (which average about 96 CFM) and has less than a few of them. When we tried the cheapest leaf blower at Home Depot, it boasted 725 CFM at 140 MPH. But this jobsite blower isn't designed to herd a field of wet leaves toward your cranky neighbor's property line. It's meant to push sawdust, cobwebs, and the occasional stray glove out from under that card table in your garage.

And, for that purpose, this thing is just right. It's small enough to get under and behind garage fixtures — so small, in fact, that several reviewers noted it looks like a toy. One said he laughed out loud when he first saw it, but it turned out to be perfect for his needs. Over 88% of negative reviews mentioned a lack of power, often because the purchaser needed a proper leaf blower instead. Generally speaking, for blowers CFM is a measure of the amount of space they're effective over, while MPH describes how well they might move heavier objects. Quality leaf blowers are usually rated between 500 and 800 CFM... overkill for garage cleanup.

It has features that make sense

Just as the small size of the Hercules blower works well for its intended venues — jobsites, home workshops, and garages — other features seem thoughtful and appropriate to the device's likely audience. That market almost certainly plans some outdoor use — more than 15% of reviewers mentioned using it outside, usually for blowing off driveways, decks, and other hard surfaces. Bearing this in mind, the corrosion-resistant components are a sensible addition. The inclusion of inflator nozzles points to another strength, in that the 120 CFM produced by the brushed motor is a gift compared to typical Intex inflators with 15 to 40 CFM. It's a sensible feature to push, given that using leaf blowers is a long-established hack for quickly blowing up air mattresses and other inflatables.

The negative reviews did make good points, though. Though some reviewers praised the battery life and others complained about it, there's no question that the lack of an included battery and charger bumps the price up substantially. One reviewer opined that buying the recommended products increased the price by about $90. This makes the Hercules blower a better purchase for someone already invested in the brand's battery ecosystem. There were also a couple of reviews that mentioned clothes getting sucked onto and blocking the blower's air intake, which is located on the left side of the device. Interestingly, all were right-handed users, suggesting that it might be a little awkward to use if this is your preference.

How we evaluated the Hercules compact jobsite blower

We analyzed every 1-, 2-, and 3-star review, noting each type of complaint or praise, then dove into an equal number of 4- and 5-star reviews. This, of course, disproportionately privileged negative reviews in a product with 4.7 stars, but as the positive reviews were largely in line with Harbor Freight's product description, this seemed like the best approach to feeling out the tool's actual performance. We also compared the Hercules' specs to those of competing blowers, inflators, and leaf blowers.