Just over a year ago, Milwaukee introduced its starting lineup of cordless M18 Fuel Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE). Aimed primarily at landscaping pros and property management crews, the initial offerings included hedge clippers, a string trimmer, and a blower. Never content to rest on their laurels (which I believe is a fancy word for brush and grass clippings), Milwaukee is constantly looking for ways to improve the performance and user-friendliness of their products. They recently did some tweaking on the blower, and sent us a new Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 Blower to evaluate.
All the tools in the original OPE lineup feature beefy brushless motors, and the new Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 Blower is no different. While they’ll all work using any M18 battery, they’re optimized to work with Milwaukee’s big boss 9.0 Ah High Demand battery. That’s the battery that comes with the blower when you buy the kit, Model # 2724-21HD, which also includes a rapid charger.
The Milwaukee M18 blower is relatively quiet. At only 63 dB, it’s far more quiet than most gas-powered blowers. This means it’s quiet enough to use in noise-restricted areas like those around schools, nursing homes, office parks, and residential areas with noise limits. And the fact that you don’t have to mess with carburetors, chokes, and starter ropes – not to mention the nasty fumes – makes this battery-powered unit even more attractive. Here’s a quick rundown on the features and specs, then we’ll take a look at how the new Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 Blower differs from the original.
Milwaukee M18 Blower FEATURES
• Power to Clear From 15′
• Full Throttle In Under 1 Second
• Up to 4 lbs. Lighter
• POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor: Delivers more power under load and longer motor life
• REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence: Provides optimized performance and overload protection using total system communication between tool, battery and charger
• REDLITHIUM™ HIGH DEMAND™ 9.0 Battery: Delivers unmatched run-time, power, and longer life
• Maximum Air Volume: 450 CFM
• Maximum Air Speed: 120 MPH
• Lock On Button: Yes
• High/Low Speed Settings
Milwaukee M18 Blower SPECS:
• Fuel: Yes
• Length: 33.8″
• Weight: 4.9 lbs
• Power Source: Cordless
• Width: 5.87″
• Battery System: M18
• Compatible Batteries: All M18™ Batteries
• Compatible Chargers: 48-59-1812, 48-59-1806, 48-59-1807, 48-59-1808, 48-59-1810
• Height 9.7″
Meet The New Boss, Not Quite The Same As The Old Boss
At first glance, the new Milwaukee M18 blower doesn’t look much different than its predecessor. The size and layout are roughly the same, although the new version is slightly more compact and a couple of inches shorter. The handles on both blowers are wrapped with rubber overmold, and are large enough to use with gloved hands. Both blowers are fairly lightweight, and have great balance and ergonomics. Both blowers have an axial motor, with the air intake in the rear, and both are capable of 450 CFM. And they’re both RED and BLACK.
A closer look reveals how Milwaukee has changed it up. Both blowers have variable-speed triggers, but the new Milwaukee M18 blower has two speed ranges: Tortoise and Hare. The original blower had only one mode, and no critter comparisons.
The next key difference in how the two blowers function is in the trigger lock. The original Milwaukee M18 blower has a sliding switch on top, and allows you to lock the blower on at any speed. The Gen 2 version also lets you lock the trigger on, but only at the highest speed of each range – 450 CFM in Hare, 295 CFM in tortoise mode.
The biggest difference in how the two blowers operate is in their top airspeed. While both blowers move air at a top volume of 450 CFM, the Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 blower channels it into a 120 MPH airstream, vs. the 100 MPH of the original blower. This is likely due to the higher RPMs generated by the Gen 2 version; it spins at 14,400 RPM vs. the 13,350 RPM of the original. Additionally, the tube is narrower than the original blower, so the 450 CFM gust is more focused.
One final improvement is in the new blower’s weight. Not only is it slimmer and trimmer, but the Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 blower is almost a pound lighter, at 4.9 lbs. vs. the 5.7 lbs. of the original blower. That might not sound like much, but at the end of a long day of wrangling debris, every ounce counts.
The Red Wind Of The Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 Blower
I’ve had the original Milwaukee M18 blower for over a year. It’s become my go-to blower for clearing off our porches, driveway and sidewalks, and tidying up our lawn and garden beds. The blower is so easy to get into action, vs. an electric or gas-powered model, that I (almost) don’t mind when it’s time to go out and make things purty. The new Gen 2 model is equally easy to get into action: Pop it out of the box, snap the blower tube in place, and slide in a battery.
So the question becomes: is the Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 blower significantly better? I really like the original model; it’s gotten a LOT of use over the past year, both at home and at our farm. It has held up very well, and does a very good job of moving the “tree poop,” as it’s not so affectionately known, out of the way.
With its motor spinning at over 1,000 RPMs faster than the original blower, the Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 blower definitely sounds more powerful. To see if this translated into more debris-relocating power, I tried out the new blower on several cleanup projects, both alone and in head-to-head competition with its forebear.
One of the test sites was our farm. I put both blowers to work cleaning out the winter’s accumulation of dead leaves and other miscellaneous debris in my wife’s under-the-tree flower garden. While both blowers did a very good job clearing the leaves and other junk from around the plants and rocks, the Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 blower definitely seemed to have more oomph, moving wet leaves and twigs that the older blower was struggling with.
I did a similar post-winter cleanup on our yard and walkways at home. The Milwaukee M18 blower did a great job of extricating dead leaves from our prolific ivy, and cleaned up the driveway and sidewalks very quickly. It also worked well in the back yard, where we have a LOT of trees.
Even though we clean up in the fall, inevitably there’s a fresh crop of soggy, decaying leaves waiting to greet us when the snow finally melts. In a comparison with the original blower, the Gen 2 model again demonstrated its superior ability at convincing tangled leaves to give up their grip and move on.
Bringing The Power To The Milwaukee M18 Blower
As you might imagine, producing enough power to generate 450 CFM and 120 MPH demands a robust power supply. Milwaukee recommends using their High Demand 9.0 Ah battery, and it works very well. Using the newer Milwaukee M18 blower for my normal at-home cleanup, I can blow off our three porches, the 100’ driveway, and about 100’ of sidewalk, and still have 3 bars of charge left.
To get a comparison of total run time, I inserted a fully-charged High Demand battery in each blower, and ran them both at full power until they gasped their last. The original blower lasted 15 minutes 44 seconds, and the Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 blower managed to last 16 minutes and 37 seconds before taking its nap. That’s not bad run time for such a power-hungry tool, but if you’re on a crew that works all day, you’ll definitely need an extra battery or two to swap in while the spent ones recharge.
Blown Away By The Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 Blower?
As I mentioned, I’ve been using the original Milwaukee M18 blower for quite a while, and I really like it. More power is seldom a bad thing, with the exception of third-world dictatorships, and the 20% increase in air speed in the new Gen 2 blower makes a good tool even better. The extra power does help extricate leaves and debris from amongst the ivy and grass. The one feature I wish they hadn’t tweaked is the variable-speed trigger lock; I really liked the ability to lock the blower on at any speed. Not a huge deal, but it did take away a bit of flexibility.
For anyone with a large property to maintain, or for landscaping and maintenance crews, the new Gen 2 Milwaukee M18 blower is definitely worth a look. It’s solidly built, has plenty of power, and it’s quiet and easy to use. Just remember to snag an extra battery or two if you’ll be using it for extended periods on a regular basis. The risk-free 90-day return policy lets you see for yourself whether the Milwaukee M18 blower has what it takes to relocate YOUR tree poop, and a five year limited warranty ensures you’ll have at least half a decade of fun doing it.
Buy the kit from the Home Depot for around $279:
Buy bare tool from the Home Depot for around $149:
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Note: This was written before the introduction of the new 12.0 Ah High Output battery pack, which Milwaukee claims will extend run time by 50% over the 9.0 Ah batteries. That will be a major boon for power-hungry tools like the M18 blower, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Milwaukee offer the option of a kit with the new battery.