DR Power Pilot XTSP Leaf And Lawn Vacuum Makes Fall More Pleasant
Fall—that wonderful time of year when the weather cools down, the scent of baking fills the air, and the leaves change color… right before they cover your lawn. Whether that sounds like your story or you’re like us and have a year-round battle with oak leaves, cleanup is a pain. We got our hands on the DR Power Pilot XTSP Leaf and Lawn Vacuum to see if we can enjoy our outdoor living spaces with a bit less hassle.
DR Power Pilot XTSP Leaf and Lawn Vacuum Performance
DR uses a 173cc overhead valve engine that produces 4.3 HP and 6.6 ft-lbs of torque for the powerplant. This model includes an electric start with a recoil pull start as a backup.
The starting switch is on the left side of the engine. The choke is right next to that. For manual starting, push the switch to the middle position and then pull the cord. For an electric start, push it to the right and release it when you hear the engine come to life.
Charging Note: When you need to charge the battery, don’t exceed 2 amps. You’ll get a longer life out of it since smaller batteries don’t reacy as well to fast charging.
You activate the self-propelled drive using a single lever on the right side. The speed varies from 0 to 2 MPH based on how hard you pull it. It would be nice to have a bit more top-end speed for transport to and from your collection area. However, the 2 MPH top speed is appropriate to ensure you’re collecting leaves effectively.
A steel impeller takes care of creating airflow and mulching leaves down at a 10:1 ratio. DR is so confident in the quality of the impeller that it has a lifetime warranty.
The primary function of leaf vacuuming is highly dependent on the snout height. You want it to be close to the top of the leaves you’re collecting. For thick broad leaves, you have a maximum height of 4 inches. If you’re like us and collecting smaller oak leaves, you can drop it all the way to 1 inch.
Sometimes, you need to start high on your first pass and then drop down for a second to get everything up. Just make sure you don’t have the snout so low that you’re pushing the leaves instead of collecting them.
To adjust the height, there’s a single-point adjustment on the right front wheel. Unlike a lawn mower, it only adjusts the front of the machine. That’s not a big deal since it’s about the collection snout height at the front and not the evenness of a mower blade.
For the oak leaves we collected, the vacuum does its best work on freshly fallen leaves that haven’t worked their way into the grass too far. On our Bahai and St. Augustine, the cut is typically 3 – 3 1/2 inches and oak leaves work in where they’re tougher to pick up with vacuum force alone. Short grass species will make it easier and collection is fantastic on bare ground.
Of course, broad leaves tend to stay on top of the grass until they break down, making them easier all the way around. However, try to collect them when they’re dry to get the best results.
The DR Power Pilot XTSP Leaf and Lawn Vacuum also has a bonus chipping function. The chute on the right has chipping knives supporting it that can handle debris up to 1.5 inches in diameter. As you’re vacuuming the lawn, it’s a really handy addition so you can easily deal with the small branches you come across rather than going back to get them after you’re done with the leaves. Conveniently, there’s no presence bar as you find on lawn mowers, so the engine keeps running while your hands are off the machine and using the chipper.
Like the leaves, the chipping debris enters the collection bag.
DR Power Pilot XTSP Leaf and Lawn Vacuum Design Notes
EZ Bagger Leaf Collection System
DR’s bagging system is a big deal thanks to how easy it is to change them out. Using a standard 3 cubic foot collection bag, you lift the EZ Bagger cover, pull the top of the bag around the frame, crimp it in, and close the cover. It takes less than a minute.
For full bags, just unfold the top of the bag from the frame, roll the top shut, and put it out by the compost pile or road for pickup.
The machine comes with a preinstalled bag caddie that holds up to 10 bags. You can also install a second one on the opposite side to carry 20 total bags and keep your workflow going longer.
Many lawn mowers have two or three handle positions, but DR’s design gives you more. With a working height of 32 to 42 inches, you only need to loosen the knob on each side, find the height you like, and tighten the knobs back down.
You can also rotate the handle down to get it out of the way when you’re changing bags or upright for more convenient storage.
Vacuum Where You Can’t Drive
Even though we didn’t get a chance to use it, there’s an optional 7-foot hose kit you can purchase to reach leaves in flower beds and other areas you don’t want to drive the vacuum into. It installs in the center of the collection snout. Just remove the rubberized cover, install the hose, and you’re ready to go.
DR Power Pilot XTSP Leaf and Lawn Vacuum Price
There are two versions of this leaf vacuum to choose from. The Pilot XTSP we’re reviewing has a list price of $1499.99 and is on sale at the time we’re writing for $1299.99.
If you don’t need the self-propelled drive and can forgo the electric start and chipper features, you can get the push version for $1099.99 ($999.99 at the time of writing).
Either way, there’s a 2-year residential warranty on the machine and the engine.
Accessories and Consumables
- Hose Kit: $219.99
- Extra Leaf Caddy: $21.99
- Collection Bag 5-Pack: $7.99
- Reusable Collection Bag: $84.99
The Bottom Line
The DR Power Pilot XTSP Leaf and Lawn Vacuum has a more affordable price tag than the higher horsepower models in DR’s lineup. Its leaf collection is very effective, particularly with broad leaves. Even smaller leaves are on the menu when you’re vacuuming shorter grass, bare ground, and hard surfaces. While some properties may benefit from DR’s more powerful models, the value, performance, and features of the Pilot XTSP and its push-drive counterpart are attractive options to make your leaf collection more convenient.
- Model: DR Power Pilot XTSP
- Fuel: Gasoline
- Starting: Electric (12V, 2.3Ah battery)
- Oil: SAE 30W HD
- Engine: 173cc DR OHV
- Capacity: 3 cubic feet (~50 pounds)
- Chipper Capacity: 1.5 inches
- Intake Height: 1 – 4 inches
- Wheels: 10 x 2-inch rear, 8 x 2-inch front
- Dry Weight: 120 pounds