Makita XBU04 18V X2 Cordless Blower Mulcher Review
Makita XBU04 Blower Adds Vacuum/Mulching Option
Makita has one more cordless lawn solution to help you “rule the outdoors” (to use their campaign slogan). The 36V Makita XBU04 cordless blower and vacuum mulcher gives you three tools in one since it easily converts from blower to vacuum and mulcher with the vacuum attachment kit (included with the XBU04ZV and XBU04PTV).
- Effectively vacuums and mulches even small leaves
- Good blowing force (14.0 Newtons)
- Enough airflow and airspeed to pull leaves without sucking up impeller-damaging stones
- 2 electronic speeds plus cruise control
- Shoulder strap included
- Easy conversion process (hex wrench required for proper tightening)
- More than 14 pounds fully loaded
- Short runtime
RecommendationThe Makita XBU04 blower vacuum is a nice way to break away from the gas and extension cord hassles that come with other blower vacs. Runtime is limited compared to blower-only models and the ergonomics shift to give it the 3-in-1 capability, so make sure the vacuum/mulching feature is something you’re really going to use. Otherwise, Makita’s dedicated battery-powered blowers are a better option.
Makita Battery-Powered Leaf Blower Vacuum
For yard cleanup, the Makita XBU04 blower presents a great all-around option that centers around cordless convenience. Powered by two of Makita’s 18V batteries, the brushless motor delivers airspeeds up to 120 MPH with air volumes at 473 CFM.
Because of the 3-in-1 nature, it’s not practical to use the poplar inline blower design we see on other Makita blowers. This Makita blower/vacuum/mulcher has a side intake to make the conversion.
Using a couple of 5.0Ah batteries, we set up our Newton force rig to see what kind of blowing force those numbers add up to. Peaking at 14.0 Newtons, it’s right in the middle of where we expect battery-powered blower to land.
At its highest power, you feel a little bit of lateral push when you’re blowing. With other blowers’ inline designs, that force pushes straight back and is a little less fatiguing.
Vacuuming and Mulching
When in vacuum/mulching mode, the Makita XBU04 is designed to pull up leaves without disturbing stone and rock settings in your plant beds, putting a higher priority on CFM than airspeed. Additionally, the mulcher blade reduces leaves down to a 10:1 ratio, depositing the bits into the 1.4-bushel bag.
We had no concern about this blower’s ability to bag and mulch broad leaves to its claimed 1/10 volume. But what about smaller oak leaves?
With plenty of oaks around, those little leaves can be the bane of a beautiful lawn’s existence. They tend to get trapped in the grass and add acid as they break down.
You have to get a bit closer before the XBU04 can pull the little buggers, but it does the job. When we looked inside the bag to see how well it mulched, we were met with an impressively reduced volume of well-chopped leaves.
Managing a 3-in-1 Tool
Bare, the blower weighs 8.5 pounds and 11.3 with a couple of 5.0Ah batteries on our scale. The vacuum adapter kit brings it up to a total of 14.1 pounds.
Makita includes a shoulder strap in the kit and you’re going to want to use it when you’re vacuuming. It’s partly to manage the weight and partly to manage the shape and balance of the tool.
While it looks a bit awkward to use, the design is field-proven and isn’t as cumbersome as it looks. Once you set the tube length you want (there are 5 inches of adjustment), it really isn’t difficult to use at all.
That said, we prefer the ergonomics of Makita’s inline blowers better. The ergonomic change is just a trade-off for getting the leaf collection.
There’s a price to pay for the additional mass that gives the impeller the ability mulch and it comes in runtime. With two 5.0Ah batteries, we ran for 8 minutes and 30 seconds on high. With 6.0Ah batteries, you’re looking at a little over 10 minutes. Using Makita’s battery backpack, it gets you close to 21 minutes.
We like to do a couple of things to get the most out of our runtime. If we have a large area of leaves to deal with, we’ll rake them up into manageable piles first, then suck them up for mulching and disposal.
The other trick is to use only the amount of power you need. Once you have it dialed in, set the cruise control to keep it there.
No Gas, Lower Noise
Aside from sheer grab and go convenience of battery power, there’s also a lot less noise on the Makita XBU04. At wide-open throttle in high, we measured 87 dB(A) at our operator’s ear. Dropping into the lower of the two electronic speeds, we measured 79 dB(A) at WOT.
Compared to the other blowers we’ve tested, it’s right in the middle at its highest power. We’ve tested some as quiet as 81 dB(A) and as loud as 95 dB(A).
Of course, the more power cordless blowers have, the louder they tend to get, so just because a blower is quiet doesn’t mean you’re getting all the power you need.
Because you can get the Makita XBU04 as a blower-only and as a vac/mulcher in both bare tool and kit forms, we included this handy table.
|2 x 5.0Ah Batteries||No||No||Yes||Yes|
The Bottom Line
The Makita XBU04 blower vacuum is a nice way to break away from the gas and extension cord hassles that come with other blower vacs. Runtime is limited compared to blower-only models and the ergonomics shift to give it the 3-in-1 capability, so make sure the vacuum/mulching feature is something you’re really going to use. Otherwise, Makita’s dedicated battery-powered blowers are a better option.
Makita Cordless Leaf Blower Vacuum Specifications
- Model: Makita XBU04
- Power Source: 2 Makita 18V batteries
- Airspeed: 120 MPH
- Airflow: 473 CFM
- Blowing Force: 14.0 Newtons
- Weight: 8.5 pounds bare, 11.3 pounds with batteries, 14.1 pounds with vacuum kit
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $269 – $429