What is the Black and Decker GW2200?
The Black and Decker GW2200 is a slightly different spin on the interchangeable tube type of combi garden vac and leaf blower. Rather than needing four different accessories to swap between the two modes it only requires two, making storage and changeover much easier. It’s also among the cheapest tools of its type, coming in at under £50.
Black and Decker GW200W – Design and Features
First impressions of the GW2200 are very good as its simplified design immediately appeals over the multi-part approach of alternatives likes the Bosch ALS 2500 or Stihl SHE 71. Those models have a separate intake and outlet for the central blower, thus requiring two pieces each for the blowing and sucking modes.
The GW200, though, has the fan blades mounted externally, allowing a single piece of moulded plastic to be used to form both the inlet and outlet. The pieces also clip into place via a simple push button system so changeover takes just a few seconds and you only have two main accessories to keep track of.
Not so easy, however, is putting together the nozzle pieces. In particular, joining the two pieces that make up the blower nozzle takes a huge amount of force – the full weight of an 80kg man leaning on it – to clip together. This isn’t too much of a problem as there’s little reason you should ever have to take them apart again.
More problematic, however, is the collection bag that attaches to the vacuum tube. Although you don’t need to remove it for emptying, it is a bit easier if you do so, plus you’ll need to take it off if the pipe gets blocked. The twist lock fit it uses, though, is incredibly stiff with bodyweight assistance again needed to remove it.
Overall build quality is also below par. Although the plastics seem reasonably tough they’re simply not finished to a very high standard with sharp edges on almost every seam and no rubber grip on the handle. You won’t cut yourself, but it makes handling it a bit less comfortable than alternatives.
The worst culprit is the power switch as every time you activate it your thumb flicks into the sharp edge of its surround. Plain and simply the GW2200’s build quality is reflective of why it costs under £50.
Otherwise the handling is actually very good. Like the Stihl SHE 71, the handle of the GW2200 sits further forward so that in blower mode it feels well balanced both when held in its usual downward facing position as well as when held parallel to the ground – there’s no front heaviness here.
That power switch also falls easily within reach and is easy to operate – and it doesn’t hurt if you’re wearing gloves. In fact because of the clever way the interchangeable tubes work it falls within easy reach for both blower and vacuum operation. Most other models with the power switch in a similar position end up with it being on the wrong side of the handle when in vacuum mode, requiring a second hand to turn it on and off.
Rated at 2200W and with an air speed of 72m/s, the GW2200 wants for little in terms of rated power. The mains power cable is only six metres long, though, which meant we couldn’t actually reach the edge of our 40m2 test patch of lawn. Other blowers tend to have 8-10m cables. Of course, one advantage is that there’s less cable to tidy away when you’re done but you’ll then need an even longer extension lead.
Black and Decker GW2200 – Blower Performance
Setting up the GW2200 for blower use is literally a two second affair as the nozzle/intake grille clips on in one go – it’s a blessedly simple operation. The nozzle is straight, rather than having a slightly upward curving end, and terminates in a slightly squashed oval that’s a relatively small 7cm wide by 3.5cm tall.
Despite the narrow nozzle, the GW2200 performed admirably. It cleared our 3kg of wet leaves quite easily and quickly, with that easy-access power switch proving useful for quickly turning the blower off when manoeuvring round the garden. It achieved a blowing range of 7.5ft, which is up there with the best handheld mains blowers.
The only slight concern is that noise levels are quite high. At 86dB, it’s the loudest mains powered blower we’ve yet tested.
Black and Decker GW2200 – Vacuum Performance
Again we must emphasise how easy it is to switch from one mode to the other. In five seconds you can unclip the blower and clip on the vacuum tube with its attached collection bag. The latter is of the sort that you sling over your shoulder rather than it hanging underneath the vacuum tube.
Initial testing was also impressive with the vac making rapid progress through our pile of leaves. However, only about a third of the way through it stopped picking anything up. A quick unclipping of the nozzle revealed the outlet tube to the collection bag had become clogged. A quick poke around and it was soon cleared and it had no problems with the rest of the pile, though we were a little more careful not to overload it.
The problem seemed to stem from two things. The first is that the collection bag tube actually has a few plastic fins protruding into it and it’s against these that the leaves got clogged. It’s a slightly odd design choice and we’re not really sure why they’re there. The other aspect is that the leaves aren’t quite as finely chopped up as on some competitors, so there’s a greater chance of the leaf pieces getting stuck. The bag itself is also a little flimsy and a little smaller than some at only 35 litres, compared to 40 litres for some competitors.
When investigating the blockage we also noticed another slight issue with the overall design, which is that it’s quite possible to access the fan blades while they’re still moving. They’re not powered – the device won’t work with the nozzle removed – but you can remove the nozzle fast enough after powering it off that they’ll still be spinning quite quickly as they wind down.
Should I buy the Black and Decker GW2200?
In some ways the Black and Decker GW2200 is a triumph. Its clever external fan design makes it is easier to store and quicker to change between blow and suck modes. Overall usability is good too, with particularly easy blower operation.
However, in other areas the GW2200 really shows why it costs under £50. The fit and finish is below par, you can access the blades while they’re still spinning and this is the only vac we’ve tested that has become blocked.
It’s a shame as the basic design is one we’d choose over any other blower/vac we’ve tested, but we’d really like to see it used on a more premium model that’s build to a higher standard.
A decent basic leaf blower and vac, though it can get clogged sometimes.