Gas-Powered vs. Battery-Powered Weed Eaters. Echo cordless weed eater
Gas-Powered vs. Battery-Powered Weed Eaters
Do the loud noises from neighborhood lawn equipment ruin your quiet Saturday? Or are you more, “Give me power at any cost?” These are things you’ll need to consider when choosing between gas vs. battery-powered weed eaters.
Battery-powered and gas-powered weed eaters do the same job, so you may wonder, “What’s the difference?” Actually, power sources mean big differences in the use and performance of machines. Before you buy a weed eater, you want to know what type of machine will serve your lawn most efficiently and whether or not the noise or gas smell will bother you.
We’ll discuss the pros and cons of gas-powered vs. battery-powered weed eaters to help you decide which is best for your lawn.
- Why do I need a weed eater?
- Essential weed eater terms
- Pros and cons of gas-powered weed eaters
- Pros and cons of battery-powered weed eaters
- Which is the best weed eater for me?
- FAQ about weed eaters
Echo DSRM-2600 56V Battery String Trimmer First Look And Test #234
Why do I need a weed eater?
Weed eaters are an indispensable power tool in the DIY lawn maintenance tool kit. These handy machines help homeowners and lawn pros cut down grass and weeds in areas that a lawn mower just won’t reach.
If you have a drain ditch in your lawn or a steep slope, a weed eater will keep the grass looking nice and neat. These machines also create that professional, finished look when you use them to create clean lines around the edge of your lawn and flower beds.
Believe it or not, battery- and gas-powered machines aren’t the only types of weed eaters on the market. You’ll also see electric string trimmers (AKA corded models that require an extension cord) and even propane weed eaters.
Electric models are popular in very small, “postage stamp” lawns, and propane models perform as well as gas. While it’s good to know there are other options, we’ll FOCUS on the more popular gas-powered and cordless models in this article.
Not only do weed eaters accomplish many lawn tasks, but they also have many names:
- Weed whacker (or weed wacker)
- Whipper snipper
- Weed trimmer
- String trimmer
- Weed whipper
- Line trimmer
- Grass trimmer
They all mean the same thing and do the same job. Here are a few brands you’re probably familiar with:
Essential weed eater terms
If you’re a weed eater novice, here are a few terms and components to familiarize yourself with as you do your research:
Gas models rely on gas and oil to power the engine. Battery-powered models rely on batteries — usually a lithium-ion battery. Both types offer brushless motors as well. Brushless motors are more efficient and less noisy than brushed motors. If you’re concerned about cost, though, know that the brushless motors are more expensive.
When you look at these power sources, gas models will label motor power in cubic centimeters (cc) and battery models will label it in volts (24V). The higher the number, the more power they offer.
Battery-powered models work well on lawns up to an acre, depending on your level of power. Use a machine with 20-40 volts for up to ½ acre, or from 40-80 volts for up to an acre. If your lawn is over an acre, you may want to consider a gas-powered machine.
Also, pay attention to rpm (revolutions per minute). Some will have a variable speed option as well (3,500 rpm, 5,300 rpm, 6,500 rpm) to save battery power. The higher rpm, the better the line will cut through thicker material.
There are four types of feed systems: bump feed, auto-feed, command feed, and fixed-line feed. The purpose of the feed system is to release more line when you’re running low.
- Bump feed: Tap the machine on the ground a few times while it’s running to get a longer string. This system is quick and easy and, if you’ve removed the guard, it gives you control over the length of your line.
- Auto-feed: The trimmer uses its own “brain” to release more line when the line is too short. This system is convenient but gives the operator less control over the length of the line.
- Command feed: When you run low on line, simply push a button or turn a dial, and the feed mechanism will release more line. This is similar to the bump feed because you can make your line as short or long as you wish.
- Fixed-line system: Buy pre-measured segments of line to load into the feed mechanism when your line runs low. This system works with fixed-line heads to load a pre-cut length of line into the machine. These heads are often ideal for heavy-duty trimmers that require thicker string.
Trimmer line (or blade)
Different trimmers will accept different trimmer line widths. (Trimmer line is the string that does all of the cutting.) Some battery-powered models accept slightly thinner line widths than gas models. Some trimmers come with the option to buy blades for tougher jobs.
You can choose from two main types of handles: loop handles or bicycle (AKA “bullhorn”) handles. Loop handles are most common on residential weed eaters. Bicycle handles may be more comfortable for larger, longer, brush clearing jobs. Try both types to see which feels more comfortable for you.
Weed eaters come with curved shafts or straight shafts. Curved shafts are for light use on a residential property, and they are great for beginners. Straight shafts are for more strenuous commercial work and sometimes come with the option to buy a blade or other accessories. Straight shaft trimmers are also easier to get under bushes. Curved-shaft models are less expensive overall.
If you have lots of brush or rocks in your lawn, pay attention to the size of your debris guard on the back of the head. Some are larger than others. You’ll want to invest in a model with a larger deflector (or purchase a kit) if this is a concern for you. Some models also come with a flip-down edge guard in the front that ensures you don’t get too close to trees and other plants.
After you’ve started the engine, you may wonder, “How do I spin the line?” There are often two control buttons above the handle. Why are there two? One acts as a safety. For example, if you mistakenly press one while you are holding the machine, the line won’t run (and you’ll be less likely to cut something unintentionally). So, when you’re ready to start weed eating, press both control buttons to spin the line.
Pros and cons of gas-powered weed eaters
Gas-powered string trimmers are the “old guard” of the string trimmer world. They’ve been around much longer than battery or electric weed eaters and have a good track record of reliable performance. Here are some pros and cons of these machines.
✓ Delivers commercial-level, all-day performance✓ Sufficient power for large properties or many properties✓ Handles tall grass and overgrowth with ease✓ Preferred choice of pros✓ Can be repaired ✓ Consistent power throughout use✓ Easy to carry gasoline with you
✗ Gas engine requires maintenance✗ Exhaust emissions may have adverse effects on people and air quality✗ Noisy to operate✗ Engine can become gummed up with old fuel or fuel without proper stabilizer ✗ Pull starters can be difficult for some homeowners✗ Gas and oil can be messy to work with
Pros and cons of battery-powered weed eaters
Battery-powered weed eaters (AKA cordless weed eaters) are the (relatively) new kid on the weed whacking block, but they’ve made quite an impression on many homeowners. Many residential customers enjoy their quiet, emission-free operation and sufficient run time.
✓ Does a sufficient job for a small property or a single property✓ No engine to maintain✓ Batteries swap out easily if you run out of power✓ Very low noise✓ No gas or oil to replace✓ Easier to start — no pull cord✓ No fumes✓ Can use batteries from other machines from the same brand✓ No emissions
✗ Battery power dilemma — Need a recharging station if you want to weed eat all day (or have tons of batteries)
✗ Battery run time✗ Battery recharge time✗ Hard to find someone to repair✗ Power fades as battery life fades✗ Rechargeable batteries and charger may not come with the unit
Which is the best weed eater for me?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you make a decision:
What size property do you have? Smaller residential properties are ideal for battery-powered weed eaters. Larger properties not only have more space but are likely to have taller grass and brush, so gas-powered trimmers may be a better fit.
How do you plan to use the weed eater? Unless you’ve built your lawn care business around being an all-electric provider, you’ll need at least one gas weed eater in your arsenal. If the machine will only be for you as a homeowner, a battery-powered model has plenty of power.
What level of engine care are you willing to do? Gas-powered models require you to get your hands dirty. You’ll need a constant supply of gas and oil, and you’ll need to winterize it before you put it away for the off-season. If you’re not willing to do this, go with a battery-powered model.
What kind of attachments do you need? Before you make a purchase, look into which attachments (if any) your top pick offers. Common attachments include hedge trimmers, pole saws, edgers, and cultivators. Attachments save space and money and are a good investment for many customers.
Both gas string trimmers and cordless string trimmers come with a few models that are dual brush cutter/trimmers. This gives you many more options for ways to use your trimmer.
Physical considerations: As you’re shopping around, pay attention to the weight of the machine. If you don’t like to carry around heavy machinery for a long time, consider that as you shop. Gas-powered machines are generally a little heavier than battery-powered models.
See if it has other ergonomic features for ease of use or for jobs that will require more than a quick walk around the lawn. Sometimes straps and slings are helpful for those larger cleanup jobs. Straps and slings distribute the weight across your shoulders and give your arms and back a break.
Finally, consider the length of the shaft. Although some shafts have an adjustable-length feature, other machines only have one length, which could be problematic for some buyers. If you’re concerned about getting a machine that works well for your stature, go inside the store and hold several different machines to gauge weight, ergonomics, and length.
Extras: Not all battery-powered models include the battery and/or charger. In addition, you’ll probably want to buy a backup battery upfront so you can have an extra battery on days when you want to stay out in the lawn longer than one battery will allow.
Cutting width: If you prefer a wide cutting width (diameter), check this before you buy. If you’re used to a 17-inch cutting path, for example, you might be disappointed if you get home and find that yours only has a 13-inch reach.
Warranty: If this is important to you, check to see what warranty is offered. With battery-powered equipment, battery warranties may be separate. If you don’t see a separate warranty for the battery, check to see whether or not that is included.
FAQ about weed eaters
Which is the best weed eater for seniors?
For seniors or for anyone who isn’t as strong as Joe Lumberjack, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
—Weight: Look at the tool weight. Also, consider that a battery or tank of gas will add to that. —Pull start vs. battery start: With a gas model, the pull start may be an issue for some seniors. You have to put the weed eater on the ground and quickly pull up on the string. A spring-assist pull start may make starting the machine easier if you prefer a gas weeder. However, if you’re considering a battery-powered model, push a button, squeeze the trigger, and you’re good to go. —Ergonomics: You may want to invest in a special handle or shoulder strap. Even though this tool may only see residential use, these components may make even a small job that much easier. —Cost: If you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend, curved-shaft models are usually less expensive. Also, look for refurbished models or seasonal sales. Generally, stores offer both great and great selection s on lawn equipment on the three summer holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day). Fall sales starting in September offer great deals (end-of-season), but selection may be more limited.
Which is the best brand of weed eater?
What brand of lawn equipment have you enjoyed using in the past? Or, what brand does your neighbor recommend? Personal experience and the recommendations of friends go a long way.
You may even ask the lawn workers in your neighborhood to see what type of equipment they use. If someone works with a tool day in and day out, they probably have a favorite brand to recommend.
Pro Tip: If neighbors or lawn crews are in short supply, call your local small engine shop. They’ve got the inside scoop on which brands they never see, and which ones come in all the time for repairs.
Which is the best residential weed eater?
Heavy-duty vs. light-duty use: If you have a small, postage-stamp-sized lawn, don’t go all out. A simple, lightweight machine will do fine. If, on the other hand, you have a standard yard, a large yard, or a backyard that looks like a jungle if you let it go, you may want to opt for a more powerful model.
Quality: High-quality machines usually cost more. If you don’t have experience with a particular brand or model, read helpful online “Best Weed Eater” guides, talk to neighbors, and read reviews.
Cost: This is a defining factor for many homeowners. Lighter use means a lower cost and vice versa. Shop sales, and do your research for a model that will do what you need at a price you can afford.
If weed-eating is not your favorite way to relax after a long week, let our local lawn care pros take the guesswork out of “Who’s going to mow my lawn?” Our reliable crews give your lawn a professional cut and edge every time.
Main Photo Credit: StrangeApparition2011 | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
gardening tool manufacturers are opting for battery power over fuel or electric, and today’s string trimmers are a case in point. We tested these eco-friendly yard maintenance devices to help consumers make the right purchase for their property.
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Handy outdoor power tools make quick work of tackling overgrown weeds and grass, giving the yard a tidy look and trimming hedges and shrubs. We put battery-powered trimmers through their paces on several grass or weed types to see how well they ran and cut, ultimately arriving at this list of the best battery trimmers.
For ensuring a polished look to a lawn, the best string trimmer is a great investment. These yard-care tools spin a cutting head loaded with nylon string (instead of a fixed blade) to cleanly trim the grass at the edge of a lawn or mow down weedy areas. Though gas and electric models once dominated, new and improved battery-powered versions don’t require mixing fuel or storing gasoline like gas string trimmers do, nor are they limited by the length of an extension cord, like corded electric string trimmers are.
Some battery trimmers are better suited to different-size yards, users, and budgets. So we could help consumers make the right choice, we tested some of the most popular string trimmers to find out how they perform under real-world conditions. To qualify as a top pick, a string trimmer should be durable, powerful, and easy to operate. The string line should exit the reel easily with no need for the user to constantly remove the reel cover and untangle the line.
The following battery-powered string trimmers are at the top of their class. Anyone looking to invest in a trimmer is likely to find one here to fit their landscaping needs.
- BEST OVERALL:STIHL FSA 60 R 36V Battery Trimmer
- RUNNER-UP:Ego ST1511T Power 15-Inch Powerload String Trimmer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:BlackDecker LST300 LBXR2020-OPE 20V String Trimmer
- UPGRADE PICK:Makita XRU15PT1 36V LXT Brushless String Trimmer Kit
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY:DeWALT DCST972X1 60V MAX 17-Inch String Trimmer Kit
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT:BlackDecker LSTE525 20V MAX String Trimmer/Edger
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS:Echo DSRM-2100 eFORCE 56V 16-Inch Battery Trimmer
- BEST FOR SMALL YARDS:Worx WG163 20V Power Share GT 3.0 String Trimmer
- BEST DUAL DIRECTION:Husqvarna 320iL 40V Battery String Trimmer
- BEST TRIMMER/EDGER COMBO:Worx WG170 20V Power Share Revolution String Trimmer
- MOST VERSATILE:Greenworks Pro 80V 16-Inch Cordless String Trimmer
How We Tested the Best Battery Trimmers
To truly test these battery-powered string trimmers, we started by assembling the tools and charging the batteries. Most trimmers arrived with the batteries about 25 percent charged right out of the box, but a full charge allowed us to gauge runtime at full power. Although some of the trimmers offer lower power settings that could extend runtime, we found that the lower settings simply made them less capable when it came to coarse weeds, so we ran them at full power for testing.
We put each trimmer through its paces in a variety of real-world scenarios: “clean” lawn grass, weedy grass, and natural areas featuring coarse, weedy seedlings and vines. To earn a spot in our lineup, the lightweight 20-volt (V) trimmers had to deliver a clean, crisp cut in both clean and weedy grass sections. In addition to trimming the grass zones, we used the 36V, 56V, and 80V models to cut through woody, viny growth in natural areas. Along with cutting power, we tested for battery runtime, maneuverability, and operator comfort and determined the best battery trimmer by category.
Our Top Picks
These reviews describe the key features of each cordless string trimmer and how the models performed in our backyard tests.
STIHL FSA 60 R 36V Battery Trimmer
It makes sense that the STIHL FSA 60 R would be a top performer in this test group. It comes from a brand with a long history of industry-leading outdoor power equipment. This string trimmer measures just over 66 inches long, weighs less than 10 pounds with the battery installed, and works for about 25 minutes per charge. The 36V 3.9 amp hours (Ah) battery charges in a little more than 2 hours.
The tough polymer material used for the motor housing and debris shield help keep the weight down. A few other standout features include a variable-speed throttle trigger, trigger interlock, battery retainer latch, EasySpool cutting head, bump guard, and hang loop. The trigger interlock and battery retainer latch prevent accidental startup. The variable trigger and EasySpool head improve operating efficiency by saving battery life and minimizing the time it takes to reload, respectively. The bump guard protects sensitive surfaces during close trimming, and the hang loop offers a convenient way to store the tool when not in use.
This is a great all-around pick for quarter- to a half-acre yards. The relatively short runtime of the STIHL FSA 60 R belies a very capable trimmer. In our tests it easily and cleanly sliced through all kinds of grass and weeds, including tough tree saplings up to about ¼ inch thick. The shorter runtime actually mattered less because the trimmer cut so well, and we moved at a faster pace than with some of the other trimmers with longer runtimes.
The other thing we noted here was the amazing level of operating comfort. The trimmer was fairly lightweight to begin with, but the weight was so well balanced—with just enough weight forward of the front handle to keep the head near ground level—that using it required significantly less effort than what was required of some of the other trimmers that weighed about the same. Also, vibration was minimal, so after trimming we had plenty of energy to keep working.
- Weighs less than 10 pounds but easily powers through tough weeds
- 25-minute runtime per charge for about 5,000 linear feet of trimming
- Excellent balance to keep the head at ground level
- EasySpool head, bump guard, variable-speed throttle, and accidental start protection
- Smallish 13.8-inch cutting swath is on the small side for open spaces
- 2-hour recharge time for battery is longer than that of some competitors
Get the STIHL battery trimmer at Ace Hardware or Blain’s Farm Fleet.
Ego ST1511T Power 15-Inch Powerload String Trimmer
Ego Power has made a name for itself in the outdoor power-equipment category by building an affordable battery-powered tool line that competes favorably against old-fashioned 2-cycle gas-powered equipment. The ST1511T 15-inch string trimmer proved to be powerful, clean, and quiet in testing. The 56V 2.5Ah lithium-ion battery delivers up to 45 minutes of runtime, with a recharging time of just 50 minutes. The bump-feed trimmer head comes preloaded with 0.095-inch trimmer line for more cutting force and less noise. Taller users will appreciate the straight shaft design, and the unit weighs in at just over 10 pounds.
In our tests, the Ego trimmer showed ample power to cut through everything in its path, including overgrown, weedy grass; privet seedlings; and honeysuckle vines. Its well-balanced design, with the heavy battery in back offset by the long, straight shaft, made it comfortable to work with and more agile than others we tested. Our only caveat: For seasonal yard cleanup or maintaining larger landscapes, the 45-minute maximum runtime may not be quite enough.
- Auto-loading trimmer head reduces downtime while working
- Adjustable telescoping straight shaft provides a custom fit for different users
- Excellent power and runtime value at a moderate price point
- Heavier than some with less forward weight to keep head down
- Battery is bulkier than others, making the tool tiring to use over an extended period
Get the Ego Power battery trimmer at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Lowe’s.
BlackDecker LST300 LBXR2020-OPE 20V String Trimmer
To give the yard a polished look without breaking the bank, consider the BlackDecker cordless string trimmer. It features a 12-inch cutting swath to cut down the corners and clean up the edges of small- to medium-size yards. An automatic feed spool means no more stopping to bump the tool when new string is needed. Two 20V lithium-ion batteries are included.
In our tests, this trimmer performed very well in weed-free grass and in weedy lawn areas. With a light weight of just 5.7 pounds, this trimmer is easy to handle without causing arm and shoulder fatigue. The short, straight shaft design is most comfortable for users under 5 feet 9 inches tall. We also liked that with a quick adjustment to the head, the trimmer becomes an edger to neaten up the grass along sidewalks and driveways. In all, we found this affordable tool a solid pick for small obstacle-free landscapes.
- Pack includes 2 batteries for more runtime, less downtime
- Automatic feed spool
- Money- and space-saving design that both trims and edges
- Battery recharges in just 45 minutes
Get the BlackDecker battery string trimmer at Amazon (with extra battery) or The Home Depot.
Makita XRU15PT1 36V LXT Brushless String Trimmer Kit
The Makita XRU15PT1 string trimmer is a premium option to keep the lawn and garden under control. It can handle large yards with enough power to tackle dense weed growth. This cordless string trimmer comes with four 18V 5.0Ah batteries so you’ll never run out of power. Shoppers can purchase this model as a kit that includes a dual battery charger and two sets of batteries, or as a “tool only” for those who already have items from the Makita 18V tool platform.
With a long, straight shaft and high-power cutting head, this 10.4-pound trimmer feels like a pro-quality tool. It was well balanced and articulate while trimming around shrubs and between obstacles. It had plenty of power to cut through tough vegetation. In our tests, it made nice clean cuts and crisp edges in the grassy areas and tore through weedy privet seedlings and honeysuckle vines without hesitation. It’s an excellent candidate to replace gas equipment for medium to large landscapes, though the price may be high for budget-minded shoppers.
- Runtime is longer than charge time for ready-to-go fresh batteries
- Includes a second set of batteries for extended work
- Gas-like power and performance for tough trimming jobs
- Expensive trimmer due to the high cost of batteries
- Small debris guard allows some material close to operator
- Stiff bump head required a hard strike to let out line
Get the Makita battery trimmer at Amazon or Mowers Direct.
DeWALT DCST972X1 60V MAX 17-Inch String Trimmer Kit
When an established leader in pro-grade cordless hand tools enters the lawn-care category, shoppers will want to take note. The DeWALT 60V battery trimmer packs a heavy-duty brushless motor powered by a 60V 3Ah FlexVolt lithium battery that lets it tear through all kinds of tough weeds for at least 40 minutes per charge.
This attachment-capable trimmer comes equipped with a straight shaft and Rapid- loading adjustable spool. It uses.080-inch trimmer line to cut either a 15-inch or 17-inch swath. A safety switch in the grip prevents accidental starts. Users can select high or low power, depending on the project, and control the trimming RPM with a variable-speed trigger. The universal attachment feature lets owners replace the trimmer attachment with a variety of other tool heads, including an edger, hedge trimmer, pole saw, and more.
The DeWALT battery trimmer was one of the heaviest we tested, but also the most powerful. With the standard.080-inch trimmer line that came pre-spooled, this tool had no trouble cutting anything from grass to thin tree seedlings and even tough blackberry canes. In low-power mode it offered more cutting force than the high- power setting of most others we tested. In high range it beat all but the STIHL, which was about an even match in terms of pure power. To be honest, high power was too much for many of our applications, so we also tested thoroughly in low range. It ran about 40 minutes on high, and about 60 on low.
Other than the heavy weight, the only negative point we have to offer is the noise. The trimmer is loud to begin with, and when initially triggering or feathering the trigger it makes an even louder whine/whistle sound. Still, it’s a very impressive tool at a fair price for the power and runtime and a good choice for large properties or cleaning up overgrown areas.
- Battery type: 60V 3Ah FlexVolt lithium ion
- Runtime: 40 minutes
- Weight: 12.95 pounds
- Outstanding power for clearing overgrown weeds and brush
- Works with.080-inch or.095-inch trimmer line for normal or heavy trimming
- Excellent runtime of up to an hour for average grass trimming
- Power head can run other landscaping tool attachments
- Heavy weight of just under 13 pounds, but no shoulder strap
- Longer battery charge time at 135 minutes
- Noisy operation, especially when initially triggering
Get the DeWALT battery trimmer at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or The Home Depot.
BlackDecker LSTE525 20V MAX String Trimmer/Edger
Weighing just 8.8 pounds, this string trimmer is easy to carry, maneuver, and control with an adjustable handle and a safety trigger switch to prevent accidental starts. The 12-inch trimming radius is suitable for keeping the lawn properly maintained without damaging fencing, decks, trees, or other common yard obstacles.
This cordless string trimmer operates with a 20V battery that can last for up to 20 minutes, and a spare battery is included. For edging, simply turn the head and use the built-in wheel to balance as the trimmer string handles the task.
When we used the tool to trim weedy lawn grass patches and edge the curb and driveway, it made nice clean cuts and tracked well to make good straight edges. The shaft and handle adjusted to comfortably fit our 6-foot user. The tool is amazingly lightweight for the amount of power it offers, but the weight is mostly balanced to the front of the handle, and having to manually counterbalance it while working fatigued our tester. Though not built for heavily weed-infested yards, it has ample power and runtime to clean up curb lines, driveway edges, and otherwise maintain a smaller landscape.
- Very lightweight and easy to carry
- Handle is customizable to fit the size of user
- Trimmer doubles as an edger with a simple turn of the head
- Battery provides limited runtime, although a spare is included
- Not enough power to tackle coarse, woody weeds
- Weighted toward the front, which may cause user fatigue
Get the BlackDecker MAX battery trimmer/edger at The Home Depot or Tractor Supply Co.
Echo DSRM-2100 eFORCE 56V 16-Inch Battery Trimmer
A wide cutting swath, extended runtime, and powerful trimming ability make the Echo DSRM-2100 eFORCE battery trimmer an excellent choice for large yards. The straight-shaft trimmer is powered by a brushless motor and 56V 2.5Ah lithium battery for up to 56 minutes of powerful performance that rivals traditional 2-cycle trimmers. It cuts a 16-inch-wide swath to get the job done efficiently.
This battery trimmer weighs in at a comfortable 9.75 pounds, making it a relatively lightweight choice at this level of capability. It features battery-saving low/high power settings for different cutting conditions, a variable-speed trigger, and a cushioned handle grip for comfort. The Speed-Feed cutting head comes preloaded with.095 trimmer line and reloads quickly without disassembly.
The Echo eForce battery trimmer is an excellent value for large-property maintenance. In our tests, the cutting power seemed to be slightly less than that of the DeWALT and STIHL trimmers, but it was still very capable. In high-power mode we trimmed for about 40 minutes. But the better-than-average power and wider swath meant that in 40 minutes with the Echo, we were able to complete work that other trimmers would need an hour to accomplish. The noise level was good, and reloading was fast and easy.
This trimmer could have scored higher with improved balance. Although it is a lightweight trimmer overall, most of the weight is in the working end. The heavy cutting head forces the operator to compensate by lifting upward on the front handle and pushing downward on the rear handle while working. We tested with the 2.5Ah battery that comes standard. Working with the available 5Ah battery (sold separately) would rebalance the trimmer to some degree while doubling runtime and increasing overall weight.
- Excellent price for this combination of power and runtime
- Wide cutting swath and power performance for large properties
- Rapid charging system charges the battery in less than 40 minutes
Get the Echo battery trimmer at The Home Depot or Acme Tools.
Worx WG163 20V Power Share GT 3.0 String Trimmer
Owners of small yards may find this lightweight string trimmer an excellent option. It weighs just 5.5 pounds and easily converts from a trimmer to an edging tool; a built-in wheel helps balance the tool while edging. A push-button feed system gives the ability to extend the trimmer string without bumping the 12-inch trimmer head or manually pulling additional string from the trimmer. It comes with two 20V batteries and a charger, and the battery lasts for up to 20 minutes on a full charge.
This Worx string trimmer tackled our grassy areas with ease, both the weedy and weed-free zones, but it wasn’t as capable on rough areas. We were particularly impressed by the edger function, which we found comfortable and well balanced thanks to the 90-degree shaft-rotation capability. The adjustable trimmer head and upper handle let us customize the working angle, but the process of doing so proved clunky. We had to reach down and turn a rather stiff knob at the connection point between the shaft and cutting head to unlock and relock the angle for each adjustment.
- Battery provides limited runtime, although a second battery is included
- Head-tilt adjustment is somewhat awkward and clunky
- Relatively long 60-minute charging time for 20 minutes of runtime
Husqvarna 320iL 40V Battery String Trimmer
One limiting factor of most string trimmers is the cutting head’s direction of rotation; it matters more than one might think. The direction of rotation determines where the clippings will go, and in some situations, how the user should grip the trimmer. The Husqvarna 320iL 40V battery trimmer offers a solution, thanks to its dual-direction cutting head. At the touch of a button, we could change from clockwise to counterclockwise rotation and back, without changing grip on the handles.
This straight-shaft trimmer is powered by an efficient brushless motor and 40V 4Ah battery that drives about 45 minutes of runtime per charge. It features a Rapid-load cutting head that comes prespooled with.080 trimmer line and cuts a 16-inch swath. Low-vibration technology improves operator comfort, and the machine weighs in at just over 10 pounds with the battery.
Anyone not interested in going off the beaten path might still do well to consider this trimmer. Its balance is impeccable, rivaling the STIHL in comfort even though it’s a fraction of a pound heavier. And for quiet operation, this one takes the gold medal. The only real question regarding comfort and control was, why so many buttons? Its four thumb-operated buttons control on/off, high/low power, clockwise rotation, and counterclockwise rotation.
- Dual-direction trimmer head leaves clippings where desired
- Excellent balance for comfortable extended use and less fatigue
- Among the quietest of the trimmers we tested
Get the Husqvarna battery trimmer at Lowe’s.
Worx WG170 20V Power Share Revolution String Trimmer
While plenty of string trimmers also function as edgers, we found this model to have the best dual-function design. At the push of a button, the trimming head on the Worx WG170 Revolution trimmer converts to an edger that rolls easily along the edge of a sidewalk or driveway. The head tilts up to 90 degrees, so it is easy to reach weeds on slopes while standing comfortably.
The trimmer comes with two batteries plus a charger and three extra spools of trimmer line. The string trimmer also boasts a handy spacer guard that keeps it from bumping into plants, and the shaft adjusts to suit taller or shorter users. It cuts a 12-inch swath and operates on a 20V lithium-ion battery. We tested the tool with the 2Ah battery, but it also comes with a 4Ah battery at some retailers.
In our yard, this trimmer cut through and created a crisp edge on both weedless and weedy lawn areas. We really liked the easy adjustable feature on the trimmer head: A twist lock holds it in just the right position, up to 90 degrees, for a customized working angle for users of different heights. Also, the batteries are interchangeable with those of many other Worx 20V cordless tools.
- Adjustable upper handle to accommodate users of different sizes
- Trimmer head converts to an edger for use along sidewalks or driveways
- Comes with 2 batteries to make up for shorter runtime
- Requires a relatively long charging time
- Trimmer feels underpowered for tackling coarse, heavy weeds
- Only 20 minutes of runtime per charge
Get the Worx WG170 GT battery trimmer at Amazon or Target.
Greenworks Pro 80V 16-Inch Cordless String Trimmer
The Greenworks Pro 80V trimmer is a quality tool that adapts to a variety of other functions with attachments such as a brush cutter. (However, attachments are sold separately.) The 2Ah battery provides up to 45 minutes of runtime and recharges in just 30 minutes. The brushless electric motor is efficient and quiet, providing plenty of torque to cut through heavy weeds without the noise and smell of a gas-powered unit.
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In our test areas, the Greenworks Pro trimmer was powerful enough to cut through the toughest weeds and vines with ease. The heavy battery weighs the machine down toward the rear, but the included adjustable shoulder strap makes operation more comfortable. The battery is compatible with other Greenworks 80V tools. Just don’t get too excited about the variable-speed trigger: Although it’s intended to allow a gradual increase from “off” to “high” speed, we found the range of movement between the two to be minuscule; in effect, the trimmer is either “off” or “on.”
- Battery type: 80V 2Ah lithium ion
- Runtime: 45 minutes
- Weight: 10.6 pounds without battery
- Trimmer has a quiet, efficient brushless motor
- The recharging time is only 30 minutes; runtime is 45 minutes
- Gas-like power and performance without the noise and smell
- Slight lag time between triggering and full power
- The trimmer’s adjustable speed feature is difficult to use
- Weight is balanced toward the rear, but shoulder strap helps
Get the Greenworks Pro battery trimmer at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing a Battery Trimmer
When shopping for string trimmers, also known as weed eaters, keep in mind yard size, how often the tool will be used, and the height and strength of the primary user. The following key considerations will help in selection.
Trim width, also called swath width, indicates how wide a path the trimmer will cut through weeds in a single pass. Many models on the market today feature swath widths of 10 to 18 inches. The wider the width, the more power the trimmer must have, which often means the tool will be heavier because it will require a larger, more powerful battery.
Running a string trimmer requires a hefty dose of power. Though most of today’s trimmers run on rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, a few accept nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries. Li-ion batteries are more powerful, but NiCad batteries are less expensive (an average of 70 to 125 less). Li-ion batteries also are smaller, hold a charge longer, and provide full power throughout the discharge cycle.
NiCad batteries suffer from “memory effect,” meaning if the battery is used before it has fully charged—or if it’s recharged before its power depletes—it will “remember” the earlier charge level and won’t hold a longer charge in the future. If choosing a trimmer that has a NiCad battery, let it charge fully before use and drain completely before charging. For most users, a string trimmer with a Li-ion battery will be the best choice.
Along with battery type, consider how much operating power the battery has, which is measured in volts. Today’s rechargeable string trimmer batteries average from 18 volts up to an average of 60 volts of power. powerful batteries at the high end often are intended for commercial use and can cost 200 or more per battery.
Some string trimmers in this category sell without a battery (or battery charger), which the user must purchase separately. This could be a cost-saving benefit for those who are adding to a same-brand, battery-compatible cordless tool collection, since the same battery will power multiple tools. However, it can be more convenient to purchase a kit with multiple batteries to have one on the charger while the other is in use.
The “feed” of a string trimmer indicates how the trimmer head releases additional trimmer line as it becomes frayed and broken during use. The standby is a bump feed where the user bumps the bottom of the trimmer (the area where the spool attaches) on the ground to release a few inches of fresh line.
Some newer models feature an auto-feed sensor that gauges the length of the strings and releases more when needed. Still others have a push button to release more line. Auto and button feeds eliminate the need to bump the spool, which can reduce the risk of damage if bumped too hard, but many commercial-type trimmers still use bump feed because it’s quick and easy.
Curved vs. Straight Shaft
Some string trimmers feature a straight shaft that runs from the handle to the cutting head, while other models feature a distinct curve in the lower shaft about two-thirds of the way down. Some users find curved-shaft trimmers to be easier to operate since the spool end already rests at a handy angle for weed whacking.
Straight-shaft trimmers often accommodate interchangeable tools, such as a tree trimmer head, which can be swapped out depending on the task at hand. In general, straight-shaft trimmers work better for users at least 6 feet tall, while shorter users will appreciate curved-shaft trimmers.
Battery-powered string trimmers have a distinct advantage over gas-powered trimmers when it comes to noise pollution. Gas-powered trimmers are moderately loud, emitting an average of 90 decibels (about as loud as a motorcycle passing by from 25 feet away). By contrast, a cordless string trimmer emits approximately 77 decibels, which is comparable to casual conversation.
Those who are still unsure about how to use a battery string trimmer may find the following answers to common questions about these tools helpful.
Q. Can a string trimmer cut weeds?
A string trimmer is used to cut and control weed growth around the home and garden. However, light-duty trimmers may have issues with very dense weed growth.
Q. Can you use a string trimmer to cut grass?
A string trimmer can be used to cut grass, though you need to be careful not to cut the grass too short while trying to keep the trimmer balanced. It isn’t the easiest way to cut the grass, but it is possible.
Q. Can you edge with a string trimmer?
Yes, a string trimmer can be used for edging the garden, driveway, walkway, or sidewalk. If you have a large yard, it may be better to invest in a separate edging tool.
Q. How many volts should be in a trimmer?
String trimmer batteries average from 18 volts up to 80 volts. Typically, the higher the voltage, the longer the battery life.
Q. How do you edge a lawn with a string trimmer?
Hold the string trimmer perpendicular to the lawn to keep the cut even. Position the head about 4 inches off the soil so the string has space to rotate. The string should rotate and cut through the grass and dirt. As you move along the desired borders, keep the head balanced and even. Clean up the cut grass and dirt to finish the job.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Meet the Tester
Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with a background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor-living goods.
Additional research provided by Glenda Taylor.