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There are few things in my professional career that I can say have changed my working life. Imagine my delight when I walked into my local garden machinery shop to see the shelves brimming with shiny new machines. Hedge cutters, grass strimmers and blowers with no engine or cables. This could only mean one thing, they were battery operated cordless garden tools.
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Advantages of Cordless Garden Tools
At first glance, these machines look lighter in weight. At nearly 5 kg, a standard 2 stroke hedge cutter is quite a heavy tool to wield around for a few hours of cutting. The same Cordless/battery-operated machines, with the battery included, weigh in at a mere 2.3 Kg.
If you have been put off buying hedge cutters/trimmers, grass strimmers and blowers because of the weight or worried that you may not have the strength to pull start the machine – don’t be! Anyone can use these machines!
With no engine, cordless garden tools have four major benefits:
- No pull starting
- No refuelling/refilling
- Reduced noise
- Squeeze the trigger and go
Two Stroke engines are not renowned for their peaceful operation but at 77db the battery operated tools are a lot more pleasant to use. This means an early start in the garden shouldn’t disturb the neighbours too much. If used for any length of time, ear defenders can be worn but now are not a necessity.
There really is no maintenance required in terms of servicing. However, there will be sharpening of blades for hedge trimmers and lawnmowers.
These cordless machines are much more affordable to buy, in some cases nearly 60% cheaper than engine-powered models.
Is Cordless Garden Machinery as good as Engine Powered Machinery?
The immediate answer is YES. I was sceptical when I first picked up the machines. However, I was not disappointed. I have a large Leylandii hedge standing 18 ft tall x 50 ft long x 8ft wide, to cut once a year. I thought this would be a good test. The 6ft pole hedge cutter made short work of this huge hedge. By the end of the cutting, I had knocked nearly one hour of the job, due to not needing to stop for a rest, pull starting and clambering up and down a ladder, refuelling the machine.
I have only found one slight disadvantage to owning cordless garden machinery. The battery housing is made of strong plastic and you may have to be slightly more careful to not drop the machine or put it on the ground and accidentally step back on to it.
Lithium-Ion Battery Garden Tools
The main change in garden power tools is battery technology. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter in weight given their capacity and their ability to hold charge has been greatly improved, losing about 1.5% of their charge per month. This means your garden machinery could spend the whole winter in the shed and still spring into life for the first cut of the season.
All these advantages do come at a small price. The batteries are the most expensive part of the equipment. However buying one brand of machinery enables you to buy just one battery which fits all machines, this does make the subsequent standalone machines very affordable.
Cordless Tool Battery Power 18v, 24v, 36v and Above
So what does all this voltage mean? There is no direct comparison of “cc” (2 stroke engine power) and Volts (electric power). However, I can give you a rough guide on which voltage to select when choosing your battery powered garden machinery.
Fixed, Integral batteries
Fixed integral batteries in cordless garden tools are not removable so the machine is supplied with a separate charger. This is a consideration when buying machines that have integral batteries. If you do not have a power socket in your shed or garage, you may be keeping your garden tool in the house. The majority of integral batteries are usually 18v.
- 18v – 24v Light and occasional use
- 36v – 40v Medium to professional use
- 40v Plus Usually reserved for power-hungry machines like cordless lawn mowers
All in One Cordless Garden Tool
All in one tools or 3 in 1 cordless garden tools as they are sometimes known, are starting to appear on the market and they are definitely worth your consideration. As discussed above, the battery is the most expensive part of battery garden tools. The good news with the new 3 in 1 tools is you only have to pay for one battery, as the battery fits all the other attachments. Flymo C and the Bosch 18v Power for All range are two well-known reliable brands.
Who makes the Best Cordless Garden Tools?
As with all garden machinery, there is a manufacturer to suit every budget. When making a decision on which brand to choose, the main question should be: How often am I likely to use the machine?
- Light and occasional use – Budget
- two – three times a month – Mid Range
- Once a week or more – mid Range to Professional Item #3
Cordless Garden Tool Brands
Stihl, Honda and Husqvarna are the main contenders for the professional market, offering a wide range of cordless grass trimmers, hedge cutters, leaf blowers and chainsaws. They offer professional battery packs which have a usage time up to an impressive 13 hours for the backpack version. All offering the option of fast chargers, speeding charging times to well under an hour.
Budget to Mid Range
Don’t be put off by cheap machines. If you are buying a cordless garden machine for light use (maybe once or twice a month and for short periods of use and 15 minutes at a time) then budget machines definitely have their place.
Spend a bit more money on 36v machines for more general garden work (perhaps 3+ times a month). Black and Decker, Bosch, Makita and Flymo all have great machines in this range.