Hope me string trimmer!
April 13, 2021 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I’m looking to get a cordless electric string trimmer. But, I have no idea what I’m looking for.

Following a heated and very vocal disagreement with my old gas-powered string trimmer, I’ve decided to part ways and get a new cordless electric trimmer. But, jeepers! am I ever befuddled by the specs of these things. 20 volt, 40 volt, 56 volt, 80 volt. Other places list 2, 3, 5 Amp hours.

I have a very small lot to tend to. Mowing only takes maybe 15 minutes if I dawdle, so I don’t think I need anything close to commercial quality, but I also want whatever I get to last a few years, including the battery. And I have no idea what manufacturers are reliable anymore.

Hope me MeFi lawn gawdz! Steer me to my electrical future!

posted by Thorzdad to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have had a Makita XRU08Z for a few years. I get about 30 minutes of usage on a charge. It is discontinued, but I have had some other Makita tools for about a decade and they are solid IME, so I'd have no reservations getting a newer model. The batteries can be swapped out with other Makita cordless tools of the 18V LXT variety.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:57 PM on April 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

On the subject of batteries, do you have any other cordless tools? It may help narrow down possibilities, if so — you wouldn't have to buy a charger, for instance, or even a new battery, if there are compatible cordless trimmers that will let you reuse a power pack that you already have.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:00 PM on April 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Do you have other battery-operated lawn tools/power tools? If so, having more in the same ecosystem can help a lot. I have 4 different brands of tools, each with their own battery packs. They all seem just about as good as each other.

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-string-trimmers/ wirecutter recommends Ego brand pretty often, and we have them for a chainsaw and a lawnmower. Works pretty great!

But, they change their recommendations pretty often. A few years ago it was Milwalkee, and I bought the leaf blower and the trimmer. Really, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the choices here!
posted by bbqturtle at 3:02 PM on April 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Came here to recommend Makita as well! I have the XRU23Z with a 4.0 amp hour battery, and it usually lasts me about 45 minutes to an hour on a charge. Plenty powerful for my purposes and as already mentioned, the batteries can be used on other Makita tools if you've got 'em.
posted by DeadliestQuack at 3:04 PM on April 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In my opinion the EGO Power+ is all you will need. As bbqturtle mentioned, the ecosystem is important, since once you get one, you can swap the battery on multiple devices (although it's fine if you only have one device).

I'm fully invested in the Ego line, I have the chainsaw and the leaf blower as well, and they are a joy to use. Just press the button and it works. No yanking a cord or messing with the oil/fuel mixture. It's great.

Lowes has the 15 inch trimmer and it comes with a 56 volt battery and charger, at the time of this writing that is $179.95.

Yes, there are lots of options, which can make things overwhelming, but with EGO, they make a point of saying that all of their batteries will work with all of their equipment, so that's nice, what you lose (or gain) with different batteries is simply the amount of time you can use it.

Having said that, the 56 volt battery is a very versatile option. I only have one and I swap it between all three of my tools as needed, the key is just remembering to charge it after use, or pay more and get a spare battery.
posted by jeremias at 3:36 PM on April 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can tell you that Greenworks batteries are garbage and I'd avoid that ecosystem as a result.

That said, unless you have some severely dense foliage, the 20 volt model that I have has been sufficient to go through some fairly dense plant growth in my yard so I don't think you necessarily need to go with a 40 or 80 volt model like you might if you were doing commercial work.
posted by Candleman at 3:45 PM on April 13, 2021

Best answer: I have an EGO string trimmer, hedge cutter, lawn mower and leaf blower and they're all great.
posted by aramaic at 3:45 PM on April 13, 2021

For a small lot, consider the 18v HP Ryobi trimmer. It’s less doesn’t than Ego, or other 40vs (though Ryobi also has a 40v line), but is likely sufficient for your needs.
posted by walkinginsunshine at 3:46 PM on April 13, 2021

I like the idea of EGO products, and I will continue to use them — I have a lawnmower, chainsaw, hedge trimmer, and string trimmer — but you need to know that their batteries are expensive and prone to failure.

When I bought my EGO products four years ago, I bought two batteries. One battery failed just a month after the warranty period, so I bought a new one. That one failed within three months. It was like pulling teeth to get EGO to replace the battery. Even after I had complied with all of their requests and submitted all documentation, nothing happened. I had to call back and wade through the entire process again before they were willing to send me a new battery.

That experience left a sour taste in my mouth, as did the fact that of the three batteries I've owned (now four), two have failed within two years (and one failed within months). That's not right. It wouldn't be an issue if they had good customer service, but they don't.

So, be warned about that. But, as I said, I intend to continue using their products because I like them and I'm already invested in the ecosystem. But their batteries are shitty.
posted by jdroth at 3:55 PM on April 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just jumping in to say I have no other cordless lawn gear. So, I am agnostic.

I do have an old Craftsman cordless drill and a couple of 19.2V batteries for it, but I don’t know if those would work in a new trimmer.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:03 PM on April 13, 2021

This works the other way, too: if you're going to buy other tools, get a battery ecosystem you like.

I have an 18V ryobi that works, but I'm just strimming down little bits of greenery. It's batteries work with my drill and other tools. The lower power has been fine for me, but if you do enough strimming and of sufficiently tough things that you needed a gas one I think I'd go for a higher voltage. (Also, the knock off replacement line I bought was terrible and kept breaking at the eyelet, but I don't think that was the strimmer's fault).

You can also buy additional batteries for whatever you buy - one can be on charge while you work through another, so two can carry you a lot further than just one. That helps a great deal.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 4:42 PM on April 13, 2021

I've got the 18v Ryobi as well. For just tending to the spots the lawn mower (40v Ryobi) can't get, it's aces. If I was doing anything more heavy duty, I'd want a 40v unit.
posted by wotsac at 4:56 PM on April 13, 2021

I have the Ryobi 18V and less than 1/4 acre and I can do all the edges on one charge. I chose it by going to Home Depot and picking them all up - it was the one that was most ergonomic for me. It did actually have a problem with the battery at one point. I had to speak to customer service live on the phone while she talked me through a series of steps to test whether it was the trimmer, the charger, or the battery at fault. It was the battery and they sent out a new one within a week.
posted by xo at 5:27 PM on April 13, 2021

Nobody has mentioned this but the18V Ryobi line (and I assume others) are now BRUSHLESS. Which is kind of a big deal. I speak only from casual usage, but I'm also pretty sure removing an entire source of friction, wear, and failure is pretty cool, from a longevity and maintenance point of view.

I wonder if /hope anyone can weigh in with more experience or expertise on that specific point?
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:00 PM on April 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've also got the EGO string trimmer, a hedge trimmer, and one 2.5AH battery I share between them. Our lot is TINY (I did the math and it's 1/30th of an acre; the yard portion is maybe 350 square feet of weeds and crabgrass). As long as I haven't let the weeds get out of hand I can trim every bit of "grass" we have and trim the hedge on one battery charge. If the weeds are crazy and I have to spin the thing up to higher RPM to hack through it all then I won't be able to finish the whole yard on one charge.

Are you also using a mower, or are you using the string trimmer for everything? I'd recommend buying the smallest battery that works for your use case, since you'll be carrying the thing in your hands for the duration. If you've also got a mower then you should be able to get away with a 2AH battery. You probably don't need the biggest batteries unless you're clearing a lot of land at once.
posted by fedward at 6:01 PM on April 13, 2021

Best answer: I have an ego mower and trimmer, with just the batteries that came with them. Now in their fourth year of service and the batteries still last all the way through my typical semi urban yard.
posted by dbx at 7:52 PM on April 13, 2021

I bought into the Ryobi system so I could use the same batteries for everything. I have their 40v trimmer with various sized batteries. It's pretty close to gas power, close enough for my needs (and sounds like yours too). I've never run a battery dry with it but I mainly use it to trim the edges of the lawn I can't get with my riding mower and to indiscriminately murder whatever grows between the back fence and the road once a year. I like it a lot. It's reliable, gets the job done, and it has interchangeable attachments, so I also have the trimmer attachment and the edger attachment. And I might get the chainsaw attachment and start murdering vines and bamboo by the back fence.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:54 PM on April 13, 2021

Re:brushless, Wikipedia says
The advantages of a brushless motor over brushed motors are high power-to-weight ratio, high speed, nearly instantaneous control of speed (rpm) and torque, high efficiency, and low maintenance.

So the main point is, it's not fair or proper to compare motor specs straight up, if one is conventional/commutator and the other is brushless.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:10 AM on April 14, 2021

I do have to ask—why cordless?

Sure, you wouldn't have to deal with a cord, but then you have to deal with batteries, which need to be charged, eventually die, and sometimes have hard-to-find replacements. As long as you have an outdoor power outlet, it's really not a big deal to use a corded string trimmer, and they're much cheaper. After a couple trimming sessions you'll figure out cord management, which really isn't as hard as one would think (just start close to the house and move further away).

I have a basic Greenworks Corded String Trimmer, which I got for $30. I have a 100 foot extension cord, which I also use with my electric mower and electric blower. Nice and easy: no gas, no batteries.
posted by vitout at 10:07 AM on April 14, 2021

I've had two different Ryobi 18 Volt string trimmers for a few years. The first one got stolen and so I bought another. I guess that's an endorsement, but I'm in the Ryobi ecosystem (multiple tools, multiple batteries) as described above.

But one thing I really haaaate about it is the stupid "automatic" string feed. Most string trimmers use bump fed string, which means when you want more string to come out of the hub, you give it a determined smack on the ground. The Ryobi models I've had automatically feed a little bit of string every time you slow down (release the trigger and let it come to full stop).

But if you are trimming around concrete (e.g. sidewalks, duh), they chew up the string, and that damn automatic feed does NOT come out nearly fast enough. You have to stand there wooooo wooooo wooooo spinning the trimmer up and letting it coast down to a stop, over and over, to replenish the string. I am not exaggerating when I say I spend just as much time standing there goosing the thing to get the string to come out as doing actual trimming. If I was my own neighbor I would be so annoyed by that sound. OMG I hate it so much.

So whatever you buy, make it a bump-fed model.
posted by intermod at 7:59 PM on April 14, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks all! All great options. In the end, I decided to go with the $179 EGO trimmer. I didn’t really need the automated string loader of the more expensive model, nor the carbon fiber shaft.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2021

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