You may be asking yourself if you should buy an electric weed eater. I asked myself the same question and decided to try one out. In this article I am going to tell you about my experience with an electric weed eater. I will tell you about the good and the bad. And will let you know if I ultimately returned to my gas weed eater or stuck with the electric weed eater.
Having everything, or at least most things, run by batteries is the dream of many. This is especially true for those of us that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. Coming from a time when everything had to be plugged in other than simple calculators or hand held video games, battery operated everything was always in the future.
Now we live in the future and batteries are everywhere. We can even power cars that can travel hundreds of miles on just batteries. But, is running everything on batteries good? I’m not going to go into an environmental or philosophical tangent. All I want to talk about is whether it is worth it to buy an electric weed eater. Does it fulfill the dream?
Electric weed eaters, when compared side-by-side, seem to be priced about the same as gas weed eaters. You can find inexpensive ones starting at around $70. You can also find very expensive ones that go for hundreds of dollars.
For my experiment, I went with a middle of the road priced battery operated weed eater. It was a 40 volt, 13″ trimmer.
How much power do you need
As I stated, the unit I tried was 40 volts. It had two 20 volt batteries that had to be completely charged to get the maximum cutting time. The manufacturer stated that the weed eater would cut 1 acre if the batteries were fully charged.
I was excited to see how far the batteries would take me. My yard is only about an eighth of an acre. So, I hoped that I could do my entire yard with at least half of the battery power left. If it worked out that way, I was going to buy a blower from the same manufacturer and then I could do my whole yard with one charge.
Now, I have to tell you, I didn’t go into this having a lot of faith that the batteries would perform well. I have had experiences with other battery operated tools. Those experiences left me in doubt of any tool working well for an extended period of time on battery power. But, my previous experiences had been with a single 18V battery. Since I was using two 20V batteries on one unit, I let myself believe that it might just work.
The manufacturer also stated that the power trigger worked like the variable trigger on a gas weed eater. Some battery powered weed eaters, like there electric plugin counter parts, have basically one speed when the trigger is pressed.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of power delivered. I was also impressed with the ability to control the speed with the trigger.
But, sorry to have to tell you, the batteries did not last as long as they were supposed to. I was about 50 feet from finishing my one-eighth of an acre lot, when the batteries ran out of juice. They did not last anywhere near what the manufacturer had stated.
Another concern that I had with the batteries in general, is will they loose the ability to become fully charged over time. We see this happen with laptops, phones, and other chargeable battery operated devices. So, I think the answer is yes, the batteries will loose capacity over time.
Many of the smaller battery operated weed eaters I looked at were very light. They were very similar to your normal electric plugin weed eaters. Some of the larger, more advanced units where just as heavy as the gas weed eaters of the same size. The weed eater I tried was a little lighter than my gas weed eater, but it was not balanced well. The bottom part was heavier that the top. This made it uncomfortable to hold. All battery operated weed eaters may not have the same issue, but I advise you to try several out to see which ones are most comfortable.
The other issue I had was the way the trigger was situated. For some reason, I had to contort my wrist a certain way to keep the thing running. This put a lot of pressure on my wrist and wore it out fairly quickly. I found myself adjusting my hand often.
Also, something that is common on electric weed eaters, but not on many gas weed eaters, is a button you have to press before you can engage the trigger. I found this to be annoying. Although, I did get use to it after about 15 minutes of cutting.
The string feeder
One of the things I really liked about the electric weed eater was that I never had to fool with the string. It just keep coming out when it was needed. There was a button that was meant for releasing more string when ever you wanted it, but all it seemed to do was stop the weed eater. By letting the thing feed itself, I was able to continuously cut without stopping. The thing never had the string get stuck or break off prematurely.
All of this wonder around the string feeder may be due to the fact I was using string that came pre-wrapped with the weed eater. I did not wrap my own string and try it, so I don’t know how it will perform when done by me.
Almost all of the electric weed eaters I looked at came with a wheel and the ability to twist the head so it can be used as an edger. This 2-in-1 feature was great. A push of the button, a twist, and I was off edging the grass.
Doing this kind of edging with a gas weed eater requires you to flip the weed eater over and steady it straight along the edge of the sidewalk. Or, you can buy an additional attachment for most gas weed eaters that has a wheel for edging.
The addition of a wheel and the twist for edging is definitely a plus for electric weed eaters. And it will save you some money because you don’t have to buy any additional attachments. I was able to get a true grass wall along my sidewalk. I have tried to do this with my gas weed eater, but have not been able to get as nice of a finish as the electric weed eater.
Lining the weed eater up with the edge of the sidewalk was confusing at first. I didn’t read the directions before I started, so I thought I just had to eyeball it. After about 20 feet of edging, I realized there was a mark on the guard that you have to visually line up with the edge of the sidewalk. My first attempt was not perfect, but it was better than anything I can do with my gas weed eater.
To guard or not
It baffles me as to what weed eater manufacturers are thinking about when they build the weed eater guards and how they decide to attach them. My gas weed eater has the guard in a fairly good place. It rarely gets in my way and it can easily be taken off by unscrewing a wing nut. But I think this is the exception and not the norm.
The electric weed eater I tried had the guard in a terrible position. It seemed that I could only walk in one direction without hitting it on the simplest things. It also blocked me from getting to some spaces that have over a foot of clearance. In addition, it was screwed in with a phillips head screw which didn’t allow me to easily remove it for those places a guard just can’t go.
I was so frustrated that I just wanted to take the guard off and complete the yard. The problem with doing this on any weed eater that auto feeds is that the string will keep coming out. The blade that cuts the string so it doesn’t get too long is on the guard, so you can’t remove the guard. Also, not having the guard on the weed eater allows all kinds of debris to be flung at you.
One of the great things about the electric weed eater is the lack of noise. They do make some noise, but it is far less than a gas weed eater. When running the electric weed eater I didn’t need any kind of ear plugs. When I use my gas weed eater, I have to wear ear plugs. Even with the ear plugs the gas motor is loud when you rev it up.
Will I continue to use an electric weed eater
I think the electric weed eater has its pros and cons. Electric weed eater can deliver the same amount of power as many gas engine weed eaters. Most of them come with the 2-in-1 weed eater, edger features. Electric weed eaters are not very loud. You also don’t have to mix and store gasoline for them.
The only real negative for electric weed eaters is the batteries don’t last very long and will loose storage capacity over time. The other negative issues I talked about in this article aren’t inherently part of electric weed eaters, but are due to bad design on the one that I used. These same issues can be seen in many gas weed eaters.
I really like the prospect of an electric weed eater being my go to choice. I just need to find one that, first, delivers a long running battery. Then, it needs to be comfortable. Finally, the guard has to be in a good position and be easy to remove. If I can find all of those things in a battery operated electric weed eater, I will fully switch to using one on my lawn.