After only a few weeks of leaving your lawn unattended, grass and weed would probably take over some parts of your previously pristine lawn. Not only would overgrown grass and weed be an unattractive look, but this would also worsen the health of the established plants in your lawn by stealing nutrients and making the area more habitable for various pests.
Usually, a lawnmower or tractor would be enough to solve this issue, helping you keep a neat, polished lawn by cutting huge chunks of grass in one go. However, there are certain areas that a lawnmower cannot reach properly, such as narrow or hard to reach areas like the perimeter of a tree or in between fence posts or shrubberies. To trim grass in such areas, you would need a weed eater. This lawn tool is really useful and versatile because, in addition to cutting overgrown grass on a flat surface, you can use it to do some finishing touches, such as trimming or shaping hedges and polishing the edge of your lawn, all of which are too tedious to be done manually and can’t be done via lawnmowers.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Most people confuse a weed eater with a lawnmower or garden tractor—although both function primarily as cutters or trimmers of grass, these two are very different tools. A lawn tractor is significantly larger, heavier, and more heavy-duty than a weed eater. This tool comes in various designs, sizes, and weight; some lawn mowers are quite portable and require manual manoeuvring (like a pushcart), while some models can be driven around the lawn (resembling a golf cart). Garden mowers and lawn tractors utilize rotating blades to cut the grass, fueled by a motor, which can be powered by electricity, battery, or gas.
On the other hand, a weed eater is a slim, portable tool. This machine gets its other names, “weed wacker” and “string trimmer,” from its mode of action: rapidly spinning string/s whack (sharp, forceful blow) the grass in order to cut it. Most weed eaters resemble each other, although these do come in different types, too. To maximize the benefits of having a weed whacker, you have to choose the one that’s best for the money among the different types of weed eaters!
There are three main types of weed eaters based on how they are powered: gas-powered, corded or electricity-powered, and cordless or battery-powered. Further classification of these weed wackers is commonly based on their model, on what kind of engine they have, or how many strings are used.
|Types to know about|
1. Corded Electric
An electric weed eater is a perfect tool for small-sized lawns. Among all three, this type of weed wacker is the most lightweight and compact in size because it does not carry the load of gasoline or battery. The good thing about electric weed eaters is that there is no limit to their runtime! As long as it’s plugged in, you can trim your lawn for as long as you need to without worrying about running out of fuel. However, this feature is a double-edged sword: yes, it does offer unlimited runtime, but it also limits mobility.
Since the weed wacker is plugged in, the range of your mobility is limited to the length of the cord. To remedy this, you can buy an extension cord to extend your area of reach. But bear in mind that you should buy the proper type and size of an extension cord because weed wackers consume quite a lot of power. Not all cords can carry the same amount of current, and if something goes amiss, accidents can happen, such as short circuiting, appliance damage, and electric power-induced fires. To help avoid such mishaps, here are some sizing guides for wires that you can use: 6-16 Gauge Extension Cord Chart, 20-60 Amp Extension Cord Chart, and 70-600 Amp Wire Size Guide. Lastly, always remember to move the cord away from your path to avoid any accidents and injuries.
If you can’t be bothered with cords, or you don’t have a nearby plug to power up an electric weed wacker, then you can opt for a gas-powered string trimmer! With this tool, your movements are no longer limited by the length of a cord, so you can cover a lot more space due to the added mobility and range. As long as you have gas, you’re free to trim grass anywhere, up until the edge of your lawn, far away from the electric plug!
Gas-powered weed eaters usually have sturdier builds and more powerful engines and are considered to be the power string trimmer among all three. Thus, this can be used for commercial spaces, wherein a lot of area must be tended to and thus would need a powerful tool that can run for hours. Just like how MIG and TIG welders use different welding gas cylinders, weed eaters may have different fuel type and ratio requirements based on their respective model or unit type. But generally, their engine runs on gasoline and engine oil, typically a 40:1 ratio or a mix of 1 gallon of unleaded gasoline and 3.2 ounces of engine oil. For tools that are powered by some type of gas, like an oxy-acetylene cutting torch or blow torch, you should only use the recommended fuel type and ratio that are suited to the model that you have to ensure safety and seamless operation. Furthermore, make sure to get the engine checked every now and then.
One of the downsides of having a powerful engine is that it can get quite noisy when it’s running. To remedy this, you can wear earplugs for protection. Also, this weed eater is bulkier and heavier than the electric ones due to the built-in engine and gasoline load, which might be taxing to the body if you operate it for hours. Lastly, it’s important to note that gas-powered weed eaters emit toxic fumes as the engine uses up the fuel. This poses harm to both yourself and the environment, which is why I do not recommend this type of tool if you’re suffering from health issues.
If you’re not impressed with the limited mobility of corded weed eaters and the toxic emissions that accompany gas-powered weed wackers’ noisy operation, battery-operated weed eaters would surely win over your heart.
Also known as cordless weed wacker, instead of relying on being plugged in at all times, this weed eater is powered by rechargeable batteries. And because it’s battery-operated and does not rely on burning fuel, this weed eater does not release toxic fumes, thereby eliminating the risk of health issues and other detrimental effects on the environment. What’s even greater is that it’s equipped with a machine that has a low-noise operation, something that a gas-powered weed eater won’t be able to achieve. So, feel free to put those earplugs back in your drawer!
Since this grass trimmer is cordless and does not carry a hefty load of gasoline, it is highly portable and easy to carry around. You can use it anywhere, provided that you have the batteries with you. The only downside of using a battery-powered tool is that after a couple of hours of operation, you have to charge it when the power runs out. Depending on the capacity and type of battery that you have, charging time ranges from 1-2 hours. But not to worry because you can get around this by buying spare batteries, if possible, so that you can let the drained battery charge and cool down while you use a fully-charged one—a nifty trick that extends both the grass trimmer’s runtime and lengthens the lifespan of your batteries! However, some models do not have removable batteries, so you have to settle with resting for an hour or two while your weed eater is charging up (which is not a bad thing, to be honest!).
ARE CORDLESS TRIMMERS ANY GOOD?
The features of cordless grass trimmers combine the pros and eliminate the cons of the use of electric and gas-powered weed eaters. Like electric trimmers, they do not emit gas fumes that can damage your health or the environment. And like cordless, gas-powered trimmers, they offer mobility and portability.
But unlike gas-powered trimmers, battery-powered trimmers do not require the tedious and messy task of mixing and loading fuel, nor do they need frequent engine maintenance. Furthermore, they have higher portability due to their lightweight design. Lastly, the use of rechargeable batteries will save you money in the long run compared to buying gasoline and engine oil.
Needless to say, getting a cordless trimmer is definitely worth it! Not only is it convenient, being highly portable and offering mobility, it’s also eco-friendly and safer to use because you’re not releasing toxic fumes, and you can reuse the batteries because they’re rechargeable.
BRANDS THAT MAKE THE BEST BATTERY WEED EATER & CORDLESS STRING TRIMMER
There are a lot of brands out there that are worth mentioning, but diving into all of them would take eons. So, to streamline your choosing process, I’ve narrowed the long list down into two.
EGO VS. RYOBI
Ego and Ryobi came at the top as two of the leading providers of lawnmowers and trimmers upon careful consideration of a lot of factors, such as quality, durability, reliability, reviews, and sales. Both are renowned for manufacturing high-quality tools that are perfect for your lawn upkeep needs.
EGO (Ego Power +)
Chevron, a Chinese manufacturing company established in 1993, birthed Ego Power + in 2012 to bring forth battery-operated machines in hopes to replace gas-powered ones. Ego is centered on creating Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) with highly-efficient motors or engines that rely on EGO Lithium™ batteries, promising powerful performance that rivals gas engines’ output while being more portable, with less carbon or toxic emissions, and reduced overall costs. Ego’s OPE product line includes chainsaws, mowers, riding mowers, blowers, snow blowers, hedge trimmers, edgers, string trimmers, multi-head system, portable power, batteries (and chargers), and other useful and protective accessories for outdoor activities.
Ego has an innovative line of battery-operated weed eaters that are equipped with POWERLOAD™ String Trimmer that allows the self-winding of the string into the tool. This is the feature that I find most convenient, in addition to it being battery-powered because it makes the process of replacing the string line of an Ego string trimmer much easier. It entails feeding the string into the head of the trimmer and pressing a button—you’ll be done within a minute!
The EGO POWER+ 15” POWERLOAD™ String Trimmer is a famous, high-quality product from Ego. Among the various units under this product line, ST1521S is one of the most sought one. As the name implies, it has a 15” cutting swath and is equipped with the self-winding feature. It runs on a 56V lithium battery, and you can pick a certain battery amp (2.5 amp, 4.0 amp, or 5.0 amp) from EGO’s website. Here are some more of its specs for your review:
- carbon fiber shaft
- adjustable handle
- brushless motor
- variable speed control
- dual-feed spiral twist 0.095 inches line
- with foldable and straight shaft options
- 50-minute charging time via EGO 56V Charger
- 20-minute charging time via EGO POWER+ Rapid Charger
This Ego string trimmer is highly rated on both the official website and Amazon, with an overall 4.7-star rating (over 5,000 reviews on EGO website and 372 ratings on Amazon). It’s a favourite of many because it’s very slim and well-balanced, which prevents arm fatigue even when the user isn’t wearing a strap. Furthermore, the carbon fiber shaft is a lot more durable than standard ones, which is extremely important for handheld tools. Lastly, many users noticed that the string from Ego is thicker and stronger than regular ones, decreasing the intervals between string replacements. You can get this trimmer as a kit, complete with an EGO lithium battery, or you can buy the trimmer by itself. It’s also great to note that Ego provides a 5-year tool warranty and a 3-year battery warranty.
Ryobi was formerly known as Ryobi Seisakusho Co. when the company was first launched in 1943 in Japan. Before, the focus of its production was on die-cast products but expanded later on to manufacturing offset printing presses and power tools in the 1960s. After years of work, success came to the company, and it became well-known with its new brand name, RYOBI, in various countries. Now, the brand has numerous facilities across different countries, and is licensed by Techtronic Industries Co. alongside other OEM equipment or home appliance brands like Milwaukee, Homelite, AEG Powertools, Hoover, Dirt Devil, etc.
Since Ryobi has been around a lot longer, it has a wider range of products than Ego. Ryobi’s product line includes over 175 products, which are all high-quality power tools and outdoor or lawn & garden tools. Ryobi’s power tools include inflators, compressors, metalworking tools, woodworking tools, plumbing tools, and many more. On the other hand, Ryobi’s lawn & garden tools include chargers, blowers, sprayers, chain saws, mowers, hedge trimmers, and trimmers, among many others.
Ryobi is well-known for its RYOBI 18V ONE+ System and RYOBI 40V System, both of which allow cordless tools to reach maximum performance and fade-free runtime, run by brushless motors and powered by Ryobi’s own premium lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, the string trimmer head of Ryobi tools has the REEL EASY technology, which allows the user to finish setting up a new string with just two easy steps. Simply feed the line through the head and twist it to wrap the string, and you’re done!
One example of a Ryobi weed trimmer that really is best for the money is the RYOBI RY40220. What’s amazing is that it can also double as a Ryobi edger. Here are some of its specs for your review:
- Ryobi 40V trimmer model
- carbon fiber shaft
- 13-15” cutting swath
- EXPAND-IT™ Attachment (multi-purpose; can attach other heads)
- with RYOBI 40V System and GAS-LIKE POWER™ technologies
What’s good about Ryobi is that it’s really accessible across the US and the UK because, in addition to being sold online on various platforms (Ryobi’s official site, Amazon, Home Depot, etc.), Ryobi products are also sold in physical stores of Home Depot and other mid-to small-sized hardware stores. Thus, it’s very easy to buy other head attachments, batteries, chargers, and strings if you need one ASAP, unlike other stores that can only be purchased online, which can take a while especially if the shipping process isn’t quick.
You can also easily read customers’ reviews online on Amazon, Home Depot, and Ryobi websites if you want to be reassured about the quality of Ryobi tools. So far, I have read nothing but praises from customers, which is not surprising since Ryobi tools are mostly rated 4 to 5 stars on Amazon. Like most customers, I’m really impressed with how multifunctional Ryobi tools are, combining many functions into one with their EXPAND-IT™ Attachment. However, a lot of Ryobi weed eaters can already be used for both edging and trimming even without replacing the attachments, such as this Ryobi RLT1825 ONE+ 18V Line Trimmer.
Other noteworthy brands
If for some reason, Ego and Ryobi weed eaters aren’t available in any stores near you and you don’t want to opt for buying online, you can still get yours from other brands! Of course, it’s still important to get the weed eater with quality and durability that are best for the money that you can offer, so I only included the ones that deserve some honourable mention.
- Black + Decker – Also known as “Black and Decker,” this brand produces multifunction weed eaters that can be used as trimmer or edger. These tools also have EASYFEED™ that enables easy string removal and refeeding. You should check out LSTE523, a 20V battery-powered cordless convertible trimmer and edger that has a cutting swath of 12 inches and two speed settings.
- ECHO – Echo trimmers are commercial-grade grass trimmers that have an ergonomic, lightweight design that does not fall back on performance. ECHO produces both fuel- and battery-powered weed eaters.
- Worx – This brand has an innovative line of string trimmers and lawn edgers called Worx GT Revolution that boasts a fully adjustable shaft, 7-position auxiliary handle, and 6-position pivoting head. The top-rated cordless string trimmers include the Worx GT Revolution WG170 and Worx WG163.
- Dewalt – The 60V Flexvolt string trimmer is worth a try, given its extreme power and super lightweight, cordless design. It has a cutting swath of 15 inches and retails under $350.
- Black max
What to do when the plastic strings of the trimmer become dull
Dulling of strings is inevitable when it comes to weed eaters, so don’t be alarmed if the string loses its efficiency in cutting down grass as time goes by. Since weed trimmers use relatively thin strings to produce sharp, powerful cuts against grass, these strings get worn down after a few uses. If you notice the line getting dull, cutting less grass unlike before, replace the strings immediately to avoid exhausting the power of the tool’s engine or battery. Buying new strings is more affordable in the long run. Furthermore, try to find a string that is more durable than the previous ones that you have; most of the time, the brand of your weed eater offers upgraded strings of the same size but with higher durability.
How to string a weed eater
Although there are models of weed eaters that have advanced technologies—like EGO’s POWERLOAD™ and RYOBI’s REEL EASY technology—that make string replacement quick and easy, conventional string trimmer heads usually require some time and effort to properly reload the line. Here’s how you do it:
STEP 1: Consult the user manual & find out the string requirements
- Just like how wires and cords come in different sizes, there are numerous sizes of trimmer lines, and it’s important to find out which one is compatible with the certain model of weed wacker that you have.
- Make sure to get the right string size! Never experiment with different string sizes, or else you’ll just have a broken trimmer in your hands. Weed eater lines are usually measured in inches, but some brands or shops may present the sizes in different units. You can use this SAE to metric conversion size chart, so you can easily convert from one unit of measurement to another as you shop.
- Lastly, check if the weed eater requires two strings or not. Some models work with one, while some models require two.
STEP 2: Cut the string into an appropriate length
- Match the length of the string to the length of your weed eater. Don’t cut it too short! You can always snip off a few inches if you cut it too long, but you won’t be able to connect two strings together if you cut it too short. To be sure, check the string length recommendation in the user manual.
- If the weed eater requires two strings, prepare two strings accordingly. Make sure that both strings are uniform in length.
STEP 3: Release the spool and feed the new string into it
- Release the spool gently so you can feed the line into it.
- If you can’t release the spool, this means that you have to remove the head of the trimmer. You can do this by unscrewing the head. Consult the user manual on how to remove the head properly if you can’t find the nuts.
- Look for a small hole located at the centre of the spool. Feed the string line into it, about half an inch. There should be something inside the hole that grabs onto the string. Once the string catches, it means that the string is ready for winding.
- If you can’t feel any grip, just grab one end of the string so you can load the rest of it into the spool.
- If you’re working with two strings, load one at a time!
STEP 4: Wind the string in the right direction
- Most models have arrows guides at the spool to indicate which direction you must wind the string. Following the guide, wind the string from side to side. Continue this until you complete the first layer.
- If you need to have a second layer, simply overlap the string to prevent the strings from tangling.
STEP 5: Clip the string in place and reattach the spool
- Once the string is fully wound, secure it by clipping it into the notch, which is located at the edge of the spool. Make sure that the string is indeed properly fixed in place by the notch.
- Place the spool back into the hub/head and pull the loose end of the string through the eyelets or exit holes.
- Screw the nuts back (if applicable) tightly to secure the head/spool.
And you’re done! Take the trimmer out for a quick test run to make sure that everything’s in place and working properly.