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I'm looking to pick up a cordless trimmer/weed-eater. I have a bit of an anti-noise bias, so I'm hoping to find something that's electric cordless, not a gas-powered one.

Are there any trimmers of that sort that have decent power and battery life? Or is the very nature of the tool such that a cordless electric version won't be satisfactory?

For what it's worth, I have a fairly small yard ~ 1/3 acre.

Edit

Gave the Black and Decker a whirl, and it was perfect - one battery on full charge, and I didn't even run it down doing the whole yard.

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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I own this cordless string trimmer: Black and Decker NST2018 ($100)

It comes with two batteries, so if the first one goes dead, you can pop in the second one and keep going. (Always keep the spare one in the charger!)

I am happy with its performance. My lot is 0.35 acres. I use it to trim along my driveway, sidewalk, swing set, and a few flower beds. I don't have a fence around my lot, or anything that requires extended use. My usual trimming routine takes ~30 minutes, not counting cleanup. I can usually finish the trimming in a single battery charge. If I have neglected the yard for a while, it might take 1.5 battery charges to do everything.

It has an auto-string feed, which hasn't failed me yet.

You can rotate the trimmer 90 degrees to do edging work. I do this along the edge of my sidewalk and driveway. Makes a really "sharp" line, which looks nice.

It is pretty convenient to use. No cords to drag around the yard, no engine to service.

However the battery does have its limits. It starts out with decent power, but as the battery starts to wear down in the last few minutes, the motor RPMs will decrease. It will still trim, just not as well. If I had a larger lot, or a fence, or more things to trim around (garden, lots of landscaping features, etc), I would probably need something more powerful. If your trimming routine is similar to mine, it should be OK for you.

My string trimmer is part of a larger Black and Decker 18V Yard System. I also own the hedge trimmer and leaf blower from the set. Since the batteries are interchangeable, I have plenty of spares and chargers. Do you need other yard power tools? If so, consider getting a set with interchangeable batteries.

When I got my yard tools, the Lithium Battery stuff was still pretty new, and no one was offering an interchangeable set. Now there are at least a few on the market, so you may want to consider them over what I have. Have never used one though, so I can't make a specific recommendation.

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It's good to see a different perspective - I think your answer more suits the OP's question +1 –  Doresoom Aug 16 '10 at 4:32
    
I had a cordless back in the day when the batteries were big, heavy, expensive lead-acid affairs that never held a charge for more than 30 minutes and usually only lasted 1-2 years. Li-Ion definitely sounds promising. :) –  GalacticCowboy Aug 16 '10 at 13:10
    
This was one I was looking at. I think I'll pick it up this afternoon and give it a try... –  cori Aug 16 '10 at 19:31
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I picked up a basic Craftsman model at Sears a few months ago and have been very happy with it. The battery still holds enough charge to do the whole yard twice. Much easier to throw a battery on a charger for a couple hours than to have to mess around with a liquid fuel source. It's also quite light. Not as powerful as a gas model of course, but it gets the job done just fine!

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I've never used a cordless trimmer, but from the reviews that I read online, I decided against the cordless option. Problems I've read about include a short battery life and not enough power. If you've got a long fence line like I do, the battery life is a big drawback. (Just for reference, I've got ~1/2 acre, mostly fenced.) And if you tend to let your grass get a little long between mowings, then the power issue is a big drawback. On the other hand, most consumer-use gas trimmers are in the $200+ range (some in the $100's) and I've seen corded or cordless electric trimmers for $40. So I guess it boils down to cost vs. performance.

I recently purchased an Echo SRM-225 after quite a bit of research, so I might be a little bit biased, but I'm not in the least bit disappointed by it. I did spring for a nicer gas powered trimmer, so you might not see as much of a difference between a cheap gas powered one and an electric one.

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At your size of lot, especially with lots of fencing to trim around, I don't think my Black and Decker cordless trimmer (see my answer) would be able to handle it. Not sure amount the new Lithium ones though. –  msemack Aug 16 '10 at 13:34
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I've found that electric (and especially coordless) trimmers arn't powerful enough to do the kind of edging I want (and especially since I don't cut the grass often enough). I don't like the noise (or the extra pollution from the two cycle engine that burns the oil and gas) but it was the only option . . . until now!

My next trimmer will be propane powered! I saw a Craftsman version but I really like the ones y Lehr (although I don't like how they use the "eco" branding . . . looks too much like Echo, the maker of my current trimmer).

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I agree. I had an electric and then bought a $50 2-stroke weed wacker. not the same tool. I've got to wear pants while using the thing whereas before I got away with shorts. Will have to check out the propane option if the one I have goes bad. –  mmccoo Aug 18 '10 at 4:25
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