Electric vs Gas String Trimmers
When we talk about electric and gas-powered string trimmers, there is in fact another differentiation; electric models can come as corded-electric, running on electrical power from a socket, or as a battery-powered variation. These 3 diverse types of machine essentially perform the same function, but each has their own advantages and disadvantages.
Common features of all string trimmers
String trimmers feature a flexible monofilament line, circulating at a high RPM, to trim away greenery, rather than using blades. They can be used to shape greenery in areas that a lawn mower cannot reach, either up high or close to fences and foundations, and are ideal for creating a neat edge alongside paths or flowerbeds.
In terms of design, most are extremely similar, featuring a long-reach handle, with the motor or engine mounted on the handle for balance, and the monofilament line mounted at the front. This ergonomic design makes it easy to reach spots that are near or far, without becoming unbalanced.
Gas-powered string trimmer – Pros and cons
Gas-powered string trimmers require fuel to operate, which is typically either gasoline, oil, or a combination of the two. This results in more ongoing maintenance; the machine should never be stored long-term with gas or oil still inside of the engine, as it can lead to undue corrosion and wear of components, according to Stihl.
What's more, when draining fuel and oil from the engine prior to storage, there's a potential for both general mess and ground contamination. You’ll also need to ensure proper disposal of any gas and oil compound that cannot be reused within a vehicle.
Another drawback to the use of gasoline and oil is that these machines generate strong emissions and fumes that can have a negative impact on the environment.
You’ll also need to budget for an annual checkup of the gasoline motor, and items such as spark plugs, fuel filters etc. will need to be replaced on a regular basis, all of which adds to the running costs.
There are two main advantages to using a string trimmer powered by gasoline, or gas and oil. The first is the power afforded to the machine by a gas engine, which is usually impossible to match with electric, be that AC or battery power. Secondly, the lack of any cords means that both your reach is unhindered, and your session is not limited by a battery running flat.
This video demonstrates some of the differences between gas and cordless trimmers:
Corded-electric string trimmer – Pros and cons
One of two types of electric-powered string trimmers, a corded-electric machine runs on AC mains power, and uses an extension cord plugged into an outdoor power outlet. This is one the main limitations of the device, as it limits the reach of the machine; unless you have a nearby electrical outlet, you will be unable to take the trimmer as far or as high as you could do with a gasoline-powered model.
Additionally, corded-electric string trimmers come with less power under the hood when compared to their gasoline counterparts. Though it varies from model to model, you’ll struggle to find a machine that matches on raw power and cutting ability.
However, there are also advantages to using the electric-corded variety over, for example, a gasoline model. One of the main pros is for the environment-conscious among us, as they do not give off fumes, nor do they risk ground contamination through chemicals. They also avoid producing as much noise pollution. Finally, the overall running costs are lower than gasoline power, and there’s less routine cleaning and maintenance.
Cordless-electric string trimmer – Pros and cons
There is a third option available, which is the cordless-electric string trimmer. These typically run on a lithium ion battery, around 40 volts, which can easily be charged overnight and provide enough juice for an average trimming session. The use of a battery carries the advantage of doing away with toxic fumes and noise pollution, while simultaneously avoiding the limitations posed by a cord connected to a main outlet.
However, battery-powered string trimmers also have their own drawbacks. Like corded-electric models, the batteries used to power these trimmers lack something in the way of power when compared to gasoline units. The batteries also tend to degrade faster than you might think, resulting in a need for regular replacements. In general, these machines are designed mostly for small areas and reasonably quick sessions.
If you’re looking for the cheapest option, go with a corded electric trimmer.
If you don’t have an outdoor power outlet within about 100 feet of where you need to trim, go with either a battery- or gasoline-powered trimmer.
If ultimate power is required, you’ll need a gasoline-powered trimmer, as they are more powerful than battery-powered models.