So much has changed in the power capacity and capability of battery-powered yard tools. Just a few years ago the thought of weed-eating a large yard with a battery-powered trimmer was something to scoff at. But as technology has evolved gasless yard tools are coming into their own and offer compelling reasons to make the switch.
Advantages of Battery-powered yard tools: Battery-powered yard tools weigh less, produce less noise, cost less over the life of the tool, and are better for the environment. Best of all, you eliminate fuel costs and the need for preventative maintenance and repair of a combustion engine.
Let’s take an objective look at the facts and consider the longterm benefits of transitioning away from fuel-based trimmers, edgers, and the like.
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Battery-Powered Yard Tools Weigh Less
Let’s begin with ergonomics. Using powered yard tools can really play havoc on your back and legs. Weight matters, especially when using tools for prolonged periods. If you have a larger yard, an extra hefting an extra pound or two can add up to some tired muscles.
I’ve looked at this extensively as I’ve aged and more and more, I’m finding compelling reasons to choose lighter weight yard tools.
Here’s an example of the weight difference between two popular blowers, one fueled by gas and the other by a battery.
Blower Weight Comparision – Gas vs. Battery.
|Stihl||BG 50||Gas||7.9 lbs.|
*Dry weight indicates no fuel. For gas engines, this means the weight without any fuel in the tank. For electric, the dry weight indicates no battery attached.
Note that I intentionally tipped the scale in favor of gas for this comparison. I chose the entry-level homeowner model for Stihl. Greenworks makes a lighter, 40v model but I selected the heavier 80v model for this comparison. Still, the battery-powered blower comes in at over two pounds less.
Here’s another example, this time pitting an entry-level Stihl gas trimmer against Worx 56v battery model.
Trimmer Weight Comparision – Gas vs. Battery.
|Stihl||FS 38||Gas||9.3 lbs.|
With a full 3 pounds of difference between them, there is no question that the battery-powered model is going to result in less back strain and discomfort during prolonged use.
But maybe your thinking “you’re just cherry-picking. This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison”.
Fair enough. Let’s compare the entry-level gas trimmer against the entry-level battery model from the same company:
Stihl Gas vs Battery Trimmer Weight Comparision
|FS 38||Gas||9.3 lbs. without fuel|
|FSA 45||Battery||5.1 lbs. with battery!|
Even in this faceoff, the battery model comes in significantly lighter than a combustion engine comparison. And we even tipped the scales by adding the battery. Still, over 4 pounds lighter.
Battery-Powered Yard Tools Produce Less Noise
Repeated exposure to gas-powered engine noise puts you at a higher risk of hearing loss. This is especially true of professional landscapers who are exposed daily.
In fact, the World Health Organization cites an increased risk of hearing loss with noise decibels exceeding 75 dba but a blower with a rating of 75 can actually reach up to 100 decibels for the user who is right next to the engine (source).
If you are using gas-powered yard tools, it is recommended that you always wear hearing protection. I use inexpensive noise-canceling headphones anytime I’m mowing or doing tractor work. But you can further reduce your risk by choosing battery-powered yard tools.
Consumer and city concerns over noise have increased in recent years with many city ordinances being introduced to limit or even ban gas-powered yard tools (source). Manufacturers are taking notice and working to create quieter gas-powered solutions.
Below is a video outlining the concerns and innovative technologies that are being used to reduce the noise levels of gas-powered yard tools. Featured in this video is the ECHO Quiet Leaf Blower.
But at the end of the day, even a “quiet” gas-powered yard tool is still going to be louder than battery-powered.
Granted, leaf blowers are all loud. But there is a distinct difference in the noise levels and type of noise between them. In 2018, a comprehensive study was conducted as part of the Leaf Blower Regulation Amendment Act of 2017. The study involved a mixture of both gas and battery blowers. The study concluded with the following findings:
- Gas blowers produce more low-frequency noise.
- Low-frequency noise travels further and was audible up to 800 ft away.
- The low-frequency noise from gas blowers was heard more loudly in homes than the battery blowers.
No matter how you cut it, battery-powered is quieter.
Lower Cost Over Life Of The Tool
This one is interesting and has really gotten me to thinking about initial costs vs return on investment.
The folks over at Wisebread took the time to do the math between a gas-powered mower and an electric alternative. They accounted for initial investment, operating and maintenance costs, and summed up total costs assuming 10-year ownership.
In the end, their calculations showed that the owner of a battery-powered mower would save more than $200 over the life of the tool compared to a gas mower during the 10-year run (source). Savings on a corded electric option were even higher but beyond the scope of this article.
EGO is staking its claim in the battery-powered yard tool market with its Power+ series of high powered yard tools. From mowers to trimmers and everything in between, EGO offers gasoline alternative solutions for homeowners.
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Eliminate Fuel Costs (And Related Repairs)
We’ve all gotten up early on a Saturday morning ready to get to work on our yard only to find out that we were out of gas or some other mechanical issue had stepped in to ruin our day.
Fouled spark plugs, clogged up carburetors, and that mysterious but frustrating “it just won’t start” all become things of the past when you move to battery-powered yard tools.
These issues are all related to fuel. You can reduce a lot of those headaches by using ethanol-free fuel. But even then you will deal with fuel costs and repair headaches, which leads us to the next benefit…
There’s just less work to do on a battery-powered tool to maintain it. A string trimmer still needs the string and yes, you do have to charge the batteries. But all in all, you just end up spending less time working on the tool and more time actually using it.
I’ve been struggling with this recently as I am the proud owner of a Stihl Kombisystem multi-attachment tool. I’m pretty heavily invested into the system and while I have no regrets, it’s heavy and I do have to do my regular preventative maintenance on it.
I’ve been eying EGO’s multi-attachment tool on Amazon and while I can’t say I have buyer’s regret, there’s a part of me that really wants to make the switch.
If you are in the market for new tools, going battery these days is pretty much a no-brainer. If your existing tools still have several years of life in them, however, it comes down to deciding if you want to go through the hassle of selling them to upgrade.
Battery-Powered Is Better For The Environment
I realize that a carbon footprint is not at the top of everyone’s list but this list would be incomplete if I did not mention the environmental impact of ditching gas-powered yard tools.
Gas lawncare engines account for around 2 billion gallons of fuel used each year and producing over 13 billion pounds of air pollution (source).
The emissions produced by small outdoor engines is actually staggering. This video demonstrates emissions testing of a 50cc leaf blower against a Ford Raptor pickup truck.
The list of environmental implications is endless. The EPA conducted an in-depth study in 2015 that showed a significant contribution of toxic emissions in the environment as a result of gas-powered yard tools (source).
So even if cost over life, weight, or another benefit is leaning you toward battery-powered options, you will have the peace of mind knowing that your choice is an environmentally-conscious one.
Battery-powered yard tools offer important benefits for homeowners who value lighter weight, less noise and eliminating fuel and maintenance costs. But is a battery model the right choice for you?
There’s one more consideration that you need to take into account.
By and large, gas engine yard tools are generally more powerful than battery models. The extent to which this matters, however, depends largely on its intended use.
I’ve owned a Greenworks chainsaw for a few years and, while I wouldn’t attempt to cut down a 60-foot tall oak, it’s a great solution for limbs and small trees. And so, in the end, it comes down to intended use as much as anything else.
But don’t count battery-models out on performance just yet. In a side-by-side study conducted by Consumer Reports, they found that performance was nearly identical between the gas and battery models (source). And the technology keeps improving.
Manufacturers such as Stihl are even developing battery-powered alternatives aimed specifically at professionals. And so, the future is very bright for gasoline-alternative yard tools.
These days, unless you are a hard-core landscaping machine, you will probably be pleasantly surprised with your battery-powered options.
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