Are you are turned off by the idea of having a garage full of gas-powered yard tools that all require maintenance? Not quite ready to make the move to electric tools just yet? If so, then you may be eying Stihl’s multi-functional KombiSystem.
The idea of having the lawn tool equivalent of Transformers is enticing! It can be changed on the fly from being a trimmer to a tiller to a limb saw, to, well, many other tools. That’s a concept that will make a lawncare fanatic drool.
Is the Stihl KombiSystem any good? As a multi-use yard tool, the Stihl KombiSystem is the most versatile lawn care tool on the market. The system has attachments available for trimming, sawing, tilling, and much more and is backed with the reputation and reliability of Stihl.
But hold on a second before you grab your wallet and speed to the nearest Stihl dealer. I’ve been using this yard tool for years and have had the time to really get to know what there is to love and to loathe.
Let’s have an objective look at the features, capabilities, benefits, and shortcomings of this multi-tool on steroids.
Note: This article deals primarily with the gas-powered system. There is also a battery-powered Kombisystem offered by Stihl. While most of the general advantages and disadvantages apply to both, certain aspects mentioned are specific to the gas version.
What Is The Stihl KombiSystem?
The Stihl KombiSystem is a powered yard tool consisting of a motorhead with interchangeable attachments. The motorhead looks like the end of a trimmer. The shaft, however, separates to allow different attachments to be connected.
So, you get the benefit of multiple yard tools with only one motorhead to maintain.
The shaft of the attachments insert into the motorhead’s shaft and lock in place, allowing for a reliable and secure connection. A hand-tightening knob allows for additional security of the connection.
Arrows line up to reassure the user that the attachment is inserted correctly, however, I find no way to the system to allow an incorrect alignment. If nothing else, these arrows help the user guide the attachment into place.
Advantages Of The Stihl KombiSystem
There are four primary advantages to the Stihl KombiSystem over owning separate powered yard tools. These advantages are:
- Can Be Expanded To Grow With Your Needs
- Only one motor to maintain
- Potential to save space compared to multiple tools
- The reliability of the Stihl brand
Let’s quickly go over each of these benefits and then we’ll give due attention to some of the inherent challenges that this system poses.
The Stihl KombiSystem Can Grow With Your Needs
The tools that you need today may not be sufficient for the yard work you need to do tomorrow. The Stihl KombiSystem has a unique advantage of being able to expand in its capabilities based on the needs of the user.
Suddenly find yourself needing to trim low hanging limbs? Add a limb trimmer attachment. Have some heavy brush that is too thick for a traditional trimmer? The metal blade of the brush cutting attachment will solve that problem.
This is the single greatest appeal and a valid reason to consider the KombiSystem. It can grow with your lawn care needs as you embark on larger projects.
Only One Motor To Maintain
A garage full of gas-powered yard equipment means multiple opportunities for breakdowns. It’s also more gas to buy.
The Stihl KombiSystem compartmentalizes engine maintenance with a single motorhead. Keep that one engine running smoothly and all of your yard tools are ready for a weekend of work.
Space-Saving Design Compared To Multiple Tools
Since the attachments are smaller than individual powered yard tools, you have the potential to save space in your garage when it comes to storing everything. I say “potential” because the attachments aren’t exactly small.
Each one will require some space but compared to storing individual tools there are a lot of opportunities. Especially if you come up with some creative storage solutions.
Reliability And Service Of A Stihl Tool
If there’s one thing that Stihl is known for, it’s reliability. Having a single tool that you know is going to start and will provide you with the capability to tackle almost any yard project that you take on (with the right attachment) is probably the greatest allure of this system.
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve come to take for granted that when I pull out my Stihl KombiSystem, it will start. I never worry about having issues with it and I have two acres that I really put it through the paces through time and again.
Without fail, it starts and keeps going. And that, in the end, is what makes the Stihl brand worth the money for many professionals and homeowners.
For a better understanding of the trust that Stihl has gained with both consumer and professional markets, read Are Stihl Trimmers Worth The Money? Cost Vs. Benefit Review.
Disadvantages Of The Stihl KombiSystem
No system is perfect. After two years of living with the Stihl KombiSystem, I’ve come to realize that there are at least two critical disadvantages of this system.
One Engine Problem Stops Your Entire Yard Project
It hasn’t happened to me yet but I realize that on any given Saturday morning, my entire weekend yard work plans could be curtailed. Depending on a single motor to power all of your yard tools puts you in a position of vulnerability.
You are entirely dependant on that motor starting. If something goes wrong, any yard improvement plans that were dependant on one of the attachments is delayed. One engine failure could ruin your entire weekend.
PS – There are some real advantages to battery-powered yard tools if you don’t want to deal with small engines at all.
Can Be Expensive Compared To Purchasing Tools Separately
If you are thinking that the Stihl KombiSystem will save you money compared to purchasing separate powered yard tools, you may be disappointed. The attachments aren’t cheap. They are built to last and quality comes at a price.
This doesn’t mean that the system isn’t worth the money, it just means that choosing the KombiSystem should not be based strictly on budget.
Cost Breakdown Of The Stihl KombiSystem Compared To Buying Individual Tools
To give you an idea of the cost of this system compared to individual tools, here’s a sample of costs from Northern Tool, an authorized Stihl dealer.
Here’s how it broke down when looking to purchase the motorhead and four attachments.
|Motorhead||KM 56 RC-E||$199.99|
|Line Head Trimmer Attachment||FS KM||$99.99|
|Cultivator (tiller) Attachment||BF KM||$199.99|
|Brush Cutter Attachment||KM GSB||$99.99|
|Blower Attachment||BG KM||$142.95|
|Total Cost of System||$742.91|
As you can see, the cost of entry for this system is high with the motorhead section costing around $200 and that’s before buying any attachments so that you can use it!
In addition, comparable powered yard tools can be bought at competitive pricing for many of these attachments. For example, you can purchase a Hitachi RB24EAP Gas Powered Leaf Blower on Amazon for significantly less than the cost of the blower attachment.
And as for yard trimmers, there are a ton of options out there. Granted, they may not offer the same level of quality and durability that Stihl offers but if the price is a primary factor for you, there are a lot of alternatives.
The point is this: The Stihl KombiSystem should not be chosen as a budget-solution to yard care. It should be chosen because it makes sense for your situation given the advantages and known shortcomings when compared to individual tools.
I’ve never had any regrets investing in the Stihl KombiSystem. It meets my needs and provides me with the performance and reliability that I expect from a premium product. I abhor engine maintenance so having one motor for all of my yard tools is perfect for my situation.
But this system is not for everyone. I recommend you stop by your local Stihl dealer and put your hands on the motorhead with a couple of the attachments connected. Get a feel for the weight of it and do the math to determine if it’s the right solution for your needs.
If you are wanting a multi-attachment system but aren’t sure that Stihl is the brand you want to go with, read my comprehensive review of the Best Multi-Attachment Yard Tools & Kombisystem Alternatives.
Be sure to read Are Stihl Trimmers Worth The Money? Cost Vs. Benefit Review