AL-KO-Combi-Care-38E-Electric-Scarifier-review

AL-KO Combi Care 38E Electric Scarifier Review

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A brand that prides itself on offering the utmost in quality, AL-KO products are made in Austria, yet are loved all over the world. I have used AL-KO lawn mowers for several years, so I imagined that their Combi Care 38E Electric Scarifier would be a natural fit for me.

AL-KO Combi Care 38E Electric Scarifier At A Glance

AL-KO Combi Care 38E Electric ScarifierAL-KO Combi Care 38E Electric Scarifier
Assembly
5
Design
5
Performance
5
Ease of Use
2.5
Noise
5
Safety
4
Value for Money
4
Overall
4.3571428571429
CHECK PRICE →
  • Working Width
    38cm
  • No. of Heights
    5
  • Weight
    17.1kg
  • Collection Capacity
    55 litres
  • Power
    1300W
  • Power Source
    Corded Electric
  • Power Cable
    12m

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How I Tested The AL-KO Combi Care 38E Electric Scarifier

I always like to check out exactly what a product is designed to do before deciding how to test it. So, I was surprised to initially see that this scarifier is marketed as a 3-in-1 model – everything else that I’ve used has been a 2-in-1. However, reading up on what these three functions are left me less-than-impressed; it scarifies, ventilates/aerates, and catches. All of the other scarifiers that I tested also caught/collected, yet they were marketed as 2-in-1 models, since their main roles were scarifying and aerating. I thought that it was a little cheeky of AL-KO to claim that this is a 3-in-1!

So, since scarifying and aerating medium to large-sized gardens were the two main purposes of this product, I chose a damp, mossy, medium-sized lawn on my farm to test this product on.

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The Results

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Assembly

5

AL-KO-Combi-Care-38E-Electric-Scarifier-review-assembly

I was pleased to see that this scarifier didn’t require much assembly (which was a good thing too, since the instruction manual wasn’t very clear) – it was up and running in about 10 minutes

All I needed to do was attach the handles with the four screws provided and connect the power lead to the machine. It was interesting that this was detachable – all of the other scarifiers I tested had their power leads built in to the machines.

Design

5

AL-KO-Combi-Care-38E-Electric-Scarifier-review-design

All of the AL-KO products that I have used, or even just seen, in the past have looked sleek, modern, and professional, and this scarifier is no exception. It not only encompasses the brand’s visual aesthetic, but its appearance stands out from the competition too. 

There are a few design features here that really help to set this machine above the rest. The first is its five height settings – other than the Hyundai, all of the other scarifiers I tested had just three or four. However, I wasn’t able to find out what these heights actually were. I searched the AL-KO website, Amazon, and several other retailer sites but never found a clear answer. This isn’t ideal for those who regularly scarify your lawn – you may be used to doing it at 9mm, but you won’t actually know which of the five height settings 9mm is on this machine. 

However, for most people, this won’t actually matter – it’ll only take a few seconds to work out which height is best for your lawn. AL-KO makes this even easier by giving you a twist dial, rather than a lever, to turn whenever you want to adjust the machine’s height – this was by far my favourite design feature. 

The working width of this scarifier is 38cm, which is wider than any of the other scarifiers I tested. Its collection bag is also noticeably larger, at 55 litres. 

I also appreciated how the machine’s handle height could be adjusted. There were three positions to choose from, meaning that people of varying heights can comfortably use the machine. 

Since this scarifier has been designed to aerate too, it comes with two interchangeable rollers. These are designed to be easily swapped around without the need for an Allen key or any other tools – something that definitely makes life much more convenient.

Performance

5

AL-KO-Combi-Care-38E-Electric-Scarifier-review-performance

Scarifier

I started with the machine on its highest setting and ran it over the grass for a few seconds, before lowering it down. The variety of heights were great – several parts of the lawn that I was scarifying were bumpy and uneven, so the height range, coupled with how easy it was to turn the dial and change the depth, helped the scarifier to perform beautifully. 

Like every good scarifier, it left my grass looking very sad once I was done, but you could clearly see healthy blades of grass within the devastation, yet there was no sign of the moss that once dominated. 

This is a machine that feels pretty powerful in your hands, yet not quite as powerful as some of the others, such as the Hyundai. However, once I learned that this machine has a 1300W motor (as opposed to Hyundai’s 1500W alternative), this made sense, although I was surprised that AL-KO didn’t spring for something a little larger considering they were clearly aiming for the higher-end market. That said, unless you’re planning on scarifying a very large lawn, 1300W is all you really need.

Aerator

As mentioned, swapping over to the aerating roller was easy. This took less time than any of the other scarifiers I tested, which is always appreciated when you’re being blasted by the chilly autumn wind. 

However, I wasn’t too impressed with how the aerator functioned. It works, but not exceptionally well – it pretty much does exactly the same thing as the scarifier. If aerating is important to you, you’d be better off with a different machine. 

Ease of Use

2.5

At 17.1kg, this was the heaviest scarifier that I tested. Its weight was definitely noticeable when trying to manoeuvre the scarifier around corners or in awkward spaces, especially once the bag started to fill up. It’s also pretty cumbersome to lift, so not a great choice for those that have to climb several steps to access their garden. 

It’s true that for some machines, extra weight can provide sturdiness and stability. This is exactly what I said about the Hyundai scarifier. However, in this case, the extra stability is lacking – you can’t leave the machine standing upright once the bag has started to fill up, as it will tip over backward. 

This could make it a blessing in disguise that the bag doesn’t ever seem to fully fill up in the first place, which makes its impressive size a little pointless. Of course, as anyone who regularly scarifies will know, you don’t need to use the collection bag – you can simply remove this and then give your lawn a rake-over once you’re done. 

All of the other scarifiers that I tested allowed for this, but I struggled with the AL-KO at first. You’ll need to use something to hold the rear guard up – if you don’t, it’ll drop down and stop the machine from releasing the thatch back onto your lawn, which means that you’ll quickly end up with a blockage. 

Onto my final gripe. As I have mentioned below, this scarifier comes with a safety button – you’ll need to press this and pull the trigger at the same time in order to turn the machine on. This is pretty standard across all scarifiers, and you can usually press and pull with one hand. However, for some reason, AL-KO has positioned their safety button in a way that makes it pretty awkward to use – it’s so far away from the trigger that you need to use two hands each time you want to turn the machine on.

Noise

5

Although I wasn’t able to find a specific sound level measurement for this scarifier (AL-KO really don’t seem keen on releasing technical data about their products!), it wasn’t noticeably louder than the others that I tested. Yes, nearby neighbours will likely hear it, but it shouldn’t be too annoying, especially if you’re only scarifying a couple of times a year. 

I didn’t feel the need to wear ear defenders when using this machine – in my opinion, it was a little quieter than the average petrol lawn mower. 

Safety

4

AL-KO-Combi-Care-38E-Electric-Scarifier-review-safety

Safety features are usually pretty standard across domestic electric scarifiers. This model comes with all of the usuals, from its bright orange, 12m cable that can easily be seen in the grass (this was the longest cable length of all the scarifiers I tested) to the safety button that needs to be pressed before the trigger can be pulled to turn the machine on.

However, unlike the other scarifiers that I tested, this one has a green light on the front of the machine. I wasn’t sure what this was for at the moment, but a quick online search taught me that this will light up if the roller is inserted incorrectly, which seems like a useful safety feature to have. 

All of that said, there are a couple of safety aspects that let this machine down. As I mentioned, it tips backward when the bag is full, which isn’t ideal. Its power lead is also a separate piece, and emerges from the side of the handles rather than the centre. I was very careful when using the machine, but show too much enthusiasm and you could end up yanking the cable out while the machine is in use.

Value for Money

4

AL-KO markets this scarifier as a higher-end model, and it comes with a price tag to match. It wasn’t the most expensive scarifier that I tested (turn to Bosch if you really want to splurge), but it’s still a significant investment, especially considering that you’ll only be using it once or twice a year. This makes its two-year manufacturer’s warranty a little pointless. 

But does it offer value for money? That would depend on what you’re looking for. If you need to both scarify and aerate your lawn and are looking for a machine that’ll effectively do both, then this isn’t it – it scarifies well, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an aerator. However, if your main goal is to scarify, and you’d like to get the job done a quickly as possible, then yes, you’ll be very happy with the value offered by this machine!

Overall

4.3571428571429

Don’t be fooled by this product’s 3-in-1 claim – it’s really more of a 2-in-1, although I wouldn’t recommend it for those who are looking for a deep and powerful aerator. However, if scarifying a medium to large garden is your main focus and you would like a machine that enables you to do this as quickly as possible (after all, I doubt that there’s anyone out there that actually enjoys aerating), then this fast worker is exactly what you need.

AL-KO Combi Care 38E Electric ScarifierAL-KO Combi Care 38E Electric Scarifier
Assembly
5
Design
5
Performance
5
Ease of Use
2.5
Noise
5
Safety
4
Value for Money
4
Overall
4.3571428571429
CHECK PRICE →

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