Things to Know Before Buying a Cordless Strimmer
Using a cordless strimmer is an excellent way to achieve a tidy lawn, with none of the back-breaking effort of using lawn shears or scissors.
Compared to other designs, cordless strimmers are one of the best options to go for – you’re not held back by a mains cable, or the weight of a petrol machine.
Often, mains-powered tools need to be used with an extension cable in the garden, and this can sometimes be too much to bother with. It’s always a better idea to have a tool that you won’t put off using, and cordless strimmers save a lot of hassle. Ultimately, if the strimmer is easy to use and it’s comfortable – you’re more likely to use it.
Are you in the market for a new garden strimmer? It’s worth considering a few factors before making a purchase. Check out the tips below to help you make an informed decision:
How Garden Strimmers Work
Garden strimmers tend to cut using either a cutting line, or cutting blades.
Cutting Line Strimmers
Models that use a cutting line generally have one or two lines of nylon line inside the head of the strimmer. The strimmers work using centrifugal force. The line is no good for cutting when at rest, but it becomes stiff and blade-like when it spins quickly.
Single-line strimmers have less cutting force than double-line strimmers, but sometimes that isn’t a bad thing. The best design for you will depend on what jobs you’re doing; some people find strimmers with a double cutting line to be too strong, as they can damage tree trunks, flower pots or fencing if you get too close.
As the line wears down, new line needs to be fed into the cutting head from the spool. Sometimes this is done manually, but most strimmers have a system in place to make this process automatic or semi-automatic.
There are two main systems for distributing more line: ‘bump feed’ and ‘automatic feed’.
Cutting-line strimmers with a ‘bump feed’ system require you to ‘bump’ the strimmer on the ground to release more line. This means that you’re in control of when to release more line, and can help control how quickly line is used.
‘Automatic feed’ strimmers release more line each time the machine is turned back on. In principle this makes sense; however, it can sometimes result in going through line much faster. Imagine – if you’re using a cordless strimmer, you’ll likely keep turning off the unit as you move around the garden to save battery, and then when you turn it on, new line will automatically be released.
Some people prefer the automatic system to the ‘bump feed’ system, you just need to be aware that it could use more line.
A design which is slowly growing in popularity, bladed strimmers generally have two nylon blades on the head of the strimmer which spin at significant speed. As they spin, they generate a lot of cutting power.
The blades are replaceable, and generally you’ll need to replace a blade every couple of hours use. This is because they can get damaged, and occasionally they’ll come off and get lost in the garden. Generally, about 10 – 20 spare blades will come included with the strimmer, with replacement packs of around 30 blades available for about £10 online.
In terms of cutting power, blades and cutting line are pretty evenly matched. Some gardeners have grown tired of messing with cutting line and prefer the bladed models, but others don’t enjoy having to replace the blades.
The Benefits of Using a Cordless Strimmer
Cordless strimmers make it easier to move around the garden to access patches of grass that the lawnmower can’t reach. As with all strimmers, they create light work of cutting grass, with some models even being capable of tackling brambles and heavier undergrowth.
The added benefit of a cordless strimmer, of course, is that you are not restricted by the length of the power cable. And having the use extension cables? Forget it! Tripping hazards are a thing of the past with cordless strimmers. Plus, you can even use them out on the allotment without having to mess around with generators and the like.
Many cordless strimmers also have wheel-guide edging attachments, which means they can be used to neatly edge borders anywhere in the garden. If you’re mowing the garden and spot some untidy edges, you can be safe in the knowledge that you can get them later when you go round with the strimmer. No matter where it is, with no cables in sight, and using only one multi-functional tool.
How to Use a Cordless Strimmer
Cordless strimmers naturally require you to be slightly more organised compared to mains-powered tools – charging the battery needs to be done in advance to avoid disappointment when it’s time to tackle the garden.
If you don’t wear the battery all the way down, you’re unlikely to need to recharge it before using it again; the lithium-ion batteries used in cordless tools hold their charge relatively well. Of course, charging before use will make sure that you get the most run-time possible from your cordless machine.
Generally speaking, using a cordless strimmer is quite intuitive. There is usually a simple start button which will start the motor going. It may take a bit of practise, and trial and error, to work out where the cutting line is, but this doesn’t take long.
One side of the strimmer will host the cutting edge, and debris will shoot out from the other side. Experiment until you know which is which, otherwise you’ll walk against the cutting direction.
Go slowly with the strimmer regardless of whether it’s an edging job or a tougher task – rushing can cause an uneven cut (and can also be dangerous) so it’s better to take your time to avoid having to go back over the same spot twice.
Finally, look out for tripping hazards. Bricks, small fences, garden ornaments, cats, dogs and small children can all trip you up when you’re concentrating on creating a perfect line! Best to clear the parameters first just to be sure.
Why Choose Cordless Over Mains Powered?
As discussed, both cordless and mains-powered strimmers are available. Petrol models are available too, although they’re generally not necessary for domestic use, so here we’re going to mainly focus on electric models.
Firstly, a look at the main features of each style:
Mains-Powered strimmers plug into the mains. They are powerful and there’s no battery to run down – their run-time is essentially limitless.
However, corded strimmers can cause problems sometimes. Some people worry about cutting the cord with the strimmer, which is an understandable concern. Also, as mentioned several times above, mains-powered strimmers limit you in terms of where you can go in the garden. Generally, they have a mains cable of up to 10 m long, so for anything bigger than a small garden, or for reaching awkward places, an extension cable will be needed.
Cordless strimmers are battery powered so have a limited amount of run-time before you need to stop and charge them. However, the batteries generally last around 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the job, which is a reasonable amount of time for getting a lot done.
Cordless strimmers can be much easier to manoeuvre than their corded counterparts. Not only is there no potentially-hazardous cord to accidentally cut or trip over, but there’s no cord restricting your movement either.
Petrol strimmers are heavier but more powerful than electric models. They tend to be quite noisy, often requiring ear protectors to be worn, and aren’t great for the environment. As a result, they only really need to be used in more professional settings where this sort of powerful tool is required.
Comparing mains-powered strimmers with cordless ones, some consideration will come down to personal preference; however, cordless strimmers are starting to dominate the market over mains-powered options and there are some pretty clear reasons why.
The battery run-time of cordless tools has greatly improved over the last couple of years, with the majority of cordless strimmers able to run for at least 30 minutes. Some have a run-time of up to an hour and, if you buy more batteries, you can swap them for charged ones to continue with the job. There are few strimming jobs that will really require more time than this, maybe cordless a no brainer for a lot of people.
Plus, the power capabilities of cordless strimmers are a lot better than they were. Now it’s not only petrol or mains-powered models that can cut through thicker undergrowth and weeds – a lot of cordless models can do this too.
Choosing the Most Comfortable Strimmer Design
Here are a few things to look out for when choosing the best garden strimmer for you:
- Handles – an ergonomic handle is a great plus, and a second handle further down the shaft makes strimming much easier. The second handle balances out the weight to avoid ending up with one aching arm. The design of the second handle can differ, and some people find a real handle more comfortable than just a raised hand-hold.
- Telescopic shaft – Adjustable shafts help you find the perfect working height and save on backache. More powerful strimmers should have a longer reach so you can hold them away from your toes. (This is a good place to say you should never strim the lawn in flip flops. Always wear sturdy boots!)
- Auto-feed spool – this makes it easier to release more line when the existing line gets worn. You simply turn on the machine and new line is released. Other line-feed options include:
- Bump-feed spool: you need to bump the head of the strimmer on the ground to release more line.
- Manual spool: the user manually pulls the line out
Wearing the Correct Attire
Protective clothing such as ear defenders for louder, powerful motors can be useful, particularly if the job is going to take a while.
Sturdy boots are a must, and avoid wearing loose trailing clothes that could get caught in the strimmer.
If you’re cutting overgrown areas, protective glasses are important because strimmers can throw up stones and other sharp objects.
Strimmers and Wildlife
It would be remiss not to mention the injuries strimmers can inflict on harmless wildlife.
They are great bits of kit, but use them mindfully to avoid inflicting unnecessary damage and pain.
Always rake through long grass or undergrowth first, before using a strimmer. This gives hedgehogs, frogs, toads, grass snakes, newts, mice and all our native wildlife a chance to escape.
Bear in mind that creatures like hedgehogs would rather curl up to avoid danger, so watch what you’re doing and never put a strimmer somewhere you can’t see the cutting line.
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