How to Choose The Best Corded Electric Strimmer
Using a corded strimmer is a great way to achieve a neat and tidy lawn, with much less time and effort required than using lawn shears or scissors.
There are a lot of strimmers on the market, from petrol-powered, to mains-powered, to cordless models. Corded trimmers are a great option if you don’t want to deal with the weight of a petrol model, or the hassle of charging batteries for a cordless strimmer.
Some of the best corded electric strimmers can produce similar levels of power as low-range petrol models, which is great news if you prefer electric tools. If you don’t need that much power, there are also lighter, more manageable corded strimmers available.
If you’re after a new corded grass trimmer, there are a few things to bear in mind to make sure you’re getting the best one. The information below should give you a good idea of what to look out for.
How Grass Trimmers Work
Grass strimmers tend to use either a cutting line or cutting blades. Knowing the difference between these two mechanisms will help you select the best strimmer for your needs.
Cutting Line Strimmers
Strimmers that use a cutting line have either one or two lines of nylon string inside the head. This usually comes included, although this is not always the case.
Nylon string doesn’t sound particularly powerful; however, when the strimmer is moving, the string becomes stiff and blade-like (due to centrifugal force).
As the nylon line wears down, fresh line needs to be fed into the cutting head from the spool. This is either done manually, automatically, or semi-automatically.
‘Bump feed’ strimmers require the users to ‘bump’ the end of the strimmer on the ground to release more line. This means that you are in control of when to release more line, preventing wastage.
‘Automatic feed’ trimmers release more line each time the machine is turned on. The line will always be sharp, but this method can lead to some waste. This is especially an issue if you are using a cordless strimmer, where the machine will be turned on and off again as you move around the garden to save battery.
While the automatic system is less effort for the user, you may end up spending more money on strimmer line, as you get through it a lot faster.
There are also single-line and double-line strimmers. Single line strimmers have less cutting force, so are better for lighter tasks. Double-line strimmers are very strong and can cut through thicker vegetation. But be warned – they can also damage tree trunks, flower pots or fencing if you get too close.
Bladed strimmers have two (or more) nylon blades fitted on the head. These generate a lot of cutting power as they spin.
The blades are replaceable and will need changing approximately every 2 hours. However, just like the nylon string, the blades are not sharp or dangerous when not in use. It is only when they are spinning that they generate cutting power.
Bladed strimmers usually come with a number of spare blades included, and they can also be sourced easily online.
There is no particular benefit to using either blades or string. Both options are available to buy in different thicknesses to help with tougher jobs. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Some gardeners prefer using blades because they don’t like messing about with nylon string, but others find the string easier to use.
How to Use a Corded Electric Strimmer
Corded strimmers require less organisation than battery powered or petrol powered strimmers. There’s no need to mix fuel, nor charge the battery in advance. You’ll be able to use your strimmer whenever you like.
Using a corded trimmer should be very intuitive. There’s a simple start button which will get the motor going, and many have a safety switch as well as a start trigger. Once the motor is running, simply push on the start trigger (and the safety button if needed) to start the trimmer.
It may take a little trial and error at first to work out where the cutting line is, but it shouldn’t take you too long to master using your new strimmer.
One side of the strimmer is used to cut, while debris shoots out of the other side. Move slowly and tackle tougher plants in sections if needed. Keep away from bricks, small fences, garden ornaments and other obstacles. Not only can these break the strimmer line if you hit them, they are also a trip hazard, and tripping over while holding a strimmer (especially one without a safety switch) can be very dangerous.
Corded vs Battery-Powered Strimmers
Both corded and battery powered strimmers are suitable for domestic use. Petrol models are generally used in professional environments, although they can be used at home too. There are pros and cons to each type of strimmers.
These tend to be more powerful than battery powered strimmers and there’s no battery to run down. They can be used for an unlimited amount of time, better suited to heavy duty tasks than battery powered models.
The downside to a mains powered strimmer is that you will be limited by cord length. The maximum cord length you’ll find is around 10 m, so you’ll need an extension cable if you’ve got an awkward shaped garden or a very large lawn.
The other thing to note is that it can be easy to accidentally slice through the mains cable! This is an unnecessary expense, so while moving around the garden you’ll need to be thinking about the location of the cable, as well as what you’re doing with the strimmer.
Cordless strimmers, unlike mains powered models, can only be used for a certain amount of time before they run out of power. Some have a battery that lasts 20 minutes, while others may last up to 40.
Cordless strimmers are easier to manoeuvre than corded models, as there’s no potentially hazardous cord to worry about. This can make them useful for reaching the back of larger gardens, as well as for bringing out just for doing odd jobs without messing around with a power cable.
The downside to cordless models is that they need regular charging, and they generally aren’t quite as powerful as mains-powered models.
Choosing the Most Comfortable Design
A comfortable strimmer will be a lot safer, so ensure you look out for these key features:
- Ergonomic handles – a comfortable, grippy and ergonomic handle is worth looking out for. A second handle further down the shaft (often adjustable) will allow you to create neater lines as you’ll be able to hold the strimmer more steadily. This handle will also balance the weight, helping to prevent fatigue.
- Telescopic shaft – Not all strimmers have a telescopic shaft, but it’s a good feature to look for. This will allow your strimmer to be used comfortably by users of all heights, saving backache.
- Your preferred cutting style. Whether you like to use blades or cutting line, make sure you’re buying a strimmer that is compatible with your preferred method.
Wearing the Correct Attire
Your first priority when using a strimmer should be staying safe.
Protective clothing such as ear defenders, sturdy boots and protective glasses should always be worn. Corded models, although not as noisy as petrol models, can still be very loud. Also, tempting though it might be, strimming whilst wearing open-toed shoes is an absolute no-no – need I say more!
Also, strimmers can throw up stones and sharp objects, so safety glasses will protect your eyes.
You should also avoid loose-fitting clothes that may get caught in the strimmer, and you should wear gloves to protect your hands.
Before using your strimmer, ensure you know how to use it safely, and take frequent breaks to prevent fatigue.
Corded Electric Strimmer FAQs
How do I replace the cutting line on my grass strimmer?
The method can vary from strimmer to strimmer, so always retain the instruction booklet and follow the specific instructions for your strimmer carefully. However, a general guide is as follows:
- Turn off and unplug the strimmer
- Remove the casing on the head and place the new cutting line on the spool’s starter hole, winding it around the directional arrows
- When you reach maximum capacity or the end of the line, cut it with around 15 cm spare and fix the end into the spool’s eyelets
- Put the spool back in, making sure that the line matches up with any outer eyelets
- Replace the strimmer casing
Which is better for releasing cutting line – a ‘bump feed’ system or ‘automatic feed’?
This usually comes down to personal preference.
Bump feed systems require the user to bump the head of the strimmer onto the ground to prompt more line to be released.
This gives you more control over when the line is used, leading to less wastage. The downside is that these mechanisms can break easily, especially on poorer quality models.
Automatic feed systems release more spool every time the strimmer is switched on. While very reliable, you may find you use a lot more line than you need, leading to more expense.
If you don’t want any hassle, opt for an automatic line feed. If you’re more concerned about costs and wasting line unnecessarily, go for a bump-feed system.