UK based Futura Direct are a leading retailer of all sorts of gadgets, tools, and things for the garden. Their Terratek 550 Watt Long Reach Hedge Trimmer is an ideal budget garden power tool for reaching those high bushes and awkward trees. Supplied with a monster length cable and lightweight body, it means you can ditch the batteries and give your arms a bit of a rest.
Terratek 550W Long Reach Hedge Trimmer At A Glance
- Max. Branch Width16 mm
- Max. Pole Length2.75m
- Weight4.9 kg
- Power550 W
- Degree of Rotation120°
- Blade Length45 cm
- Shoulder StrapYes
- Safety TriggerYes
How I Tested The Terratek 550W Long Reach Hedge Trimmer
I don’t have a 100 metre long extension cable, so there was no chance of trimming the big hedges or trees on my friend’s farm. Knowing that I was tethered to the mains meant trimming up the foliage in my own front and back garden.
I tested out the extended reach on my Japanese maple tree. I’d already shaped bits of it with a couple of the other trimmers I was testing out, so it made for a good side-by-side comparison. Dealing with the leaves and thin branches wasn’t a problem, but it was noticeably more difficult to push through the big stuff compared with the heavyweight Ryobi RPT184520.
A task that I’d been putting off for too long is dealing with the summer growth of my mature honeysuckle plant. It had taken over the trellis, grown down the other side and nearly stopped me from getting in my shed door! The trimmer had no issues at all dealing with the foliage, and it took much longer to clean up than it did to do the actual cutting.
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Of all the pole hedge trimmers I’ve tested out, this was the one with the most underwhelming packaging. Delivered in a plain brown cardboard box, it’s a far cry from the impressive container that came with the Ryobi or the Einhell. There wasn’t much packing material in the box either and the trimmer was rattling around a bit.
The rear handle is easily big enough for my large hands, even when I’m wearing my thick leather gardening gloves. There’s a nice grippy section on the back of the handle and a huge trigger that’s nice and easy to pull. The safety catch, like on most trimmers, is operated with the thumb. It’s not the easiest thing to do at some angles, but it’s not a fault limited to just this tool.
Rather like the Ryobi or the Bosch hedge trimmers I’ve evaluated, you’re relying on a barrel grip to keep things steady. Although I much prefer the “D” shaped front handle, they have at least provided ample amounts of soft rubberised sleeve to keep things comfortable.
Terratek have used an interesting safety lock on what they call the retaining rings. They’re the plastic collars that you twist to both secure the cutting head to the pole and set the pole length. To make sure they don’t accidentally come undone, there’s a series of teeth and a locking pin that clicks into place as you turn it. It’s a neat design that I the competition haven’t picked up on.
Even though the trimmer comes in two parts, I realised I can hang the whole thing up without taking it apart. There’s a handy hanger on the handle part of the trimmer, and so long as you’ve got around 2 metres clearance underneath, you can hang the whole assembly up on a hook! It’ll save a lot of space in the shed.
As good as it is having 10 m of power cable to play with, there’s no easy way to store it afterwards. 10 metres creates quite a large bundle of power cord, so I would have liked a way to tidy the cable up. Something like the cable winder hooks you get on a strimmer or lawn mower would have saved a lot of mess.
With a fast blade speed rated at 1,700 strokes per minute (spm) it leaves most of the competition dead in the water. This fast blade speed helps it fly through foliage and makes short work of thinner branches.
The 45 cm blade is plenty long enough to shape the vertical sides of bushes evenly. There’s a 16 mm gap between the teeth, but they’re not the deepest so there’s less sharpened tooth to bite into each branch.
I performed my usual stick test on the Terratek trimmer to see how it coped from a standing start. I jammed the biggest stick I could in between the teeth to see if it would cut it. Unfortunately, it stalled and made that buzzing sound you get when a motor is just saying “no”.
I was quite surprised as I expected the mains power to offer up more grunt. I assume it’s not got the electronic power control that I found in the Bosch Universal Hedge Pole 18. It made a decent gouge in the stick though, so it wasn’t far off chewing through. All this means is that this is a more basic tool. Once it’s up to speed it can deal with thicker branches, but it lacks the intelligence of more expensive models like the Ryobi and the Bosch.
The cutting head can be positioned through 120° in four different positions. You get 10° less arc compared with most of the competition, which is annoying, but not a deal breaker. Other hedge trimmers like the Yard Force give you ten different angle stops to choose from. I honestly don’t think that you need that many angles though, and four is plenty for most jobs.
The immediate difference between this trimmer and the rest of the competition is that it’s corded. It’s a mains powered 550 Watt tool with an enormous 10 m cable, so it’s got more reach than you might initially think.
My first issue with the cable is the colour. It’s not just an aesthetic thing, but I’m a firm believer that garden power tools need bright and noticeable power cables! Dark and hard to see cables are easily tripped over and can get snagged and cut too easily. I’ve mowed over a dark green power cable in the past and have made sure to always buy corded tools with bright orange or red cables.
The next issue with the cable is the quality of it. Rather than a thick and rubberised cord, it feels more like a standard flex you’d get with a home appliance. It is stamped with VDE markings along its length though, so I’m sure it’s perfectly well suited for the task.
Corded tools are still favoured by plenty of hardcore DIYers and professionals too. You don’t need to worry about the hassle of keeping batteries recharged, or downing tools when one goes flat. Corded tools are ready to go at any time, provided there’s a plug socket nearby, and make sense if mobility isn’t your top priority.
Thanks to the enormous cable length, there’s plenty of users that can make do with this long reach pole trimmer. If you’ve got a small garden but a big tree, why spend the extra money on batteries that will eventually need replacing?
However, I found this pole trimmer to be less powerful than most of the cordless trimmers I’ve tested out. I’d happily use a corded tool if it afforded me more branch cutting ability, but without that it’s not that impressive.
The sticker on the side of the motor rates this hedge trimmer at 102 dB. That’s getting in the territory of dangerous noise levels if you’re exposed for them for too long. 100 dB is equivalent to a motorcycle, so you need to always wear ear defenders.
In comparison with the other pole hedge trimmers I’ve tested out, this one is incredibly loud! I might have been spoiled by the battery powered ones, because the Terratek was a bit of a shock when I turned it on for the first time.
If you can imagine a corded circular saw or jigsaw, there’s around a second of noise before it gets up to speed. There’s also a period of overrun when you take your finger off the trigger, which doesn’t happen with battery operated tools that switch off instantly.
In terms of noise, running this trimmer is a much louder tool than the others I’ve evaluated. It’s a lot more like a power tool than a gentle garden gadget. You can’t get away with running this in antisocial hours, and you should probably check with your neighbours before doing your annual trim up!
The locking retaining rings are a clever safety feature I really like on this hedge trimmer. They keep the collars from accidentally working themselves loose, which could otherwise be a hazard. As the extending pole is spring loaded, having a way to hold it firmly in place is a welcome feature.
One of the problems this tool has that its battery powered cousins have solved is overrun. The “winding down” of corded tools can cause issues, especially when you need to switch off quickly. Most battery operated power tools feature an electronic brake that make the tool safe to put down as soon as you’ve let go of the trigger.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, trips and falls are the single most common cause of major injury in UK workplaces. Keep that in mind when using corded power tools. I’m not saying that they are fundamentally dangerous, but you need to take more care when you’re plugged into a wall socket.
What makes this hedge trimmer a little less user friendly is the lack of safety release for the shoulder strap. Comparing this garden tool with the excellent quick release on the Ryobi RPT184520, I can’t see this one coming off in a hurry. There is a carabiner connection on the front buckle, but it’s not something you could operate quickly when wearing gloves.
Otherwise, this is a perfectly safe power tool to operate, so long as you’re wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). Always make sure to wear safety glasses, gloves, ear defenders, sturdy clothing, and steel toe cap boots. Take special care when you’re working above your head or on uneven ground.
As you might expect, this hedge trimmer comes in on the less expensive end of the competition. You’re not forking out for batteries or chargers on top of the price of the tool, so it should really be a rock bottom price.
However, if you buy this long reach pole trimmer, that’s all you’re going to get. If you push the boat out on a cordless trimmer that comes with a battery and charger, you’ve got more options down the line. For example, if you buy the Ryobi trimmer, you can then buy their other “bare” tools for not a lot of money. When there are more than 70 different tools to choose from, the options are impressive.
Honestly, I was a little surprised at the price. If I was going to spend this much on a corded trimmer that does one job, I’d save up a little bit more and get a cordless version that included a versatile battery pack and charger.
If you’ve got a small garden and you hate waiting for batteries to recharge, I think I’ve found the right pole trimmer for you. This is a perfectly capable garden power tool that will shape hedges and prune back your trees for you. Weighing just over 3.5 kg, it’s one of the lightest trimmers around, but seeing as all the weight is at the top end, it’s still difficult to use when fully extended.
My issue with this pole trimmer is that it’s supposed to be a tool to help you reach those difficult areas in your garden. Cordless tools free you up to go where you need to, but even with a 10 metre power cord, you’re still tethered to the mains.
If this tool had been the most powerful and capable hedge pole trimmer on my list, I would forgive it for being corded. But seeing as there are battery powered trimmers I tested out that outperform this one, I’d save up a bit more money and buy one of them instead.