2015 Pro Tool Innovation Awards: Landscaping and OPE
In one of the most competitive categories of the year, Landscaping and OPE (outdoor power equipment) is dominated by lithium-ion tools that previously required gas or an extension cord. Voltage jumped from 40V to 56V and now to 80V. While pumping more voltage into a battery pack certainly lends itself to greater power, there is a whole lot more to consider than just muscle.
2015 Pro Tool Innovation Awards: Landscaping and OPE
Winner – Chainsaws: Battery Powered
What they said: The EGO POWER+ Chain Saw is the most powerful rechargeable product of its kind. The first-ever 56-Volt lithium-ion battery has 40 percent more power than the leading 40-Volt battery. It is removable and fits all EGO tools. The 14 in. bar and chain combined with a high-efficiency brushless motor provides a smooth cut with extended life and run time. The EGO POWER+ Chain Saw delivers the performance of gas without the noise, fuss and fumes. The hi-efficiency brushless motor delivers 6300 RPM’s to the 14 in. Oregon bar and chain. It even comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
What we say: Great for limbing and felling small trees, the EGO 56V Chainsaw was the first to really make us say “wow” and it’s still turning heads. Thanks to the brushless motor, we were very impressed with the number of cuts we could make on one charge. And of course, there’s nothing like having the power of gas without the issues of maintaining a small engine.
Winner – Blowers: Battery Powered
What they said: The features of the EGO POWER+ Blower include: Weather resistant construction; turbine fan engineering, inspired by advanced aeronautics technology to deliver industry-leading power; and a high-efficiency brushless motor that delivers a lightweight, compact design for longer runtime, reduced vibrations and extended motor life. The EGO Power+ Blower is the first cordless blower to exceed the performance of gas!
What we say: EGO hasn’t changed up their blower since it hit the market by storm last year – and they haven’t needed to. Looking like a jet engine, the EGO 56V blower features a straight tube with wide opening that delivers 480 CFM. It was even spotted on YouTube powering a DIY hovercraft. Typically short run time among all blowers is helped by upgrading to a 4.0 battery or EGO’s new 7.5 amp hour pack. Other companies have made strides, but what also helps EGO take the award is that they’re packing the power and brushless motor with a battery at $179.
Winner – Hedge Trimmers: Battery Powered
What they said: Greenworks 80V Li-ion System takes the lead in highest and most powerful gas-free cordless system. Get up to 60 minutes of run time with fully charged 2ah battery. DigiPro digital controlled brushless motor delivers more torque, quiet operation and longer life. The 26-inch laser cut rotating steel blades offers professional results. A 180 degree rotating rear handle provides easy trimming at multiple angles. The hedge trimmer has a durable die cast magnesium gear box for heavy duty use. The push button jam release feature reduces down time. Vibration is lower than most gas hedge trimmers. 80V power delivers 3/4″ cut capacity and 3600 strokes per minute.
What we say: It’s easy to look at an 80V package and assume that it’s a winner for innovation. It takes more than a few extra lithium-ion cells though and Greenworks delivers with a compelling hedge trimmer. 3/4″ cut capacity is absolutely on par with what we expect from gas models. 80V of power also enabled Greenworks to go after a 26 inch cut length that rivals just about anything on the market. We love that they also gave us a rotating handle to work around angles on our hedges.
Winner – Lawn Mowers: Battery Powered
What they said: The features of the EGO POWER+ Mower include: Weather resistant construction, a 20″ Deck that reduces the number of passes required to mow your lawn; true 3-in-1 function for superior performance, whether you are mulching, bagging or using the side-discharge chute; and LED headlights for mowing anytime‚Äîmorning or evening. The EGO POWER+ Mower makes 30% less noise than a gas powered mower and the compact, foldable design makes storing and cleaning the mower more convenient than any other.
What we say: There are a couple of major issues that EGO tackled when they developed their lawn mower and a significant improvement that came this year. As we mentioned in our first review, the EGO 56V Lawn Mower features a folding design that makes storage exponentially better than the competition. For those of us that want to be green but have more than 30 minutes worth of lawn to mow, EGO brought out a 7.5 amp hour battery that ran for 1 hour 47 minutes in our Lithium-Ion Mower Shootout. Even though it’s not the highest voltage in the game anymore, it’s got more than enough power to handle our lawns.
Winner – String Trimmers: Battery Powered
What they said: The EGO Power+ 15 in. String Trimmer is the next big step up in power and convenience for cordless string trimmers. The first-ever 56-Volt Lithium-Ion battery and a new, high-efficiency brushless motor delivers unrivaled cordless power. The 15 in. cutting swath and extended aluminum shaft make for efficient trimming around your yard. The EGO Power+ 15 in. String Trimmer delivers the performance of gas without the noise, fuss and fumes.
What we say: Okay, EGO came out with a string trimmer in their first go round that was… okay at the time. It didn’t take but a few months into using it to realize that there were some flaws. EGO knew it. They jumped all over redesigning it and came up with a new 15″ model that almost made us forget about that first attempt. Going to a brushless motor and 15″ cutting swath were a good start. What set this model apart from other 15″ options out there was optimizing the power to take advantage of 0.095″ trimmer line – now it trims with the speed and power of a gas model.
Winner – Lawn Mowers: Zero Turn Radius
What they said: Toro continues to find smart ways to save you time when mowing the lawn. The new steering wheel operated TimeCutter Series zero-turn tractors now feature the exclusive SmartPark braking system. When the operator steps off the mower, the SmartPark system automatically sets the parking brake and turns off the mower blades, all while keeping the engine running. To continue mowing, the operator simply gets back on and quickly taps the speed control pedal to release the brake.
What we say: FINALLY! Someone has figured out a way to let us step off a riding mower without killing the engine! Whether it’s a push, walk behind, or riding mower, we’ve all had to stop to pick up or move something only to hear the motor die. Toro solves this problem while still activating the parking brake and stopping the blades. Plus, they’ve gone with a steering wheel on this ZTR model which will make it much more appealing to a winder range of homeowners.
Winner – Shovels
What they said: The first feature addressing heavy usage is the shovel blade, it has an extended 16″ steel “SuperSocket” for added strength, which is typically about 5″ longer than standard shovel sockets. Another key innovative feature is the “PowerStep”. This is an enlarged, forward turn step, specifically designed with cleats for secure and powerful footing when digging. It provides a secure foothold and more leverage when wearing work boots, and provides better traction in all types of weather. An additional feature is the cushion grip at the end of the handle – it provides durable and secure handling, with gloves or without. The Razor-back SuperSocket shovel has a lifetime warranty as well.
What we say: The shovel has been around for a very long time, yet Ames has addressed two key issues with shovels. First, every shovel I’ve broken has been at where the wood meets the socket and takes the most abuse. The extended shaft moves that pressure point higher up the shaft where it won’t encounter as much force. They also improved on the traditional cleat that allows for better foot grip, particularly when wearing work boots. The cushioned grip is just icing on the cake.
Winner – Fasteners: Landscape Construction
What they said: The new TYTAN Outdoor & Landscape High Yield Adhesive from Selena USA makes bonding and sealing landscape block wall-top caps fast and easy. It features a revolutionary polyurethane collapsing gel adhesive technology that provides superior yield, strength and gap-filling properties compared to leading traditional landscape adhesives. This new adhesive dispenses like a foam, but collapses into a gel, and then re-expands to fill gaps. This is an important benefit, as water pooling between blocks in a retaining wall can cause considerable damage. Because of its “high yield” formulation, one 12oz can replaces one case of traditional 10oz landscape block adhesive.
What we say: Managing Editor, Kenny Koehler has a background in chemistry and got really excited when he started digging into the Tytan adhesives. The foaming, collapsing, re-expanding property is huge when it comes to outdoor use. Water intrusion in construction can cause damage like almost nothing else (though a texting teenage driver certainly will do more) and the gap filling re-expansion takes care of that. Plus, one can is capable of replacing a can of the competition’s blend.