Battery technology is creating a seemingly endless sea of new and innovative products that are quickly placing emissions-free, cordless technology into the hands of consumers, where previously gas was the only available option. Yard tools are tougher than your typical cordless power tool because they typically demand sustained power over longer periods of time than a drill gun or even a product like a finish nailer. Because of this, we look favorably on products such as the new 18V 22″ Cordless Hedgehog Hedge Trimmer that uses NiCd batteries in place of gas or dragging a cord. Those who are adamantly against adding emissions to the atmosphere will jump at any new cordless option, but the real test is whether a tool has mass market appeal. At this point, most products, including this one will likely take a few more years and product iterations before mainstream users dump their gas products for new cordless tools.
The Titanium Xtra Powerstep shovel from Jackson Professional Tools offers a comfortable, easy-to-use tool with a fiberglass handle to make digging out tough terrain an almost enjoyable experience. The titanium-steel socket is stiff, and offers a level of confidence we don’t normally experience with your typical wood-handled shovel. In addition, the Powerstep plates give you ample room to position yourself to drive the blade deeper and faster into the ground.
The J-250 Titanium Xtra series of shovels from Jackson Professional Tools is a cut above and certain to satisfy those looking for a stiff, dependable tool for all your digging needs. There are shovels, and there are shovels. If you’re tired of babying your shovels for fear the neck will break, then the 11-inch titanium-steel socket will ensure that your 48″ handle doesn’t snap off when you pry up some difficult ground material.
Stihl has introduced the new FS 56 RC-E, the top of the line model for its new Homescaper Series of straight shaft trimmers. It features the company’s new full crank Easy2Start system and semi-automatic choke to ensure starting doesn’t become a strength training exercise. We took the trimmer out for an extended test drive and found it to get the job done, but with a few quirks that detracted from an otherwise decent product.
ECHO is a well-known brand that breaks down the barrier between professional and consumer. Their new SRM-225i straight shaft trimmer packs plenty of power in a small package and its i-75 starting system makes this product virtually hassle-free. There’s a lot to like about this trimmer â€“ from its see-through tank to the easy-to-load, easy-to-use bump head and, of course, the proven reliability of a 2-cycle engine that just won’t quit. On top of that, ECHO’s new models meet the new EPA Phase 2 / C.A.R.B. Tier III emissions control requirements.
Several companies have designed and patented different technologies to make starting trimmers easier. While for many this involves a sophisticated pull system, Ryobi has opted to use a 12V battery and an electric starter system to automate this process. This adds a little weight to the overall product, but with a 30cc engine and a push-button start, this may be the perfect product for teenagers and older consumers looking to get away from the often back-breaking starting process experienced with many trimmers.
Ryobi’s RY34440 4-cycle string trimmer promises, among other things, quieter operation and greater fuel efficiency. It’s a “green” product (in more ways than one) that delivers less fuss when fueling since you don’t need to pre-mix your oil and gas. It also works with Ryobi’s Expand-it line of attachments – which are even backwards compatible with products I bought over 10 years ago. The 4-cycle trimmer comes with just the string trimmer attachment, but does include both a bump head and a pro-style head that facilitates easy string replacement and will handle larger diameter string (and more efficiently to boot).
With the advent of newer trimmer and lawn products that include 4-cycle engines, we are often asked whether these products are better than their 2-cycle counterparts (literally: “Which is better, 2-stroke or 4-stroke?”) The answer may be simpler than you think, but first it’s important to understand the differences between the two technologies. Each have their strengths, though we wouldn’t consider them fairly matched – at least not for the purposes of portable lawn care products.