We have been fans of ECHO ever since we reviewed their SRM-225i straight shaft trimmer with its i-75 starting system. New on the block is the company’s PAS, or Pro Attachment Series, system which promises a single tool that is flexible enough to handle numerous jobs for the professional or consumer user. The Pro Attachment Series is a new development for Echo that revolutionizes the way the company had looked at their tools. With the Echo PAS-225VPB Pro Attachment Kit, ECHO delivers a single 21.2cc 2-cycle Power Source and allow the use of attachments to turn the system from an edger, to a trimmer, to a blower, to a hedge cutter… you get the idea. In this way, ECHO has ramped up the usability of their existing technology and satisfied the desires of some users who would like the flexibility of tool attachments. While this particular kit uses the smaller 21.2cc power source, professional users can have the same benefits of a modular accessories-based system with more power motors up to 25.4cc (ECHO PAS-265).
ECHO, as a brand, specializes in hand-held lawn care products that range the gamut from professional/commercial user to consumer. Consumers really benefit from this because the company can trickle down pro-quality technology into their consumer products, and the tools can be made available at certain home improvement stores and via the Internet. On top of that there is a 5-year warranty which is very hard to beat. The company manufacturers and distributes everything from line trimmers and edgers to chain saws, blowers and even tillers. The company has roots dating back to 1978 and so when they introduce a new line, we tend to pay attention – this is a company that knows lawn care products.
ECHO PAS-225VPB Features
Taking a look at the ECHO PAS-225VPB system, we first noticed how compactly it shipped to us. Contained within a single rectangular carton, and protected on all corners by reinforced cardboard, was a safely-packed PAS-225 2-cycle Power Source, a 17-inch trimmer attachment, and a 100 mph Blower Attachment. The PAS system we received also came with a semi-automatic bump head for the trimmer attachment and a bottle of 50:1 2-cycle oil that is suitable for use in the power source motor. Though ECHO recommends 89 octane fuel, we have found that using even higher octane results in a cleaner-running tool and keeps the carburetor clear for a much longer time. If you’re not going through tons of gas and using this in a private setting, we recommend stepping up.
There was a small amount of assembly required. The plastic shield, for example, had to be installed before the nylon head could be placed onto the rotating shaft. This was very simple and ECHO’s instructions were spot on.
The ECHO PAS-225VPB includes a robust but economical 21.2cc power source. The engine has some very pro features, like a Pro-Fire electronic ignition for quick and easy starting. There’s also an easily removable fuel line filter, which is significant if you intend to use the tool for a long time. We also liked how easy it was to remove the air cleaner and engine covers to get at the cylinder fins for cleaning and upkeep. Maintenance is also easy, with an accessible set screw for idle adjustment (which should only be adjusted after a couple tanks of fuel have gone through and the system has stabilized).
The chief advantage to the PAS system is that professionals and consumers alike can attain a level of flexibility with just a single power source unit. This means you can do more with less, and you don’t need an arsenal of tools (or the room to store them) in order to accomplish all of your lawn maintenance tasks, such as trimming, edging, blowing, brush-cutting and hedge cutting. The PAS system currently supports up to 11 attachments, not including the available 3′ extension for extending the tool’s reach:
- Straight Shaft Edger
- Standard Trimmer
- Rapid-Loader Trimmer
- High Torque Trimmer
- Curved Shaft Trimmer
- Articulating Hedge Trimmer
- Hedge Trimmer
- Power Pruner
What we liked about the attachments is that they come with a nice plastic end-cap and J-hook, which allows them to be easily hung out of the way – ready at a moment’s notice. ECHO also gives the user several options for trimming, from the Standard and Rapid-Loader models to the Curved Shaft model preferred by those looking for a shorter stance on their tool.
Swapping attachments was about as easy as it gets for these systems. In particular, ECHO simplified the process further by integrating a spring-loaded “locator pin” that locks the shaft into place as opposed to a spring-loaded peg like most systems use. Once you set the shaft onto a level surface, you just pull the locator pin out and turn it 1/4-turn counter-clockwise to lock it in the out position. We found that we could accomplish this with or without gloves quite easily. You next remove the storage hook and vinyl cap from the attachment, line up the arrows and insert it into the shaft of the PAS-225 until it seats properly. This may involve minor twisting of the accessory shaft, but for the most part everything tended to just slip into place. Next, you rotate the locator pin 1/4-turn clockwise to allow it to drop back into place, holding the shaft secure. A clamping knob then removes any looseness or wobble and gives you a solid connection.
The Nylon Trimmer Bump Head
While we typically don’t go for bump-heads, the U-Turn system actually worked very well for us. The system came pre-loaded with some string and true-to-form, it worked as advertised. At normal operating speed you just bump the head on the ground gently and the string releases in about 1-inch integrals. As for reloading string, the steps are simple – you just:
- Line up the arrow on the spool and drum
- Insert both ends of a single piece of string (up to 23′ in length)
- Wind it up with a clockwise rotation of the bump-head
- Cut the middle of the remaining connected string
While the i-75 starting system is extremely easy to use, the PAS-225’s recoil starter is nearly as simple. With very little effort we found that we could prime the bulb, engage the choke and throttle, grasp the starter handle and achieve turnover in just two to three easy pulls. After that, switching to the run position got the PAS-225 up and running with just two more pulls on average.
Editor’s Note: Check out our popular article on 2-cycle vs. 4-cycle engines.
Testing the ECHO PAS-225VPB was as simple as waking up one day to find that it had apparently turned “Spring” in my neighborhood and the oaks had decided to unleash themselves upon my yard, rear patio deck and porch roof. Suffice it to say, there was a lot of material that needed to be blown into piles, raked, and bgged. Taking the PAS-225 and securing the Blower Attachment, I set to work. While 100 mph isn’t exactly the epitome of maximum blowing power, we did find that it blew with considerable strength – even picking up damp leaves that had been underneath the more recent piles which drifted down the prior day.
We also had to admit that the blower attachment looked very cool in its linear form. Most blowers take a curved shaft approach, with an almost hairdryer-like attachment at the base. The linear model of ECHO’s PAS-225 lent itself to a much more direct feel – like pointing a rocket launcher or jet engine… a fact that my 8 year-old admired and then finally insisted on taking advantage of. With careful supervision, I watched as he was able to lift and use the blower on his own and “attack” the leaves with gusto. While this isn’t a light blower by any means (around 13 pounds), it certainly is a valid and worthy trade-off to simplify your tool arsenal. And if your 8-year-old can carry it around… well, it’s going to be hard to wimp out on the added weight and still be manly. If you’re looking for more power, ECHO can support that with its dedicated products (including backpack models) that deliver additional horsepower and output air speed.
Noise output during idle measured just 82 dB SPL (as expected from what we have measured in prior Echo 2-cycle motors of this size) and at maximum throttle it output 92 dB SPL on the blower. We typically recommend ear protection with all outdoor lawn equipment, however this model is actually quite tolerable in blower mode (the trimmer is louder due to increased noise from the rotating string).
*No actual children were hurt in the filming of this photo. Would extended use of the tool have been used, appropriate eye protection, weight belt, boots, gloves and kevlar jacket would have been supplied…
ECHO’s PAS Pro Attachment System is truly designed for both professionals and consumers. For Pros, you can pick up the PAS-265, which puts out 25.4cc’s of power and comes with the new i-30 starter. But for consumers, the new ECHO PAS-225VPB is the ticket. With an included blower and trimmer, it meets most of the needs you’re likely to have in your residential landscape maintenance. If you want to swap out the blower for an edger, look to the ECHO PAS-225VP which runs just $50 more. Prior to this product, I’d have to say that attachment systems were for amateur users only. Echo has applied its reputation and quality know-how to their PAS line and, as a result, made it a viable option for commercial users as well. They also seem to back this up with a 2-year warranty which is a bold statement in and of itself. In our opinion, there isn’t much downside to the system, nor does there seem to be any apparent reliability issues. If you would benefit from having a more versatile attachment-based lawn system, you owe it to yourself to check out the ECHO PAS-225VPB from ECHO.