Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

Hot Products at the 2015 GIE Expo – What You Need to Know

2015 GIE Expo

When I was a kid I was fascinated with bulldozers and tractors. As an adult, I realized that I’d likely never get to actually sit behind those huge tools, let alone be in their presence when they’re doing work. All that changes at the GIE Expo. Here, you can see, touch, and—yes—smell all of those tools you fell in love with as a child. And there’s even more—like outdoor power tools, hand tools, and specialty products designed to speed up forestry, landscaping, and lawn care tasks for the commercial and residential user.

In short, Kenny Koehler and myself became the proverbial “kids in a candy store”, grabbed our cameras, and took off running into the 2015 GIE Expo. Here’s what we saw, and the news and products you can look forward to this year and next.

The 2015 GIE Expo, or 2015 Green Industry & Equipment Expo, is all about getting those outdoor jobs done quicker, more efficiently, and with less impact on the environment. That may mean less air pollution, less noise pollution, or reduced damage or influence on the surrounding area. Lithium-ion battery technology came on the scene (for outdoor power equipment) about three years ago, and it’s been growing in leaps and bounds ever since. The products at this year’s 2015 GIE Expo are entering the second generation (and in a few cases, third generation) of cordless technology. That means, better performance, more run-time, and enhanced features. That’s not to say that there aren’t other interesting tools at GIE which don’t involve batteries (in fact, most of the tools there are gas powered), but that’s where we started.

Mean Green Machines has an impressive lineup of mowers—including zero turn and stand-on models. Their claim to fame is jamming 336 amp-hours (Ah) in three large battery packs that can power a zero turn for up to 7 hours of actual use (more than a full day). Charge time is around 11 hours (overnight) via 220V if the batteries are drained. There is also a 110V charge option (which tops off the batteries in around 15 hours)

We swung by Makita next and checked out their newest product, including this “soft impact” brushless impulse driver that has impact driver power—but without the noise.

For fans of the new Makita X2 36V tools like the Makita HRH01ZX2 X2 rotary hammer or their X2 circular saw, there’s now a dual-charging (two at once) 18V battery charger that will quickly get two batteries charged in the least amount of time possible for the platform.

And, just so we don’t forget—Makita also had their 18V coffeemaker? Made for limited use like tree stand hunting. 1 battery gets you around 3 cups of coffee.

We also got to take a close look (and ever turn over) the new Husqvarna LC 221Ai AWD mower with battery-powered electric start Briggs & Stratton 725EXi engine.

Here’s one of the new Briggs & Stratton Instart motors with 20V battery pack on its own (this is the 875, but the AWD mower above uses the 725EXi engine):

They also showed off their new pro-focused 25.4cc Husqvarna 525BX blower is designed for Pro landscapers to quickly slide these off a truck.

Of course, we also took breaks. One of those involved listening to Grand Funk Railroad perform “American Band” downtown on Fourth Street.

Husqvarna also has a new premium suspension seat design for their advanced zero turn mower models (like the PZ54) that lets you dial it in by weight.

We’re big fans of the EGO 56V outdoor power tools line, and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Having launched the award-winning EGO 56V cordless chainsaw last year, the company is announcing (and showed off) a new EGO 16″ cordless chainsaw with upgraded engine and handle design. Like the former model, this one uses an Oregon bar and chain, and looks like it will pack plenty of power to take on ground work.

We also didn’t just get to hold the new EGO 16″ chainsaw, we got to see it in action carving up a tree trunk into a work of art. We asked the artist what he thought, and he commented that it was quick and controlled, and there was a ton of tip speed and power, which made working with the chainsaw quite simple.

This DeWalt 40V backpack blower sports two 7.5Ah batteries. They way it works is that it uses one battery at a time, but you can go from one battery to the other using a handy rocker switch on the control handle. You can also set the switch in the middle to deactivate both batteries and make the tool easier to transport (the trigger won’t turn on the tool when bumped).

Of course, you never know what you’ll find at the GIE Expo.

And we got to see the Dixie Chopper Limited Edition in Realtree came…always a nice-looking mower.

We went outside and were able to use the new DeWalt 40V chainsaw. You can get it for $399 or $479 depending on which battery system you go with. The saw has a lot of torque—we know because we tried to stall it out, and it’s quite tough.

Since power was such a common theme at this year’s GIE Expo, we wondered: Do you think the spoiler on this Spartan is what’s keeping that back end on the ground during corners? Probably not.

2015 GIE Expo Wrap-up

This show was chock full of amazing equipment. Cordless battery technology is making a huge splash. This is about the third year since cordless outdoor power tools have started really showing themselves, and more and more manufacturers are coming onboard with products. Aside from battery powered products, the presence of battery assisted starting systems let us know that cordless technology will likely impact nearly every tool or manufacturer in one way or another over the coming years. The increasing importance of noise abatement and vibration reduction can only serve to usher in these tools at a quicker pace. We’re cautiously optimistic, and are looking forward to seeing just have far, and how fast, cordless tools can infiltrate—and potentially change the face of—the outdoor power equipment market.

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