At a recent media event in their native Sweden, Husqvarna showed us their latest battery powered outdoor power equipment (OPE). The company wants to create more tools that better care for the environment. They want to reduce atmospheric CO2 but also improve the lives of landscape workers and other people in their immediate area. Working in yards, parks, and other landscapes without gasoline engine exhaust and with the minimum amount of noise benefits everyone around. The 2016 Husqvarna Media Event in Sweden was billed as Silent City 2, an homage to the future of parks and cities.
This year’s media event focused on parks and public green spaces. It emphasized Husqvarna’s belief that their battery powered equipment holds up to the demands of commercial use. Battery powered tools aren’t just for small jobs as most people expect. In fact, Husqvarna has tasked their robotic lawn mowers in pilot programs for maintaining grass in public parks in a few countries. And to go along with the latest tool designs, Husqvarna built in connectivity features. With the new Husqvarna Fleet Services system, companies can track and maintain their fleet for increased productivity and decreased downtime. Also, these data-gathering features aren’t just built into chips that control the brushless motors in battery powered tools. There external sensors can be attached to tools in order to track them.
2016 Husqvarna Battery Powered Outdoor Tools
What’s next for technology in landscaping tools and equipment? We got a glimpse of what Husqvarna’s working toward with commercial drones. They are thinking of using them for reconnaissance and evaluation of grounds and trees. They may deliver parts to guys in the field, and remote sensors placed on trees and among plantings can be used to monitor conditions. These sensors would be able to recommend when watering, trimming, or other treatments are needed. They could save effort and resources spent on routinely scheduled service that may not be required.
As we tried out tools in the company’s growing 36-volt lineup, we also spotted increased capacity battery packs. These flew under the radar and escaped notice until we looked at the high watt hour ratings on the new packs. Seeing a 9.4 amp-hour, 338 Wh battery pack on a 36-volt handheld landscape tool promises significant increased runtime. Some of the tools we saw (like new chain saws and pole saws) are already available in the U.S. Other tools (like the pole hedge trimmer, new battery packs, and battery belt) will be released during the first half of 2017.
Husqvarna Chain Saws
The top-of-the-line battery saws from Husqvarna are well established in the market, and the top-handled arborist model is among very few options available for guys who want to climb or work out of a bucket with a battery powered saw. Both models have an electronic On/Off switch for an extra measure of safety, as well as an economy mode switch (called “savE”) which allows you to run the tool at lower power for lighter tasks to prolong battery runtime. One other great feature of the saws is that the battery pack slides into a slot that is open on both sides of the tool. This keeps debris from falling into the tool body and interfering with the battery contacts.
Husqvarna Pole Saws
For cutting branches overhead without climbing, pole saws are the answer. Husqvarna makes an 8-foot long fixed length model and a telescopic version that stretches out to 13 feet. With the length of the pole saw plus your reach, the longer saw will let the average user cut branches up to 17 feet high with both feet safely planted on the ground. Both saws also feature the brand’s “savE” mode to maximize battery runtime.
One great aspect of a battery powered pole saw is that the higher torque characteristics of a DC electric motor. At start up, it gives the tool greater pulling power, so you can touch the saw chain to the branch first for better aim. Two stroke gas engines rely on high rpms for power, so it’s difficult to start them under load. And revving a saw head on the end of a long pole 12 feet above your head could lead to unintended cuts to nearby branches before you find your mark.
Husqvarna Hedge Trimmers
The latest addition to Husqvarna’s line of battery powered hedge trimmers is their extended reach pole hedge trimmer. With its long handle and 22-inch long articulated head, this tool specializes in trimming the tops of hedges and shaping the tallest shrubs. The cutting head locks into eight different positions (every 15 degrees), and folds flat against the pole for easier transport and storage.
Husqvarna String Trimmers and Brush Cutters
As a mainstay of most users’ yard care or landscaping tool collection, a string trimmer is likely to be the tool that gets a user to buy into a battery OPE system. One really cool feature that is unique to Husqvarna trimmers is that the direction of the motor can be reversed in order to eject the cutting debris to the left or right side of the cutter head to facilitate easier clean up.
There’s also a function where the steel-bladed brush cutter model will run in reverse for five seconds to clear the cutter of any debris wrapped around it. You activate this by pressing the reverse button while in use. Once it clears, it returns automatically to the forward rotation and full speed. Check out the video of brush cutter blade clearing function in action:
To get more use out of the tool, the brush cutter model comes standard with a string trimmer head. This allows it to pull double duty. The battery powered trimmers and cutters feature a brushless motor right at the head of the tool. This transmits power more efficiently to the cutter head than gas models. This design has a driveshaft running the entire length of the tool. And motor brakes on the units stop the cutting accessories quickly for safer operation.
The top professional blower in Husqvarna’s battery powered line has no battery port. Rather, a short cord connects it to one of the brand’s backpack or belt-mounted batteries. This configuration gives this power-hungry tool the longest runtime while taking some weight out of the user’s hand for maximum comfort and maneuverability.
Electronic cruise control lets you set and hold the desired blower speed. A separate button bypasses the setting for boost mode when you need more power. Models with standard battery ports are also available.
Battery Packs at the 2016 Husqvarna Media Event
Some potent new battery packs round out the battery powered outdoor tool line from Husqvarna. The new compact pack (BLi100) has a 2.6 amp-hour rating. The new full-size pack (BLi200) is rated at 5.2 Ah. The most impressive new development, however, includes the new jumbo battery pack (BLi300) which boasts a class-leading 9.4 amp-hours. The brand’s backpack batteries also received a boost. The new BLi550X backpack comes in at 16 Ah, and the new BLi950X has 31.1 Ah of available power.
A new battery belt uses standard batteries and should take some the weight out of the tools. A battery slips into a holster in the belt. A short cord then connects the pack and the battery slot of the tool. The result is similar to a backpack battery. The balance of some tools (string trimmers and brush cutters) could suffer without the counterweight of a battery pack at the rear of the tool. A second storage belt will carry up to three battery packs to minimize a worker’s trips back to the truck or trailer.
The final thing we saw, which was also appealing, was Husqvarna’s simple and compact 12-volt car charger. It plugs directly into the battery pack contacts instead of requiring a bulky charger base to slide the pack into.