Stihl Battery String Trimmer Hands-On Review | FSA 130 R
Stihl FSA 130 R Offers Pros a Quiet and Maneuverable String Trimmer
We recently had the chance to work with a variety of both Pro- and homeowner-grade string trimmers for our Weedeater Roundup. One of the standout Pro models, the Stihl FSA 130 R battery string trimmer, impressed us with its thoughtful design and quiet operation.
- Design takes the weight of the battery off of the tool
- Backpack batteries available for extended runtime
- 3-speed control
- Runs more than 35 minutes on recommended 7.2Ah battery (281 Wh)
- Strong dealer network for sales and post-sale service
- One of the quieter models we tested (82 dB(A))
- Trigger safety system takes some getting used to and inhibits your ability to turn the trimmer sideways for light edging
- Significantly higher pricing than the competition
- No form of “easy-load” restringing system
RecommendationThe Stihl FSA 130 R battery string trimmer definitely has the Pro in mind, and it’s priced like it. But, with that price, you’re getting a fine performing machine that feels light and agile. We loved the harness system that the trimmer employs for carrying the battery. It takes the weight off the tool and off your arms, placing it on your waist where you don’t really feel it so much. Beyond that, it’s pretty quiet.
Buy if you have multiple accounts to manage, could benefit from the early morning operation that this quiet string trimmer allows, or just love a good dealer network with a quick turnaround on service. Pass if you’re looking for a trimmer than can easily pull off double-duty as an edger, or if price is a major consideration.
A Unique Battery Design
The easiest place to start with the Stihl FSA 130 R is with the overall design of the trimmer. Stihl does away with a battery compartment completely. Rather, they’ve worked a battery tethering system into the design. The idea here is that the battery weight stays off the tool, better maintaining the tool’s balance and rotational center of gravity.
Instead of the typical onboard battery, you’ll use either Stihl’s backpack battery or their harness system that houses any of the 36V Stihl batteries. Either system uses a cable that runs from your power source and locks into the plug on the side of the trimmer motor housing.
Stihl gives you some room on the cable so that you don’t have to fight against it as you move. Also, both the harness and backpack adjust so that you carry the battery weight across your waist, rather than your shoulders. The result is a well-balanced trimmer that maneuvers easily and causes a minimal amount of fatigue.
Granted, this feature might be “over-kill” for the homeowner who just needs to buzz through his own lawn. But that’s not the intended audience. For the Pro tackling multiple lawns or some acreage over the course of the day, this harnessed battery can really take the sting out of the workday.
How Heavy is the Trimmer?
Since the battery design dramatically affects tool weight, we weighed the tool using a couple of different methods. Without any sort of tethering, the Stihl FSA 130 R weighs 10.25 lbs. This is among the heavier bare tool weights we measured. When you add the weight of the cable, you creep up to 10.89 lbs.
In the end, this weighed in on the better side of average for the trimmers we’ve tested to-date. However, we found it interesting that, because the battery weight doesn’t affect the tool’s center of gravity, the FSA 130 R feels lighter than it actually is. This became even more apparent when we started moving around.
All of the battery-powered string trimmers we tested could list “quiet operation” as a key feature, but the Stihl battery string trimmer was among the quietest at 82 dB(A).
Used in conjunction with the brand’s 0.095″ Quiet Line string trimmer line, which incorporates spiral grooves to reduce wind noise, you could practically trim all your accounts in the middle of the night without disturbing anyone.
A Word on the Trimmer Guard
Stihl’s trimmer guard stays narrow at the base for better visibility. Then it extends out super wide for better protection against flying debris. It looks a bit unorthodox, but we found it pretty effective and a great compromise of visibility and protection.
How Much Run Time Does the Stihl FSA 130 R Deliver?
We used the Stihl AP300S 7.5Ah battery to test runtime. Under no-load, the string trimmer ran on High speed for 36.41 minutes. This came in second only to the Husqvarna 520iLX, which ran for about half a minute longer with a 5.2Ah battery.
This runtime can be extended even further by using one of Stihl’s backpack battery models.
Pro-Level Cutting Performance
The Stihl FSA 130 R battery string trimmer uses 0.095-inch line and cuts a 15-inch swath. It features a bump-feed head, but unfortunately, it lacks any sort of easy-loading feature. You’ll need to restring this trimmer head the old-school way. We have a feeling most Pros won’t mind one bit.
The FSA 130 R features 3 speeds which you can select by thumping the safety switch up sequentially. At the highest setting, we measured a no-load speed of 5,528 RPM.
One Minor Issue…
Speaking of this safety switch…this presents one of our few gripes about the FSA 130 R. At this point, we can confidently say that Stihl cares a lot about your well-being on the job. They like to emphasize the benefits of using PPE, and typically, the Stihl lineup features safety measures to keep you safe. In this case, the predominant safety feature on the trimmer is the 3-stage safety switch.
You have the throttle trigger, the top trigger, and the thumb switch, all of which you’ll need to engage before the trimmer will start. Frankly, it’s overkill. The problem we had revolved around the thumb switch. While the system is effective, we didn’t find it particularly easy to use, or intuitive. It takes a bit of getting used to, and it’s particularly awkward to use if you need to turn the trimmer sideways for light edging. We like safety, but this one is a swing and a miss.
How Much Does the Stihl FSA 130 R Cost?
I often think of Stihl as the Apple Computer of the OPE world. By this, I mean several things: First, Stihl products have a very distinct look, the tools tend to be very streamlined and intelligently-designed. Second, the brand has an extensive dealer network that tackles all of the tool sales and service needs. Lastly, Stihl tools tend to fall on the more expensive side of the spectrum.
The Stihl FSA 130 R is the case in point. As a bare tool, it retails for around $400, which is about a hundred bucks more expensive than the next most expensive trimmer we tested. To add an AP 300 battery and an AL 300 charger, you’re looking at around $670 for the kit. If you want to add the battery belt, shoulder harness, battery bag, and cord, you’ll have to budget for another $134.
The Stihl battery string trimmer does come with a 2-year professional warranty (or 3-year residential warranty). And, as we said, part of the appeal with the Stihl line revolves around their well-regarded customer care and service department.
The Stihl FSA 130 R battery string trimmer definitely has the Pro in mind, and it’s priced like it. But, with that price, you’re getting a fine performing machine that feels light and agile. We loved the harness system that the trimmer employs for carrying the battery. It takes the weight off the tool and off your arms, placing it on your waist where you don’t really feel it so much. Beyond that, it’s pretty quiet.
Buy if you have multiple accounts to manage, could benefit from the early morning operation that this quiet string trimmer allows, or just love a good dealer network with a quick turnaround on servicing. Pass if you’re looking for a trimmer than can easily pull off double-duty as an edger, or if price is a major consideration.
Stihl Battery String Trimmer Specs
- Model: Stihl FSA 130 R
- Voltage: 36V
- Cutting Diameter: 15″
- Max Line Diameter: 0.095-in.
- No-Load Speed: 5528 rpm
- Weight: 10.25 lbs (no tethered battery); 10.89 lbs (tethered to battery)
- Sound Pressure: 82 dB(A)
- Shaft Material: Aluminum
- Warranty: 3-year residential; 2-year professional
- Price: $399.95 (bare tool); $669.98 with 6.3Ah battery
Check out Stihl’s website or visit your local dealer for more details.