We take a look at the differences, pro's and con's of electric vs petrol hedge trimmers.
Hedge Trimmer Head to Head - Petrol vs Electric
Petrol Hedge Trimmer
First up let's take a look at the petrol hedge trimmer. What are the pro's on con's of petrol hedge trimmers and why do people rave about them so much! Some people laugh at the thought of using anything less than petrol when it comes to a hedge trimmer, lawnmower or grass strimmer. They believe it is petrol or nothing, but why? What makes them so good and is there really any point in considering electric hedge trimmers?
Positives of a Petrol Hedge Trimmer
A petrol hedge trimmer out of the box is cordless, there is no need to worry about a wire. Be that cutting through one or finding a place to plug one in. You have the freedom to work wherever you are and don't need to be near somewhere with a mains electric supply. This is a big advantage to someone who either has a lot of land and can be often no where near mains electricity. Or someone who uses hedge trimmers for commercial reasons, such as for grounds maintenance.
Another beauty of petrol as your power source for your hedge trimmers is that it isn't effected by weather. In the UK as we know it rains a lot. If you have a large hedge that requires work regularly and it's raining a lot you are limited to when you can work on it. With petrol hedge trimmers you can work on it come rain or shine, without the risk of being electrocuted.
Power is a major consideration when it comes to hedge trimming, i'm not referring to a power source. But how much cutting power the hedge trimmer has. Typically if you are trimming a small domestic hedge that doesn't have thick branches, either an electric hedge trimmer or a petrol hedge trimmer will do the job. However, if we are talking about a substantially large hedge with thicker branches, often the electric version just doesn't cut the mustard.
Again looking at domestic vs commercial application of hedge trimmers, petrol hedge trimmers are a lot more likely to last over pre-longed use. This can include regular use 5 days a week, or cutting for several hours in one go. Electric hedge trimmers coupled with slightly thicker branches can tend to burn their motors out a lot sooner than the petrol counterparts. If you do go for an electric hedge trimmer for more prolonged use a brushless option may help prolong it's lifespan.
Negatives of Petrol Hedge Trimmers
As with anything it's not quite as cut and dry as petrol hedge trimmers being better than electric hedge trimmers or the other way round. It is down to their application, your needs as the customer and of course your budget.
Firstly, petrol hedge trimmers tend to be much more expensive to purchase than electric hedge trimmers. There are cheap versions that you can pick up. However, they don't tend to do much in the way of providing the power, quality and durability, which is the whole point in opting for a petrol hedge trimmer in the first place.
A very well respected petrol hedge trimmers brand is Stihl and for that matter great brand for most petrol garden products, including:
- Petrol Hedge Trimmer
- Petrol Lawn Mower
- Petrol Grass Strimmer
- Petrol Leaf Blower
- Petrol Chain Saw
Weight! Whilst hedge trimmers in general can be heavy pieces of kit, petrol powered ones tend to be among the heaviest. If you are using hedge trimmers for your job or a large hedge they are fantastic for the reasons listed above. But you do need to be aware that the weight of the product will take it's toll on your body. Especially due to the angle you are holding the petrol hedge trimmer away from your body.
One final negative that is worth considering when it comes to petrol hedge trimmers is the mess. An electric, corded or cordless hedge trimmer doesn't produce any mess at all. However, mixing fuel, pouring it into the hedge trimmer, storing the fuel and the chance of fuel leaking from the hedge trimmer are all considerations. It is a great idea to store your petrol hedge trimmers in either a plastic container or on some old cloth, so that if it does leak it doesn't go everywhere.
NOTE, please be aware that petrol is a flammable substance, please ensure that when you are storing, transferring and incase of spillage of the fuel you are wearing protective clothing. Ensuring you clean it up properly and do not store it in a place where it could come into contact with a spark or something that could ignite a fire.
Electric Hedge Trimmer
So, we have just discussed why petrol hedge trimmers are so amazing, powerful and great for many applications. Where does an electric hedge trimmer fit into the mix, what are the positives and negatives and is it really such a clear cut decision?
Positives of an Electric Hedge Trimmer
Electric hedge trimmers in times gone by was a nightmare! They were dangerous thanks to the cable that is typically run across the path of where you are cutting. There is the trip hazard that you generate for yourself and others as you have a cable typically running a great distance, sometimes on a pavement or drive way. As discussed above an electric hedge trimmer is really only safe to use in fine weather. Plus, they didn't really have the pulling power of their petrol cousins.
In steps cordless, when cordless power tools first hit the market, in the form of drills and garden tools people were wary and rightly so. They didn't give anywhere near the same amount of power. The power would drop towards the end of the batteries life and they were more of a toy or gimmick than a serious power tool. With the advent of Lithium ION batteries all of that changed. We are now seeing batteries that not only provide more power and last longer, they can also deliver 100% of the energy right until the battery is empty. This is a huge game changer with regard to hedge trimmers as we now have a viable alternative to petrol hedge trimmers without the need for a cord.
Electric hedge trimmers are usually a lighter weight version than the petrol counterpart and can be manoeuvred and managed much more easily. This is something that I feel is important if we are talking about an elderly person in their home looking to keep their hedges in shape or someone who has back or joint pain.
I think for domestic application the electric cordless hedge trimmers are just the ticket. It can be placed on charge between uses and thanks to Lithium ION batteries they won't run flat before the next time they are used. If a cordless hedge trimmer was to be used for commercial application, the purchase of additional batteries would need to be a consideration.
What I have seen some people do who have a lot of land and a fair few hedges is purchase a cheaper petrol hedge trimmer and a cordless electric hedge trimmer too. They use the petrol hedge trimmer for the start of the season to cut back the thick winter growth and thicker branches. They then make use of the electric hedge trimmer to keep on top of it throughout the year. This allows them to benefit from the lighter weight, less mess from a petrol hedge trimmer and easy of charging batteries.
Negatives of an Electric Hedge Trimmer
If we are talking about the corded version of electric hedge trimmers, the main negatives are obvious. The danger associated with cutting through the cord or tripping over it. That along with the need for a power source in range of where you plan to work. A cordless electric hedge trimmer does away with these issues straight away and makes electric hedge trimmers a far more attractive offering!
There are some negatives though, even if you opt for cordless electric hedge trimmers. The first as discussed before is power, they seem to be lacking in power when it comes to comparing them to petrol hedge trimmers. Some brands have now counteracted this by making cordless electric hedge trimmers that instead of providing 18v of power through a battery, provide 36v by the addition of being able to connect two batteries simultaneously to their power tools. Makita have done exactly this with the Makita DUH551Z cordless electric hedge trimmer. You can find a link below to purchase it from Amazon.
If you are a tradesman wanting to use your hedge trimmer for commercial applications where you would be using the hedge trimmer likely all day long you would run into difficulty using electric hedge trimmers. The issue is that you would need to have literally 10-20 batteries ready for use, probably opting for high capacity 5ah batteries too. This would be not only expensive but time consuming and easy to forget to keep charging them between jobs.
The negative to the batteries if you are a home user who has a lot of hedges to trim or needs to spend a while on cutting one hedge, is that you will likely run out of charge part way through the job. This will mean a period where you have to wait for the batteries to charge back up again rather than just refilling petrol hedge trimmers with more fuel.
In summary if you are looking for a hedge trimmer there are many things to consider. Is weather a consideration for you or can you wait for dry finer weather? Do you need to work in the middle of a field no where near a power source? Do you have other cordless power tools from the same brand that you can make use of existing batteries from?
Using the information and arguments discussed above, hopefully you will be able to decide whether to Petrol or Electric.
Gtech HT20 Hedge Trimmer
We have reviewed in detail the Gtech HT20 cordless electric hedge trimmer before. This is an incredible hedge trimmer with power, a good balance of weight, easy to use and works really well. If you are going for one of the cordless hedge trimmers this is certainly one to consider!