Outdoor-gear preview: Are hedge trimmers cutting the cord?

Consumer Reports News: October 29, 2010 04:06 PM

Most hedge trimmers plug into an outlet—great for long trimming sessions, not so great if you hate fussing with (or slicing through) a power cord. Stihl is among the major names changing the scenario: The company unveiled its cordless HSA 65 20-inch hedge trimmer at this year's  Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+Expo) trade show as part of a new line of 36-volt outdoor power tools.

Gasoline-powered tools are also in for some competition: Stihl will debut two cordless string trimmers that'll be ready for spring and, for next fall, a chain saw and handheld blower as part of the 36-volt line.
At roughly $500, the hedge trimmer plus one 36-volt battery and a charger doesn't come cheap. But Stihl claims it is four times quieter than its gasoline-powered equivalent. The company says the AP 80 battery, available now, runs for 35 to 45 minutes and the AP 160, out next spring, for 65 to 80 minutes. As with more and more cordless drills these days, the lithium-ion batteries will be usable across Stihl's cordless line.
The push into battery-powered tools is especially notable given the company's long history with  gasoline-powered leaf blowers, chain saws and string trimmers, which tend to do well in Consumer Reports tests. Stihl also offers a number of corded-electric products, some of which we've also tested. 

For the trimmer, Stihl also announced a battery belt ($150) designed to lighten the load during use—a latter-day version of the battery belts several companies pushed during the 1980s. It uses an adapter that fits onto the trimmer in place of the 2.6-pound AP 80 battery or the 3.6-pound AP 160. Three batteries can fit in the belt.

—Ed Perratore

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