Buying your dad a pricey power tool has its pitfalls, especially if he doesn't have a clue what’s coming. While only some electric-powered products are beefy enough for all tasks, gas-powered outdoor gear has concerns of its own: These products need frequent attention—in other words, more work for him. So here are several low-maintenance possibilities from among the corded- and cordless-electric products tested by Consumer Reports. We’ve included reality checks for when you should think twice about electrics. 

Push Mowers

A push mower differs from a self-propelled mower in that you do all the pushing, which can be a hassle in a hilly yard. Cordless push powers have similar limitations but with another: limited run time. These are for flat, smallish yards.

EGO LM2101, $500
This 21-inch, cordless-electric mower from EGO (below) has a smaller battery and mower than its self-propelled sibling, the EGO LM2102SP, but its cutting was consistently impressive as well. We were able to mow 8,000 square feet of grass over nearly 37 minutes of run time, and we judged the mower especially easy to use and handle. As with most other electric models, a single lever adjusts deck height.

Black+Decker CM 2040, $400
This 20-inch cordless mower cut best in bagging mode, and it was especially easy to handle. But you’ll want it for smaller yards than you can cut with the EGO, since this model’s low amp-hour battery ran out after a mere 18 minutes of cutting, with 3,800 square feet mowed. (The price includes two 40-volt batteries, but you use only one at a time.) A single lever adjusts deck height.

Chain Saws

Corded-electric chain saws start effortlessly: Just plug them in and squeeze the trigger. But their slower sawing speed limits them to lighter-duty chores, while their power cord keeps you tethered to the nearest electrical outlet. You'll also need a 14-gauge or even heavier 12-gauge extension cord to get the amperage needed for optimal performance. And for cordless saws, their short run-time per charge and slower speeds make them strictly for light-duty sawing.

Worx WG303.1, $100
Don't let the shorter bar fool you: This 16-inch, plug-in electric saw (below) was faster and better-balanced than its larger 18-inch sibling, the Worx WG304.1. Indeed, cutting speed was on par with the fastest light-duty gas saws we tested. Other pluses include a chain brake, tool-free chain adjustment, and a durable bar cover for safe storage. It weighs 12 pounds. But as with other plug-in saws, you'll need to work within 100 feet of an outlet. One caveat: There's no vibration dampening. We advise hearing protection and other protective gear for the operator.

EGO CS1401, $300
This 14-inch, 56-volt, battery-powered chain saw had fast cutting through 10- by 10-inch oak beams, and we judged it especially easy to use overall. It has a chain brake, a tool-less bar adjuster, and a durable blade cover. You don’t need a tool to tighten the chain, and the saw is very safe to use, maintain, and store. As with the Worx, there's no vibration dampening. The EGO weighs 14 pounds.

String Trimmers

Black+Decker GH3000, $70
This curved-shaft, corded Black+Decker trimmer was impressive across all trimming tasks, including trimming, edging, and tall grass, and we found it very convenient to use. Its nearly 7-pound weight helped make for smooth handling, and controls were easy to use. The cutting head swivels for easier use when edging, and there’s a wheel to help with accuracy. Unlike most corded trimmers, however, it has only one trimming line, which is .080 inch.

EGO ST1501-S, $180
At just 9 pounds, this 56-volt, straight-shaft cordless trimmer is among the most powerful battery-powered models we tested. Superb trimming and edging are part of the package, as is impressive work in tall grass and weeds. Handling and ease of use were also top-notch. And like most trimmers, this one has two trimming lines. Like other cordless models, it doesn't come cheap. But your dad shouldn't be disappointed with this one.

Cordless Drills

Hitachi DS18DSAL, $170
This 18-volt drill (below) is nearly as fast and powerful as heavy-duty models yet weighs just 3.4 pounds. Pluses include a 1/2-inch chuck, two speed ranges, two lithium-ion batteries, a smart charger, and an LED work light. We also found its handle especially comfortable. While recharges take some 10 minutes longer than the optimal 30 minutes or less, they're still reasonably fast. A gripe at this price: The battery doesn't show the time remaining until the battery is depleted.

Leaf Blowers

Among handheld models, gas blowers are still the fastest way to clear a yard full of leaves. But the best corded-electric blowers are powerful enough for many big jobs, as long as they’re used within 100 feet of a power outlet.

Toro Ultra Plus 51621, $100
This and the $75 Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51609 offer the same metal impeller, which is better than plastic for vacuuming leaves, with less risk of chipping from the inevitable sticks and other hard debris. They both have variable-speed blowing, helpful when cleaning around sensitive areas or finishing up blowing leaves into a neat pile. And both topped our tests for corded-electric blowers, rivaling gas-powered handheld blowers at moving leaves along. For the extra $25, you get a removable oscillating nozzle that, Toro says, "saves time by providing wider clearing power on hardscapes." You also get a serrated ring within the base of the vacuum tube (for finer mulching) and a cord hook near the controls. They’re both winners but to choose the right one for your dad, read, "Two Toro Leaf Blowers Pack a Punch."

Pressure Washers

Gas-powered models have the most pressure overall, so corded-electric washers are best for small decks and patios, outdoor furniture, and other small jobs that require mainly cleaning instead of stain removal.

GreenWorks GPW1951, $190
Over safety concerns, Consumer Reports recommends no pressure washer that comes with a zero-degree replaceable nozzle or setting, no matter how well it cleans. But this high-performing GreenWorks corded-electric model, despite having four replaceable nozzles, includes nothing less than 25-degree—and earns our nod. What it does include, though, is one reduced-pressure turbo nozzle, which oscillates spray to cover a wider area. This unit was overall very effective at removing stains, and we found it easy to transport without bending. Another major plus: The hose reel is attached at one end, so you only unreel what you need and easily rewind it after. (You only have to screw in the wand.) There's also a built-in soap tank.