I hate mowing the grass. Some say it’s relaxing and soothing, even. For me, it’s a necessary evil – and part of the homeowner process that I’d just as soon see gone forever. Somebody at Husqvarna obviously agrees because they invented the Automower 305. The 305 is literally a robotic lawnmower – the company’s third, in fact. It is silent. It’s automatic. And it’s designed to give homeowners a perfectly cut, trouble-free lawn. While its not for those living on an acre of land, the mower is perfect (and designed) for people responsible for around 5000 square feet or less of lawn area. The tool cuts with the power of lithium-ion, and since it is quiet, it can cut at any time of day or night without worry.
We like green – and what can be more green than a rechargeable lawn mower? Well, Black & Decker is improving its line of rechargeable lawn care products with the introduction of its new SPCM1936 36 volt cordless rechargeable mower that has variable speeds. This new rechargeable mower also offers a self propelled feature which allows users to adjust the mowing speed to their personal pace so they can achieve great cutting results with minimal effort.
For power tools, battery technology seems to be making inroads and moving an increasing number of products into the realm of emissions-free, cordless technology. Yard tools have been understandably delayed, since the bettery power and sustained use periods make it difficult to transition over to a reliable, rechargeable solution. Black & Decker is still at the forefront, however, and has released a new 18V String Trimmer & Edger (Model NST2018) that eliminates gas in favor of NiCd batteries. While clearly more convenient than a corded solution, the real question is whether or not the power and usability will cause anyone not paranoid about emissions to switch to the new technology. Our guess is that it may take a few more product iterations before mainstream users pick up these new cordless tools over their more traditional gas-powered counterparts.
Battery technology is creating a seemingly endless sea of new and innovative products that are quickly placing emissions-free, cordless technology into the hands of consumers, where previously gas was the only available option. Yard tools are tougher than your typical cordless power tool because they typically demand sustained power over longer periods of time than a drill gun or even a product like a finish nailer. Because of this, we look favorably on products such as the new 18V 22″ Cordless Hedgehog Hedge Trimmer that uses NiCd batteries in place of gas or dragging a cord. Those who are adamantly against adding emissions to the atmosphere will jump at any new cordless option, but the real test is whether a tool has mass market appeal. At this point, most products, including this one will likely take a few more years and product iterations before mainstream users dump their gas products for new cordless tools.
Stihl has introduced the new FS 56 RC-E, the top of the line model for its new Homescaper Series of straight shaft trimmers. It features the company’s new full crank Easy2Start system and semi-automatic choke to ensure starting doesn’t become a strength training exercise. We took the trimmer out for an extended test drive and found it to get the job done, but with a few quirks that detracted from an otherwise decent product.
ECHO is a well-known brand that breaks down the barrier between professional and consumer. Their new SRM-225i straight shaft trimmer packs plenty of power in a small package and its i-75 starting system makes this product virtually hassle-free. There’s a lot to like about this trimmer â€“ from its see-through tank to the easy-to-load, easy-to-use bump head and, of course, the proven reliability of a 2-cycle engine that just won’t quit. On top of that, ECHO’s new models meet the new EPA Phase 2 / C.A.R.B. Tier III emissions control requirements.
Several companies have designed and patented different technologies to make starting trimmers easier. While for many this involves a sophisticated pull system, Ryobi has opted to use a 12V battery and an electric starter system to automate this process. This adds a little weight to the overall product, but with a 30cc engine and a push-button start, this may be the perfect product for teenagers and older consumers looking to get away from the often back-breaking starting process experienced with many trimmers.
Ryobi’s RY34440 4-cycle string trimmer promises, among other things, quieter operation and greater fuel efficiency. It’s a “green” product (in more ways than one) that delivers less fuss when fueling since you don’t need to pre-mix your oil and gas. It also works with Ryobi’s Expand-it line of attachments – which are even backwards compatible with products I bought over 10 years ago. The 4-cycle trimmer comes with just the string trimmer attachment, but does include both a bump head and a pro-style head that facilitates easy string replacement and will handle larger diameter string (and more efficiently to boot).