Lawn care is of utmost importance in my neighborhood – at least it is if you want to avoid the nasty stares and angry looks of neighbors tired of wild grass and haphazard edging. Professionals know this – and so do consumers. Echo’s PE-280 Perfect Edge Edger seems to go mostly after the former group, with its 28.1cc engine and pro features that take edging a step beyond the products designed solely for the casual homeowner. What the PE-280 does is provide plenty of power in a lightweight package – and then gives you the features you need, and nothing you don’t. It’s a pro-level product for sure, but with a 5-year consumer warranty, serious lawn-nazi’s are going to have a hard time passing it up.
We have been fans of ECHO ever since we reviewed their SRM-225i straight shaft trimmer with its i-75 starting system. New on the block is the company’s PAS, or Pro Attachment Series, system which promises a single tool that is flexible enough to handle numerous jobs for the professional or consumer user. The Pro Attachment Series is a new development for Echo that revolutionizes the way the company had looked at their tools. With the PAS-225 Kit, ECHO delivers a single 21.2cc 2-cycle Power Source and allow the use of attachments to turn the system from an edger, to a trimmer, to a blower, to a hedge cutter… you get the idea. In this way, ECHO has ramped up the usability of their existing technology and satisfied the desires of some users who would like the flexibility of tool attachments. While this particular kit uses the smaller 21.2cc power source, professional users can have the same benefits of a modular accessories-based system with more power motors up to 25.4cc (PAS-265).
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).