HowTo – Choosing A Grass String Trimmer

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    Grass String Trimmers are useful for cleaning up the edges of your lawn and getting into areas that you can’t take your lawn mower. For most of us this is a one time purchase that should last you many years so how do you know what type is best for your home?

    Well first you should understand that every string trimmer uses a plastic / nylon type cord to cut the grass and weeds.  The cord comes in a variety of thicknesses and the larger the trimmer the thicker the line can be.

    Trimmer line comes in a package and must be wound around the spool that attaches to the bottom of your trimmer. Each design is different and some trimmers have 2 or 4 filiments of line that spin around as the cutting surfaces. Other designs mostly smaller models have only one filiment.

    This is important to note in your choice of a tool. If you have a small home and only need a small trimmer then having to respool line can be pretty frustrating if you have a multi-filiment design so staying small no matter what power source you choose will probably make your life easier. You should look at the tool and see how it works. You will need to replace the string line a few times a season so get a model you feel you can service yourself.

    Some companies have actually started selling pre-wound spools just because people hate to do this service job. You might look into that option also but it will be more expensive then buying the replacement line in 100 foot packages.

    Powered by Gas, Electric, Battery
    Lets first look at the power sources for trimmers and try to understand what makes each different.

    Battery Operated String Trimmers have recently come on the market and are now past their introductory stages so they can be considered reliable tools.  The advantage of a battery operated trimmer is its light weight and portability. The main disadvantage of a trimmer that runs on batteries is the batteries themselves.

    If you have a small yard of a 1/4 to 1/3rd acre or if you live in a duplex or row style home and your trimming needs are pretty light then you can probably get away with this type of power source.  You should look for a model that comes with 2 batteries that way you can charge one while you are using the other.  You should also understand that after a few years of production battery shapes and sizes will change so your battery may not be available for replacement.

    Charging batteries can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hrs depending on the type and Lithium-Ion or NiMH Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are a better choice then NiCad.

    Prices for battery operated models can be higher then a cheap electric corded model so you should take that into account when you are deciding between convenience and cost.

    Electric Corded String Trimmers are a medium grade selection unlike a battery operated device you are tethered to your outlet by an extension cord but for most homes of 1/2 to 1 acre in size you can probably get away with one or two a 100 foot extension cords at most.

    Corded electric models are also stronger then cordless and come in amperage rated models from about 2 amps to 8 amps. Remember the higher the amperage rating the stronger the motor but that also means more weight that you will be lugging around the yard.

    If you are a new home owner then you probably want to start with a smaller inexpensive model until you get use to how they work and then if you need to upgrade keep it as a backup.

    Electric and cordless trimmers don’t usually come with attachment options but you can often find alternative cutters in the aftermarket to cut through heavier weeds and light brush.

    Gasoline Powered Trimmers offer the freedom of cordless battery designs and for the most part out power even the strongest corded models. If you own a medium to large property or if you are a professional then a gasoline powered trimmer is best for you.

    There are 2 types of Gasoline engines used in trimmers the first is a 2 stroke engine that requires an oil additive to be mixed with the gasoline prior to filling your tank. The second and not so common is a 4 stroke engine that does not require oil additives.

    If your engine requires oil additive never run it without it. The oil lubricates the walls of the piston cylinder and without it your engine will seize up in just a minute or two causing major damage. There should always be a little black smoke coming out of the exhaust of any 2 stroke engine showing that enough oil has been added.

    Gasoline trimmers can come with or without the option of adding additional feature tools. This means along with trimming grass you can add features like a brush cutting blade for heavy reeds, edgers to trim along driveways and curbs, blowers so you don’t need a separate leaf blower and even garden tools like a dirt tiller. Trimmers that can add these features have a split shaft design. You can recognize them easily by looking half way down the shaft for a detachment screw. Changing tools takes only a few minutes.

    Larger Gas Trimmers
    There are also large gasoline trimmers that act almost like a lawn mower. Instead of holding the trimmer you push it on wheels. This type of trimmer is great for people that have large properties and need to cut heavy grass to provide pathways or to manage areas around ponds.

    If you need this type of trimmer then you most likely know it already.

    The advantage over a gasoline lawn mower for higher brush and grass is that you can adjust the height of the trimmer and it will not get bogged down like a lawn mower will in grass over 6 inches tall.

    Final Note
    These are your main choices when you are deciding to purchase a grass trimmer. You need to first decide how much freedom you need verses cost. Electric corded models are almost always cheaper and gasoline models can come with the option of adding additional tools.

    You should get each model in your hands and make sure you feel comfortable with its weight and size. If you have never owned a trimmer a $25 corded model even used or on sale is your best bet until you get use to trimming around bushes, walls and other features of your garden. String trimmers can be a valuable time saver but they can also cause damage. If even the smallest cordless trimmer comes into contact with items you will destroy painted finishes, damage wood and plastic materials so it is best to start small until you learn control.

    And with that in mind cordless trimmers will not replace hand trimmers for all areas of your garden. If you risk damaging an item with a powered trimmer grab your grass sheers and cut the last couple inches by hand.

    The YouRepair Store carries a full line of Gasoline, Electric and Cordless Trimmers and attachments. Check out our low prices and free shipping is available on many orders over $25.

    Outdoor Power & Lawn Equipment

    Outdoor Power Tools

    String Trimmers

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