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The dilemma of choosing between an electric and a gas-powered weed eater is one that has troubled most homeowners. In fact, it has a considerable bearing on how convenient a particular weed eater is in accomplishing a particular outdoor project. However, the topic of electric vs gas weed eater is usually determined by how much noise you can bear. Since weeds don’t require too much power to trim, some people may opt to sacrifice the output of a gas engine for the quieter operation of an electric weed eater.
But, that’s not the case with everyone. While some will only consider the noise factor, others will consider tons of other factors such as weight, run-time power supply, price and lots of other specs to ensure that what they get truly works for them. So, to help you decide on whether to take the electric or the gas-powered route, this guide will conduct a head-to-head comparison between these two trimmers as well as highlight the pros and cons of each version.
But First, How Does a Weed Eater Work?
Now, before we get to how a weed eater works, I would like to clear any misunderstanding regarding weed eaters and trimmers. In most topics relating to weed eaters, you’ll hear the term weed trimmers being used as well. The truth is that these terms refer to the same thing. Terms such as weed Wacker and weed trim all refer to trimmers or weed eaters.
Now, back to how a weed eater works, this power tool has three main parts that combine forces to achieve the rotational centrifugal force that’s required to operate it. These parts consist of the engine, the gearbox, and the trimmer head.
The first part is the engine, which has the carburetor, the spark plug, the exhaust system, and the pull rope. So, when you pull the rope to start your weed eater, the spark plug fires the fuel-air mixture that has already been mixed carefully by the carburetor. The exhaust on its side does the work of exiting the burned fuels from the engine.
Once the engine has fired, the gearbox (which varies from model to model) takes over by controlling the working power. It consists of a clutch that’s connected to the drum. The drum is then connected to the shaft, which is then attached to the trimmer’s head.
Now, the trimmer’s head is what does the actual cutting. This is where you’ll find the spool and the cutting line sticking out from the trimmer’s head. When the speed is increased, the centrifugal force from the rotating motor stiffens the string causing it to cut weeds like a sharp razor. This high centrifugal force gives the string immense power to trim bushes, small shrubs, and thin branches with ease.
Electric vs Gas Weed Eater: Head to Head Features
Longer Use Time
Now, when it comes to the use time, both the electric and the gas-powered weed eaters can offer almost the same results. The gas-powered weed eater on its side is capable of trimming for extended periods provided the gas tank has sufficient fuel. If it’s well maintained, the fuel can power this appliance for a couple of hours in a single day.
On the other hand, a corded electric weed eater can deliver the same results provided it’s plugged into a power outlet. In such a case, what you’ll need is a long cord to ensure you’re not limited. However, if the space being trimmed is quite large, you’ll have to consider the convenience of a cordless trimmer which, unfortunately, will be limited by battery life.
Note: In that case, the gas version wins
Size and Weight
Although gas trimmers are powerful, there’s always a trade-off between weight and performance. Their great power comes with the added cost of being bulky due to the engine, the carburetor, the fuel tank, and the rest of the parts that combine to power up this tool. With weights of 10 pounds and above, gas trimmers are heavy especially when you consider carrying it on your back.
On the other hand, since electric trimmers don’t have the added parts of a gas weed eater such as the engine, the carburetor, spark plugs, and the fuel tank, it’s usually considered a lightweight alternative. Weighing around 5 pounds, electric trimmers, especially cordless versions, are easier to handle making them the best for users with backaches and muscle problems.
Note: Therefore, the electric versions take the day
One huge advantage, that’s by the way synonymous, to gas-powered trimmers is the output power. Gas-powered trimmers are hailed for their immense power which is all thanks to their powerful 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines. With over 12,000 RPM of power, gas-powered weed eaters can produce a very high centrifugal force that’s enough to spin the string faster and steadier to trim hard weeds and thicker bushes and branches.
When it comes to electric trimmers, the amount of power output they generate is dependent on the voltage and the type of trimming wire used by the trimmer. Although they offer a maximum power output of around 6.500 RPM, none of them can compare to that of a gas-powered trimmer.
Thankfully, with the advancement in technology, most electric trimmers are adapting to the use of brushless motors to increase torque by decreasing resistance on the motor itself.
Note: Without a doubt, the gas version is the ultimate winner
Ease of Use
One of the biggest challenges of dealing with a gas trimmer is difficulty in operating. In fact, they’re the least user-friendly when it comes to maintenance and igniting. For instance, when starting a gas trimmer, you have to pull the cord several times to ignite it just the way you do it with most 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines. Besides, you have to deal with regular oil changes, refueling, and general engine maintenance to make sure it’s working properly.
When it comes to electric weed eaters, starting the motor is as easy as pressing the trigger. The only hassle is checking whether it’s plugged into the power outlet or for the case of the cordless version, to check whether the batteries are working.
Other than that, the electric version is very easy to go by as you don’t have to struggle with pulling the cord, maintaining the engine, or refueling.
Note: For that reason, the electric version wins
Although electric weed eater versions are gaining popularity really fast, which is by the way increasing their accessibility, the gas trimmer is the most accessible. If you happen to visit any hardware store, you’ll most likely find an assortment of gas weed eaters giving them better accessibility as compared to electric trimmers.
Another thing about gas trimmers is that all you have to worry about is the fuel, which again is easily accessible at the nearest gas station. If you’re a homeowner with multiple gas-powered tools, you can easily store your own gasoline safely at home to make it more convenient when using your tools.
This is quite the contrary with electric trimmers where you have to go through the hassle of purchasing the right batteries that can last longer without depleting. For the corded versions, you have to ensure that your residential area has a power supply. If you’re in a rural setting, you have to think of an alternative power source which can be costly.
Note: Again, without a doubt, the gas version wins
When it comes to cost, the electric trimmer tends to be far less expensive as compared to its gas-powered counterpart. About the purchasing cost, electric trimmers are affordable since they don’t have large engines that cost significant amounts.
When it comes to maintenance costs, gas trimmers will require refueling, which, of course, will cost you a few bucks regularly. They also require regular lubrication to reduce friction on moving parts though this might apply to some electric models as well since the motor might need to be lubricated as well.
Note: However, though, electric versions still take the day
Earlier on we mentioned that gas trimmers are immensely powerful when compared to their electric counterparts. Sadly, the more powerful the internal combustion engines are, the louder they get. This drawback is one of the few factors that give the electric weed eater an edge in this department.
Since most electric trimmers are powered by a brushless motor, they tend to be far less obnoxious. Their low noise operation is a major feature that gives you the convenience of trimming your lawn or backyard late in the evening without disturbing your neighbors with sounds.
Note: For this reason, electric versions win
Apart from noise pollution, gas trimmers rely on fossil fuel, which of course is not environmentally friendly. Although they’re powerful, users will have to deal with exhaust fumes which can turn to be an issue to people with respiratory illnesses. So, apart from wearing ear protection (due to the noise), you also have to wear a mask when trimming to protect yourself from the noxious fumes.
So, to save yourself from this hassle, an electric weed eater is arguably the perfect alternative as you only have to plug it in a power outlet. Electric trimmers don’t rely on combustion engines but rather rotating motors so there are no emissions whatsoever.
However though, if you’re eyeing for a cordless version, always choose one that relies on rechargeable batteries rather than disposable ones as disposing of the batteries can sometimes pollute the environment.
Note: Despite that, electric versions still have the edge
Finally, there’s the issue of speed. Due to the immense torque of the internal combustion engines, a gas-powered trimmer tends to accomplish the trimming job much faster than an electric trimmer. The centrifugal force of the gas trimmer is much higher causing the string to cut overgrown weeds and grass much quicker than an electric version.
When it comes to finishing and edging, most trimming professionals consider gas trimmers over electric ones since the former have the power to cut through thick vegetation leaving your fences and the edge of the grass perfectly finished.
Note: The results; gas-powered versions take the lead
Electric vs Gas Weed Eater: Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages of Electric Weed Eaters
- Less Maintenance: One of the main advantages of electric weed eaters is that they’re relatively easy to maintain. The reason for this is because these appliances have fewer moving parts which translates to less maintenance.
- Quick Start: When it comes to starting an electric trimmer, you have to go through the starting checklist that includes inspecting the fuel, the oil, the spark plug, the filters, and the pull cord. By just plugging it on the power outlet, all you need to do is simply push the trigger to start.
- Quiet: This is one of the main factors why most people consider electric weed eaters for residential use. Due to their silent operation, users can easily trim their lawn at any time of the day without facing any complaints from their neighbors.
- Lightweight: If you’re a senior struggling with muscle problems, arthritis, or neuropathic pains, an electric weed eater is a lightweight alternative you might opt to consider. Weighing an average of 4 pounds, these trimmers are relatively light since they don’t have any engines attached.
- Cost-Effective: Again, if you’re looking for a less expensive way of trimming weeds on your lawn, then this is the perfect route. These trimmers are far less expensive as compared to their gas-powered counterparts.
Disadvantages of Electric Weed Eaters
- Less Power: One of the major drawbacks of electric trimmers over their gas-powered counterparts is less power output. This is especially the case if you’re using a cordless version where the batteries have a low voltage that’s totally inefficient to accomplish a tough cutting and trimming task.
- Too Limited: While a gas trimmer can work for nearly 8 hours before being refueled, an electric trimmer has a limited use time of about 2 to 3 hours. For corded versions, the cord might be too short to allow you to trim a larger area while for cordless versions; you have to deal with the issue of recharging the batteries, which,of course, will be time-consuming.
Advantages of Gas Weed Eaters
- No Limitation: Due to the power of the engine, gas trimmers are not limited by anything when it comes to accomplishing their job. This gives them a major advantage over their electric counterparts.
- More Torque: While electric weed eaters rely on the voltage and the type of wire used, gas trimmers rely on their powerful engines. With a powerful engine, the string/wire spins faster and steadier allowing the trimmer to cut through the thicker bushes with ease.
- Durable: Just like most gas-powered appliances, gas weed eaters are built to last and can last for a much longer time as compared to electric trimmers. Most electric trimmers have electronic parts inside them that can get damaged by water or a short-circuiting.
- Speed: Since they’re way more powerful than electric trimmers, gas weed eaters can accomplish a trimming job much faster as they’re not limited by anything.
Disadvantages of Gas Weed Eaters
- Not Environmentally Friendly: One of the major concerns of gas weed eaters is that they’re not environmentally safe. First, they’re too noisy when operating and second, they emit a lot of exhaust fumes.
- Costly: Another major drawback with gas trimmers is that they’re relatively costlier than electric weed eaters. Since they have lots of mechanical parts, maintenance cost is also on the higher side. Due to these reasons, gas trimmers are not the best for residential use but rather for those that are ready to bear the heavy burden.
- Heavy: Although they’re powerful and fast, gas weed eaters are quite bulky. That’s because of the convergence of too many mechanical parts. So, if you’re someone with muscle problems or suffering from arthritis, then the weight of a gas trimmer might be quite unbearable.
Now that we’ve tabled everything in plain language, we believe it’s now way easier for you to choose what works best for you. However, though, the battle of electric vs gas weed eater is not expected to have a straightforward winner any soon.
Thankfully, with smarter versions being released, everything will meltdown to your own personal needs. For instance, if you own a small property, you can sacrifice the high torque of a gas trimmer for the lightness and calmness of an electric weed eater.
On the other hand, if you’ve got some cash to burn or maybe you crave the high torque of a gas-powered trimmer, then you know which route to take. In either way, always have an excellent reason why you’ll need to consider one and leave the other.