Grass trimmer reviews

Petrol trimmers outgun their cordless cousins.
 
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  • Updated:1 Aug 2006
 

02.Results

What to buy

The following performed best in our test:

  • Petrol - STIHL FS 38 $249
  • Cordless - BLACK & DECKER Firestorm NST 2018-XE $169

The STIHL is a good head in front of the other petrol models for trimming performance, but all of them scored higher than the battery-powered models.
The cordless BLACK & DECKER rated best overall for ease of use, though it didn’t trim edges or cut long grass as well as the petrol models. It would be suitable instead of a lawnmower for small yards, provided you don’t let the grass get overgrown.

What about the rest?

All the other petrol trimmers — the GREEN MACHINE, RYOBI PLT-3043YW, TROY-BILT, GMC and HUSQVARNA — are worth considering. They’re good overall performers, though not as effective and/or as easy to use as the recommended STIHL.

If you're after a cordless trimmer, the ENVIROMOWER is also worth considering. However, it’s heavy for a cordless model and its line feed can be annoying to use (see What to look for).

The other cordless models, the OZITO and RYOBI CLT-1223, are too underpowered. They struggled to cut the grass in all our tests. Both are very awkward to use for vertical trimming because their rear handles don’t rotate. In fact the RYOBI’s instructions say it shouldn’t be used as an edger, which seems strange as this is a common use for line trimmers.

 

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Results table

Performance
Brand / model
(in rank order within groups)
Overall score1
(%)
Performance score2
(%)
Ease of use score3
(%)
Noise
(user’s position / 7.5 m, dB)
Price
($)**
Petrol
STIHL FS 38 85 94 75 98 / 80 249
GREEN MACHINE GM254CLT 78 88 67 101 / 83 299
RYOBI PLT-3043YW 77 88 65 102 / 83 179
TROY-BILT TB25CS 76 78 73 99 / 81 187
GMC GLT25 73 78 67 98 / 79 99
HUSQVARNA 24C 73 78 68 99 / 77 249
Cordless (battery)
BLACK & DECKER FireStorm NST 2018-XE (A) 70 54 85 84 / 70 169
ENVIROMOWER Envirotrimmer LT250 63 48 77 79 / 69 189
RYOBI CLT-1223 (B) 50 20 80 73 / 62 99
OZITO CLT-400 49 28 70 80 / 65 69

Features4 Specifications
Brand / model
(in rank order within groups)
Line feed Clutch Shoulder harness Edging guide Battery Weight (kg)* Length (cm) Cutting diameter (cm) Origin Warranty (years) Manufacturer / distributor
Petrol
STIHL FS 38 Bump na 4.6 149 39 USA 2 Stihl
GREEN MACHINE GM254CLT Bump na 4.6 150 43 China 2 Ryobi
RYOBI PLT-3043YW Bump na 4.6 145 43 China 2 Ryobi
TROY-BILT TB25CS Bump na 6 154 43 Mexico 2 (C) MTD Products
GMC GLT25 Bump na 5.1 166 37 China 2 GMC
HUSQVARNA 24C Bump na 4.9 145 43 USA 2 Husqvarna Outdoor Products
Cordless (battery)
BLACK & DECKER FireStorm NST 2018-XE (A) Automatic na NiCad, 18 V 3.1 104–132 30 China 4 Black & Decker
ENVIROMOWER Envirotrimmer LT250 Automatic na Lead acid, 12 V 5.3 118–130 25 ns 2 (D) Enviromower
RYOBI CLT-1223 (B) Bump na NiCad, 12 V 2.3 106–135 23 China 2 Ryobi
OZITO CLT-400 Bump na NiCad, 18 V 2.5 93–111 23 China 2 Ozito Industries

Table notes

All the petrol motors are two-stroke.
* Not including petrol for petrol models; includes battery for cordless models.
** Recommended retail price, as advised by manufacturers in June 2006, unless noted otherwise.
na Not applicable.
ns Not stated.
(A) We tested a sample from New Zealand. Black and Decker plans to release this model in Australia later this year, either through Bunnings under the Firestorm brand, or else through independent stores under the Black & Decker brand with a new model number. We'll let you know the new model details when they're available.
(B) Will be discontinued in November, replaced by a new 18 V model from the ONE+ range, supplied without battery/charger, RRP $79.
(C) Doesn’t cover engine; separate engine manufacturer’s warranty applies but wasn’t supplied.
(D) Battery one year.
(E) The price we paid in April 2006.

1 Overall score

This consists of:

  • Performance: 50%
  • Ease of use: 50%

2 Performance

This consists of:

  • Horizontal trimming along fences and walls, and trimming areas of lawn: 40%
  • Vertical trimming — with the cutting head perpendicular to the ground — along the edges of paths and garden borders: 40%
  • Cutting long grass up to around 45 cm in length: 20%

3 Ease of use

This conists of the following equally weighted aspects:

  • How comfortable they are to use, taking into account their weight, balance, handles, angle of the cutting head and so on.
  • Respooling the line.
  • Using controls.
  • Starting.
  • Using the line feed.
  • Vibration.

4 Features

See What to look for, for more on these.