Alligator lopper quick review

The Lopper chainsaw is now available in a cordless version. We tested it to see how it compares to the original
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01 .Alligator lopper cordless

Alligator lopper cordless

Black & Decker 18V Cordless Alligator Lopper GKC1000

Price: $200
Weight: 3.5kg

3 1/2 stars out of 5

When CHOICE reviewed the corded Alligator Lopper we found it worked well and was easy to use but we had reservations about some aspects of its safety. Black & Decker has now released the cordless version, powered by an 18V battery pack, which improves its ease of use by removing the need for an extension cord or power socket. Our sister organisation in New Zealand, Consumer, put the cordless Lopper through its paces to see how it compared.

Battery life is tested by first conditioning the battery, then running three tests. Although the first battery charge took more than 100 minutes, 40 minutes longer than the claim, the following charges came closer to the 60 minute claim.

Testing on gum, cherry and pine, we were able to make 43 to 77 cuts on a full charge. Cuts of less than 2mm caused the lopper to buck, it had trouble cutting through 120mm-thick wood and it was more difficult to grip the lopper on these larger pieces. Care needs to be taken with larger branches, as the final cut makes the Lopper kick back.

CHOICE recommends only cutting wood between 40mm and 100mm thick. As the charge decreases, the Lopper has difficulty cutting through any thickness of wood, so it’s best to recharge when you find it slowing down.

Using the Lopper is relatively easy compared with a handsaw, and the lack of a power cord means it’s convenient and safer than its corded counterpart. While at 3.5kg it is heavy, the battery pack counterbalances the front of the saw, making it reasonably balanced, which is another improvement on the corded version.

Oiling the chain every 10 minutes or so is tiresome but easy; until a model is released that does this automatically, it’s a necessary chore. While the manual advises a chain tension check at each oiling, we didn’t need to adjust the chain at any of our test runs.

The safety guards around the jaws limit the amount of chips thrown out, but safety goggles are still essential. Unfortunately no warnings are prominent on the product to avoid falling branches as with their corded product, however they are detailed in the instructions as they are for the corded version.

CHOICE Verdict

Except for cutting very small branches (better achieved with a handsaw or garden shears) and cutting branches larger than the recommended 100mm, the cordless Alligator Lopper – though a little heavier than its corded counterpart – is balanced and easy to use and control.

Please note: this information was current as of March 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market. 


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Alligator Lopper corded

Black and Decker Alligator Lopper GK-1000XE

Price $149
Weight 3kg

3 stars out of 5

The Alligator Lopper is an electric-powered chainsaw which claims to make “short work of the toughest logs and branches”, as well as “small branches and vines”, so we asked a professional arborist to test these claims.

The product’s instructions claim it has a maximum cut diameter of 10cm and a minimum of 2.5cm. Our tester found these to be accurate – any slimmer than 2.5cm and the vibration becomes too great, while any greater than 10cm (we tried up to 15cm) and the jaws are not able to clasp the wood.

The chainsaw works in a scissor-like fashion, with two handles with a button within each. Both of these need to be pressed to start the chainsaw. It’s very easy to use, however the weight of the motor at the mid point can make it feel unbalanced compared with a normal chainsaw. Oiling it is easy and debris didn’t fly up into the tester’s face when cutting.

You’ll need a long extension cord if you are going some distance away from a power outlet, which means you have to be careful the power cord doesn’t go anywhere near the jaws of the product.

Also, our tester was concerned with the safety aspect of the way it cuts. Since the chainsaw makes a straight cut, it means not being able to direct where the branch will fall. This may allow the branch or trunk to fall onto anyone nearby including the person cutting, or a nearby building. The instructions show how to avoid this, but warnings on the product itself would be advisable.

CHOICE Verdict

The Alligator Lopper is a handy tool and works well. However, we recommend you closely follow the instructions and warnings supplied separately. CHOICE would like to see a prominent warning printed on the product, so people can avoid having trees or large branches fall on them.

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