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 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.
How the Lopper performs
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 1.2cm-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 4cm and 10cm 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 more convenient and safer than its corded counterpart. Although 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. The manual advises a chain tension check at each oiling, but 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, though they are detailed in the instructions as they are for the corded version.
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.
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.