Gas vs. Electric Weed Trimmers: Which is Better?
Whether you are upgrading or purchasing a weed trimmer for the first time, you are going to be faced with the option of choosing either a gas weed trimmer or an electric weed trimmer. To help you decide which type of trimmer best suits your needs, I have compiled some information about the pros and cons of the two types.
Are Gas or Electric Weed Trimmers Better?
Gas weed trimmers are typically better for extremely large jobs and for commercial use, while electric weed trimmers are better suited for normal daily use. For typical homes and electric weed trimmer will more than handle all of the trimming needs at a lower cost.
When making a decision, you will be faced with lots of information that may not be necessary for you. I wanted to make it easy and simple for you to compare the different types so that your decision can be quick and easy.
Below is a brief summary of the Pros and Cons, as well as an extended explanation.
- Environmentally Friendly
- Less Expensive
- Shorter Use Time
- Usually Not As Powerful
- Must Charge Battery
- Longer Use Time
- More Powerful
- Very Loud
- More Expensive to Maintain
- Must Purchase Gasoline
The main difference between gas trimmers and electric trimmers are that gas trimmers are powered by fuel. There are two main types of gas trimmers, two-stroke and four-stroke.
Two-Stroke: Powered by a mixture of gasoline and oil
Four-Stroke: Powered solely by gasoline
Once your weed trimmer is filled with the necessary fuel, the trimmer is ‘turned on’ by pulling a string attached to the motor. This is similar to how you would start up a lawn mower.
After the trimmer has been turned on, the motor begins to idle. This is essentially the same as when your vehicle is turned on and in park. By pressing a lever at the top near the handle, the trimmer begins to rotate and is ready to be used.
When you think of a typical weed trimmer, oftentimes what comes to mind is a gas trimmer. Gas trimmers are the predominant choice for landscaping companies and individuals who have large yards. The main reason for this is the extended use time.
For some individuals, a longer time length is not really a major deciding factor, so I compiled the pros and cons of both model types so you can make a decision based on your needs.
The Advantages of Gas Trimmers
- Longer use time
- More powerful
Longer Use Time
Like I mentioned before, the gas trimmer is known for its ability to extend over long periods of time.
Unlike electric trimmers, gas trimmers are not dependent on battery life. A gas trimmer is only limited by the amount of fuel that it is given. A well-maintained weed trimmer can provide up to 8 hours of use a day. And if you need more time than that, all you have to do is re-fill the gas chamber.
With the use of an engine in a gas-powered trimmer, the result is that the trimmer is more powerful.
Electric trimmers are limited to the voltage and type of wire that is used by the trimmer. Gas trimmers are not limited by this and therefore are much more powerful than electric trimmers.
The engine is directly attached to the wire and therefore the wire spins faster and harder. This allows the trimmer to cut through harder plants and thicker weeds. The wire is also less likely to stop when it comes into contact with harder weeds or stronger plants
Gas-powered trimmers are more likely to last a long time, not just in regards to daily use, but in regards to its overall longevity. A well-maintained gas trimmer can last 20+ years. Again, the operative word is well-maintained. If you don’t take care of your trimmer, it will not last you nearly as long. More maintenance is needed for gas mowers than electric mowers.
In addition, because they are more powerful, gas trimmers are less likely to suffer damage. If you come across a particularly strong weed, it will easily get rid of it, while an electric trimmer will try but may become damaged in the process.
Due to the increased power, gas trimmers tend to get the job done quicker. Unlike electric trimmers, gas trimmers are so powerful that simple tasks such as trimming overgrown grass can take half the amount of time it would take an electric one.
Similarly, thicker and more difficult plants/weeds can be cut through in less time. The speed and power that gas trimmers have are predominantly why most professionals choose them over electric trimmers.
The Disadvantages of Gas Trimmers
- More Expensive
- High Levels of Emission
Because gas trimmers use an engine, they are typically very loud. If you have ever been woken up by a pesky neighbor who is doing their lawn at 7am, it is likely someone using a gas trimmer.
These trimmers can be so loud that many people opt to wear hearing protection. I guess that is the price you pay for a powerful trimmer.
More Expensive to Buy and Maintain
Gas trimmers typically cost $250 or more. This is for the trimmer alone and does not include the additional cost of oil and gasoline or maintenance fees.
Gas trimmers are more difficult to maintain. Many people purchase a gas trimmer without realizing how much time and money it will be to make sure it is in proper working condition.
One of the biggest things people don’t realize is that in between each use, you have to take the oil and gasoline out of the tank. In addition, you will have to pay for fuel and oil costs every time you run out, which can really add up.
And while gas trimmers are durable, they aren’t invincible. They can always become damaged over time. If damage does occur, buying new parts can be incredibly expensive.
High Levels of Emission
For some people, fuel emissions are not a big deciding factor, but for others it is. Due to the use of gasoline in gas trimmers, fuel emissions are higher than an electric one. Therefore, if you are concerned about your own health it may be ideal to either purchase a mask or go with an electric trimmer.
Similarly, if you are concerned about the environment, an electric trimmer is most likely what you will want to buy.
Gas trimmers are more durable and more powerful because of the engine that is directly attached to it. While the engine does help with power level and the durability of the trimmer, it also adds a significant amount of weight.
Electric trimmers typically weigh under 10 pounds, and it is difficult to find one that is over that limit. Gas trimmers tend to be much heavier, and some can even reach over 20 pounds.
The weight of gas trimmers can be a big problem for some people who have joint problems or muscular problems.
Electric trimmers do not use any type of gasoline or oil to power them. There are two main types of electric trimmers: cordless or corded.
Cordless: Powered by a battery pack that is attached to the main component.
Corded: Has a cord that plugs into an outlet and is powered through your electric.
For this article, we will only be discussing the pros and cons of a cordless electric trimmer.
Similar to the gas trimmers, cordless electric trimmers use a motor and a plastic wire to pull up and trim the weeds. In order to start the trimmer, you simply take the charging battery pack and attach it to the trimmer and press the start button. This powers on the motor and allows the motor to idle.
Again, like the gas trimmer, you will hold down a button on the handle of the trimmer to allow the motor to rotate, and then you begin to trim.
The Advantages of Electric Trimmers
- Environmentally Friendly
- Less Expensive
Unlike gas trimmers, electric trimmers are quiet, really quiet. Your neighbors will be unlikely to complain no matter when you decide to use it. Because they are powered by a battery and not an engine, the only sound you will hear is the sound of the wire ripping up the weeds. You may hear the wire rotating, but there is no need to wear ear protection.
Since there is no large engine attached to the trimmer, the only weight associated with an electric trimmer is that of the battery. This is particularly beneficial for people who may have difficulty lifting heavy tools for long periods of time. Most electric trimmers average at 4 pounds for weight, while most gas trimmers average 12 pounds.
In addition to not having to wear ear protection, you also would not have to wear a mask when trimming, because electric trimmers do not require fuel. Without fuel, these trimmers do not produce any emissions. The only smell you will have to deal with is the smell of cut grass.
Not only is this healthier for you, but it is also healthier for the environment. With no fuel emissions, purchasing an electric trimmer is like purchasing an electric car over a normal car.
A typical electric trimmer costs under $150. The reasoning for this is that electric trimmers do not include large engines that cost a significant amount of money to create. Electric trimmers alone without batteries typically cost under $50.
If your trimmer ever breaks, but your battery is still functional, you can always purchase a new trimmer for a considerably lower price than buying a new gas trimmer.
The Disadvantages of Electric Trimmers
- Smaller Use Time
- Not as Powerful
- Batteries can be Expensive
- Charge Time
Smaller Use Time
Unlike the typical gas trimmer which can last up to 8 hours, electric trimmers are limited to their battery life. An average electric trimmer lasts 30 minutes to 1 hour, and they take between 1 and 3 hours to charge.
For some people, this is a major turn-off because they have a big yard or need a trimmer to last much longer than an hour. In addition, most electric trimmers only come with one battery; so if you wanted to charge multiple batteries to use a trimmer for longer, it would be an additional cost.
Not as Powerful
Because most electric trimmers are powered by a battery pack, they are not as powerful and will become less powerful with use. Unlike gas trimmers which are continually powered by an engine, battery packs tend to drain and lose power throughout their use.
This means that if you have tough weeds or thick grass, you need to get through, do it first. Otherwise the trimmer will not be able to get through it toward the end.
However, you do have the ability to get a stronger wire and a higher voltage of the battery. The higher the battery voltage, the more powerful the weed trimmer will be. A typical electric trimmer comes with a 20 Volt battery, but you can purchase 40 Volt batteries also.
Batteries can be Expensive
Most electric trimmers come with one battery pack at the initial purchase. While this is typical, it oftentimes is not ideal for most people, and they will need/want to buy an additional battery pack so that they can use their trimmer for a longer period of time.
This is a downfall because battery packs on their own can be almost as much as the trimmer itself. And while most electric trimmers are cheaper than gas ones, with the purchase of an additional battery pack the price can be comparable.
If you do not have the ability to purchase a second battery, you will be faced with the charge time of the single battery that you have. Most batteries last around 30 minutes of use time, while the time it takes them to charge can be 1 to 3 hours.
This can be an unfortunate reality for some people. If you do not have a large yard, then this may not be a problem for you. Most homeowners don’t have over an hour of weed trimming to do in their yard, and of course, the job can always be broken up into managable segments to allow for charging.
Recommended Gas Trimmers
Now that you have all the proper information to make an informed decision. It is time to look at some of the choices within each category.
Not all trimmers are made the same. Below are some of our recommendations for the best options on the market.
- Features a 28cc 2-cycle engine which powers the 17 inch (cutting width) trimmer head
- Easily release new trimmer line as you work by tapping the trimmer head against the grass to activate the Tap 'N Go line release feature
- A translucent fuel tank allows you to visually monitor your fuel level as you work
Recommended Electric Trimmers
Below are some great options for electric weed trimmers.
- POWERLOAD™ head allows you to load your line, push a button and go
- Carbon Fiber Shaft with a Lifetime Warranty
- 15-In cutting swath
- 12 in. cut path with 0.065 dual line auto feed head
- Compatible with Greenworks G-MAX 40V Li-Ion system for higher efficiency and longer run time with an assortment of tools to complete your yard work
- Includes one 2Ah battery and charger
When to Use a Trimmer
Weed trimmers are used to get into cracks and small places that a lawn mower cannot access. They are typically used between sidewalk cracks to get the weeds growing in between, and on the side of curbs to create a clean line of grass without some going over the side.
Anywhere where you would like a clean edge to your yard is where you would use a weed trimmer. They help create a clean and well-maintained appearance to your lawn.
Weed trimmers can also be used prior to mowing your lawn if the grass has grown too high and unruly. Lawnmowers are unable to properly cut grass if the grass gets too high. In these cases, it is best to trim the grass down to a manageable height before going over it with the mower.
How Trimmers Work
Trimmers are created with a plastic wire that rotates and eliminates unwanted weeds and grass. The plastic wire is pulled through a motor on the bottom of the trimmer and hangs there when not in use. When the trimmer is turned on, and the motor begins to rotate, the wire begins to rotate as well.
This wire is what is used to remove or trim weeds. The centrifugal force of the rotating motor makes the wire become stiff. When the wire becomes stiff, it acts similarly to a razor or saw. The force of the rotation creates enough power to cut through even the most difficult of brush.
Hopefully, all of this information has aided you in choosing the best product for your needs and lifestyle.
Deciding on an electric or gas weed trimmer really depends on your needs. For most families, the electric trimmer is the way to go as the positives of the gas mower really don’t come into play often.
The lightweight, lower cost electric trimmers can do the job on most yards across the world. If you go electric, look at maybe matching it with an electric mower that can share batteries.
If you need a new mower, or other yard products, be sure to check out our Recommended Mowers Page.