These days, when it comes to buying a new hedge trimmer you have more choice than ever. In addition to traditional petrol hedge trimmers, it’s now possible to buy electric and battery hedge trimmers. If you’re in the market for a new hedge trimmer, but aren’t sure which option is correct for you, then keep reading…
Petrol hedge trimmers
We’ll begin by looking at what has been the ‘traditional’ option; petrol hedge trimmers.
Petrol hedge trimmers are powered in the main by two-stroke motors and are available in two main varieties:
- Handheld hedge trimmers.
- Pole (long reach) hedge trimmers.
As you would expect, petrol trimmers offer considerable cutting power being powered by motors that have a power output between 0.4 to 1.4 HP. (You’ll often see petrol hedge trimmers advertised based on motor capacity e.g. 22cc, 31cc etc).
Because of their power, petrol hedge trimmers tend to be used by groundcare professionals, estate managers, and other related professionals or private/domestic customers who have large tracts of shrubbery, hedge and vegetation to cut.
Like other types of hedge trimmer, petrol hedge trimmers feature a reciprocating finger-bar style cutting mechanism. This centres on a blade support rod to which blades are attached. Depending on the exact model you buy, a petrol trimmer will have either a single-sided cutting blade or a double-sided cutting blade.
Popular petrol hedge trimmer brands include Husqvarna and Stihl.
The pros and cons of petrol hedge trimmers
To help you decide if a petrol hedge trimmer is right for you, the team at Hughie Willett Machinery has outlined the advantages and disadvantages of petrol trimmers below.
The advantages of petrol hedge trimmers
Petrol hedge trimmers are the most powerful type of hedge trimmer you can buy, featuring considerable power outputs (up to or beyond 1.4 horsepower in some cases).
Another advantage of petrol hedge trimmers over other types of trimmers is their cutting speed. Cutting speeds can be as high as 3,000 to 4,000 cut/min allowing you to cut a considerable amount of shrubbery/vegetation in a shorter period of time.
Ease of refuelling
Another tick in the box for petrol hedge trimmers is how easy they are to refuel. If you’re going to be using the hedge trimmer throughout the day, then all you need is a jerry can full of petrol to keep it fuelled up and running. Or you could always use some pre-mixed fuel (pure petrol with the two-stroke oil already mixed in, which is sold in a variety of sizes - the 5 litre cans being the most popular).
Petrol hedge trimmers are both simple and durable pieces of equipment. Two-stroke motors in particular are relatively easy to maintain and will allow you to keep working all day, every day.
When petrol hedge trimmers do require a service, you’ll find that it’s a straightforward job which doesn’t have a significant cost.
Ease of use
Although they are predominantly used by groundcare professionals, today’s petrol hedge trimmers are easy-to-use and are suitable for nearly anyone to use in their garden.
Explore our range of petrol hedge trimmers and you’ll find models with innovative features such as ‘quick start’, adjustable handles, cut off safety features and more.
The disadvantages of petrol hedge trimmers
Petrol hedge cutters may be powerful, but this does come with a slight disadvantage; the emission of exhaust fumes.
Admittedly, this is much less of an issue than it used to be due to the low ash two-stroke oil now used. These days, petrol hedge cutters also feature advanced combustion and emission technologies which keep exhaust fumes to a minimum.
However, if this is a concern for you, you may want to consider a battery or electric hedge trimmer instead.
Petrol hedge trimmers - particularly those with two-stroke motors - can be a bit more noisy than their electric and battery powered siblings.
If you’ve ever been around a two-stroke hedge cutter then you’ll be aware that they give off a distinctive high-pitched ‘buzzing’ noise.
Luckily, many of today’s petrol hedge trimmers feature specially designed low-noise engines which are designed to reduce these audible emissions from the trimmer.
Because of their motors, petrol hedge trimmers do tend to be a bit heavier than other types of hedge trimmer. You can expect a petrol hedge hand-held cutter to weigh in the region of 3kg.
Having said that though, petrol hedge trimmers are increasingly being designed with ergonomic, adjustable handles and shoulder straps to make weight less of an issue.
Electric hedge trimmers
A popular alternative to petrol hedge trimmers are electric hedge trimmers. Ideal for a broad range of users, electric trimmers have improved considerably over the past decade.
Electric hedge trimmers - also known as corded hedge trimmers - require access to a power outlet and will have a power output in the range of 460 to 650 watts (0.5 to 0.9 horsepower). This makes them less powerful than petrol trimmers, but still with sufficient cutting power for all but the toughest of cutting jobs.
Whilst the majority of electric hedge trimmers are handheld models, it is possible to find electric long-reach or ‘pole’ hedge cutters on the market.
Popular electric hedge trimmer brands include Stihl.
The pros and cons of electric hedge trimmers
Is an electric hedge cutter the correct choice for you? The pros and cons listed below should help you make an informed decision.
The advantages of electric hedge trimmers
Compared to petrol hedge trimmers, electric hedge trimmers are clean to use and operate. They don’t give off emission fumes and don’t require the same level of lubricants. As a result, they are very much viewed as the ‘eco-friendly’ option. There is also very little servicing requirement on the corded machines.
Electric trimmers are generally much lighter than petrol hedge cutters, meaning they can be operated by a wider range of people.
At around 3 kg on average, electric hedge trimmers can be used for much longer periods of time without fatiguing the user. At this weight, electric hedge trimmers are also easier to manipulate and use e.g. they are much more suited for fine trimming and shaping work than petrol trimmers.
Ease of use
Electric hedge trimmers are one of the easiest items of garden equipment you can use. Simply plug one into a power socket, hit the power button and the hedgecutter is ready to work!
This compares very favourably with petrol trimmers that require you to mix the fuel with oil (if it’s a two-stroke trimmer), and start up the motor using a pull start.
In the majority cases, you’ll find that electric hedge trimmers require much less maintenance than petrol trimmers. This is because electric motors are simpler devices than internal combustion motors and don’t require you to change things like spark plugs, air filters etc.
Low operating noise
Electric hedge trimmers have the advantage of being quieter than their petrol counterparts.
They still give off a degree of noise, but if you (or your neighbours) are particularly sensitive about noise, then an electric trimmer is far preferable to a petrol trimmer.
To give you an idea of the difference in noise levels, consider that many electric hedge trimmers will have a noise level of approximately 84 dB. Petrol hedge trimmers on the other hand can have a noise level of roughly 97 dB.
That may not seem like a big difference ‘on paper’, but in person it really is!
If price is a key concern, then you’ll be pleased to know that electric hedge trimmers tend to sit at a lower price point than petrol hedge trimmers.
Here at Hughie Willett Machinery you can pick up an electric hedge trimmer for just over £100 (correct at the time of writing, June 2023, and subject to change).
The disadvantages of electric hedge trimmers
The power cord
The first - and most obvious - disadvantage associated with electric hedge trimmers is their power cable.
Because it is necessary to plug in an electric hedge trimmer, your area of operation will be limited by the length of the power cable. If you want to cut beyond that range, you’ll need to either find another power socket or use an extension cable.
Aside from the issue of ‘range’, the power cord can cause other issues e.g. it can be easy to become tangled in the cable, the cable represents a trip hazard, it can be possible to accidentally cut the power cable with the trimmer itself etc.
It’s for this reason that petrol hedge trimmers are the better option if you’re going to be cutting large tracts of vegetation/shrubbery etc.
Electric hedge trimmers are excellent all-round pieces of gardening equipment, however they’re not really suited for commercial use.
If you’re a commercial groundcare professional then you’re likely to find an electric hedge trimmer inconvenient to use due; the requirement to plug it in before use will limit its usability.
Battery hedge trimmers
Battery hedge trimmers - which are also commonly known as cordless hedge trimmers - are a newer type of hedge cutter that have grown in popularity in recent years.
As their name suggests, battery hedge trimmers use an onboard lithium-ion battery to power an electric motor - which in turn powers the blades.
Like other types of hedge trimmers, cordless hedge trimmers are available in both handheld and long reach (or ‘pole’) variants.
Cordless hedge trimmers have their power rated in terms of voltage (e.g. 36v). As a result, it’s difficult to directly compare them with petrol trimmers e.g. horsepower.
Popular cordless hedge trimmer brands include Stihl and Husqvarna.
The pros and cons of cordless hedge trimmers
Like the other types of hedge trimmers that we’ve discussed so far in this article, cordless hedge trimmers have both pros and cons. We’ve detailed these below:
The advantages of cordless hedge trimmers
Ease of use
Being free of a power cable and light in weight, with no exhaust emissions, cordless hedge trimmers are arguably the easiest type of hedge trimmer to use.
Just ensure the battery has sufficient charge, turn the trimmer on and off you go. Simple!
With no cable to get tangled up in, you’ll be able to trim and shape shrubbery to your heart’s content. It also means you’ll be able to trim shrubbery no matter where it’s located in your garden; there’ll be no need for an extension cable.
Cordless hedge trimmers have the benefit of being relatively quiet pieces of machinery. Certainly compared to petrol trimmers, cordless trimmers are much quieter and in most cases you won’t have to wear ear defenders.
It’s for this reason that cordless hedge trimmers have become especially popular amongst home users and enthusiastic gardeners.
Like their corded counterparts, cordless hedge trimmers are eco-friendly. This is because they don’t give off exhaust fumes and run on clean battery electricity.
So, if you’re particularly concerned about your carbon footprint, or want to make your gardening or groundcare business more eco-friendly, a cordless hedge trimmer is a great solution.
Cordless hedge trimmers have the benefit of being low-maintenance. This is primarily because of the simplicity of their design and manufacture. Other than the electric motor and the blades themselves, there are few moving parts in a cordless hedge trimmer.
So long as you properly care for your cordless hedge trimmer, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get a long service life out of it.
The disadvantages of cordless hedge trimmers
Using a battery to power a hedge trimmer has many benefits, however, it does unfortunately have some limitations too.
The biggest limitation of cordless hedge trimmers is their run time. Depending on the exact model you buy, you are likely only to get between 45 minutes and 1 hour 20 minutes of run time.
If you have a smaller garden with minimal shrubbery, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. However, if you’re a commercial gardener or landscaper, you’re likely to find this amount of run time insufficient for your needs.
One workaround is to buy multiple batteries and swap them out as and when you need them; however, this does require extra expenditure.
Diminishing cutting performance
Another limitation of many cordless hedge trimmers is that their cutting performance diminishes as the charge runs out. In other words, you’ll find the hedge trimmer won’t cut as well the longer you use it.
It is possible to buy cordless hedge trimmers that have a ‘no fade’ power system e.g. the cutting performance doesn’t diminish, however the reality is these types of systems simply mean you run out of charge more quickly.
Not only do you often have to contend with short ‘operating windows’ for cordless hedge cutters, but you have to contend with long charging times.
Depending on the exact model you buy, and the size of battery it has, you could be looking at three to four hours per charge. This means you have to plan ahead and ensure your hedge trimmer is fully charged before you embark on your gardening.
One way around the capacity and charging issues detailed above is to buy a cutter with a much larger battery.
This will provide you with a hedge cutter that can cut for much longer periods of time and with fewer drops in cutting performance. Great! But, doing this comes at a cost; weight.
You’ll find that cordless hedge cutters with large batteries can be quite heavy. Indeed, in some instances, they’ll be as heavy or heavier than equivalent sized petrol hedge trimmers.
Which type of hedge trimmer is best for you? Is there a clear and conclusive winner?
Below, we’ve set out each type of hedge trimmer and the groups of people to which they are most suited. However, we’d like to emphasise that the choice is ultimately up to you!
- Petrol hedge trimmers - most suited to groundcare professionals, estate managers, agriculturalists, landscapers etc.
- Electric hedge trimmers - most suited to homeowners or small scale professional gardeners.
- Cordless hedge trimmers - at present, cordless hedge trimmers are best suited to homeowners.
Where to buy the best hedge trimmer
Whether you’re looking for a petrol, battery or electric hedge trimmer, you’ll find the perfect model for you here at Hughie Willett Machinery.
We work hard to provide one of the best ranges of hedge trimmers - at the best prices - on the internet.
Plus, as a main dealer for the best hedge trimmer brands - Husqvarna and Stihl - we are able to provide you expert advice and support on your purchase.