I’m among the homesteaders here at Permies who live in a zone with a lot of moisture, hence “a lot of nature”. I use a scythe for certain things but also need to rely on a brush-cutter/weed-whacker. For thick-leaved grasses, knap weed, woody shrub growth up to 3/8” stems. Over the years, I’ve bought (and worn out) a couple of them, “top name” brands and good machines.
Like many people here, I like the trend toward replacing small-engine gas-fueled equipment with battery-powered, when that’s practical. My best whacker so far is my current Shindaiwa C302 (31 cc), a durable model favored by park groomers and other city/suburb caretaking personnel. It does a hell of good job! — but roars like a bull elephant and emits the usual 2-cycle fumes.
So can you suggest a currently available battery machine to replace it? Something that has enough power for real work, allows a good work stretch between recharges, and hopefully comes with two batteries so you can switch between fully charged ones and work for at least an hour at a time?
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I bought a ryobi 40 volt string weed wacker kit(tool, one batt.40V 4.0 amp hr., charger). It's called expand a tool. I now have the blade cutter head, and the cultivator. I also bought one after market batt.(ebay, 40V.,6.0 amp hr).Batteries are expensive. I've used the brush blade on black berry and small sized wood(1 inch or less). The cultivator is really handy on prepared beds, loamy garden, but can be a burden to try to till ciay type soils. I can/do bust up sod. and then run cultivator. I still use my 2 cycle mantis. If you think about getting one or some of these, it might be a good idea to go somewhere and have one or all put together to get a sense of the balance. I'm also glad when the battery dies, as I'm more than ready to take a break!
I bought a ryobi 40 volt string weed wacker kit(tool, one batt.40V 4.0 amp hr., charger). It's called expand a tool. I now have the blade cutter head, and the cultivator. I also bought one after market batt.(ebay, 40V.,6.0 amp hr).Batteries are expensive. I've used the brush blade on black berry and small sized wood (1 inch or less).
Howdy, Randal. Thanks for the reply. I'm impressed that you're cutting wood up to 1" with the Ryobi machine. My Shindaiwa will do that (but I refrain, as my brush blade needs sharpening too often if I go after woody stems/canes that big).
randal cranor wrote:I still use my 2 cycle mantis. If you think about getting one or some of these, it might be a good idea to go somewhere and have one or all put together to get a sense of the balance. I'm also glad when the battery dies, as I'm more than ready to take a break!.
So you're getting a good, long run with each full charge. I know with my 2-cycle machine I have to fuel-up again after 45-50 minutes of tough cutting. I understand you need breaks when using your machine, and I get tired after 45-min or so with mine -- but how much time do you typically get on a charge?
You also have a 2-cycle machine, but is that strictly for the cultivation?
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Hey, I am using a Stihl battery powered trimmer, I believe it is an FSA 90. I do not really use it for knocking down brush, but it will chew through the occasional blackberry plant or overgrown thistle. Using one of the 36v AP 300 battery packs for it I think I can get about 25 minutes of run-time. After 2 battery packs I start to get that tingly/numb sensation in my hands, so I am ready for a break anyway.
I really want to switch entirely to electric, but it is hard to give up the power of gas tools. I also run a big fs460 gas trimmer that is a real beast with a steel brush blade on it. I really like how quiet and clean electric tools are. Working in exhaust fumes feels really gross after a stretch of just using the battery trimmer. I think at this point you will be hard pressed to find a battery tool that can compete on power or run-time compared to a gas engine, so you have to really decide what your ultimate priority is.
Electrics let you work in clean air, they are slightly more sustainable (but really, they are made with fossil energy, so even if you are charging them with solar, you are not going to save the world by switching to electric), they are quiet, they do not idle, are instant-on, and they require basically no maintenance.
Gas is hands down cheaper, more powerful, but also more maintenance, more polluting and unsustainable in every way (short of some sort of drop-in-replacement bio-fuel).
I see two equally compelling directions to go; One is to give up on gas entirely (it really is a technological dead-end) and find ways to adapt to a life without using such a compact power source. One idea would be to use goats; or use an electric trimmer on the grass, then cut down the heavy brush with loppers. Its a compromise, but could be workable. The other option would be to try and get to "net-zero emissions" instead of "zero emissions." In this approach you would do as much as possible with your more renewable options, and then offset all the 2-stroke fuel you use to bring yourself back down to zero emissions. The CO2 from a gallon of mixed gas could be recovered from the atmosphere by making a single 5 gallon bucket of biochar. So run your brush cutter when you need it, but gather up the brush and char it in a pit.
I think ultimately gas is going to be phased out, and kids will laugh at the idea of us refueling our power tools with extremely flammable liquid, and then breathing in the fumes all day. But I also dont think we will get there overnight; it is going to be a slow process.
The Greenhouse of the Future ebook by Francis Gendron