By Tim Newton
Labour Weekend traditionally marks the time for spring cleaning the garden.
That may also be time to service the garden power tools; lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers and line trimmers.
Early adopters of new technology will probably already have a range of cordless electric or battery powered equipment.
As with electric cars, much of the cost-saving comes with reduced servicing cost. For most petrol powered 2-stroke or 4-stroke small engines, if you can get away with a single annual service, that’s around $200 per year.
By comparison, the battery powered equivalent has little or no annual servicing cost, and the running cost of a battery power tool (including the cost of the battery and electricity used) comes out around 20 to 30 cents per charge.
How long does a charge get you? A modern high capacity battery will easily outlast an equivalent petrol-powered tool. For example, a small 36-volt chainsaw with a 6 amp hour battery will run for up to an hour. A hedge trimmer with the same battery will run for up to 4 hours.
Similar sized petrol machines will cost twice as much in fuel and give you a shorter run time.
Some of us like the sound of a screaming two-stroke engine but not many of us like the noise of the neighbour’s one. Not to mention the smell and smoke. Two stroke engines are notoriously inefficient because they burn a mixture of petrol and oil together. A US study showed that running a 2 stroke engine for half an hour produces the same amount of pollution as driving your car for several thousand kilometres.
The battery electric tool range is ever expanding. Currently it is possible to buy a chainsaw with a 16 inch (or 40 cm bar) and there is even a small ride on lawn mower.
When purchasing new battery powertools, it’s worth considering warranty times, parts availability and servicing as well as charging time. If you’re buying a small electric drill, for example, charging time can vary from half an hour to overnight. Tool warranties on parts and batteries range from one year to six years.
When we started purchasing battery tools for our arborist and landscaping work around 5 years ago, Stihl were the only business with a good selection and local availability.
Now Husqvarna also have a good selection as do Makita and Hitachi or Hikoki as they are now known.
My advice? Go electric and go with quality, long warranty and local outlets for parts and servicing. Make your garden more beautiful, maintain peace and quiet and save the planet!
*Landscapers and plant scientists Clare Jackson and Tim Newton, of GreenFootprint, have 30 years experience designing and building beautiful, sustainable landscapes, and working in gully restoration and tree care.
If you’d like help with any aspect of your gully, trees or garden, they welcome your inquiry. Contact Tim, phone 021 103 5755; email firstname.lastname@example.org