Whether you call it a weeder, weeder, weed trimmer, or something else, a string trimmer has the same basic concept — spinning the wire fast enough for the tip to cut grass. Take five people at random and they might tell you five different models of the best cord cutters. We let our not-so-random team dig in and offer advice on everything from homeowners with small lawns to professional lawn caregivers.
The best overall cord trimmer for professionals
Echo X Series Cord Trimmer SRM-2620T
There's a lot of debate about the best gas line trimmers overall, and the Echo is consistently in there with its X-Series SRM-2620/2620T models. The only difference between the two is that the "T" model has a 2:1 high torque transmission which we generally recommend for professionals.
This mod balances everything out nicely. The 25.4cc engine maintains a reasonable weight (12.5 lbs dry) and is always easy to start. In terms of power-to-weight ratio, the 2620T is the best. It runs on less than 21 ounces of fuel and has a solid run time. It's also highly maneuverable, and the narrow guard gives you a good line of sight on the 17" cutting belt. As an added bonus, the Speed-Feed 400 handpiece makes changing lines simple.
Price: $379.99 (2620 was $349.99)
The best overall cord cutters for homeowners
EGO PowerLoad Cord Trimmer with Line IQ ST1623T
For homeowners, the decision to switch to a battery-powered system is an easy one to make if the budget is within yours. EGO has consistently produced some of the best performing, lowest vibration string trimmers on the market.
Even better, they tend to lead technology development and push the standard again with ST1623T. It features PowerLoad – a technology that lets you load circuits easier than ever. Simply thread your new thread to the midpoint of your head, press the PowerLoad button, and it will self-wind.
And wired IQ. This is an automatic feeding system that keeps your line at 16 inches without bumping your head as you go. Throw in the retractable carbon fiber shaft, and it's easy to see why we chose it as the best cord trimmer for homeowners.
Price: $299 with 4.0Ah battery and charger
Stihl Professional Thread Trimmer FS 91 R
The Echo's 2620T is our pick for the best overall professional string trimmer, and as a gas model, it's also clearly the best gas string trimmer in our book. It was followed by Stihl's workhorse model, the FS91. This 16.5-inch trimmer's 28cc engine has plenty of power to mow lawn grass and even do some farm and ranch work. Meanwhile, its 12.1-pound dry weight is manageable, and its 24-ounce fuel tank provides impressive intervals between refueling.
Of course, Stihl's extensive dealer and service network is a great advantage of owning its products. When you need regular maintenance or occasionally your trimmer needs repair unexpectedly, you can quickly get it back in the game.
The best cordless battery-operated cord trimmers
Husqvarna 520iLX Battery Powered Lawn Mower
Designed for professionals and larger property use, Husqvarna's 520iLX is the one cordless battery-operated lawn mower you should be looking at. Its performance is great for hitting lawn grass, and we like the reverse button to release tangled grass.
However, it has other features. The naked trimmer weighs just 6.6 lbs, and the battery keeps it under 10 lbs. It's one of the lightest, most balanced trimmers you can get with professional construction.
From there, it's extremely low-vibration, and while the noise level isn't the lowest we've tested, its tone is far less jarring than other models.
Price: $299.99 bare metal
best electric string trimmer
Ryobi Attachment Electric Cord Trimmer RY41135
Just because you prefer to plug in doesn't mean you have to settle for low performance. In a close decision, Ryobi beat Kobalt over the 10-amp, 18-inch option. In addition to having the same power and cutting strips, both trimmers feature attachment capabilities and are considerably lighter. What pushes the Ryobi to victory as the best electric cord trimmer is its easy-loading head, which makes one of the most frustrating parts of owning a cord trimmer much easier to handle.
The Best Harness Trimmers for Large Areas
Echo X Series Brush Cutter SRM-2620U
The best string trimmer for large areas that lawnmowers can't reach has to meet a few criteria: It has to have excellent run time, a large cutting range, and (in our opinion) require a bike handle design.
Take our top professional pick, add bike handles and a seat belt, and you've got the Echo SRM-2620U brush cutter. It has the same engine and trimmer head, but swaps out the D-shaped handles for the greater support a bike handle design provides, while giving you the same performance in a more manageable design for longer periods of time.
The Best Overgrown Area Trimmers
Husqvarna Brush Cutter 545FR
If you're dealing with a lot of overgrowth, be prepared to take it slow. In this case, we also recommend a bike-handle cord trimmer that is capable of using the brushcutter head when the going gets really tough. We also recommend a bigger engine.
When you need a mower that doesn’t know when to stop, our top pick is the Husqvarna 545FR, the best mower for overgrowth. It has a powerful 45.7cc engine and will happily use a trimmer head, lawn mowing blade, or brush cutter blade. From tall grass to saplings, it's an effective way to clear areas quickly. Equipped with a comfortable harness, shock-absorbing bike handlebars, and an easy start, it's an easy recommendation we make.
best string trimmer line
Echo Black Diamond String Trimmers
No doubt I'm going to start an argument in this section (even in our own office), but the best line of cord cutters is Echo's Black Diamond line. It's denser than many basic lines on the market, which combined with the pointed square twist make it more efficient at cutting its size. Available in 0.095" and 0.105" sizes, it fits almost any trimmer and is a great alternative to battery powered options.
best cord trimmer brands
If the previous section started arguing, this one will start a full-blown brawl. Echo, Husqvarna and Stihl have been part of the conversation when it comes to cord cutters that cover the entire range, and other brands like Makita and Redmax have also popped up. Add in full battery brands like Milwaukee and Greenworks Commercial and the situation can get confusing.
In our opinion, Husqvarna is the best overall lawn mower brand. They run the gamut from pros, gas and batteries to homeowners, from forestry shrub cutting to lawn cutting better than anyone else. While the Stihl is the standard in the service dealer network, Husqvarna does a good job close to home too.
Best cord trimmer buying guide | what we look for
Gas vs. Battery vs. Electric String Trimmers
Choosing your wire cutter power supply has a lot to do with balancing performance, convenience, and price.
Gasoline provides the most power, and when you run out of fuel, it only takes a few minutes to top up. On the other hand, they are loud, require maintenance, require an oil-air mixture, and produce emissions.
Battery powered lawn mowers are quiet, emit no emissions and require minimal maintenance. Plus, today's performance rivals that of a 30cc engine that runs for roughly the same amount of time as a tank of gasoline. However, cordless cord trimmers can be more expensive, and charging the battery can take several hours in some cases.
Electric cord trimmers have the advantage of being battery powered, with the added bonus of lower cost and virtually unlimited run time. They don't usually hit that high of a power rating, though, and you're forced to lug an extension cord across your lawn.
String Trimmer Line Size
Most cord trimmers are rated for cords between 0.080 and 0.105 inches, with edge options below and above that range (one cord trimmer even uses a zipper, but we don't recommend it).
In general, a smaller diameter wire won't do much damage to anything it strikes, such as paint on an exterior wall, wood on a pergola, or irrigation pipes. It also gets the longest runtime from a battery-operated cord cutter. As the diameter increases, the pipeline becomes less destructive and energy efficient, but more stable in harsh conditions.
For smaller lawns, the 0.080-inch cord is great for grass control, and the battery-powered cord trimmers have excellent run times, allowing you to fit more cord on your head than with larger diameter cords. This is the minimum line width we recommend in most cases.
The 0.095" cord is the perfect combination of fast cutting, moderate risk of collateral damage, and solid run time on a cordless trimmer. For most cordless cord trimmers, this is the thickness we recommend, but some Pro models can move up a step nicely.
For professional teams, farms and ranches, and other large properties, the 0.105" wire is the best choice. It quickly clears overgrown and thick-stemmed grass while taking a lot of abuse. However, it takes more energy to spin the extra mass, and you'll probably need a 30cc+ engine to use it most efficiently. If you're considering battery powered options, we'd only recommend the 0.105" line for the higher end professional models that are specifically designed to handle it.
The cutting tape is the diameter your wire covers. For smaller lawns, 13 – 14 inches is fine, especially if you're using a walk behind lawn mower that can get closer to the edge of the landscape. 15 – 16 inches is a good all-around diameter, while professional workers and large property owners can make good use of 17 inches or larger.
String trimmer weight is an important consideration. The more weight you have at the end, the more your back needs to help you handle it. Shoulder straps help a lot, especially on the largest gas units, and some cordless models also come with straps.
In most cases, choose the lightest cord trimmer with the performance to handle the toughest jobs and the build quality to give you years of use.
Vibration is the focus of this high-performance cordless cord trimmer. All gas engines have at least some vibration, and most people don't think much of it. That's still the case with gasoline, but cordless and electric cord trimmers vary widely in the amount of vibration they generate. In many cases, moving the motor to the head helps reduce vibration from the drive shaft, even though it can take some of the weight off your arm.
For the most part, gas and AC lawn mowers don't have many extra features to look for. However, there may be something about brushless battery-operated models that can sway your purchasing decision. Here are some things to look out for:
- Accessory Capabilities (All Power Types)
- Multiple speeds (including automatic mode)
- reverse rotation to untangle tall grass
- Accelerate Accelerate
- Compatibility with other lawn care equipment and power tools
We value value – value for money is always our top priority. It's not just about what the cheapest cord cutter you can buy is. It's about meeting your top priorities and staying within budget.
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