Let’s start this guide by explaining the key differences between cordless and petrol powered hedge trimmers.
Times have changed in recent years, so make sure to understand the pros and cons of both, so you can make a fully informed decision on what trimmer will work best for you.
Cordless hedge trimmers
As the name suggests, cordless hedge trimmers don’t have a cord and are powered by a battery.
As they are powered by a battery, they give you the freedom to trim your hedges no matter how far away from home you are, and without the hassle of having a cord dragging around.
Most modern batteries last between 20 and 40 minutes before needing a re-charge. You can purchase multiple batteries and fast chargers to boost run-time in the same gardening session.
They are much quieter and easier to carry around due to their lightweight design.
Many are surprised by how effective the more modern designs are, compared to the early days of cordless technology.
- Safer (no cords)
- Easier to manoeuvre
- Not quite as powerful
- Battery capacity insufficient for professional gardeners
Petrol hedge trimmers
Petrol hedge trimmers, on the other hand, are much more powerful and are preferred by more serious gardeners and landscapers.
If extended use is what you need, a petrol powered trimmer is your best bet. They can be used all day and it’s easy to top-up with fuel wherever you are.
However, due to the size and power of the motor, they can be quite heavy, noisy and polluting.
They’re only really worth using if you are a more serious gardener and need the power that they produce.
- Can be used for a long period of time
- Good for tackling thick branches
- Costly maintenance
- Noisy and dirty
How long do cordless hedge trimmers last?
Since the invention of lithium-ion batteries, cordless hedge trimmers have really stepped up their game. Older versions of these trimmers were capable of 20 minutes runtime without charging, but the modern versions can run for much longer.
Depending on the model and the brand, they have a runtime between 40 and 60 minutes. The latest GTech hedge trimmer HT50, for example, lasts up to 60 minutes, depending on the types of hedges you have to trim.
This may be discouraging for professional gardeners, but casual home owners won’t have a problem completing the job in this time.
Pro tip: Trimming your hedges often (2-3 times during the growing season) will be much easier and the battery will last much longer as you won’t have to cut through old and thick branches.
Charging time and cost
Just a few years back, you had to wait up to 16 hours just to charge a battery to trim your hedges for half an hour, meaning trimming would be an all-day task.
Today, some of the best cordless hedge trimmers, charge in around 4 hours or less.
Pro tip: You can also purchase a second battery in order to never run out of power if you have lots of hedges to trim.
Now, let’s calculate the cost…
Here’s the short story…It’ll cost around £1.95 a year to run a cordless hedge trimmer, assuming 45 mins usage per month.
Here’s the longer story….
Most cordless hedge trimmers have between 100 and 250 Watts per hour output.
But the charging time is NOT related to the power output of the trimmer, it’s to do with the battery…
We’ll assume you use your trimmer for 45 mins at a time and cut the hedge, on average, once per month.
That’s a total of 9 hours per year.
The charging time we will estimate at 4 hours per 45 minutes of use.
That’s a total of 45 hours charging.
We’ll also use an estimate of 0.3 Kilowatts required per hour to charge.
That’s around 13 Kilowatts per year.
The average cost for 1Kw per hour of electricity is 15 pence in the uk.
So, 13 Kw x 15 pence = £1.95.
So that’s pretty insignificant when you look at it over the course of 1 year.
Comparing that to the power usage of corded hedge trimmers, you save 70%.
What they were designed to do…
Cordless hedge trimmers are specifically designed to be lightweight and easy to handle, so they are perfect for taller hedges. Some even come with an extension pole so you don’t have to use any ladders or tire your arms.
If you have a large garden and don’t want the hassle of getting tangled up in extension cords, then cordless hedge trimmers are a great choice for you.
They are also perfect if you live in a highly populated area as they are very quiet and won’t upset any of your neighbours.
Even though they have become much more powerful, make sure not to use cordless hedge trimmers on bushes with a branch or stem diameter larger than 15 millimeters.
There are ones which come with branch cutter options, such as the GTech HT50 Hedge Trimmer.
Professional gardeners and landscapers may find it difficult to finish the job with cordless hedge trimmers because of the short run time.
However, this can easily be overcome by purchasing one of the newer models that have a very fast charging time and an extra battery.
There are a few different factors to consider to get a sense of the overall power of the machine:
- Battery type – lithium-ion batteries are a standard now, but there are still a few cordless tools that use nickel cadmium batteries, so try to avoid them.
- Voltage – all cordless hedge trimmers have different sized batteries by voltage, such as 20V, 40V etc. Even though this is just one factor of determining the power of the trimmer, it’s the most useful. However, higher voltage also means a heavier trimmer and higher charging costs, so choose wisely.
- Charge and run time – look for trimmers with higher run time and lower charge time. This is extremely important if you have many hedges you need to trim as you don’t want to be interrupted mid work.
- Strokes per minute (SPM) – Hedge trimmers work with blades in two layers that slide on top of each other to create a snipping motion, like a pair of scissors. SPM is the speed at which the blades move back and forth, and is different in every model depending on the blade gap. A higher value means a more precise and powerful trim.
One of the most important choices you need to make before you purchase a cordless hedge trimmer.
An extra 1kg might not seem much, but it makes a huge difference when trimming higher hedges.
Heavier trimmers, even though more powerful, can tire even the most experienced users. The weight mainly depends on the power of the battery and the length of the blade, and can vary anywhere from 2 to 8 KGs.
Make sure to choose carefully before purchasing and find a trimmer that is well balanced and best suited for your needs.
As well as power, there is more than one factor to consider when looking at the trimmer’s blade:
- Blade type – you can choose either a single-action or a dual-action blade. The former uses one blade that moves along the cutting bar, and the latter uses two blades moving in opposite directions. Usually two blades are more effective and efficient.
- Blade gap – the spacing between the blade teeth. This determines the cutting capacity. Wider spacing means the trimmer can cut wider branches. Most cordless hedge trimmers can cut branches up to 15mm in diameter.
- Blade length – most trimmers have a blade length between 18 and 25 inches. Longer blades cut hedges faster and more evenly, but they can be difficult to control. Shorter blades, on the other hand, are better and safer for beginners but can make the job take slightly longer.
If you have high hedges in your garden, this is a major factor to consider. Nothing will slow you down and wear you out more than having to bring a ladder with you as you trim.
Some cordless trimmers come with an extension pole which is extremely helpful for these kind of situations.
However, only opt for those types if necessary as you don’t want the extra weight if you don’t have high hedges.
I’ve picked the 3 best cordless hedge trimmers according to all the factors above.
The trimmers are categorized based on the following:
- Best Value – a lower cost option that still has everything you need but won’t break the bank.
- Top Buy – The best option for performance, value and durability.
- Premium – If you want a more powerful, all singing hedge trimmer and are happy to pay a little extra for it.
#1 BEST VALUE
Bosch AHS 50-20 Hedge Trimmer
This offering from Bosch is a best seller on Amazon and for good reason. It’s packed full of features, lightweight and exceptional value for money.
Advantages: Lightweight, great price, good battery performance
Disadvantages: Not long reach
Approx. price range: £90
#2 TOP BUY
GTech Cordless Hedge Trimmer
Now in its 5th year of production, the GTech hedge trimmer is renowned for good performance for DIY gardeners. It’s effective, ultra lightweight and has a good reach. This new model is the HT50. The fifth generation hedge trimmer from GTech.
Advantages: Reliable, long reach, ultra-lightweight, quiet
Disadvantages: Might feel too lightweight and plasticy for some users
Approx. price range: £149
Greenworks 40V Hedge Trimmer
If you’re after a powerful trimmer, but still want cordless electric, this is a great choice. Packing a lot of power for thicker hedges and bushes. It is still a little heavier though, at 4kg, due to the battery size.
Advantages: Incredible power, sturdy when using, reliable
Disadvantages: Expensive, relatively heavy and no long reach
Approx. price range: £185
Q: Do I need to lubricate the blades?
A: Yes, just like any other machine with metal blades, you need to lubricate it to keep the blades in good condition and prevent sticking.
Q: Can the blades be sharpened?
A: Yes, the blades have to be sharpened once every 50 hours of use.
Q: How to clean the blades?
A: Simply wipe it with a damp cloth. Don’t clean your trimmer with water as it could damage it.