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After researching 60 different cordless string trimmers, we bought the 9 best models on the market today and tested them head-to-head to find out which ones eat up weeds best. We tested their weed slashing performance in a series of comparative tests, cutting through dense patches of grass and burly weeds, and making precision cuts around obstacles. We also measured how noisy each model is, as well as maximum runtime, plus ergonomics and ease of use. To find out which weed eater cut through the competition, which is your best bet on a budget, and which models will work with your existing cordless tool batteries, check out the rest of the review below.
In addition to string trimmers, our team can be seen in the field testing cordless leaf blowers and cordless lawn mowers, among many other electric tools. We've tested over 135 electric power tools over the last several years. This gives us unique insight into performance over an entire line of electric tools, so if you're enticed by the performance of a Makita string trimmer you can check out how a Makita Cordless Circular Saw stacks up before you commit to a brand and its batteries. Don't forget, of course, about our curated list of the best tools on the market.
Editor's Note: This review was updated on July 6, 2022, to add related links and to guarantee that our selection is up-to-date and features the best cordless string trimmers on the market.
For the cordless string trimmer that does it all exceptionally well, look no further than the Makita XRU15PT 36V. This trimmer impressed us with lots of strength and showed us that it could manipulate even the most resistant weeds and plants. Equally impressive, this machine handles detailed work with ease, helping to straighten lawn edges quickly and effectively. Cycling through the three speed settings helps the user operate the trimmer at its ideal speed for the job at hand. It's easy to use and comfortable to wield, thanks to its ergonomic grip. In addition, it has a long runtime and isn't overly loud compared to some other contenders.
Our gripes with this model are minor. We needed to reference the instructions to figure out how to replace the line after it had run out, but once we figured it out, the process is about as easy as it could be. Also, there is more weight to handle on this trimmer, but since that weight is so well-balanced with the ergonomic grip, we didn't find this to be a problem. If you want a robust cordless trimmer that can handle all of your weed-eating needs, we wholeheartedly recommend the Makita XRU15PT 36V.
If you're looking to stretch your dollar with a string trimmer purchase, check out the Black+Decker LST136. We were impressed with this small machine's abilities as its work stood up to considerably more expensive models that we tested. It's one of the lightest and easiest to handle, all while running much quieter than some of the top trimmers. The six different operating modes help meet a variety of weed trimming scenarios, and it boasts a healthy runtime.
Unfortunately, this trimmer did get a little overwhelmed when working through very thick weed patches or tough-stemmed plants. It also has one of the larger guards, which can get in the way when making detailed cuts — though it is quite effective at stopping plant and weed debris from getting thrown back at you. Ultimately, if you don't need a serious beast of a weed-eater, this is one of our favorite budget options for a cordless trimmer.
The Craftsman V20 Weedwacker is an excellent, effective tool for keeping your small or medium-sized yard looking great, as well as light-duty brush clearing. It's lightweight and easy to break out for quick jobs or cleaning up what your mower missed and replacing the spring when it runs out is a simple and easy process. The spool head will receive a lot of abuse as it's dragged and bumped against the ground, and Craftsman even offers a very affordable replacement.
This light, relatively quiet model is underpowered for bigger jobs where thick grasses and brush have really taken over, making the V20 Weedwhacker a better option for maintaining your yard than transforming it. The battery life averaged only 35 minutes in our tests, which isn't very long but should suffice for edging along the smaller lawns this tool is designed for. We also found the guard, while effective at shielding us from debris, a little too large for detailed work. There are certainly more powerful models with even longer battery life, but we feel this model is the best choice for the average homeowner on a budget.
If you need to clear large areas of vegetation, then the Husqvarna 115iL is a great option to consider. This string trimmer had one of the longest runtimes of all the products we have tested to date, cutting weeds and plants long after other models needed to stop and recharge. The Husqvarna 115iL also offers a slow and fast mode to provide you with an awesome amount of control, whether cutting around delicate objects or clearing wide swathes of grass. It isn't particularly loud and supplies a decent amount of power when cutting through tougher plants with thicker stems.
On the downside, the Husqvarna can be a bit more cumbersome to use than some of the other products. It has a shorter neck that forced our testers to stand closer to the cutting head than they would have liked. It can also be a pain to hold vertically. The guard is on the smaller side, which is nice when making precise cuts since it doesn't obstruct your view, but it's far less effective at stopping flying debris than other products. Despite these flaws, it's hard to beat the Husqvarna if you have tons of weeds and plants to clear and don't want to buy extra batteries to get the job done.
Relatively inexpensive if you already have the Power Head
REASONS TO AVOID
Short battery life
If you need a string trimmer that can handle dense plants and grass without a struggle, then it's worth checking out the Ego Power+ STA1500 string trimming attachment for the Ego Power+ Power Head. It is easily one of the most powerful string trimmers of the group and sliced through dense weeds and tall grass without difficulty. It can clear areas that would have stopped other products dead in their tracks. We also think it's fairly comfortable to use and a compact way to add a cordless string trimmer to your arsenal if you have the aforementioned Power Head.
However, it can be quite a pricey purchase if you don't already have the Power Head and this trimmer can feel like it has too much power for average yards. The guard didn't prevent freshly-cut weeds from getting flung back at us, and precision work can be quite difficult. It's hard to avoid cutting trenches, and the Ego Power+ STA1500 can be brutal on things like birdbaths, outdoor lights, or the side of your house if you aren't careful when using it. It's not for everyone, but it's a great option if you need heavy-duty string trimming capabilities and plan to get other Ego cordless tools.
To say we put each string trimmer through their paces would be an understatement. We implemented 72 individual tests between the 9 trimmers in the review, running each through the same 8 tests to comparatively assess aspects ranging from weed-eating power to noise levels. This allows us to rank each in accordance with its performance in each metric and make special recommendations for the specific needs of homeowners or anyone looking to improve their yard. We paid retail price for each model to ensure an unbiased assessment of these string trimmers.
Our expert string trimmer testing and review team is lead by Michelle Powell and David Wise. Michelle has made a career of evaluating products side-by-side, comprehensively testing, and scoring the smallest details, and differentiating factors on everything from coffee grinders to cordless power tools. Additionally, she also brings extensive lawn care experience to the table. David has formal training as a mechanical engineer with extensive experience in lithium batteries and electrical power systems, which he gained from working on electric vehicles and underwater robots.
Analysis and Test Results
In total, we conducted a dozen distinct tests that we divided among four weighted rating metrics. Each of these metrics — Weed Eating, Ease of Use, Battery Life, and Noise — are weighted proportional to their importance to overall string trimmer performance. The score for each metric is determined by the performance of each trimmer in the tests composing each metric.
Which Cordless String Trimmer Offers the Better Value?
If you're shopping for a bargain weed eater, then two models stand out: the Black+Decker LST136 and the Craftsmen V20 Weedwacker. These typically cost about half as much — or even a little less — than our top-scoring model, the Makita XRU15PT, and both are solid string trimmers, costing about the same.
The Black+Decker model is a bit more powerful than the Craftsman, and it also has longer battery life. Deciding between the two will likely come down to the size of your yard. Both are lightweight and great for quick clean-up tasks. While neither is up to snuff for professional operations, both are worthy of consideration for the average homeowner.
Which String Trimmer Cuts Weeds the Best?
Weed-eating performance composes the greatest share of a product's overall score. To rank and compare the weed eating skills of each string trimmer, we looked at the effectiveness of each model when it came to clearing weeds from an area and how each handled dense and hard-to-cut vegetation, as well as how much precision you have for trimming edges and cleaning up small areas.
A pair of trimmers tied for the top spot when it came to eating weeds; namely, the Makita XRU15PT 36V and the Ego Power+ STA1500 Attachment. Both are exceptionally effective at eliminating weeds, cutting through pretty much any grasses, weeds, shrubs, and bushes we pitted them against smoothly and effectively. They both tackled tall grass and dense weeds with ease, even cutting through burly stalks and stems without showing any sign of a struggle.
The Ego Power+ STA1500 has just a bit more power than the Makita XRU15PT — almost to the point where the Ego Power+ STA1500 might be overkill for typical lawn care. While this extra power is handy for the toughest of weeds, it can be difficult to edge or trim precisely. You can angle the head to get into small spaces, but it can be hard to cut near anything delicate without damaging it or cutting inadvertent trenches into your lawn. This excessive power is made much worse by the Ego Power+ STA1500's sensitive trigger, making it difficult to maintain a consistent speed.
Although the Makita XRU15PT can't quite match the Ego Power+ STA1500 when it comes to raw power, it is superior in close quarters. It has a slow setting and feels very nimble to control, allowing you to make carefully angled cuts or clear areas around sprinklers, lawn ornaments, and other items without damaging them.
The Husqvarna 115iL and the Black+Decker LST136 both performed decently for their string trimming performance. The Husqvarna 115iL was easily sliced through most patches of weeds and grasses, but it occasionally stalled when we tried to tackle dense vegetation clusters.
The Husqvarna 115iL has a comparatively small guard and is lightweight, making it one of the more maneuverable models when it comes to removing weeds from tight spaces. However, it doesn't have a very long reach, so you need to get fairly close to the end to see exactly what you are trimming.
The Black+Decker LST136 doesn't have quite as much power as some of the top models, but it can cut through most weeds and plants without issue. It can stall when cutting through the thickest stems and plants, but we rarely found this to be an issue with typical yards.
The lower speed setting also works great for making detailed cuts, but we found that it works better when used in a sweeping side-to-side motion rather than cutting in a straight line. We also like that it is one of the easiest models to replace the cutting line on.
Ease of Use
Like the Weed Eating metric, Ease of Use also constitutes 30% of the total score for each cordless string trimmer. Here we compared the weight and guard design of each trimmer, as well as how comfortable and balanced they are to hold. We also compared the ease of replacing and feeding the line and noted if there was a shoulder strap attachment.
The Makita XRU15PT 36V again earned the top score in this metric. It is exceptionally well balanced, with the battery end of the trimmer only slightly heavier than the head, making it easy to carry one-handed and to wield through fields of grass. The molded, ergonomic grip makes it easy to keep a good grip without working too hard. We also liked the guard on this model because it doesn't detract from your ability to do precise cuts while maintaining an equivalent degree of protection. The Makita XRU15PT includes a shoulder strap attachment as well.
This trimmer employs a bump feed to dispense more string, but it's a little more difficult to replace the string than some of the other models. There aren't alignment indicators on the spool, which forced us to consult a manual, but it was straightforward once we became familiar with it. This minor drawback should only be an issue once or twice, after which you'll get the hang of it.
The Ego Power+ STA1500 Attachment by Ego, Craftsman V20 Weedwacker, and the Black+Decker LST136 all scored well regarding convenience and ease of use. The Ego Power+ STA1500 has a very straightforward mechanism for adding more line. The line threads into the part you remove, so you don't need to be as careful about making sure everything lines up properly when you reassemble the head.
The Ego Power+ STA1500 has a bump feed to dispense more line, and we found it quite comfortable to carry. It has a cushy handle and is very well-balanced, but the guard didn't seem to be as effective as other models, with debris flying back at us on a semi-regular basis depending on the type of cut. However, this model does not have a shoulder strap attachment.
The Black+Decker LST136 and Craftsman V20 Weedwacker are both very simple to pick up and use right away, scoring quite equally in their user-friendliness. Both are very lightweight, making them easiest to handle and finesse in tight areas around obstacles. They're fairly comfortable to use for long periods, even without a shoulder strap, and their grips are easy to hold. Line replacement is also very straightforward.
Our next metric focused on the battery system of each string trimmer, and this accounts for 25% of each product's final score. We based the bulk of this score on the maximum runtime for each product and awarded extra points to models with different speed settings because it allows you to maximize the battery life by throttling down when extra speed is unnecessary. We measured the runtime for these weed eaters when they weren't actually eating weeds, so you'll probably get lower numbers if you're chewing through dense vegetation or particularly stubborn weeds.
The Greenworks 14-inch 40V, the Makita XRU15PT , and the Husqvarna 115iL all tied for the first place position in this test. These all lasted for around 90 minutes before the batteries gave out, and they each have a series of different speed settings.
Performance dropped a bit with the remaining trimmers. The Snapper XD 82V clocked in at 48 minutes of runtime and has two operating modes, but we didn't notice a huge difference between the two modes except for the amount of noise produced. The low power mode still seems plenty powerful to chew through pretty much anything with the line we used. However, the difference between the two modes might be more noticeable with a different line.
Our final metric focused on the amount of noise that each cordless string trimmer generated while in use. To determine scores, we used a sound level meter to measure the noise from each cordless string trimmer at a distance of 3 feet and had a panel of judges rate how annoying the sounds were at the same distance and from 50 feet away.
The Makita XRU15PT took home the top spot in this metric. Our meter recorded 85 decibels when this model was in use. We noticed, however, that it has a particularly high-pitched whine on startup that is rather irritating. The Craftsman V20 Weedwacker registered 84 decibels, but also suffered from an annoying, high-pitched whine.
The Black+Decker LST136 trimmer registered sound levels of 85.9 decibels on our meter when it was placed about 3 feet away, though we did find that it has a bit of a high-pitched whine.
The Husqvarna and the Snapper both followed. We recorded sound levels of 88.5 decibels for the Snapper XD. The Husqvarna is very loud on startup, registering 105 decibels, but this quickly drops to around 95 decibels while operating the string trimmer. The Snapper has a whine that can be quite grating, while our judges believe the Husqvarna's sound is one of the least annoying; it's just loud.
Whether you need a powerhouse trimmer to tackle the toughest weeds or a lightweight budget model for some minor yard maintenance, we hope this analysis and review has helped you find the perfect cordless string trimmer to match
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.