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Gas vs. Electric Hedge Trimmers: Which One To Choose?

Last Updated on August 8, 2020

hedge trimmers

Nothing can decrease a homeowner’s curb appeal like an unkempt and overgrown yard. On the other hand, manually keeping up with the demands of trimming a few bushes and shrubs can be a strain on the body. This is why many homeowners opt for the mechanical option.

Making the decision to switch to a mechanical hedge trimmer is easy but choosing which hedge trimmer is right for you can be more difficult. One of the first things any potential buyer needs to think about is whether they want a gas or electric trimmer? Both models have their benefits and drawbacks.

As Fall is one of the most popular times to pull out the hedge trimmer, it’s important to have all the facts before you make a purchase. Below, we will go over the differences between gas and electric hedge trimmers so you can make the best decision for you and your property.

Electric Powered Hedge Trimmers

Cordless electric hedge

Credit: Cordless electric hedge trimmer, Wikipedia

Electric powered hedge trimmers come in two model options; either battery operated, or an electric version. The battery-operated model has a rechargeable battery that allows you to move more freely around the property. An electric model is going to limit your use as it will only go as far as the power cord will allow, but you don’t have to worry about the battery charge running out.

When contemplating an electric hedge trimmer (whether battery or electric) you want to think about what the trimmer will be used for? Most homeowners that have average size yards are more prone to the less expensive electric trimmer. Let’s take a closer look at some of the features.

Cost-Efficiency

Electric hedge trimmers are more cost-efficient than their gas-powered counterparts. Typical electric trimmers can start as low as $30, but the more effective models range in the $60 to $80 range. Another consideration is that you will not have to purchase gas or oil to run the trimmer.

Repair costs are another consideration. Electric hedge trimmers tend to be more expansive to repair than gas trimmers. A replacement part can cost almost as much as the trimmer itself. This also holds true for the rechargeable battery. Typically, a replacement lithium battery can cost upwards of $60. If you are okay with replacing your trimmer when the battery goes, this may be a good option for you.

Maintenance

As there is little to no maintenance whatsoever with an electric hedge trimmer, you will not need to worry about having it serviced or stopping to do so yourself. You will also not have to worry about winterizing an electric trimmer before you put it away for the season.

Performance

Probably the most important consideration is going to be the performance of an electric hedge trimmer. Electric and battery-operated trimmers are not going to be as strong as gas-powered units. Though plugin models are stronger than battery-operated models, both will only cut through ¼” to ½” thickness.

Electric trimmers typically have fewer strokes per minute and blade gaps of about ⅜” to ¾”. Strokes per minute will determine how fast the blades move while the blade gaps will determine how much it can eat. On average, a homeowner with a few bushes will find electric models to be adequate for their needs.

Safety

An electric hedge trimmer

An electric hedge trimmer

Hedge trimmers can be dangerous to use if you are not accustomed to working with them. Electric trimmers are lighter than gas ones, so they are not as taxing on the body. Also, as they are lighter, they are easier to maneuver and hold over your head.

Click here to see how to sharpen a hedge trimmer

Additional Features

There are a few other benefits to owning an electric hedge trimmer. First, they have ease of use as there is no need to pull start the unit. Electric trimmers are also quieter, better for the environment as there are no gas emissions, and there is no need to store gas.

All in all, homeowners that have average size yards, and would like to just keep their property neat, find electric hedge trimmers to be perfect for their needs. To give some extra help, here is a quick pros and cons cheatsheet.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Little to no maintenance
  • Adequate for average size yards and upkeep
  • No gas storage
  • Quieter
  • Easier to maneuver
  • Lighter
  • Better for the Environment
  • Better for beginners
  • Ease of Start
Cons
  • Costly to repair
  • Not good for large areas due to the power cord
  • The battery needs to be recharged and can die during use
  • Not equipped for larger jobs or thicker cuts
  • Limited strength

Gas Powered Hedge Trimmer

Gas-powered hedge trimmer

A gas hedge trimmer

Gas-powered hedge trimmers tend to be the favorite with landscapers and homeowners with large size yards and property. Just like the electric trimmer, the gas-powered option has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Cost Efficiency

Gas hedge trimmers have a higher upfront cost. The average gas trimmer will be anywhere from $170 to $250. While the upfront cost may be higher, gas-powered models are more likely to last years longer than electric options.

Gas hedge trimmers also have a lower repair cost as parts like gaskets and filters range from $10 to $20 dollars. While you will also need to purchase both gas and oil to run the trimmer. As the cost of this is low, and because the lifespan of the trimmer is so long, the average cost to run the machine is less than a few dollars a year.

Maintenance

Regular maintenance is recommended on a gas-powered trimmer, though it is usually basic and inexpensive. Although you should always consult your owners manual, maintenance is usually confined to changing filters and other basic needs.

A gas-powered trimmer will also need to be winterized. Generally speaking, you should try to use all of the gas before you put the trimmer away for the winter. Gasoline that sits for several months can become unstable. This can potentially cause the trimmer to malfunction, and under extreme circumstances, catch fire.

Performance

Gas hedge trimmers are going to be a lot more powerful than an electric or battery operated trimmer. Gas trimmers have more strokes per minute and better blade gaps causing the work to be done faster and more efficiently. Not only that, but gas-operated models typically can cut through thicker branches. Most will be able to handle ¾” and some can do up to an inch of thickness.

Homeowners and contractors who have large plots of land to maintain, heavily overgrown yards or consistent amounts of work find gas hedge trimmers to be the better option.

Safety

Gas Hedge Trimmer

Gas trimmers are usually heavier than electric causing more strain on the body. This can make them more difficult to work with. Also, as they have more power, individuals who are not accustomed to working with them can get hurt.

Some gas hedge trimmers do come with safety features that the standard electric does not have. A tip guard is a good example. The tip guard protects the tip of the saw from coming in contact with any part of your body, thus reducing the risk of injury.

Additional features

Gas hedge trimmers are louder than electric and will require earplugs. They also emit gas fumes into the air making them not an eco-friendly option. Along with the gas fumes, you will be required to store oil and gas in order to run the unit. Finally, they are more difficult to use due to the pull cord.

On the other hand, gas trimmers work better in damp weather, they are not constricted by cords or batteries, and they allow for quicker work time.

Gas hedge trimmers are good for heavy jobs, and frequent use. As we did for the electric trimmer, we have put together a quick cheatsheet of pros and cons.

Pros
  • Longer Lifespan
  • Cheaper to fix
  • High powered
  • Quicker work time
  • Cuts through thicker branches
  • Better in damp weather
  • No cords or batteries
  • Better for big jobs
Cons
  • Higher upfront cost
  • Needs maintenance
  • Winterization
  • Heavier
  • Louder
  • Gas emissions
  • Requires gas and oil
  • Too powerful for beginners

Conclusion

If you’re planning to maintain your yard, and keep your property looking well put together, chances are an electric hedge trimmer will be perfect for your needs. If you have an average size yard, and you are not a professional, this option will give you everything you need from adequate strength, to ease of use.

If you have heavier projects, or you are planning to use your hedge trimmer for commercial purposes, you may be better off with a gas-powered hedge trimmer. You will get the strength, durability, and availability you need.

Let us know what your favorite hedge trimmer models are!

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!