In-depth EGO Weed Eater Review: All Answers About The EGO Power+ String Trimmers
The days of electric string trimmers being low-powered little toys that run out of juice after a short time, or that shackle you to an electric outlet with their cord like a chained watchdog to his house are long gone.
The new crop of electric string trimmers (also known as weed eaters, weed-whackers etc.) is powerful, long-running, quiet and emissions-free - and we`re here to find out if the EGO Power+ line of weed eaters is any good, and if yes, which one of them is the right choice for you.
Who is EGO Power+
EGO POWER+ entered the market in 2013 with their own line of electric gardening power tools. They are a subsidiary brand of Chervon Group, who manufactures a wide array of power tools including hand-held portable power tools, stationary bench tools, and laser and electronic tools.
Ease of use
Bang for the buck
EGO gardening tools are sold through home depot (they have a partnership with EGO and also handle warranty claims for all EGO products) or directly from EGO through Amazon.
Their main selling point is equipping all their tools with rechargeable high-voltage and high-capacity lithium-ion batteries to deliver lots of power for a long time. And boy, do the EGO trimmers deliver on that promise! But first things first..
What is a string trimmer?
String trimmers are basically long tubular shafts that have engines (gas or electric), fuel tanks or batteries, and one or two pieces of rotating filament mounted at one or the other end (the rotating string being always mounted at the end pointing away from the operator, obviously!).
The centrifugal forces of high-RPM rotation (3000 - 6000 RPM usually) make the filament so stiff that it can cut through grass, weed, brush and sometimes even very young trees if the string is thick enough and the engine powerful enough.
String trimmers are typically used to cut weed or lawn at places that can`t be reached with lawnmowers, or that is too long for lawnmowers. They can even be used as edgers if held vertically or equipped with edger attachments, if available. The amount of trimming you have to do depends on the type of lawnmower you have. If you have a big lawn tractor, you probably have to keep your distance to trees and other obstacles and have a lot of trimming work to do. A zero-turn lawnmower on the other hand can reduce the needed amount of trimming considerably.
The string is used up in this process and replaced by manual or automatic feeding systems, which have to be refilled from time to time.
It is strongly advised not to use anything other than the designated string (like chains) for cutting with a string trimmer, because parts of these other things can come loose and start flying around like projectiles, causing damage like projectiles..
Gas or electric?
We nearly always have to answer this question when we decide to buy something with an engine. The general tendency seems to be: Light and small - go electric. Large and heavy - go gas. With weed eaters being small and light, the obvious choice seems to be the electric one.
The EGO weed eater certainly proves this to be true. But we have to keep in mind that electric engines need batteries, and batteries need time to recharge - there are always pros and cons. So what are the pros and cons of the power system of the EGO trimmers?
The EGO 56v power system
EGO offers battery packs ranging from 2Ah (discontinued), 2,5Ah, 4Ah and 5Ah to a giant 7,5Ah (not sold with trimmers, but they fit), which are interchangeable between all their tools. All EGO batteries have the individual power cells arrayed in an arc shape to dissipate heat more effectively (that`s why they call them ARC Lithium). They also use something called phase-change technology to aditionally draw and dissipate heat from the individual battery cells. Does all of this work? Well, the power-to-weight ratio and endurance sure seem to be in line or even at the top end of modern cell phone-, laptop- or even electric car batteries.
EGO 4Ah battery
EGO 7,5Ah battery
The EGO batteries can be charged with the proprietary EGO chargers. There are regular chargers or more expensive rapid chargers that are included in most of their kits now. Charging times vary from 120 minutes for charging the large 7,5Ah battery with a regular 210 W charger, to insanely quick 15 minutes for charging the 2Ah battery with the 550W rapid charger.
EGO standard charger
EGO rapid charger
The 2Ah battery delivers 25-30 minutes of steady residential trimming, while the 7,5Ah battery gives you 1,5 to 2 hours of continuous working time! And you will definitely need a break after lugging around this power pack for so long (the 7,5 Ah battery pack alone weighs 6.31 lb.). And what kind of estate do you have, anyway, that requires trimming for so long??
All batteries have integrated gauges that roughly indicate how much power you have left. It`s always nice to know where you are, fuelwise. The chargers have gauges as well, and the rapid charger even has fans for the ever important cooling, which seems to be the key to high performance in the realm of electricity.
The batteries run full power until they are so empty that the electronic decides to shut them down. There is no slow dying like with old non-electronically controlled electric tools - so pay attention to the gauges (or your watch).
EGO offers a 3 year battery warranty on batteries sold in kits (with tools and chargers, that is).
The discontinued 12" line
The older, discontinued generation of EGO string trimmers had a 12" cutting swath. That is considerably less than the 15" of the newer generation - a disadvantage when you want to cover space, but a slight advantage when you need to kill weed in really tight spaces.
EGO also ditched the bump protector in the new generation. A bump protector is useful for edging work to guide the trimmer along lawn edges. With the new 15" ones you have to go edging freestyle, or use a dedicated edger.
The cutting line thickness grew from .080" to .095", so the new models can cut through considerably thicker weed, and the line lasts longer.
The battery locking mechanism hasn`t changed, so batteries are interchangeable throughout the generations - very nice!
Which features do the EGO 15" string trimmers have?
The EGO string trimmers have their batteries mounted at the end of the shaft facing the operator, and the engine at the opposing string end. This means there is no prop shaft going through the tube, only cables, so there is less chance of mechanical hassle.
The new models now have brushless engines, which means higher longevity and lower power consumption compared to the older generation.
The 49" shaft and engine casing are made of aluminum, and all trimmers have a solid, professional feel. The cutting guards and adjustable front handles are made of sturdy plastic that has no flimsyness at all. The build quality makes you confident that the EGO trimmers will last for a long work life and contribute to the demise of tons of unwanted garden vegetation.
They operate with dual strings (as opposed to single strings for cheaper trimmers) and have bump feed mechanisms to replenish used-up string - except for the ones with the new rapid reload heads. That means, if your cutting line is getting short, you bump the trimmer on the ground (preferably on a hard surface) while it is running, and new pieces of string are automatically fed out of the spool and cut to the right lenght by the string-adjusting blade. In the past there have been reports of problems with this bump feed mechanism, but they seem to be fixed now.
The trimmers have a combination of trigger and locking mechanism. You have to push the lock completely down to be able to activate the engine with the trigger. The speed can be adjusted nicely with this sensitive trigger. Starting the thing is a no-brainer - and a big selling point compared to gas-engined trimmers, which can be notoriously hard to start!
No need to pull chokes and endlessly rip on starter strings, let alone having to mix oil and gas for the little two-stroke engines, and pouring the stuff all over the place during refilling. What a time to be alive in the electric age, isn`t it?
The EGO trimmers boast a weather-resistant construction. That includes the batteries, so you don`t have to worry if it starts to rain a little while you`re still working. Don`t wash the thing with water though. A compressor and an air hose work wonders to clean the rotating head and cutting guard (which will need regular cleaning from weed and grass).
What different models of the EGO weed eater are available?
The old models all feature the number 12 in the product code (i.e. ST1200), while the new models are as follows:
The ST1500 is the bare trimmer without battery or charger. It is the cheapest way to buy an EGO weed eater, meant for people who already own EGO equipment and intend to use existing batteries and chargers.
Another version is the ST1500-S. It`s identical to the ST1500 with one main difference - the split shaft! It is delivered folded in half, so the package is way shorter. The package dimensions are 5.2 x 13 x 39 inches, compared to nearly 60 inches of lenght for the ST1500 straight shaft trimmer alone!
The ST1500-S is secured with two solid hex screws, once it is unpacked. Installing it is totally easy, nothing about it. The folding mechanism is very sturdy and not meant to be folded and unfolded often - the folding mechanism is only a convenience for delivery.
So if you pick your EGO trimmer up personally at home depot and you have a car that is large enough, we would advise to go with the ST1500 - otherwise we would recommend the split-shaft ST1500-S.
The entry level kits are the ST1501 (straight shaft) and ST1501-S (split shaft). They come with a rapid charger and the smallest 2Ah battery.
One step up and you get the 2,5 Ah battery - that would be the ST1502 (straight shaft) and ST1502-S (split shaft).
Or you want the big guns right away? Go with the 5 Ah battery - the ST1504 (straight shaft) or the ST1504-S (split shaft) is what you will get.
In Europe, there will even be models with a bicycle-type grip available in 2017, named "BC" instaed of "ST". Maybe EGO will offer them in the US at some time in the future.
To complicate things even more, EGO offers so-called rapid reload heads, but only for certain battery- and shaft-combinations. These kits also don`t have the 550W fast chargers, they come with standard 210W chargers.
So what are these rapid reload heads?
They are newly developed spool heads that automatically adjust the cutting line length and make refilling somewhat easier.
rapid reload head on trimmer
rapid reload head
All spools can take about 15 feet of cutting line. It shouldn`t be thicker than .095" because that could cause too much strain on the engine and lead to problems. There are also pre-wound spools available for the standard heads - but for $ 9.99, they`re not exactly cheap.
regular bump feed head
The rapid reloading head basically makes refilling the cutting line spool somewhat easier. Instead of having to wind the line onto the open and disassembled spool (while taking care to not mix up the two strands), you just insert the line into the rapid reload spool without having to disassemble anything, and the head takes care of winding the line in the correct way. Also you don`t have to bump the trimmer on the ground occasionally to make the line long enough for work again. This is nice, but not a must-have.
So which EGO string trimmer should I pick?
This multitude of choices seems overwhelming at first. But once you have decided on the shaft type (which depends on your transport situation only - the split shafts are as sturdy as the straight shafts), go for the biggest battery you want to afford. You will regret the higher price only once, but you will regret it every time you run prematurely out of juice if you bought a battery that was too small.
Also, you can use that large battery on all EGO tools you might buy in the future. That being said, the 2,5 Ah version is plenty good for smaller city lots.
Also, consider the weight: The trimmers weigh 6.7 lb. without a battery pack. The 2.5Ah battery adds 2.77 lb. to that, for a total of 9.47 lb. Compare that to the 4.87 lb. that the 5Ah pack adds, for a total of 11.57 lb. The difference may not seem like much, but remember: You will lug this around for as long as it takes to trim all things that need trimming.
So we would recommend the ST1502 for small lots and people not willing to turn their trimming session into an extra upper body workout. If your land is a little larger (and you don`t mind the extra exercise), go for the ST1504.
We wouldn`t recommend buying the kits with the rapid reload heads as they come only with the slow standard chargers. The heads are nice to have, but no deal breaker. Probably you`ll end up buying the pre-wound spools anyway.
Of course, if you already own an EGO battery with charger, the choice is really only between the two shaft versions. And in this case there is also a rapid reload head availabe that doesn`t involve having to buy a standard charger.
How do you assemble the EGO weed eater?
Easily. No, seriously - you just fold it straight (take care to not press it against your body while folding, you could really hurt yourself), put in the two hex screws and tighten them. Then you mount the cutting guard (another two screws) and the front handle (the last two screws - that makes six in total, no engineering degree needed here).
If you don`t want the front handle to move around, it`s a good idea to put two drops of loctite on the parts pressing against the shaft. You don`t need any of it on the screws though, because no shaky gas engine - no vibrations!
Now charge the battery, clip it on, and you`re good to go!
How does the EGO weed eater perform?
The power delivery is instantaneous, as is typical for electric engines. But the soft trigger allows for a good modulation of the enormous amount of power, which you won`t need in full force all the time. And this power really is impressive. It has nothing to do with the slow electric toys of some consumer-grade competitors that make a mockery of the trimming business.
This thing rips through grass, weeds and even massive thistles as if it was nothing! Even bamboos can be mowed down. It reaches its limits when you try to cut down things that have bark on them or filament in them. Then you are faced with limited success and excessive line wear.
For this kind of work you really want a brush cutter attachment with fixed blades - something that some competitors offer. EGO offers complete brush cutter tools in Europe for the first time in 2017. Maybe they will be available in the future in the US, too. EGO strongly advises against attaching anything not made by them to the rotating head of their string trimmers!
You really should wear protective gear, by the way. That is, glasses (or, even better, a face shield), working shoes and work wear that covers arms and legs, because the EGO throws pieces of weed and debris with some force! Ear protection is not necessary though, because, again - no noisy gas engine! Always work safely!
The long 49" shaft balances the trimmer really well and has enough reach so that you don`t have to bend over, as is the case with some smaller consumer-grade trimmers. With this machine, you`re equipped for long wheed-wacking sessions.
If you are new to the world of trimming, it`s always a good idea to get some pro tips before you start your first session.
What is the warranty situation?
EGO POWER+ offers a 3 year warranty on batteries sold in kits (yes, batteries are expendable parts that do lose capacity with time and will eventually need to be replaced). The warranty on the trimmers themselves lasts 5 years.
The warranties are claimed through home depot. You can go to their stores or send the trimmers in to them - EGO has a partnership with them.
What are cross-shops to the EGO cordless trimmers?
Cross-shops would be the WORX WG191, the ECHO CST-58V4AH, and the Kobalt 80v string trimmers.
The closest competitor is probably the ECHO CST-58V4AH electric string trimmer. It offers higher wattage for the money, but also seems to draw more power than the EGO 15" trimmers. It offers edger attachments, which the EGO lacks, but has some features that may seem not so desirable, like an auto-off that is really sensible and requires completely releasing the power switch to continue trimming.
The Kobalt 80v has, well, 80 volts. But while 80 volts seems more powerful than 56v, remember: It`s voltage times amperage that make the power output, so the high voltage is only one part of the multiplication. The EGO certainly feels no less powerful than the Kobalt 80v.
The EGO weed eater seems to be a well-rounded package for your trimming needs, with solid build quality and no flaws in the power, endurance and reliability departments. It is a bit on the expensive side, but if you buy cheap, you buy twice! So we really recommend the EGO string trimmer, either in 2,5 Ah flavor for smaller lots and smaller people, or 5Ah for larger ones - lots, and/ or people.