Handyman: Cordless power tool advances make them viable

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

When purchasing outdoor lawn or power equipment, most people have leaned toward either gas or electric powered versions. But during the past few years, major players have continued to improve their cordless battery technology and have introduced more products that offer cordless options.

Previously, the battery technology used for cordless power tools and lawn equipment didn’t last very long between charges and certainly didn’t offer the kind of power that was needed to complete most tasks. But today, that has drastically changed.

“Our lithium-ion batteries are more powerful and lighter than the old NiCad batteries, so consumers can similar size and weight battery with much more power and run time,” said Ashley Manning, senior product manager for Black and Decker Outdoor Products,

In addition to the added power, Manning said Black and Decker’s lithium-ion batteries also don’t discharge power when they are not in use.

“Our batteries are designed to hold the charge in between uses, so they are ready to go every weekend when the consumer is ready to do their lawn work again,” Manning said.

Black and Decker has a variety of outdoor lawn equipment powered by 20-, 40- or 60-volt lithium ion batteries that match consumer power and run-time needs as well as price points. The product lines range in price from around $99 for a 20-volt hedger, trimmer or blower to $149 for a 40-volt version with more features. There is even a line of cordless chain saws and loppers for cutting tree branches.

The company also recently introduced its Powercommand lineup of 60-volt equipment that includes a blower, string trimmer or hedge trimmer that retails for $169 and a lawn mower that retails for $399 and can handle mowing a yard up to one-third of an acre with two on-board batteries. And if one battery starts to get low on its charge while cutting the lawn, the user can switch to the second battery with the push of a button.

Another well-known manufacturer of cordless power equipment, Milwaukee Electric Tool,, recently introduced its line of products under the name M18 Fuel that includes lawn equipment like a string trimmer, leaf blower and hedge trimmer.

“... We spent hundreds of hours researching with landscape maintenance professionals to understand their requirements for performance, durability and ergonomics,” said Andrew Lentz, product manager for Milwaukee Tool. “By combining three exclusive innovations, our new outdoor power equipment delivers breakthrough performance that even outperforms higher voltage cordless solutions on the market.”

While cordless products have really grown in the lawn equipment category, the improvements in battery technology have also made them even more popular in other outdoor power equipment. For example DeWalt,, recently introduced its 20-volt Flexvolt system, featuring the first batteries that automatically change voltage when you change tools so users can switch between DeWalt tools of varying voltages. Products in the line include a circular saw, grinder, miter saw, reciprocating saw and table saw. DeWalt also offers yard equipment in the line like a blower, chain saw and string trimmer.

In addition to the lighter weight and more powerful batteries that provide great run time, along with eco-friendliness of these cordless tools, they offer another advantage over gas or corded versions you may not have thought about.

“Our customers tell us they like how quiet our cordless outdoor products are and they can even start their lawn work at 6 or 7 in the morning without worrying about waking up their neighbors,” Manning added.

So the next time you are looking for new outdoor lawn or power equipment, don’t pass the cordless products by. They may fit both your needs and budget.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 from 8-10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.