Craftsman 25cc Propane Trimmer Powered by Lehr - Review
Looking at things mathematically, our lawn might be one of the hardest in the world to mow. There are curved flower beds everywhere, terraced lawns, railroad tie retaining walls, granite retaining walls, and moss beds a plenty. There are also some horseshoe pits and some homemade benches that we made with a chainsaw a while back. Pretty much every possible obstacle to the easy-to-mow grid is out there somewhere. Since nothing is on a straight line and there's stuff everywhere, once we put the mower away, we're only half way done. It's now string trimmer time, or as we like to call it, "fight with the 2-stroke engine" time.
Craftsman is looking to put an end to some of this agony with their 25CC Propane Trimmer (powered by Lehr). It's exactly what it sounds like, a string trimmer that runs on propane as opposed to gas.
So what does all of this "Powered by Lehr" stuff mean? We spoke with someone from Lehr and it turns out that they've come up with a technology that allows a four-stroke engine to be powered by propane. And as if executing the inventive concept wasn't enough, Lehr, in a brilliant business move, slapped a patent on the technology faster than you can say "Fein Oscillating Tool." So far, Lehr has released a string trimmer called the Eco Trimmer, and now they have licensed the technology to Craftsman, so the Sears-centric company can have their own model.
So the benefits of the propane thing are obvious. First, it's just easier. There's no more having to deal with the oil/gas ratio (or in our case, no more marked up dixie cups in the garage). No more choke to contend with, and no more winterizing procedures. Also, propane doesn't pump out exhaust like gas engines. According to Craftsman the propane trimmer has "zero evaporative emissions, 97% fewer particulates, and 96% fewer carcinogens.
And how does it work? Well, in a word, it works great. Getting it started usually takes a few pulls in order to cycle the propane into the engine, but once it's going, it's a real workhorse. In a way, it combines the benefits of an electric trimmer (fairly quiet, clean) with the mobility of a gas trimmer. Because it's a four stroke engine, it's quieter than our old trimmer and more powerful as well. We found that it could handle some pretty overgrown areas (think: hay field) with little difficulty. On the downside, it's also larger and heavier, but Craftsman provides a nice shoulder strap that is adjustable up and down the shaft, so we easily found the 'sweet spot,' where the trimmer balances nicely in the hands and feels virtually weightless.
Craftsman also has a number of attachments available that expand the uses of the trimmer. So you can convert the tool into a pruner or an edger, and get that much more work out of it.
We quickly became fans of this tool. So far we're about two months in on using it and we're still on the first bottle of propane (according to the literature, the trimmer can go for about two hours on a bottle). That bottle cost us about $2.99 at the local Home Depot and at this rate, we'll likely only need one more by the end of summer. So, once the initial purchase is out of the way, and depending on your lawn, you'll likely be in the $6-$10 annual cost range. It's not bad and probably less than what you'd pay in gas for a traditional trimmer. And like we said earlier, you're not getting the hassle of a two-stroke gas engine. And to us, that's worth a lot.
We tested out the straight shaft, but there is a curved shaft model available. Both models cost about $200 which puts them in a higher range than the gas powered ones which can be had for usually about $100 to $150. But when thinking about the cost, don't forget the option of the attachments, which make this much more than a string trimmer.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at August 17, 2009 5:10 AM