Comparing petrol strimmers with cordless strimmers when clearing a garden

Apart from my trusty petrol lawnmower, I would say that my strimmer is the garden power tool that I use the most. Then again, I am slightly more OCD than most when it comes to my lawn, whether that be edging, levelling, or putting stripes on it to make the neighbours envious.

If you go back a few years, or maybe a little more than that; I just don’t want to show my age ha-ha, most people had corded electric strimmers rather than cordless ones, and this was mainly because the battery life on cordless tools back then was far from great, and also prices were quite high.

Fast forward to the present day, and improved battery technology has made cordless strimmers, lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and many more types of tools, very viable options.

But, how do they stack up against their petrol-powered older siblings? In this article, we will compare cordless strimmers to petrol strimmers in the hopes of shedding a little light on this subject.

of course, you can always go ‘old school’ with a pair of shears on your knees like this bloke, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Petrol strimmers vs cordless strimmers for clearing gardens

Ok, time to take a look at how these different versions of strimmer compare when it comes to power, weight, ease of use, and other important issues. We decided to take one factor at a time as we thought it’d be the easiest to follow for everyone, and we are kicking things off with probably one of the most important deciding factors- power and performance.

Power and performance compared

In recent years, cordless strimmers, just like cordless pole hedge trimmers,  have become increasingly powerful, especially some of the products from top-end brands, and they can match corded strimmers for performance for the most part. However, because they are powered by lithium-ion batteries, you will notice that you lose some power as the batteries near the end of their charge.

Even though cordless strimmers have become more powerful, neither they nor corded versions can honestly be compared to petrol-powered machines. The performance of a petrol strimmer is just so much higher than any other type, allowing you to deal with much thicker vegetation, especially when fitted with a brush cutter attachment.

You can see the kind of power we are talking about when it comes to petrol strimemrs in this following video-

Price comparison

Again, this is an area where cordless strimmers have improved as of late, but they are still more expensive than corded versions, due largely to the costly batteries. Often these products sold without batteries but it isn’t made clear in the advertising, so always make sure to double-check this before buying.

Sometimes the batteries are as expensive, if not more so, than the actual strimmer. I have to mention though, that some of the lesser-known brands are available with a battery and charger included in the price and under the 100-pound price mark.

Petrol strimmers can vary in price by quite some margin, but getting your hands on a decent one, might not cost you as much as you’d think. I’ve seen that McCulloch have a petrol strimmer for sale for around 120 pounds on Amazon at the time of writing this, which isn’t bad at all. For a really good petrol strimmer/ brush cutter, you should expect to pay between 300-400 pounds, but you are effectively getting two tools for that price.

Another option is to get a garden multi-tool, which will include various attachments like a strimmer, brush cutter, hedge trimmer, and chainsaw. These attachments generally aren’t as good quality as dedicated strimmers though.

if you are going to expensive tools, I would suggest fitting your shed with a good security camera and alarm to keep those thieves away.


Weight comparison

If you have existing injuries, disabilities, or you are quite small-framed or just not physically fit and strong, the extra weight of a petrol strimmer can be a little taxing after spending a bit of time holding it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the extra power of one of these tools, but I would highly recommend that you buy and use a harness that will help to take most of the weight for you.

Cordless strimmers are very light when compared to petrol machines, makings them very accessible to pretty much everyone. I have a customer who is wheelchair-bound, and he uses his lightweight cordless strimmer from his chair without too many problems. Their lightweight designs make cordless models really easy to handle. They are great for maneuvering into harder-to-reach areas, around obstacles such as picnic tables or your rattan garden furniture , and keeping steady while edging the lawn.

Noise comparison

If you want to trim your lawn silently, then you’d be better off buying some edging shears as all strimmers make noise. However, out of the two types of strimmer that we are comparing today, cordless versions are the quieter and probably the best choice if you have neighbours living in close proximity to you who don’t like to be disturbed.

Most petrol strimmers are powered by 2-stroke engines, and these are notoriously noisy. A lot of this notoriety does come from ‘back in the day’ so to speak, and modern machines aren’t quite as loud, but they still are noticeable noisier than electric or battery-powered strimmers. To be fair, this applies to all petrol garden tools, including augers, rotavators, and even leaf blowers.

To get a good idea of the kind of noise you’ll be dealing with when it comes to a petrol strimmer, here’s a video made to show just that-

Ease of use

Are you the kind of person that prefers tools that are low-maintenance, with very few controls to worry about? If so, then you should be looking at buying a cordless strimmer. Apart from keeping the battery charged between uses, swapping the cutting wire spool, and keeping the tool clean, there is very little else that you need to know about them.

As mentioned earlier, most petrol strimmers are two-stroke machines, and that means you have to mix the petrol with 2-stroke oil before pouring it into the machine. It also means that you have to know the starting process for these machines, which consists of priming the carburetor and opening the choke before pulling the starter cord. Maintenance is also more complicated for any petrol tool, but it is not that difficult to learn and we have articles on subjects like this for you to read.

Petrol vs electric strimmer – conclusion

For most people, a cordless strimmer is a good option. They have another power to deal with small to medium-sized gardens before the battery runs out, and are lightweight enough to be manoeuvred around by the vast majority of people.

Because a very large percentage of us have neighbours, and we like being invited to BBQs, the lower decibels produced by battery-powered strimmers make them a good idea too. On top of that, there are no fumes to deal with, and maintenance is kept to a minimum. The only things that really let cordless strimmers down are the expensive batteries, and the fact that those batteries will need replacing in a few years.

This clip talks about the life cycles of lithium-ion batteries, and there are other videos online that try to teach people how to extend that life-

If your property is larger than average, or you have very thick foliage to deal with, you should stay away from cordless strimmers as they won’t be able to handle the workload. For this kind of work, you need a powerful, petrol strimmer with a brush cutter attachment for cutting through things like brambles.

Yes, they are nosier and heavier, but they are the only type of strimmer for more heavy-duty gardening tasks. Maintenance is something you will have to take care of, but learning how to do this on a strimmer will help you do the same for other 2-stroke engines garden tools, and is a good skill to have if you’re serious about gardening.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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