Are you looking to buy a new hedge trimmer? Then you’ll have plenty of questions!
One of these questions might relate to the battery life of a cordless hedge trimmer. While you might be drawn to the idea of buying one, you may have your doubts about battery-powered tools in general.
Always Research Before You Buy!
It’s always wise to do your research before investing in garden power tools, as there are so many brands and models to choose from. You also have the option of three different power sources; petrol hedge trimmers, corded hedge trimmers, and battery-powered hedge trimmers.
Cordless hedge trimmers have become extremely popular among keen (and not so keen!) gardeners across the UK in the last few years for the following reasons:
- They are relatively lightweight
- There are no power cables or extension cords to potentially trip over or cut through
- They are much less noisy than petrol hedge trimmers
- They don’t produce fumes and pollution
- Many are equally as powerful as some petrol-driven models
- They generally cost less to run* (up to 70% less)
*see below for more details
All of these positive points make them a sensible option for the majority of amateur gardeners.
Even so, you may have doubts about a battery-powered hedge trimmer. You might wonder whether you’ll need to keep stopping to charge it, or worry that it will give up halfway through a job. It would also be helpful to know when the battery pack will need to be replaced.
What you need to know is, how long do cordless hedge trimmer batteries last?
We’ll answer this question and a whole lot more besides…
Cordless Hedge Trimmers: Battery Life
On average, a hedge trimmer battery will last between forty minutes and two hours before it needs charging.
Why is there such a wide margin? It all comes down to the battery size, the quality of the machine, and how hard you are working.
As for longevity, most manufacturers suggest that their batteries will need replacing after approximately one thousand charges. This means that your battery should last for up to five years, with general use. If you have large hedges that need frequent cutting, the lifespan could be reduced to around three years.
Different Battery Types
Modern cordless power tools use a detachable battery pack rather than a loose battery that fits inside the casing. As with traditional batteries, they are stamped with various numbers, names and codes, which can be confusing.
The only information you need to take note of is the Ah number (sometimes given as mAh) and the voltage.
Ah means Amp-hours, referring to the current supplied by the battery in one hour, while the voltage is the amount of power pushing the electrical current into the machine. In general, the higher these two numbers, the more powerful the tool.
As an example, a 5 Ah battery will deliver 5 amps of current continuously for an hour before it is drained. However, this assumes that conditions are perfect with no variation in temperature. In reality, as the tool (in our case, a hedge trimmer) is exposed to different stresses, vibrations and temperatures during use, this will increase the rate at which the battery discharges.
The best way to view these different ratings is as a way of saying that bigger Ah numbers hold more charge than lower ones. Manufacturers produce batteries ranging from 1 Ah to 6 Ah, and voltages run from 12v to 60v, although 18v is the most popular choice by far.
Finding The Right Amount Of Power
In order to find the right battery, you need to know the wattage it produces, and although this isn’t usually printed on the batteries, it’s simple enough to work out as you multiply the two figures.
For example, if the battery is 2.5 Ah and it delivers 20 volts, you have a 50-watt battery.
Most hedge trimmer batteries are 12v, 18v or 20v, so you need to work out the best one to go for. But how do you know?
How Long Do You Need It To Last?
While you might think that you have to buy the hedge trimmer model with the most powerful battery, this isn’t strictly the case.
The best approach is to consider the size of your garden space and what jobs you’ll need to tackle using your new hedge trimmer.
For example, a modest-sized garden with only a few hedges or shrubs will probably take about an hour to trim and prune. Bigger gardens with larger hedges will take longer, and thicker bushes will require more effort, meaning that more power is required, thus running the battery life down more quickly.
You can find some examples of various hedge trimmers to suit these scenarios further along.
Cordless Trimmers: Charging Times
In the bad old days before the innovative breakthrough with lithium-ion batteries, you had to wait for hours for your rechargeable batteries to finally be ready. Some took as long as 16 hours, which isn’t ideal when you are only halfway through your gardening chores.
Typically, a hedge trimmer battery takes around an hour to fully charge, which isn’t too bad at all. You could take a well-deserved break or have lunch while it soaks up more juice.
Alternatively, you could use a second battery while the first is charging.
Battery Power: Advances In Technology
It’s clear that lithium-ion batteries have transformed the world of power tools in the last couple of decades. In the past, anything that relied on traditional batteries would lose power as they ran down, becoming less efficient. Using them in power tools was unthinkable, as they would soon lose power.
Most people relied on corded tools which were less portable and presented more risks. So, the lithium-ion battery was a revelation,
A lithium-ion battery-powered hedge trimmer will retain consistent power until it has fully discharged. Their relatively light weight makes them ideal for portable tools, and they can really pack a punch in terms of power.
Also, they can be recharged at any time – you don’t need to run the charge down fully.
It’s safe to say that cordless power tools will continue to improve and will eventually replace corded tools in the near future.
Are Cordless Hedge Trimmers Cheaper To Run?
Top Tips For Buying A Cordless Hedge Trimmer
While the battery life is important, it’s by no means the only aspect you should consider when choosing your cordless trimmer.
Here are a few pointers to guide you in finding the best cordless hedge trimmer to suit your needs:
Hedge trimmer blades generally vary from around 15 inches (38 cm) to 30 inches (75 cm), although the longest ones are generally used by professional gardeners. Also, the longer the blade, the heavier the machine is likely to be.
To get the right length, consider the width of your thickest hedges. If you can easily reach both sides, and your hedge is about 20 inches thick, then a 15-inch blade length is fine.
However, if only one side is accessible you might want to invest in a longer blade.
Dual Action Blades
Most hedge trimmers use reciprocating blades that move backwards and forwards to create a scissor effect to slice through foliage easily. In some, one blade is fixed in place while the other slides back and forth. With dual action blades, both blades move back and forth, providing a more efficient cut and reducing the vibration levels.
Lithium-ion batteries have helped to reduce the weight of hedge trimmers, although you still find models that weigh 7 kg or more. While that doesn’t seem too heavy, you soon feel it after working for an hour!
Still, cordless hedge trimmers are generally lighter than petrol hedge trimmers, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular. Pole hedge trimmers are the exception as they can weigh as much as 9 kg (although they come with a harness to make them more comfortable to carry).
Note: hedge trimmer specifications often list the weight of the unit minus the battery. If you find this is the case, add another 1 to 1.5 kg to get a true figure.
Many hedge trimmers have adjustable handles that can be rotated left or right by 90º, allowing you to maneuver the machine easily without straining your arms and wrists. It’s well-worth seeking out a trimmer with this feature.
Pole Hedge trimmers
These are excellent for taller hedges as you won’t need to risk using a ladder or go through the hassle of setting up a safe platform to work on. Some have shafts that can be extended to almost 6 feet.
An Extra Battery
Investing in spare batteries is a good idea as you can charge one while you use the other. And when the first one runs low, simply swap batteries and keep working.
This also avoids relying on the one battery for all jobs and extends the lifespan of both.
Sometimes it’s the little extras that set a product apart from the others. In the case of hedge trimmers, when a manufacturer includes safety features it shows that they care about their customers.
One example is the blade guard. This slots over the blade when not in use, which stops the teeth from being damaged. More importantly, it prevents nasty cuts, as those teeth are still sharp even when they’re not moving!
Having a safety guard is also a good idea. This is a simple shield (often clear toughened perspex) that stops the user’s hand from accidentally making contact with the blade while it’s running, as well as preventing twigs or debris from being thrown backwards.
The best cordless hedge trimmers have dual power switches and an automatic cut-off. If you let go of one or either of these, the blades stop immediately.
This determines the maximum thickness of the branches that the machine can handle. Cutting capacity is usually (but not always!) mentioned in the specifications and it refers to the spacing between the teeth. The wider the gap, the more easily your machine will deal with thick branches.
However, by ‘thick branches’ we mean not much more than 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). If you tackle anything thicker on a regular basis you will damage the unit. These machines are designed for trimming hedges, not lopping off branches from oak trees!
Invest In A Brand
Most hedge trimmers these days are part of a large range of cordless garden power tools (and power tools in general) made by that brand. If you find a brand that you’re happy with, it makes sense to buy other tools from them as the batteries should be interchangeable.
However, it’s best to check that the battery is compatible with other tools from the same brand before buying.
Also, always double-check whether a battery and/or charger is supplied and included in the price as many of these units are sold without the battery.
Always check the specifications for features such as a tip guard or debris sweeper. The tip guard protects the end of the blade when you are working on old hedges that may have hidden fence posts or walls behind them.
The debris sweeper (or hedge sweep) gathers the clippings and deposits them as you cut, saving you from having to collect them later.
Lithium-Ion Battery Care Tips
Hedge trimmers are useless without their lithium-ion batteries, and these items don’t come cheap! Depending on the brand, you’ll pay somewhere between £20 and £100, maybe even more. That’s why it makes good sense to look after them.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your batteries stay in tip-top condition:
- Remove the battery from the hedge trimmer when not in use. This is a safety issue, but there’s also a chance that if you leave it in the machine it will leak and cause corrosion. Not only will you need a new battery, but you may well need to replace the hedge trimmer! Even if this doesn’t happen, it will gradually lose its charge.
- Store the battery correctly. Wipe it down with a damp cloth and dry it thoroughly. If it came with a case, make sure you use it. Otherwise, keep it in a safe, dry place out of direct sunlight and somewhere they won’t be damaged. The area should be well ventilated, not too humid, and ideally between 4 and 26º C (40 and 80 F). If the battery is exposed to extremely cold temperatures there is a chance that the plastic casing may crack.
- Don’t leave the battery in the charger indefinitely. Once it’s charged, it’s best to remove it immediately. Although most chargers are designed to cut off the power supply when finished, there is a risk that it may shorten the battery life by leaving it charging for too long. Also, batteries should never be stored in the charger.
- Store the battery partially charged. Never run the battery down fully before storing it. Ideally, charge it between 30 and 50% before storage as this will help to boost its lifespan.
- Cold temperatures reduce power capacity. You may notice that your batteries need charging more frequently in cold weather. This is because cooler temperatures increase the internal resistance, lowering its capacity. It may be wise to avoid using the hedge trimmer in very cold weather.
Best Cordless Hedge Trimmers
Now you know more about the subject, here are a few examples of some of the best cordless hedge trimmer brands and models currently available.
The ethos behind Greenworks is commendable, as they have made it their mission to provide top-quality cordless tools to reduce reliance on petrol-driven models and lower harmful emissions.
Greenworks G40HT 40v Cordless Hedge trimmer
This model is a great example of what Greenworks has to offer:
- 2Ah or 4 Ah battery
- Blade length 56cm (22 inches)
- Cutting capacity 18mm (0.7 inches)
- Dual action blades
- Battery and micro-charger included (always check the deal!)
- Weight 2.6kg
- Rotating handle
- Price: approximately £110
What Did Buyers Say?
The general feel from customer reviews is that it is easy to set up and use. They loved the fact that it is lightweight, cuts extremely well, and is comfortable to hold. Customers also liked the good battery life and safety features.
With light use, the battery lasts about 35 minutes to an hour.
Popular with DIY enthusiasts and tradespeople across the UK, Ryobi is renowned for its robust and durable tools, which now include garden power tools.
Here’s a great example from their cordless hedge trimmer range:
Ryobi RY18HTX60A-0 18v Cordless Hedge Trimmer
Alongside Ryobi’s customary professional look and feel, this model has the following specifications.
- 5 Ah battery
- Brushless motor
- Weight 2.9kg
- Anti-jam technology
- Blade length 60cm (23.6 inches)
- Cutting capacity 2.6mm (1 inch)
- HedgeSweep attachment
- Price: around £150 (without battery)
What Did Buyers Say?
The long battery life proved a hit among customers who bought this model, allowing just over an hour on a single charge. Reviews showed that this machine coped with tougher tasks, like conifer or laurel hedges, without any trouble.
Finally, the attachment for sweeping up clippings was another feature that customers found helpful.
For a great budget trimmer, you can’t go wrong with Terratek. This brand mostly keeps up with the big players but at a much more reasonable price.
Take a look at this one, for example:
Terratek 20V Cordless Electric Hedge Trimmer
- 1.5 Ah battery
- Integrated safety guard
- 2-stage safety cut-off switch
- Blade length 51cm (20 inches)
- Weight 2.5kg
- Price: Approximately £80 including battery and charger (always check the deal, though)
- Cutting capacity 15mm (0.5 inches)
As you can see, it costs about half as much as the Ryobi, even with the battery and charger!
But how does it compare in other areas?
What Did Buyers Say?
Overall, this model had very positive reviews. People were generally happy with the battery life, with most stating that it lasted forty minutes or more. They also liked the quick charging time, typically around 35 minutes.
Senior customers (especially those with mobility problems) were particularly happy with this hedge trimmer because of its light weight.
It isn’t easy to find a better example of the benefits of cordless hedge trimmers than by showcasing this brand.
Although they produce petrol and corded hedge trimmers as well, which are of equally good quality, their cordless hedge trimmers are very popular and have earned Hyundai many very satisfied customers.
Hyundai HYHT40LI 40V Cordless Hedge Trimmer
- Blade length 52cm (20 inches)
- 2.5 Ah
- Weight 4kg
- Wall guard tip protection
- Low-noise operation
- Brushless motor
- Rotating handle
- Cutting capacity 2.3cm (0.9 inches)
- Price: Around £180 including battery and charger
What Did Buyers Say?
Reviews for this model are extremely positive, with most users commenting on how quiet the machine was. They also liked the weight, which is still considered light even though it’s the heaviest of all the hedge trimmer examples listed here!
The brushless motor impressed many customers, providing more power and efficiency. Many users compared this model favourably with petrol hedge trimmers.
But what struck reviewers most of all was the ease and cleanness of the cut made by the 51cm laser-cut toughened steel blades.
Finally, customers were happy with the average run-time of 45 minutes (though many found that their machine ran for much longer) and charging time of 80 minutes.
Better known for their petrol chainsaw and petrol hedge trimmer range, the name of Stihl is almost legendary worldwide. Their cordless hedge trimmers are equally impressive, and as you’d expect, this means a higher price tag, as we’ll see in a moment.
Stihl HSA 56 36v Cordless hedge trimmer
- Blade length 45cm (18 inches)
- 2 Ah
- Weight 4kg
- Blade tip protector
- Cutting capacity 2.3cm (1 inch)
- Dual action cutting
- 2-stage battery position (can be inserted partially for safe carriage as the terminals won’t be connected, then pushed in fully when you want to use the unit)
- Tear drop shaped blades (these force the twigs and branches into the blades for easier cutting)
- Top-loading battery
- Price: Between £260 and £330 including battery (or two batteries) and charger
Overall, this is one impressive machine and it seems like Stihl has thought of everything.
What Did Buyers Say?
Most reviews say how great this machine is, which is no surprise. Like the Hyundai, it’s still classed as a lightweight machine, even though it weighs 4kg.
Customers were also impressed with the battery life of between 40 and 60 minutes, though many of these were using the recommended AK10 battery. Stihl’s own specifications suggest that you can use one of their AK20 batteries and extend the run time to about 100 minutes.
The most obvious difference between this model and the others is the price. Comparatively speaking, you could buy the Terratek hedge trimmer mentioned here for the same price as a single Stihl battery (usually around £80).
While the old saying, you get what you pay for, is true to some extent, it’s always worth exploring reasonably-priced items as many brands are almost as good as their expensive counterparts.
How Long Do Hedge Trimmer Batteries Last: Final Thoughts
Buying any tool like this is a big deal. After all, you are trying to make life easier, so when things go wrong it seems doubly frustrating. Also, you’ll be paying out your hard-earned cash for this item, so you want the most for your money.
Unfortunately, no matter which brand you buy, you sometimes get a faulty item. Whether it’s shoddy workmanship or damaged in transit, it is very disappointing when the item doesn’t function as expected.
All of this is a roundabout way of offering a disclaimer: however positive the reviews may be, there’s always a small chance that your hedge trimmer might not work as you thought it would.
If you buy online, always use a trusted and reliable outlet and take advantage of schemes that protect the buyer (such as eBay’s Buyer Protection Program).
Also, make sure you get a manufacturer’s warranty and register it with them if necessary. Most brands will cover their machines for general faults for 2 or 3 years.
On top of this disclaimer concerning reviews, it’s only fair to add that any figures given for running times can only be approximate; it all depends on how heavily the unit is being used and what you are using it on.
For example, all of the machines mentioned above will handle light trimming and shaping of bushes and shrubs. Some will last for around twenty minutes before they need charging, while others will keep going for about an hour. However, if you are tackling thick branches (taking care to note the cutting capacity) or undergrowth, then expect the battery to run down more quickly.
As mentioned earlier, you should always take great care of your batteries to keep them in good working order.
We began by asking how long hedge trimmer batteries last, and we’ve covered much more than this. But hopefully it has given you a better idea of what to look for and how to pick a good cordless hedge trimmer to suit your needs and get your garden in shape again.