Are battery products good enough?
The next question is: Will this battery-powered tool perform just as well as a gas unit, all the way up to this 305-hour mark? Maybe not four or five years ago, but some can today.
"Our crews operate Stihl and Black & Decker battery-powered handheld equipment," Giard relates. "It's really a matter of user preference. The 18-volt Black & Decker trimmers are a bit lighter and more ergonomic, which is important for a more inexperienced user. But the Stihl trimmer feels like a gas-powered machine. The horsepower is there, too. They work very well on our commercial routes."
Product technology has come a long way over the past few years. And when you're talking about product improvements with respect to battery-powered equipment, you're largely talking about the battery itself.
Gomez says batteries are becoming lighter and more powerful, delivering longer runtimes per charge. Pherson agrees, adding, "Stihl's newest battery, the AP 160, can be charged hundreds of times without a loss of power." In fact, Stihl says this battery can be charged 500 times and still retain roughly 80% of its original capacity.
The other key is how quickly you can recharge a battery. Stihl claims an approximate 35-minute charge time for its AP 160 using its higher-end AL 300 rapid charger. Oregon PowerNow's B400E battery can take 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the charger. The Worx 24-volt GT trimmer battery takes three to five hours to charge.
Many pros who are using battery equipment invest in multiple batteries just to be safe. Giard has installed solar panels on his trucks so a battery is always charging while the other is in use. Stihl offers a battery belt so pros have a backup battery at the ready while out performing work.
That's going to add cost, which you must keep in mind when pricing work. There are plenty of benefits to using battery-powered equipment. But just like with any piece of equipment, you have to do your homework—and have a clear plan for putting the equipment to work for not only your crews, but also your bottom line.