The best Black+Decker weed eater
Most of us have grown up with Black+Decker tools (or Black and Decker, as they were). Their weed eater range exemplifies their reputation for quality and value. There are plenty of choices, so we've put together a quick guide to give you a detailed look. We've also picked a few favorites. Our top model, the Black+Decker 40V String Trimmer/Edger, is a great all-rounder with lots of controllable power, and offers a viable alternative to the noise and pollution of gas models.
Considerations when choosing Black+Decker weed eaters
Black+Decker weed eater options
While much of the focus is on Black+Decker's cordless string trimmer range, their corded weed eaters are still available. They're invariably cheaper, and you never have to worry about the battery running flat. The only drawback is that cord -- even with an extension, you are going to have a range of 100 feet max, and over that distance, electrical resistance can impact power. On top of that, for safety's sake you should always plug outdoor power tools into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) to prevent potentially dangerous electric shocks. So if you don't have a CFCI, you will need to install one before using your corded weed eater.
Cordless is touted as the clean and quiet alternative to gas -- all of the freedom, none of the drawbacks. The big issue has always been battery power. Black+Decker have addressed this by offering three choices: 20V for small gardens, 40V for medium to large plots, and 60V for go-anywhere power -- a direct challenge to gas rivals.
The batteries themselves still play an important part and, in particular, the Amp hour (Ah) rating, which defines how long a battery will run. A 3Ah battery, for example, will usually run more than twice as long as a 1.5Ah version, so bigger is always better (though smaller versions are usually supplied to keep prices down). If your Black+Decker weed eater only comes with one and you want to get an extra, get the longest-lasting battery you can afford.
Black+Decker is proactive in finding ways to preserve power. Most of their cordless weed eaters have switchable power, allowing you to either boost performance for tough grass and weeds or extend the run time as much as possible when you're doing light trimming.
Other key considerations
There are two types of line feed available: "bump" and "automatic."
A bump feed works by way of a spring-loaded button on the bottom of the spool section. When you bump it on a hard surface, it feeds extra line. Most of the time these are fine, but they can be fussy, particularly as they age. You can usually advance the line manually if it fails.
Automatic feed is available in more expensive models. It uses a sensor to tell when more line is required. While these convenient systems can quickly become useless when they fail, this is a rarity among Black+Decker models.
Black+Decker are well-balanced tools, but weight will be a consideration for some, as will shaft length. Many shafts are adjustable, but not all. Shoulder harnesses are not supplied as standard (since the lightness of most models make this an unnecessary feature for most), but it is possible to attach aftermarket versions should you need to. Changing from trimmer to edger mode (where available) is a one-button affair, quick and easy. Maintenance requirements are virtually nil -- just give it a good clean after use.
Black+Decker weed eater prices
You can get a lightweight corded Black+Decker weed eater for a little over $40, while cordless versions start at about $70. More power puts the price up. You can make substantial savings if you already have compatible Black+Decker batteries, but do check carefully as older versions may not be compatible.
Q. Does the shape of the weed eater line make a difference?
A. It can. Standard line is round, so it tears its way through the grass rather than actually cutting -- though it is the cheapest line. Square and star lines have sharp edges. Serrated line has teeth, almost like a saw blade. How well they work will depend on your grass and weeds, so you'll need to experiment. Make sure you buy the right diameter.
Q. Can I wind my own trimmer line rather than buying Black+Decker spools?
A. You can, and you'll likely save money. The weed eater manual even shows you how. The only drawback is it's a bit fiddly, and if you let go it could take a while to untangle. However, most people get the hang of it quickly.
Black+Decker weed eaters we recommend
Best of the best: Black+Decker 40V MAX Trimmer/Edger
Our take: A cordless tool to take on gas rivals in all but the biggest yards.
What we like: The 40V motor gives plenty of power, and the motor is switchable from maximum power to maximum run time. Single button change to edger mode and convenient no-bump automated spool. Good ergonomics including an adjustable shaft.
What we dislike: Battery life could be better. Only one battery included.
Best bang for your buck: Black+Decker 20V MAX Trimmer/Edger
Our take: This is a lightweight, low-cost string trimmer for modest urban gardens.
What we like: The size of this trimmer makes it a great tool for smaller yards, and its weight makes it a good option for those who struggle with heavier tools. Simple conversion from trimmer to edger and nice balance. Choice of battery mode can extend run time.
What we dislike: The batteries are only 1.5Ah and charge quite slowly.
Our take: Clever combination of weed eater and mower, perfect for the small lawn.
What we like: You get one of our favorite budget weed eaters, with a four-wheeled deck that turns it into a 12-inch, height-adjustable mower, all at a reasonable price.
What we dislike: The engine offers modest power for mowing and will struggle with thicker grass and weeds.
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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