A string trimmer is an essential tool for keeping weeds at bay in your garden, but should you buy a gas model or an electric one? Each has its advantages, but the simple fact is if you have a large space to deal with, the power and versatility of a gas string trimmer cannot be underestimated. An electric model is great for smaller yards, for example, but you won’t get the cutting width or ability compared to a gas model.
There are a number of makes and models on the market, each of which has its own merits, but what should you look for when choosing the right gas string trimmer? There are various elements to look at – the cutting width is one, the weight of the machine another, and the power it provides too – but there’s one that is a little more complex, and it’s this: should you buy a 2-cycle or 4-cycle string trimmer? Let us explain what this is all about.
2 or 4 Cycle – What’s the Difference?
Better known as 2-stroke and 4-stroke, these are simply two different versions of the internal combustion engine – or the gas engine. The difference lies in how they work. To keep things simple, it’s all about the point in the cycle at which the engine produces power. A 2-cycle engine does so every two ‘cycles’ – that is the movement of the piston in the direction it is driven – while the 4-stroke does so every four. For the record, the engine in your car is most likely a 4-stroke; that on most of your power tools and in some motorcycles will be a 2-stroke.
So, what difference is there when applied to use a gas trimmer? Each engine type has its advantages – and disadvantages – in terms of how it operates, its efficiency, and economy, as well as how much maintenance it needs. We will try and compare the two types below over a number of factors that are important to you.
A 4-stroke engine is far more complex than a 2-stroke version; hence the cost of buying a 4-cycle strimmer will be greater than for the alternative. It’s worth checking them out and comparing prices, however, as you may find deals available.
Contrary to what you may think, a 2-stroke trimmer should be more powerful than its 4-stroke counterpart, as 2-cycle is the best format for small gas engines. Again, check this when you are looking as you might find some exceptions to the rule.
The trade-off to having more power from a 2-stroke model, is that it will be less economical, so it will cost more when it comes to fuel. This is worth bearing in mind at the final buying stage.
An important point to consider if you are going to be using your trimmer on a regular basis for long periods of time is the weight. A 4-cycle model will naturally weigh more than the smaller, 2-stroke engine version, so you need to check the actual weights very carefully before you buy.
One of the major problems with a 2-stroke engine – whether in a strimmer or a car – is that it can be very noisy. This is down to the way the motor works and the speed at which it runs. If you have near neighbors, you might be best looking at a 4-cycle trimmer for the garden!
A 2-cycle engine burns oil, not just gas, and pollutes much more than a 4-stroke model. If you want to keep up your green credentials, the 4-stroke is perhaps the choice for you.
In terms of maintenance, there is little between the 2 and 4-cycle engines, as they both need similar attention to keep them running smoothly. In cost, there may also be very little in it, but we recommend that you look around carefully for the best deals on either. Most people who use a gas string trimmer will be using a 2-stroke design as these are the most popular, are lighter and can be more powerful, but as we have shown above there are some merits to choosing a 4-stroke, so check them out further and see which is for you.