For those willing to pay for it, the battery-operated Stihl HSA 66 hedge trimmer offers pro-level power and performance. If you carry the trimmer's battery in an optional belt (Est. $170), the trimmer itself weighs only about 7 pounds, and its dual handles make it easy to maneuver. Our estimated price includes the least expensive battery (Est. $130), which offers about 60 minutes of run time.
Heavy-duty trimmer. Stihl markets the HSA 66 model (the successor to the HSA 65) cordless trimmer as a tool for professionals, but homeowners say they enjoy its power (36 volts and 3,000 cutting strokes per minute) too. The 20-inch blade is a nice balance for speed and maneuverability, and it cuts up to 3/8-inch branches. Experts generally agree that the Stihl's performance is up to par with gas models, and its battery is designed to continue providing full power until it's completely run-down. The HSA 66 weighs about 7 pounds without a battery, 9.5 with the smallest of three battery options.
May require a belt. If you choose to wear the Stihl HSA 66's battery on an optional belt (Est. $170), it's light enough for most people to wield with some comfort -- but if you don't opt for the belt, you'll need some upper-body oomph to wield both trimmer and battery effectively and safely. On the other hand the HSA 66's extra speed and strength mean you spend less time with it overall -- a trade-off which, along with low noise levels and no exhaust fumes, leaves many homeowners more than happy to carry this power trimmer around. If you have other 36-volt Stihl tools, you can exchange the batteries between them.
Powerful and safe. The Stihl HSA 66 has a nice range of safety and ease-of-use features to accompany its powerful, 36-volt motor. Two handles (a rear handle and a loop handle) make it easy to control, and dual triggers on the handles ensure that you have both hands on the trimmer at all times. It also has a variable-speed control on the rear trigger and an integrated tip protector, and it comes with a sheath to protect the blade.
Our estimated price includes the cost of the smallest, AP80 battery (Est. $130), which offers about 60 minutes of run time. You can also purchase an AP 180 battery (Est. $200, up to 140 minutes) or the hefty AR 900 (Est. $900, up to 11 hours), which comes in a backpack and is probably best for professional contractors.
1. Popular Mechanics
In this review, Evan Rothman records the reactions of two professional golf course groomers as they use the cordless Stihl HSA 65 and the gas Husqvarna 122HD45. The Stihl HSA 65 is easier to use and compares well in performance with the gas model, they say.
Review: Backyard Battle: Gas vs. Electric Lawn Tools, Evan Rothman, Not dated
In this article about the rise of eco-friendly, battery-powered lawn and garden tools, Gregg Wartgow favorably compares the cordless Stihl hedge trimmer to gas-powered trimmers. He receives input from professional gardeners who are satisfied with the Stihl HSA 65's performance, even in heavy-duty use.
Review: Lithium Ion Revolution, Gregg Wartgow, March 11, 2013
3. Extreme How-To Blog
In tests of the Stihl HSA 65 on the holly bushes around his office, reviewer Hal Jones finds the trimmer cuts through foliage well. He also gives it to a city maintenance crew to try, and they report it is a good, low-maintenance trimmer for their work.
Review: Stihl HSA 65 Cordless Hedge Trimmer Extended Use Review, a Cordless Hedge Trimmer for Commercial Use, Hal Jones, March 9, 2012
The reviewer, who says he doesn't do yard work daily, finds the overall weight of the Stihl HSA 65 difficult to wield. He likes the trigger, trigger lock and ergonomics, though, and says the HSA 65 cut very well. He also notes you can use the trimmer's power platform for Stihl's cordless chain saw and blower.
Review: Stihl HSA 65 Cordless Hedge Trimmer Review, Timothy Dahl, Not dated