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Electric weed whackers have the smallest price tag

Many owners dislike the noise, fumes and fuss that come with a gas-powered trimmer say it's worth switching to electric. Not only are these the cheapest category of weed whackers, but they also require no gas, have no batteries to replace and are low-maintenance. Although you can spend as little as $20 for a corded lawn trimmer, they don't get much love from consumers. For first-class trimming and edging performance in a durable tool, plan to spend about $100.

Corded string trimmers have no limits on runtime, but they do keep you tied to an outlet. You can use up to a 200-foot extension cord depending on model. Light-duty extension cords can't carry the electric load safely, so use only a heavy-gauge power cord. Reviewers say electric string trimmers work best in yards with few tall elements; trees and swing sets can be difficult to trim around without tangling the cord.

Very few electric string trimmers get high scores, but experts and owners say the GreenWorks brand is one of the best, even outperforming Black & Decker, a leading brand of cordless weed whackers. The GreenWorks 21142 (Est. $90) is one of the most powerful electric string trimmers, according to reviews, and is tough enough to keep up with light-duty gas trimmers. Owners say its 18-inch head with dual .080 lines can cut through thick vegetation without slowing down.

The 21142 is the only string trimmer in our report that's capable of transforming into a blower, cultivator or pole pruner. It's compatible with split boom-style attachments from other brands -- including Craftsman and Ryobi -- regardless of motor or engine type. GreenWorks includes a four-year consumer warranty, one of the longest available at this price range.

Stihl's FSE 60 (*Est. $110) isn't quite as powerful as the GreenWorks 21142, but users say it produces a smooth finish when trimming and edging. It also out-handles the 21142 with a quiet engine and more convenient controls. The Stihl's curved shaft, the only one like it in our report, keeps everything light and well balanced. Owners say the FSE 60 is durable and reliable, lasting for many years. Its two-year warranty is about average for this price point.

GreenWorks 21142 10Amp 18-Inch Corded String Trimmer, Gas Attachment Capable
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New: $124.00 $78.75   
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