Those who want to avoid the noise, fumes and fuss that come with a gas-powered string trimmer but need something with more power, longer run times, and lower cost than what most cordless string trimmers can provide, may want to consider a corded electric weed eater. Not only are these the cheapest type of weed whackers, but they also require no gas, have no batteries to replace and are low-maintenance.
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. Wrangling the cord is a challenge for some and 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.
Despite their positives -- especially cost -- corded electric string trimmers don't rate as well as other types with experts, and especially with users. That said, a few emerge as better choices in this class.
The Black & Decker GH3000 (Est. $70) does well with both experts and owners -- thought the latter is a bit of a split decision, depending on which group of users you choose to ask. For example, it's one of the better rated corded weed eaters at Amazon.com, earning a score of 4.2 stars based on more than 170 reviews. Sears.com users are also pretty pleased, and the trimmer gets a score of 4.5 stars based on 35 reviews. But if you were to shop at HomeDepot.com, you would see a much different story -- 3.4 stars based on just over 130 reviews. Regardless of the source, many of the negative reviews involve excessive line usage. Some happier owners post information on workarounds and other fixes to minimize that.
This 7.5-amp, 14-inch weed eater with a curved shaft does well in expert testing. It's included in one, large comparative review and emerges with a Recommended rating. Despite having only a single cutting line (expert say that the best models have two), it scores Very Good across the board in all areas that are evaluated, including cutting tall grass and weeds. It's covered by a two-year warranty
The GreenWorks 21142 (Est. $70) is another alternative. It's evaluated in the same expert test and scores similarly. With a 10-amp motor and 18-inch cutting path, it's a little more powerful than the GH3000, however, and does a little bit better job than that trimmer in that review's estimation when called upon to cut tall grass and weeds -- about on a par with a light duty gas trimmer. Another plus is that this straight shaft trimmer is compatible with split boom-style attachments -- such as a brush cutter, cultivator or blower -- from other brands including Craftsman and Ryobi. GreenWorks includes a four-year consumer warranty, one of the longest available among string trimmers in its price range.
There are some tradeoffs, however. One is weight. At nearly 10 pounds, it weighs more than some competing corded weed eaters, and that catches some owners off guard. We also saw some complaints that the trigger mechanism is hard and/or cumbersome to use. Concern is also expressed regarding the line mechanism, and even the availability of replacement line spools, though those -- GreenWorks 29622 Dual Line Bump Feed Replacement Trimmer Line (Est. $17) -- seem to be readily available at present. The result of all of that is only a so-so user rating of 3.8 stars at Amazon.com, though that also includes feedback on two lower-powered but less expensive trimmers.
While the weed whackers above are less expensive than their cordless or gas-powered counterparts, you can also find a number of corded string trimmers priced below $50. Unfortunately, both expert and user reviews for most such models are lackluster, to be kind. One to consider might be the Craftsman 30378 (Est. $30). This is a low powered, 4.2 amp model with a straight shaft that can clear a 13-inch swath, so it's best for trimming smaller suburban plots. It's not been reviewed by experts, and not even by all that many owners, but the feedback that's available -- nearly 30 user reviews at Sears.com -- is relatively good for a weed eater in this price range. It earns a rating of 4.0 stars and is recommended by 89 percent of owners. Encouragingly, at the time of this report only three owners had rated it lower than 4 stars. The warranty is for two years.