Not all battery-operated equipment is created equal

by Mars
Toro battery

We had a busy summer and autumn last year reviewing electric and battery-operated gardening tools and the one thing that became evident very quickly is that not all batteries are created equal. I will actually take that one step further. Not all battery-operated tools and equipment are created equal.

In 2020, we purchased the Toro Flex-Force lawnmower with a 6Ah battery, and we could cut the grass in about 70% of our field (an area of about 1,000sqm) on one battery charge. Last year, Toro sent us a 7.5Ah battery to try out, and when the grass is dry we can cut the full field on one charge and do a chunk of our front garden lawn too. That’s a lot of cut grass on one charge.

This has now become our benchmark. We tested several different battery-operated mowers last year, and there were some that required us to use four 5Ah batteries (two banks of batteries at a time) to get the same amount of work done as the 7.5Ah Toro battery. That’s a staggering amount of extra power.

While the Toro battery is evidently better, the most notable thing about why we can get this amount of grass cut in one session (using the 7.5Ah battery) is because the Toro lawn mower has been designed to conserve battery power.

When you start the mower, it sounds like it’s idling. The motor is quiet and it doesn’t feel like it’s working very hard. With grass that isn’t too long, the mower remains quiet, doesn’t speed up and just keeps mowing. If, however, you go up an incline or it hits longer, tougher turf, the motor revs up and works harder, but then calms down when there’s less work to do. It’s very clever, and I never really noticed this until we tested other machines.

All the other mowers, when you start them, power up, go straight to maximum and work full out, all the time. This drains and kills the batteries a lot faster as the machine is not requiring this power all the time.

With this in mind, I think the next evolution in battery-operated garden tools has be smarter responses. These tools, in terms of power, are now competing with petrol equivalents, and it’s now about extending battery usage time. By having products that have the intelligence to cycle up or down based on what you’re doing will immeasurably help extend battery life.

This is clearly something Toro have thought of and figured out because it’s hugely obvious in their lawnmower and it’s also evident in their chainsaw to a lesser degree. When the chainsaw starts, it slowly builds up speed, and then remains fast and powerful. Most other battery-operated chainsaws we’ve looked at from other brands, apart from Stihl, go from zero to full speed almost instantly – that must unnecessarily drain a lot more power on start up.

With the new gardening season almost upon us, I’m really excited to see what developments have taken place in the battery-operated power tool sector and whether advancements have been made in tools to preserve battery power. Hopefully we can get our hands on more Toro tools too, because we’ve become huge fans of the brand.

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