These days, a lot of manufacturers and retailers are trying to appeal to the eco-conscious consumer by selling products that make a minimal impact on the environment — it also doesn’t hurt if they save you some money. The new propane-powered string trimmer from LEHR promises to do both.
This trimmer runs on a 25cc 4-stroke engine powered entirely by propane. A small 16.2oz propane canister, just like the one you use on your portable camping stove or grill, will fuel the engine for about two hours. Because it’s a 4-stroke engine, it requires no mixing or oil injection, just a small reservoir of 30-weight oil for lubrication and cooling.
While burning propane is slightly more expensive by volume than burning gas, the manufacturer points out that this trimmer requires no oil mixing and no regular maintenance outside of changing the oil reservoir once a year — and due to the engine design, it’s far less likely to need repairing, so it saves you money in the long run.
You can find the trimmer under the LEHR brand name at Home Depot and Ace Hardware, and Craftsman has licensed the same models to be sold under their brand name at Sears. Before the Craftsman model appeared on shelves a few months ago, we were lucky enough to get our hands on one to play around with, and a few things stood out to me:
1. It’s extremely easy to start — it requires considerably less compression to start it than a standard 4-stroke or 2-stroke engine, and because of the propane injection system there’s no prime and no choke. Just pull and go.
2. The power transfer from engine to drive shaft is very consistent. There’s none of that odd jerking of the cutting head if the idle screw isn’t placed at exactly the right level. This also cuts back on vibration considerably.
3. As a direct result of the consistent power transference, it also idles very quietly. We were able to have a regular conversation without raising our voices while standing over the idling machine. You almost don’t know it’s running.
If you’re interested in seeing this item in action, check out the videos on LEHR’s site or stop by your local Sears. Most stores will demo the trimmer for customers upon request.
Expect to pay $200 for the curved-shaft and $220 for the straight-shaft models. For $20 extra you can get a model that takes the optional universal attachment. And if you like this tool, the website says to look for a propane-powered blower by fall of 2009.