Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Best 12 String Trimmer Lines Review

Best Electric String Trimmers and Lawn Edgers Review Part 10: The 12 Best String Trimmer Lines

The line you use on your string/ line trimmer makes a huge difference to how effective your cut is, and how frequently you reload your spool. Most of the trimmer lines  you find in retail stores are low end, and is is important to pick good quality line - you will save money in the long run.

What you need to know about trimmer line

Shape: round, square, star, polygonal, twisted. The line profile  itself can assume multiple shapes. The most common is round, which is generally believes to be easier on materials such as siding, pipe, stucco or fencing. Pentagon is similar to round. Square and star shaped lines are often believed to be harder cutting, although many professionals believe this to be an urban legend, as the bulk of the cut is accomplished by the end, which gets quickly damaged. Some pros consider that square or star shaped lines whoosh grass out of place, and make it harder to cut, while being more effective on heavy weeds. Twisted (spiral) line has less drag, does not blow grass down, and makes for more efficient trimmer head rotation, although resistance to abrasion may not be as good.

Two-layer line. In the last few years, several brands have started commercializing two-layer lines, where the outer layer is more resistant to abrasion and slicker (for air friction), while the inner core is less brittle, to avoid line breakage.

Line size. It ranges from 0.065, smallest, home-owner only, diameter, through 0.080", home-owner heavy duty or precision work for commercial crew, 0.095", which is the standard size for commercial crew, 0.105" and 0.115", heavy duty commercial, to 0.130" and 0.155", extra-strength commercial. As you go up in size, you also increase the risk of damage to structures such as siding, pipes, or sprinklers. Many commercial operators who do residential work believe that 0.095" is the largest diameter that may be used without risking damage to property, while crews operating in different environments, such as cemeteries, are readier to use larger diameter. Be aware that your spool and trimmer may not allow you to use larger size line, but that it is often worth it to try and make it work (although you might void your warranty). Obviously, larger line is more durable, and may cut better if your trimmer can whip around a heavy head+line combination, and if the line can still feed through the eyelets and be cut by the line cutter.

Tasks and line diameter. If you can pick your line size (which is rarely true, as your trimmer will carry guidelines), it is probably best to use 0.080" around fragile structures, landscape beds, irrigation equipment and sidewalk,  0.095"around fencing, brush or very thick weeds, and 0.105" around thick brush, or when doing a one-time trim where there is no regular maintenance.  The cleanest and neatest cut for edging is probably accomplished with 0.080" line. Remember to cut with the tip, or you will damage your structures and run out of line quickly.

Line color. While it is not always possible to pick, transparent, gray, green or brown line will be less visible when broken and spread in your lawn than orange, red or bright yellow.

Line welding. A common problem that occurs with cheap line is line welding, where a low temperature polymer melts upon itself in the spool and compels the user to unwind it by hand. The remedy is to get better quality line, although some recommend using silicon spray or motor oil on your spool.

Buying by weight. The most expensive way to buy line is to purchase replacement pre-wound spools. It is approximately 5-10 times cheaper to buy large replacement bundles of line by the pound (0.5, 1, 3, 5 lbs) and wind the line yourself around a set of 3-4 trimmer head spools. When buying very thin (0.065") cheap line, it is sometimes necessary to leave the newly wound spools in the sun for a couple of days prior to using them, so that they will feed better.

Line breakage. Lines break right around the eyelets where they come out, break when they are whipped back and forth on starts and stops, and abrade away from contact with rough materials. A good quality line will break less and abrade less.

Leaving line in water. Trimmer line is made of nylon., When nylon is spun, it is made from nylon pellets, which are dried before being processed. The outcome is that, in the general case (unless the manufacturer has reintroduced water in the product), line coming from the manufacturer is totally dry and somewhat brittle, or may have dried out since it was produced. It is best to leave replacement line in a water bucket to make it less brittle and give it more resistance to breakage. Wetting the line for a few hours to a couple of days is typically good enough, although many crews simply store the replacement line in water buckets. This is what Oregon, a manufacturer of trimmer line, writes on its site: "Important trimmer line information - Any monofilament trimmer line can lose moisture over time or become brittle, especially if subjected to heat and sunlight. To reduce brittleness, Oregon® strongly recommends that line be submerged in water for 24 hours."

Where to buy trimmer line. Unfortunately, there is no single online store with a large percentage of the better trimmer lines. Some may be found on Amazon, others on Home Depot, others again are in-store  only at Lowe's, while a online mower parts stores such as Hyperparts, Jack's Small Engines, LawnMowerPros, M&D, MowMore, or MowPart carry specific brands. Some brands only seem to be available in brick and mortar stores. Depending upon your brand choices, you may have to dig specifically for the product you are looking for.

The best trimmer lines

In order to find out what the best trimmer lines are, we went through forums for professional landscapers, or general lawn forums where professional landscapers participate, and selected all the threads about trimmer lines since 2008. The most significant such forum is the Commercial and Residential Lawn Mowing Forum on the LawnSite, although we also used the Lawn & Garden section of TractorbyNet and other forums on the Lawn Site as well as the gardenweb forums and a smattering of other sites. We counted all the picks for and against by professional participants, and added these picks to come up with a score card. We only counted people who represented themselves as landscaping professionals. We tried to count a forum participant only once (although we accepted several picks), but we may have accidentally counted somebody twice in multiple threads. Some participants may have been members of different forums with different forum names, and would then have been counted twice (or more) if they participated in the threads that we sampled. We got 154 positive votes, with some participants voting for more than one line, and 24 negative votes, where somebody specifically mentions not liking a product.

There were quite a few picks dispersed across the field. The Grass Gator got one pan with no picks. The Shakespeare Weed Warrior got one pick. Weedeater regular round line got 2 picks because it was so cheap that, even spending twice as much, you could still come out ahead. Shakespeare Extreme also got 2 picks, although it does not appear to be marketed any more.  Oregon Nylium Starline got one pick and one pan. Several picks went after Sufix manufactured line which could njot be found either. Firecracker Titanium got two picks and one pan. Shindaiwa Silent Twist got 4 picks and 4 pans, although some of the pans were for unusual reasons, such as - so silent that you don't know if it needs to be bumped... John Deer Pro Cut/ I Beam (made by Kawasaki) and Kawasaki pro Cut, together, got 7 picks, but we could not find them. Could they be the same as the Ktech line  from Kawasaki? Finally, the Stihl X-Cut line got 4 picks and 2 pans.

Good lines

#12 Arnold Extreme with 4 picks. Arnold Extreme line starts at 0.080", Pros like how long the line lasts.

#11  Rino Tuff with 5 picks. Rino Tuff by Jarden can be found at Home Depot, and starts at 0.065". Pros like the long lasting line which can withstand tough mixed brush. 

#10  Shakespeare Pulverizer with 6 picks. The Shakespeare Pulverizer is triangle shaped, starts at 0.080", and can be found at Home Depot. Pros say the cut is clean and the line does not fray.

#9 Oregon Gatorline Super-Twist Magnum with 6 picks. Pros say the Oregon Gatorline Super-Twist Magnum  cut smoothly and lasts long. It starts at 0.095". 

#8  Desert Vortex with 7 picks. The Desert Vortex , made by Desert Extrusion, is a spiral/ twisted line. Pros say that it cuts very well and cleanly without blowing grass down, and think it could last longer. Desert Vortex is not easy to find, but is widely brand labeled. Some pros compare it to the Rotary Vortex and the Arnold Supreme.

#7 Oregon Magnum Gatorline with 10 picks and 2 pans. The Oregon Magnum Gatorline is a 2-layer line which starts at 0.080". Many pros find it tough and resistant to cutting, but two users feel it is consumed too fast. Some say the square version cuts heavy brush better but does not cut grass as cleanly and abrades more compared to the round line.

#6 The Redmax Cable Twist with 9 picks.   The Redmax Cable Twist  (model # starting with CT) appears to be the same as the Rotary Black Vortex  and the brand-less Landscaper Pro black spiral. Pros pick it for longevity, resistance to abrasion, and lack of air resistance. Some feel it is best not to use it in a delicate environment.

#5  Oregon Gatorline with 16 picks and 5 pans. The Oregon Gatorline is praised by many pros who see it as long lasting, although an aggressive cutting line with some danger to damage. Others, on the other hand, see is running too fast (no longevity). The line starts at .065".

#4 Shakespeare Ultra-Twist with 11 picks. The Shakespeare Ultra-Twist gets excellent feedback from pros who say that it cuts great and reduces drag. But - we were not able to find it anywhere (it used to be found at MowMore and Walmart): it might not be marketed any more...

 Recommended lines

#3 Stihl Premium round, with 13 picks and 2 pans. The Stihl Premium ranges from .065", while the Commercial starts at .095". Stihl also makes a Quiet Line (.080" and .095") which gets two pro votes, but which may get more votes from homeowners who value silence. The Stihl round line gets kudos for being a fairly long lasting line which is good to use in delicate environments where damage should be avoided.This is a precious quality for home owners.

#2 Husqvarna Titanium Force with 23 picks and 4 pans. The Husqvarna Titanium Force, which can be found at Amazon, starts at 0.080".  Pros find it is tough, precise, and does not abrade much, although pans complain that it goes out too fast. A new line by Husqvarna, the Husqvarna XP Force , is a 2-layer line with slick skin and bendable core - it starts at 0.095".  

#1. Echo CrossFire with 32 picks and 3 pans. The  Echo CrossFire, which can be found at Home Depot, starts at 0.080", and gets an amazing 32 picks. Pros find it all around tough and long lasting, with a good, clean cut. The few pans complain that it breaks too often.

Next we discuss replacing trimmer line with a blade... So come back soon!

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