Wednesday, July 28, 2010

String Trimmer Blade Replacements

Best Electric String Trimmers and Lawn Edgers Review Part 11: String Trimmer Blade Replacements

Fighting Auto Feed Frustration

The new auto feed systems that we have seen in recent model introductions in the past several years have  generated tremendous frustration among users. They are nefarious at two levels. First, they simply do not function well, and often compel the user to painfully deal with manually feeding the spool. Second, by design they consume tremendous quantities of line, and require frequent changes of spools and new spool purchases. It appear clear that many manufacturers are attempting to switch their margins to line and spool purchase, turning their trimmers into poor quality consumables. None are worse at this game than Black and Decker, whose new GH line has absolutely abysmal ratings, in great part due to their abominable AFS auto feed system.

There is an interesting product now available, which can give users a weapon against this anti-consumer development.  The $20 Sun Joe Sharperblade is a flexible polymer blade, called self-sharpening, which may be mounted on multiple models of string trimmers, and replaces the feed spool. It carries very few reviews, and has contradictory user evaluations. While two users talk about one to two years life cycle for the blade, another mentions running out of blade over a couple of sessions: "I originally bought one of these replacement blades over 2 years ago. I am now ordering a replacement due to the original wearing out. I would definitely prefer to go through one of these blades every couple of years as opposed to dealing with string related issues.", "I only got to use it twice before it wore down to an unusable nub", "this is the 3rd year I've ordered these blades for my weedeater. They are great and do a wonderful job as my choice of string replacement."These blades are very broadly distributed through most large online retailers, including Sears, Walmart, Kmart, or Sam's Club: it appears to us that major distributors are aware of a strong sense of frustration on the part of string trimmer users, given this very wide distribution for a new and fairly obscure part.

Sun Joe just started marketing an SB600E stringless trimmer equipped with these blades. We found 5 reviews at Walmart and QVC, all of them positive and in general focused on the blades: "above average product, the trimmer works well, I don't have to change string", "very pleased with the blade instead of string", "just what I needed, I was too frustrated using the string trimmer", "I love that this has a blade that does not break and is bendable", "best trimmer I ever used." 

We cannot yet recommend the Sun Joe trimmers with so few reviews - and we are not sure that the trimmers themselves will be such good quality. But these blades certainly represent an interesting promise, and we l;oof froward to seeing more reviews on the subject. Let us know how you find them and which models they seem to work well with!

Incidentally, Stihl and a few other manufacturers also make blade replacements, but it seems that each one of them is focused on a single product line.

Next we discuss what makes a good lawn edger... So come back soon!

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