After researching well over 50 different cordless string trimmers, we bought the 7 best models on the market in 2020 and tested them head-to-head to find out which string trimmer is the best of the best. We tested the weed eating performance of each trimmed in a series of head-to-head tests, cutting through dense patches of grass, burly weeds, and made detail cuts to determine scores. We also measured the sound level and maximum runtime of each product, as well as judging their ergonomics and ease of use. Keep reading to find out which weed eater cut through the competition, which is your best bet on a budget, and which models will work with your existing cordless tool batteries.
The Best Cordless String Trimmers of 2020
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|Pros||Cuts through weeds like a champ, convenient to operate, quiet||Quiet, lightweight, easy to control||Super convenient to use, runs on the quieter side, edges cleanly||Fantastic at weed eating, easy to use||Exceptional battery life, fairly effective at weed eating|
|Cons||Pricey||Pricey, short reach||Guard gets in the way, so-so battery life||Requires additional motorized head, decently loud||High-pitched, annoying, heavy|
|Bottom Line||If you want the best of the best, the XRU09Z should be one of the first options you consider||The 115iL is a fantastic all-around string trimmer that just isn’t quite as comfortable to use as the top products||The WG191 did quite well in almost all of our tests, falling just a bit short of the top products||This is a great choice if you already have the EGO POWER+ Power Head||We weren’t overly impressed with this string trimmer and didn’t enjoy using it|
|Rating Categories||Makita XRU09Z 36V||Husqvarna 115iL||WORX WG191 56V...||EGO Power+ STA1500...||Greenworks 14-inch...|
|Weed Eating (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Specs||Makita XRU09Z 36V||Husqvarna 115iL||WORX WG191 56V...||EGO Power+ STA1500...||Greenworks 14-inch...|
|Line Feed Mechanism||bump||bump||button||bump||bump|
|Cutting Path (in.)||13.75||14||13||15||14|
|Shoulder Strap Attachment||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Measured Sound Level from 36" Away||88 dBa||95 dBa||88 dBa||104.6 dBa||103 dBa|
|Measured No-Load Runtime||69 min.||92 min.||36 min.||21 min.||95 min.|
|Measured Weight||9.938 lb||10 lb||9 lb||12.375 lb||14.375 lbs|
Makita XRU09Z 36V
If you are searching for the best of the best when it comes to cordless string trimmers, then our top recommendation is the Makita XRU09Z 36V. This cordless yard tool delivered excellent results across the vast majority of tests, earning it one of the highest scores we have seen to date. The Makita slices through weeds like a hot knife through butter, all while being one of the most convenient and easy to use models that we have tested to date. It's surprisingly comfortable to hold and lightweight given its power, has an impressive battery life and isn't excessively loud. On top of that, it uses the same batteries that Makita uses in the majority of their other cordless tools, negating the need for additional chargers.
Unfortunately, all of this performance does come at a bit of a price. The Makita XRU09Z 36V is one of the most expensive string trimmers of the entire group, but we can't recommend it highly enough if you can afford its premium price tag.
Read Review: Makita XRU09Z 36V
Best Value Option
WORX WG191 56V 13-inch
If you want a solid cordless string trimmer but don't want to spend the requisite cash for the Makita, then the WORX is a fantastic choice. This string trimmer is one of the easiest to deal with when it comes to reloading the string and is decently comfortable to use. It does a solid job at weed eating, handling most vegetation without issues, has plenty of power for typical yard maintenance, and is fairly capable of making detailed cuts. The guard has integrated wheels so edging is an absolute breeze and has a decent battery life.
Unfortunately, the WORX can stall out a bit when trying to cut particularly dense patches of grass and weeds. It doesn't get as tangled as some of the other trimmers but the guard and wheels can get caught up in taller plants. The guard can also get in the way for detailed cuts if you can't use the wheels. Despite those flaws, the WORX is our top recommendation for anyone looking for a solid string trimmer that isn't going to shred your savings as much as the top-tier models will.
Read Review: WORX WG191 56V 13-inch
Best on a Tight Budget
Ryobi 40V Expand-It
If you don't need to use a string trimmer all that often and are hoping to spend as little as possible for a new one, then we would suggest taking a look at the Ryobi 40V Expand-It. This weed eater gets devoured by the top-tier models but usually retails for less than half of what they cost. It cut through pretty much everything — feeling like overkill for light-duty or detailed edging work — though it can get a little squirrely when cutting through dense vegetation or burlier stems.
While the Ryobi packs plenty of power, it delivered mediocre results in the remainder of our tests. It's one of the heaviest models and feels significantly less balanced than other string trimmers, making it very cumbersome to use and difficult to precisely control exactly which weeds it's eating. We weren't huge fans of the guard design and this is one of the loudest models of the group. It's a great option if you already have some Ryobi tools, if you want to take advantage of the extensive number of tools that use this same battery system, or are shopping on a tighter budget. However, it can be a hassle to use and we would recommend upgrading if you are a frequent string trimmer user.
Read Review: Ryobi 40V Expand-It
Top Pick for Large Areas
If you need to clean exceptionally large areas of vegetation, then the Husqvarna 115iL is a great option to consider. This string trimmer has one of the longest runtimes of all the products we have tested to date, cutting weeds and plants long after other models needed to stop and recharge. The 115iL also offers a slow and fast mode that gives you a wide range of control, whether you are cutting around delicate objects or clearing wide swathes of grass. It isn't particularly loud and provides a decent amount of power when cutting through tougher plants with thicker stems.
However, the Husqvarna can be just a bit more cumbersome to use than some of the other products. It has a shorter neck so we felt like we were forced to stand just a bit closer to the cutting head than we would have liked and it can be a pain to hold vertically. The guard is also on the smaller side, which is nice when making precise cuts since it doesn't obstruct the view but is far less effective at stopping flying debris than other products. Despite these flaws, it's hard to beat the Husqvarna if you have tons of weeds and plants to clear and don't want to buy tons of extra batteries for other models.
Read Review: Husqvarna 115iL
Top Pick for Dense Vegetation and All-In-One Functionality
EGO Power+ STA1500 Attachment
If you need a string trimmer that can handle dense plants and grass without a struggle, then it's worth checking out the STA1500 string trimming attachment for the EGO Power+ Power Head. It's easily one of the most powerful string trimmers of the group, slicing through dense weeds and tall grass without a hint of a struggle and easily clearing areas that would have stopped other products dead in their tracks. It's fairly comfortable to use and a compact way to add a cordless string trimmer to your arsenal if you have the aforementioned attachment.
However, it can be quite a pricey purchase if you don't already have the Power Head and this trimmer can feel like it has too much power for average yards. The guard didn't seem to be super effective at keeping freshly-cut weeds from getting flung back at you and detail work can be quite difficult. It's hard to avoid cutting trenches and the STA1500 can be brutal on things like birdbaths, outdoor lights, and the side of your house if you aren't careful when using it. It's a great option if you need heavy-duty string trimming capabilities and plan on getting other EGO cordless tools but it isn't for everyone.
Read Review: EGO Power+ STA1500 Attachment
Why You Should Trust Us
After researching over 50 different weed eaters and string trimmer attachments, we bought all the best models to test for ourselves and help you find the perfect product. We bought all of these cordless string trimmers at standard retail prices just so you can be sure that we have no vested interest in scoring one brand over another and are getting a completely unbiased review. Our expert string trimmer testing and review team is lead by Michelle Powell and David Wise. Michelle has made a profession of evaluating products side-by-side, comprehensively testing and scoring the smallest details and differentiating factors on everything from coffee grinders to cordless power tools. Additionally, she also brings extensive lawn care experience to the table. While David doesn't have expert level experience with lawn tools, he does have formal training as a mechanical engineer with extensive experience in lithium batteries and electrical power systems gained from working on electric vehicles and underwater robots, which helps when it comes to ranking and scoring the performance of these lithium battery-powered products.
To help you find the best cordless weed eater of them all, we ate all the weeds. All of them. We exhaustively tested these products side-by-side, spending over 100 hours working on different yards and lawns and sentencing hundreds — if not thousands — of weeds to their doom. In addition to weed eating performance, we rated and compared the ease of operating each product, how long their batteries lasted for, and the amount of sound each one generated using an SPL meter to determine scores.
Analysis and Test Results
In total, we conducted a dozen distinct tests that we divided among four weighted rating metrics. Each of these metrics — Weed Eating, Ease of Use, Battery Life, and Noise — are weighted proportional to their importance when it comes to overall string trimmer performance. The score for each metric is determined by the performance of each trimmer in the evaluations grouped under each metric.
If you are shopping for a bargain weed eater, then two models immediately come to mind: the WORX WG191 and the Ryobi 40V Expand-It. These both typically cost about half as much — or even a little less — than our top-scoring model, the Makita XRU09Z and are both solid string trimmers. The Ryobi is usually a little less expensive than the WORX but is significantly more powerful. However, the Ryobi Expand-It is much less user-friendly and comfortable to use than the WORX. For the budget-conscious shopper, we'd recommend the Ryobi if you need to cut through dense vegetation and can deal with a tool that can be hard to carry and control and the WORX if you are willing to pay a little more to upgrade the overall performance.
Responsible for 30% of the total points for each product, it's easy to see why weed-eating performance is quite significant to the overall score for each cordless weed eater. To rank and compare the weed eating skills of each string trimmer, we looked at the effectiveness of each trimmer when it came to clearing weeds from an area and how it handled dense and hard-to-cut vegetation, as well as how much finesse you have when trying to edge or clean up small areas.
A pair of trimmers tied for the top spot when it came to eating weeds, with both the Makita XRU09Z and the Ego Power+ STA1500 Attachment earning a 9 out of 10 for their superb performances. Both the XRU09Z and the Power+ STA1500 are exceptionally effective at eliminating weeds, cutting through pretty much everything we pointed them at smoothly and effectively. They both handled tall grass and dense weeds with ease, even cutting through burly stalks and stems without any sign of a struggle.
However, we feel that the Ego Power+ STA1500 has just a bit more power than the XRU09Z — almost to the point where the STA1500 might be overkill for typical lawn care. While this extra power is handy for the toughest of weeds, it can be difficult to edge and trim precisely. You can angle the head to get into small spaces, but it can be hard to cut around anything delicate without damaging it or avoid cutting trenches into your lawn. This is made much worse by the STA1500's sensitive trigger, which makes it difficult to maintain a consistent speed.
The Makita can't quite match the STA1500 when it comes to raw power — even though we found it to be more than powerful enough — but it is superior in close quarters. It has a slow setting and feels very nimble to control, allowing you to easily make angle cuts and clear areas around sprinklers, lawn ornaments, or other items without obliterating them.
The Ryobi 40V Expand-It is a close second to our top string trimmers, earning an 8 out of 10. This weed eater is exceptionally powerful and we had a hard time finding vegetation that it wouldn't cut through. This much power can be a problem, as this tool doesn't have a low setting and we routinely felt that the Ryobi was a bit overzealous when it came to trimming weeds in a typical yard. It is very effective at clearing unwanted vegetation but it can get a bit finicky and hard to control if you dive into a particularly thick patch of grass.
When it comes to detail work, the Ryobi Expand-It performs almost identically to the Power+ STA1500. You can angle the head and easily access tight areas but the unbridled power of the Ryobi tends to chew up the ground pretty harshly and destroy any fragile items.
The Husqvarna 115iL followed, earning a 7 out of 10 for its string trimming performance. The 115iL easily sliced through most patches of weeds and grasses but would start to stall if you attempted to tackle clusters of dense vegetation. It's fine for most people, but a more powerful weed eater might be in order if you are routinely performing large jobs that require cutting through thick sections of weeds and grasses.
The 115iL has a relatively smaller guard and is lightweight, making it one of the more maneuverable models when it comes to removing weeds from tight spaces. However, it doesn't have a ton of reach so you need to get uncomfortably close to the end to see exactly what you are trimming.
The Snapper XD 82V, the Greenworks 14-Inch 40V, and the WORX WG191 56V 13-Inch all came next, each earning a 6 out of 10 for their slightly above average weed-eating performance. The Greenworks and the WORX are both comparable when it comes to power, struggling a little with larger areas of dense grass or weeds, but can usually make it through most jobs. This pair is much closer to adequate than amazing when it comes to clearing burlier vegetation from any significant amounts of area.
These three are all fairly effective at eating weeds but we did notice that the guard tends to get caught on the Greenworks and the WORX, which usually yanks the tool off course. The Snapper doesn't have that issue, but we did struggle to cut vegetation to the ground.
The Snapper XD is quite a bit more powerful than either the Greenworks or the WORX, putting it on par with the top-tier models. Unfortunately, tall plants and thicker stems tend to get tangled up in the head, so we wouldn't recommend the Snapper if you have extensive vegetation to clear. We felt like the Snapper's motor had plenty of power to handle dense plant matter but the included cutting line was the limiting factor.
This thinner line also makes it hard to see exactly where you are cutting, which can be a bit of a detriment to detail work and edging. The Greenworks is also a poor choice for precise work, as the guard always seems to be in the way and blocks access to tight areas. The WORX WG191 is far better than both the Greenworks and the Snapper at detail work, provided you can use the integrated guide wheels. If you can use the wheels, it's exceptionally quick and easy to get a clean line. Unfortunately, the guard does tend to get in the way if you can't use the guide wheels.
Ease of Use
Comparable to Weed Eating in terms of importance, our Ease of Use metric also constitutes 30% of the total score for each cordless string trimmer. In this testing metric, we compared the weight and guard design of each trimmer, as well as how comfortable and balanced it is to hold. Additionally, we also compared the ease of replacing and feeding the line and if there is a shoulder strap attachment.
The Makita again earned the top score in this metric, but this time it was joined by the WORX WG191, with both string trimmers earning a 9 out of 10. We think the WORX is by far the easiest model to change the line on, with clear markings and a cover that is easily removed. It has a button for dispensing more line and is one of the lighter models, weighing in around 9 lbs.
Regrettably, we didn't think the WORX has a great balance and weren't fans of it when it came to comfort. It does offer plenty of adjustability but we weren't ever able to carry it with just one hand since the head is so much heavier than the battery. The larger guard on this string trimmer does a great job of keeping debris from flying back at you but it can get in the way and obstruct your view when attempting precise cuts.
The Makita XRU09Z has a bump feed to dispense more string but is a little more difficult to replace the string on than the WORX. There aren't alignment indicators on the spool of the Makita, which forced us to consult a manual, but it was very easy once we became familiar with it. The XRU09Z weighs about a pound more than the WORX but we thought it was substantially easier to move around the Makita. The Makita is exceptionally well balanced, with the battery end of the trimmer only being slightly heavier than the head, making it easy to carry one-handed.
The Makita has an ergonomic molded grip that makes it easy to keep a good grip on this string trimmer without working too hard. We also vastly preferred the guard on the XRU09Z to the WORX WG191, as it doesn't detract from your ability to do precise cuts while maintaining an equivalent degree of protection. Both the WORX and the Makita have a shoulder strap attachment as well.
Next, the Power+ STA1500 Attachment by Ego both earned a 7 out of 10 when it comes to convenience and ease of use. The STA1500 has a very straightforward mechanism for adding more line. The line threads into the part you remove, so you don't need to be as careful about making sure everything lines up properly when you reassemble the head.
The Power+ STA1500 has a bump feed to dispense more line and we found it to be quite a bit more comfortable to carry. It has a cushy handle and is very well-balanced, but the guard didn't seem to be as effective as other models, with debris flying back at us on a semi-regular basis depending on the type of cut. However, the Power+ STA1500 does not have a shoulder strap attachment.
The Husqvarna followed, earning a 6 out of 10 for its ease of use. It isn't too difficult to replace the string — similar to the Ego Power+ — but tons of dirt and debris accumulate under the cover that you have to clean out each time you use it. This trimmer has a bump line feed and is on the lighter side. However, it isn't very comfortable to hold. It is well-balanced but the shorter neck forces you to trim closer to your body than we really felt comfortable with. It feels awkward to hold vertically and the handle doesn't feel the greatest to grab. The guard is also on the smaller side and is fairly unobtrusive when using the Husqvarna 115iL.
The Snapper and the Greenworks are about average in terms of ease of use, both meriting a 5 out of 10 for their results in this metric. Both of these trimmers are on the bulkier side, weighing in at over 14 lbs., and are a pain when it comes to replacing the string. The line on the Greenworks always seems to get caught when threading the head back together and the line on the Snapper tends to pop out and make a giant mess.
They both feel very heavy and bulky to carry, with the Greenworks being slightly more fatiguing to use than the Snapper. However, these both have shoulder straps, which alleviates this a bit — just not by all that much. The guard on the Greenworks gets in the way with detail work but at least blocks the majority of debris from flying back at you. The guard on the Snapper not only managed to continually get in the way in confined places but allows a non-trivial amount of stuff to get thrown back at you.
When it comes to ease of use, the Ryobi 40V is our least favorite, earning a 4 out of 10 in this set of tests. It has a bump line dispenser and is only a little more difficult than the best models to replace the string, but we found the guard to be almost laughable on this trimmer. It felt like we were almost continually getting pelted by debris whenever we used this product.
While the Ryobi isn't one of the heaviest string trimmers, we found it to be one of the most uncomfortable to use. We didn't like its balance and found the handle very hard to get a grip on. Even worse, this product vibrates so much that it can be fatiguing to use for extended periods.
Our next metric focused on the battery system of each string trimmer, which accounts for 25% of each product's final score. We based the bulk of this score on the maximum runtime of each product but also awarded extra points to models that have different speed settings, as you can maximize your battery life by throttling down when the extra speed is unnecessary. We measured the runtime for these weed eaters when they weren't actually eating weeds, so you might get lower numbers if you are chewing through dense vegetation or particularly stubborn weeds.
The Greenworks 14-Inch 40V and the Husqvarna 115iL tied for the first place position in this test, both receiving a 9 out of 10 for their top-notch performance. These both lasted for a little more than 90 minutes before the batteries gave out and have a high and low power setting. The Makita XRU09Z followed, earning an 8 out of 10 for its battery life. This cordless weed eater lasted for around 69 minutes and also has a high and low-speed setting. We particularly liked the slow setting on the Makita, as we found it to be the perfect speed for removing weeds that are close to delicate objects — things like vinyl siding, yard lights, flowers, etc. — that you don't want to damage.
Performance dropped a bit with the remaining trimmers, with the Snapper XD earning a 6 out of 10 for its 48 minutes of runtime. This model also has two operating modes, but we didn't notice a huge difference between the two modes except for the amount of noise produced. The low power mode still seems plenty powerful to chew through pretty much anything with the line we used but the difference between the two modes might be more noticeable with a different line.
The Ryobi Expand-It and the WORX WG191 both earned a 5 out of 10 for their middle-of-the-road battery performance. This pair of trimmers lasted for 43 and 36 minutes, respectively. They both have only a single speed setting, which we felt was fine for the WG191. We did wish that there was a lower speed setting on the Ryobi, as that could have helped with its debris throwing problem.
The Power+ STA1500 finished at the back of the group, meriting a 4 out of 10. It only lasted for 21 minutes in our runtime test. It has two different modes, but the low power mode is still a bit too fast for delicate work unless you have an insanely steady hand.
Our final metric focused on the amount of noise that each cordless string trimmer generated while in use, which is responsible for the remaining 15% of the final score. To determine scores, we used a sound level meter to measure the noise from each cordless string trimmer at a distance of 3' away and had a panel of judges rate how annoying the sounds produced by each trimmer are at the same distance and 50' away.
The Makita XRU09Z took home the top spot in this metric, earning an 8 out of 10. Our meter recorded 88 dBa when the Makita was in use, but we did notice that it has a particularly high-pitched whine on startup that can be irritating.
The WORX, the Husqvarna, and the Snapper all followed, each earning a 7 out of 10. We recorded sound levels of 88 dBa for the WORX and 88.5 dBa for the Snapper XD. The Husqvarna is very loud on startup, registering 105 dBa, but this quickly drops to around 95 dBa. The WORX and the Snapper both have a bit of a whine that can be quite grating, while our judges thought the Husqvarna's sound is one of the least annoying — just loud.
The Ego Power+ came next, earning a 5 out of 10. It's fairly loud at about 104.6 dBa but isn't overly annoying. The Greenworks followed, earning a 4 out of 10. It's a tiny bit quieter than the Ego Power+ but our judges found its high pitched whine to be exceptionally annoying.
Scoring at the back of the pack, the Ryobi Expand-It earned a 3 out of 10 for its disappointing performance. This string trimmer is one of the loudest models we have tested, registering a level of over 105 decibels on our meter. We definitely found it obnoxious to be around while in use.
Hopefully, we have given you enough information to go out and confidently pick out the best cordless string trimmer for your needs and budget, regardless if you need a burly model to tackle intensive amounts of yard work or a bare-bones model that won't bust your budget.
— Michelle Powell and David Wise