Taking care of your yard can be an arduous, yet fulfilling, task, especially if you live in an area with an overly particular Homeowner’s Association. While most people are content to simply mow the yard to keep their home from looking run-down or abandoned, those that are looking to polish their yard or garden fully may need extra tools to accomplish their task. One such tool that helps give your yard a more precise and even cut is a string trimmer, which is more commonly called a ‘weed-eater.’
With its ability to cut through weeds and other tough obstacles that pop up in your yard, the string trimmer makes it much easier to polish the look of your lawn once you’ve mown. Today, we’ll be examining three models of Black+Decker string trimmers (the LST136W, LST140C, and ST8600) in order to find which make the task of trimming your yard the most convenient overall. We’re going to compare these products in the following categories: general features, power source and capabilities, and trimming specifications.
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With its weight of 7.8 pounds and its adjustable length settings, this model makes it easy to find the perfect balance to reduce straining muscles over prolonged use. The shaft includes a locking clamp that can be disengaged to adjust the overall length of the product (from 38.5” to 53”), adding an extra level of comfort for every person who uses it. The auxiliary handle–which is used to provide a second handhold for balancing–is adjustable as well.
There is a PowerCommand control knob on the handle that offers six different speeds of operation. It will give you more cutting power for higher grass or tougher weeds by simply scrolling to a higher setting, and when you don’t need more cutting power, you can scroll this knob to lower settings to help preserve the battery’s charge and runtime.
This model weighs 6.4 pounds, making it so lightweight that nearly anyone can easily maneuver it without getting fatigued. It can provide different levels of speed depending on how far you depress the handle’s trigger. Running higher speeds will help cut through tougher patches or your yard, but running a slower speed preserves your battery longer.
The auxiliary handle can be adjusted to provide a more comfortable angle to your grip, and the length of the shaft can be adjusted by loosening a knob near the auxiliary handle. Both handles are constructed from an ergonomic plastic and molded to be more graspable, making it much more comfortable to use.
This model’s weight is 5.35 pounds, making it a breeze to carry it across your yard no matter what size it is. The auxiliary handle can be pivoted to different angles to provide more comfort for the user, making it easy to adjust your trimmer to tackle slopes and uneven ground.
You can also adjust the length of the trimmer by loosening the shaft’s upper knob or simply rotate the shaft 180º to make use of the included edger tool on the backside of the trimmer head.
Conclusion: Given the fact that all three models are light, feature an adjustable length shaft, and have an auxiliary handle that can be pivoted to different handling angles, there aren’t many factors that differentiate the models. The LST136W has an advantage over its competition due to its more adjustable and clearly defined speed control system.
Power Source & Capabilities
This cordless electric string trimmer uses a 40V MAX lithium battery that boosts your runtime and saves you money on gas and oil to run it. Its battery can be used in conjunction with the rest of Black+Decker’s 40V MAX battery-powered tool line, giving you an impressive amount of control over a variety of home maintenance projects. The nominal output of power when running at the lowest speed setting is 36V, with the maximum output reaching 40V when running at its highest speed setting.
To start, press and hold the handle’s ‘lock off’ button and squeeze the trigger. This battery can trim or edge up to a mile on a single charge, making it more than capable of tackling most home gardens. The standard charger that is included with your purchase will return your battery to a full charge in 2 hours time.
Like the LST136, this model uses Black+Decker’s patented 40V MAX lithium-ion battery for its power source, which can also be used for any other Black+Decker 40V MAX battery-powered tools. There is a charge level gauge on the battery that lets you know approximately how much battery life you have at any time, so you’ll never be caught off guard by your device dying on you.
It takes around three hours to fully charge a battery once it has been depleted. To start it up, simply press the safety button on the handle and squeeze the trigger–no cranking, refueling, or oil additions are required to get it to run.
This model operates with the use of a 5 Amp motor that must be connected to an extension cord (not included) and plugged into a wall socket or generator to operate. With the use of external power, you’ll never have to worry about recharging a battery or refilling your gas tank.
The power plug for this unit is located on the underbelly of the handle, and there is a convenient cord retention system in place that will prevent you from pulling away from the extension cord that you’re using.
Conclusion: Because it doesn’t need to charge a battery to use, the ST8600 is powered by the superior system. Even though the extension cable that is required to run it can be a hassle to maneuver around, you’ll ultimately save time because you don’t have to deal with your trimmer dying before you finish your yard.
This model uses AF-100 line (or any other line of 0.065” thickness) to cut 13” swatches at a time and boasts speeds between 6500 and 8500 rotations per second. It features an automatic feed spool that will intuitively provide fresh line when your existing line begins to get frayed, so you won’t need to bump your trimming head against the ground or press any buttons to get a more efficient cut.
It includes a retractable metal edging tool to clean up the sides of your walkways and other hard to reach areas of your yard. To convert to the edger, press the head release button (near the trimmer head) and turn the shaft by gripping and rotating the auxiliary handle.
This trimmer is capable of cutting 13” wide swaths and holds a maximum speed of 6500 rotations per minute. Black+Decker recommends the use of the AF-100 line, but any round line that is 0.065” in diameter is appropriate for use. This model features an automatic spool feed function that will let out more line when it starts to fray or become dull.
You can convert this from a trimmer to an edger by loosening the knob near the auxiliary handle and rotating the shaft 180º. This offers more possibilities in cleaning up the edges of paths and your yard in a matter of seconds, saving you from needing to buy two separate tools to clean up the appearance of your lawn.
This trimmer is capable of cutting 13” wide swaths at a maximum speed of 7700 rotations per minute. When converted to the edger tool, there is a metal guide that makes it easier to square up your lines and to cut the edges of your lawn precisely. With its powerful 5 Amp motor, it’s super easy to cut through thicker grasses and weeds.
Using AF-100 line is recommended, but any round line of 0.065” can also be outfitted into the feed spool for use. Instead of a bump feed or manual feed system, it uses an automatic feed system that provides more line when it starts to wear down.
Conclusion: Once again, there are a lot of shared basic features between the three models in this category that make it difficult to choose. Since higher speeds will increase the efficiency of your trimming across a wider range of conditions, the LST136W ultimately offers the best trimming power of all.
And the Winner is…
Because all three models of trimmer that we’ve reviewed today are essentially the same product, it has been tough to find large differences that would usually make our comparison easier. Even though the LST136W won the most categories overall, each model is roughly the same and is best suited for specific uses and yard types.
The BLACK+DECKER LST136W is the most current model and provides the highest trim speed, the LST140C features a well-balanced blend of the other models to provide a reliable general use tool, and the BLACK+DECKER ST8600 will run longer because of its electric power. When making your purchase, you can take comfort in knowing that all models of Black+Decker trimmers that we featured today will quickly make your yard look clean and well manicured.