When it comes to buying battery-powered yard tools, it may be hard to truly understand how powerful they are. So, what do you really need to care about when comparing tools? Make sure you’re buying the right tool for the job by understanding the 10 basic aspects of battery-powered tool power and performance.
What’s the Difference between Brushed and Brushless DC Motors?
When you’re comparing yard tools, you might notice that some of them specify brushed or brushless DC motors. Here are the main differences:
1. Brushed Motors
Traditional motors contain brushes that make contact in order to produce an electrical current. These motors have been around for a long time and they’re generally reliable and inexpensive. However, brushless DC motors have become more and more popular for many products including power tools, appliances, and outdoor power equipment. There are definite advantages to a brushless DC motor that we go over below, but in the right application, a brushed motor is sufficient for the job.
2. Brushless DC Motors
Since the sophisticated inner workings of the brushless DC motor uses magnets and electrical current to create energy, there are no brushes inside that can wear out over time. The friction from the rotating brushes in a brushed motor generates heat which is less efficient. That’s why the more efficient brushless motors end up producing more power, provide longer run time, and have a longer life. Depending on your needs, you may want to opt for the brushless DC motor because it will pay off in efficiency and longer life for your tools.
Toro 60V* MAX Flex-Force platform includes a string trimmer, blower, and chainsaw that are available with brushless DC motors to give you that extra power and run time when you need it.
3. Yard Tool Power
Voltage is often understood to be the dominant rating on most electric tools; however, the true measure of power in a power tool is wattage.
Watts = Volts x Amperage
Batteries are rated in amp-hours. Think of an amp-hour rating as the size of your gas tank. For instance, a 5 amp-hour battery can discharge 5 amps continuously for one hour.
For Example: A 2.5 Ah battery will do half the work of a 5 Ah pack.
- When comparing tools, also look at a battery’s watt-hour calculation. Watt-hours generally can help provide an idea of how much total power a tool can deliver overall.
- Toro’s 60V* L135 lithium-ion battery provides a baseline of 54 volts multiplied by 2.5 amp-hours, which is about 135 watt-hours.
Watt-Hours = Volts x Amp-Hours
5. Estimated Run-Time
Run-time varies by tool and the job you are doing. Toro’s 60V* batteries have an onboard power meter that shows how much power is remaining. It’s important to note that variable speed can also impact run-time.
For Example: Toro’s 60V* Leaf Blower can get up to 90 minutes of runtime, which is plenty for the average-sized yard in urban and suburban areas.
6. Yard Tool Speeds
Variable speed tools are, as you would expect, variable in speed. Generally, in battery products, they are infinitely variable. This gives you the ability to finely control the power of the tool. However, in some tools, this may be a nuisance, so some products offer a “throttle lock” like cruise control.
Some products have 2 or 3-speed switches.
Products offering a “boost” mode generally require you to hold the button down for continuous high output. These boost buttons are used mostly for stubborn chores that need a little extra power. Running in boost mode the whole time will deplete the battery much faster.
7. Added Functionality
- You may want a trimmer that has dual modes, so you can switch between yard tasks easily and quickly.
- Toro’s PowerPlex 13″ string trimmer features a button that twists the head of the tool, transforming it into an edger with a walk-behind wheel.
Miles per hour (MPH) rating can help assess the power of a blower but is not a good measure of power alone. It is possible for a 230 MPH blower to have more power than a 240 MPH blower, because a blower’s CFM also is taken into consideration to determine overall power. The size of a blower’s nozzle opening impacts which yard tasks it is best suited for.
For Example: A blower opening the size of a straw could blow air at 300 MPH—it is good for clearing out cracks in the driveway, but not good for blowing leaves in your yard. Read our blog on Understanding Blower Power to learn more.
- Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is air volume from a leaf blower in one minute. Sufficient CFM is important so homeowners have enough pressure and air output to move debris or leaves.
- Many yard tasks require both airspeed (MPH) and air volume (CFM) so homeowners should look at both factors when purchasing a blower.
The most powerful blower will be one that maximizes both MPH and CFM.
10. Air Horsepower
Air horsepower can be thought of as general force — it is the combination of CFM (volume) and MPH (speed), which is the measurement of the amount of work the blower’s airstream can do.
Check out The Family Handyman for their tips on buying battery-powered tools for your yard. Or, learn more about each of the lithium-ion battery-powered yard tools in Toro’s 60V Battery Flex-Force and 40V Battery PowerPlex families.
You may also like our article on How to Select the Right Leaf Blower & Vacuum for You.
*Battery manufacturer rating = 60V maximum & 54V typical usage. Actual voltage varies with load.