How to choose the best cordless tools: in-depth buyer's guide to batteries, brands and more
Looking for a cordless gardening tool system? Read our comprehensive guide then browse our pick of the very best, from budget to premium models.
When it comes to mowing the lawn, cutting hedges or collecting up leaves, we’ve traditionally relied on petrol and corded garden tools to tackle these tasks. However, the development of cordless garden tools is proving to be a game-changer: An environmentally-friendly alternative to petrol and corded power tools, most now use lithium-ion batteries, which can be shared across a range of power tools from the same brand, including DIY tools, making them a more economical option too.
While this new technology is exciting, the jargon that comes with it tends to be a bit confusing. To help, we’ve put together a cordless garden tool buyers guide, with all the information you’ll need to confidently choose the best cordless garden tool for you.
Looking for a new mower? Check out our round up of best cordless lawn mowers to buy this year. Or perhaps you'll be after a hedge trimmer, leaf vacuum or leaf blower this autumn? If so, we've got it covered with our pick of the best hedge trimmers, leaf vacuum buyer's guide and leaf blowers buyer's guide. For your next DIY project, take a look at our best cordless drills.
- What are some of the most popular cordless tool system brands?
- What’s the difference between a cordless tool set and a cordless multi-tool system?
- Are cordless garden tools right for you?
- How to choose the best cordless tool system for you?
- Everything you need to know about cordless tool batteries
- Best cordless garden tool systems
- Cordless tools are light, quiet and efficient.
- They don’t need fuel or an outdoor power source so there are no trailing cables or emissions to worry about.
- Lithium-ion batteries charge quickly, hold their charge and don’t degrade in storage, which is important for gardening tools as they might not be used on a daily basis.
- If you’re looking to buy more than one tool, you can use the same battery across a brand’s range of power tools, which reduces cost.
- Cordless tools also don’t need as much maintenance as their petrol counterparts, which saves time and money.
There are a number of cordless tool system brands, below we've listed some of the most popular. And if you’re looking for specific cordless tool, you can see how various tools go head to head on test in our round-ups for the best hedge trimmers, the best cordless lawn mowers and the best pressure washers.
Worx’s PowerShare outdoor tool range includes:
- Hedge trimmer
- Grass trimmer
- Lawn mower
- Pressure cleaner
- Leaf blower
The PowerShare range uses a 20V battery, which can also be used with their DIY power tools in the same collection.
Stiga’s cordless tool range includes:
- Series 100: Multi-tool system, lawn mower, hedge trimmer, grass trimmer and leaf blower. The tools in this range are powered by a 20V 4Ah battery.
- Series 500: Multi-tool system, lawn mower, hedge trimmer, grass trimmer, leaf blower and chainsaw. The tools in this range are powered by two 48V 2Ah batteries.
- Series 700: lawn mower, hedge trimmer, grass trimmer, leaf blower and chainsaw. The tools in this range are powered by Stiga E-Power E440, 4Ah batteries, which are sold separately.
- Series 900: lawn mower, hedge trimmer, grass trimmer, leaf blower and chainsaw. The tools in this range are powered by Stiga E-Power E475, 7.5Ah batteries, which are sold separately.
Stihl’s cordless tool ranges include:
- AI: hedge trimmer, grass trimmer and leaf blower, which all have built in batteries.
- AK: lawn mower, hedge trimmer, grass trimmer, leaf blower, scarifier and shrub shears, which are powered by AK10, AK20 and AK30 lightweight 36V batteries.
- AP: lawn mower, hedge trimmer, pole pruner and chainsaw, which are powered by AP100, AP200 and AP300 36V batteries.
Bosch’s Power For All cordless tool ranges include:
- 18V System: shears, hedge trimmer, hedge pole and grass cutter
- 26V System: lawn mower, hedge trimmer, grass trimmer and leaf blower
Read our Bosch Power For All 18V Cordless System review and Rotak 32Li review, as well as the ALS2500 Leaf Blower review and EasyHedgeCut 12-35 review, which both won Gardeners’ World magazine Best Buy awards
Makita Power For All cordless tool ranges include:
- 18V System: leaf blower, hedge trimmer, grass shears, pole hedge trimmer, string trimmer, line trimmer, brush cutter and wheelbarrow
- Twin 18V System: lawn mower, pressure washer, leaf blower, leaf vacuum, chainsaw, pruning shears, brush cutter and line trimmer
- 40V System: leaf blower, hedge trimmer and line trimmer
Ryobi cordless tool ranges include:
- One+: lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers and chainsaws, which are powered by an 18V battery
- MaxPower: lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, grass trimmers, leaf blowers and chainsaws, which use 36V batteries
Read our Ryobi One+ System review, which won a Gardeners’ World magazine Best Buy award
Greenworks cordless tool ranges include:
- 24V: Multi Tool, lawn mower, hedge trimmers and grass trimmers, which are powered by a 24V 2Ah battery
- 40V: lawn mower, hedge trimmers, grass trimmers and pressure washer, which are powered by a 40V 4Ah battery
- 60V: lawn mower, hedge trimmers, grass trimmers and pressure washer, which are powered by a 40V 4Ah battery
Read our Greenworks 24V Multi Tool review.
Flymo cordless tool ranges include:
- 2 C-Link: Multi tool system, lawn mower, hedge trimmer, blower and grass trimmer
Cordless Tool Systems
These are individual tools, sold separately and usually with the choice of with or without a battery and charger. Therefore once you've bought your first tool, battery and charger from a particular range you only need to buy 'bare' tools from that range in the future. Tools available can include:
- Hedge trimmers
- Pole pruners
- Leaf blowers
- Vacuum blower
- Lawn mowers
Cordless Multi-tools Systems
- These usually come as a set that is made up of one pole with interchangeable heads
To find out more, watch our cordless tool system buyer’s guide:
Cordless tools can require a bit of forward planning to keep your batteries charged - there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting for batteries to charge when you’re ready to start the job at hand.
If your cordless tool uses a rechargeable battery pack, it’s often a good idea to have a spare, which can be charged while the other one is in use, but batteries can be expensive because they are complex to manufacture.
Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries need a special charger to match the battery’s specific size, but this can increase the costs. Some cordless tools don’t come with the battery and charger included, while others have a range of different sized batteries that fit the range and provide more power - great news, but they will require a specific charger to fit their size.
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Think about your garden and what sort of tools you’ll need to tackle different jobs and choose your range accordingly.
- Consider the run time and charge time of batteries. For example how tall and long is your hedge and how big is your lawn - if you have small hedges, a short battery life isn’t such an issue as it won’t take too much time to cut. On the other hand, if you have a large lawn, you’ll want to feel confident a cordless mower won’t run out of battery half-way through the job. If the run time is short, you may want to consider choosing a model with a quick charge time or buy a second battery, so you’re not delayed for too long.
- Look out for cordless tools that show how much charge or run time they have left with an LED display on either the battery or charger (or both).
- What do the terms voltage (V), amp-hour (Ah) and brushless motors mean?
- Which are the best batteries for cordless tools?
- Are cordless garden tools right for you?
- What do I need to know about Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries?
- How long do lithium-ion batteries last?
- Are Lithium-ion powered cordless tools the most sustainable option?
- How do I dispose of lithium-ion batteries?
Once you’ve chosen which type of cordless power tool you’re looking for, it’s time to think about power. Most brands offer a range of cordless garden tools, which vary when it comes to the power they offer, from entry level needs to a higher spec that is designed to be used in large gardens, and by professionals.
Three factors determine the power of your cordless power tool:
- Voltage (V) - indicates how much power the lithium-ion battery can provide. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the battery, which is important if it’s powering a tool that requires a bit more oomph, like a mower or leaf blower.. Keep in mind that more power generally means the battery will be heavier and more expensive too, so it’s important to gauge what you need for your size garden or task
- Amp-hours (Ah) - tells you how much charge the battery can deliver in an hour. If you have 2 batteries, you can double the run time.
- Brushless motor - which means no energy is lost by the friction caused by traditional brush motors that rub against things. They are more energy-efficient and can run on batteries for up to 50 percent longer, but they're more expensive.
Sometimes cordless tools can be bought with an integrated battery, in other words the battery is built into the tool and you charge the whole tool as opposed to just the battery, but most often they come with a chargeable battery pack - usually lithium-ion - which is removed from the tool to charge and can be used to power other cordless tools in a brand’s range. Integrated batteries are smaller than battery packs, making this type of cordless tool cheaper and lighter than those with removable batteries but the batteries don’t hold a charge as long so they’re ideal for smaller jobs.
Cordless tools with a chargeable battery pack might be a little heavier and more expensive but if you’re happy to stay with one brand, you can use the same battery with other tools in the range. While you can expect to pay a little more for them, if you’re happy to stay with one brand, you can use the same battery with other tools in the range assuming their size and voltage is compatible.
The most common batteries used in cordless tools are lithium-ion. Technology behind lithium-ion batteries has dramatically improved in recent years, because they’re the same batteries used to power electric cars and energy storage. Significant investments have been made to develop the battery’s efficiency and performance and you can now expect the same power from cordless tools as you would get with corded and petrol alternatives.
Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries are ideal for cordless garden tools because they provide a decent amount of power, and, despite being relatively small, can cope with being charged time and time again regardless if it’s fully or half used, so you don’t have to worry about charging it at the right time and in the right way.
While this will always depend on use and storage, lithium-ion batteries hold their charge for months, even if only partially charged.
Lithium-ion batteries hold their charge for months, even if only partially charged.
In the long term, lithium extraction may have a detrimental impact on the environment, (according to earth.org, Lithium is extracted through “water-mining”, which requires an enormous amount of water throughout the process and toxic chemicals are needed to process lithium, leading to frequent water contamination and shortage lithium-producing countries). Ultimately, if lithium could be recycled, this would help manage the demands and make it a more sustainable option. In the meantime, they are a much better alternative to fossil fuels and signify a move towards sustainable development.
Although these rechargeable batteries come with a healthy lifespan of several years, ultimately when they need replacing they must be recycled. Some manufacturers will have the batteries back and recycle them, otherwise find your local recycling depot that will accept them.
Stiga 500 Series
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Range of batteries and chargers to choose from
- Excellent performance and power
- Helpful indicator lights
- Tools well thought out with excellent features
- Expensive - Battery and charger must be bought separately
- Limited range of tools in the system
Our testers found the SHT 500 AE Cordless hedge trimmer was able to cut woody growth well and the rotating head locked easily into five positions. The battery on this tool is quite large meaning it could be heavy for some users. The SGT 500 AE Cordless grass trimmer is easy to assemble and the wide head cuts efficiently. The tool is very adaptable as the shaft is telescopic, the handle adjusts and head also rotates, with a wheel for effortless edging.
This tool set sits at the higher end of the price-range and is best for committed gardeners. The tools performed every job well so we judged it a Best Buy.
Read the full review at: Stiga 500 Series review
Stihl Compact Cordless Power System
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Available with or without battery
- Very easy to set up
- Light, comfortable and well balanced to use
- Tools have good features
- Good value once you have a battery and charger
- Long charge time
- Limited range of tools in the system
The hedge trimmer HAS 56 cuts woody growth efficiently and comes with a handy safety lock. The grass strimmer FSA 56 has an adjustable shaft and handle and copes with most rough lawn areas well. The leaf blower BGA 56 is light and quiet with an adjustable tube so it’s suitable for most heights. There’s only one speed setting but it handles leaves and smaller debris well.
There’s no assembling as the tools arrived ready to go and the batteries charge in 80 minutes. We found the system was efficient and good value money and would suit regular gardeners or bigger gardens. We judged this a Best Buy through our expert cordless garden tools reviews.
Read the full review at: Stihl Compact Cordless Power System review
Bosch 18V Power for ALL Cordless System
Our rating: 4.3 out of 5
- Extensive range of tools in the system
- Choice of batteries and chargers
- Very light and comfortable
- Good manoeuvrability
- Tools have some good features
- Feel flimsy
- Lack power
- Short run time
We found the Universal Hedgecut 18-500 and Universal Grasscut 18-260 from this cordless garden multi tools system were simple to set up and the battery was easy to swap and recharge. The charger has indicator lights to let you know when the tool is fully charged. The hedge trimmer felt well-balanced and the ‘Antiblocking system’ stopped growth jamming the blades. However, it was less powerful than other tools and felt a little flimsy, although the blades were longer.
The grass trimmer head rotates easily for trimming although the cutting diameter is quite small. We liked the ergonomically designed handle and the way the battery tucked comfortably under the arm during use.
Read the full review at: Bosch 18V Power for ALL Cordless System review
Greenworks 24 V Cordless Series
Our rating: 4.3 out of 5
- Extensive range of tools available
- Fast charging time
- Good warranty length
- Light, simple tools
- Limited range of batteries and chargers
- Batteries and chargers purchased separately
- Unusual handle design for some testers
The 24 V string trimmer and hedge trimmer cordless garden multi tools set comes with battery and charger included, which is unusual for this style of tool.
The grass trimmer has a rotatable head for edging but a slightly small handle meant the tool was uncomfortable for some testers. The hedge trimmer also had issues with the handle, as testers felt it was insubstantial. It is a light tool but struggles with thicker growth. The leaf blower was more comfortable to use and felt powerful, with two speeds plus a nozzle for more focused blowing.
Read the full review: Greenworks 24 V Cordless Series review
Individual cordless tool reviews
Our experts have also put a number of individual cordless tools through their paces, from various tool systems, including:
- Worx WG779E cordless mower review (Best Buy)
- Worx Landroid S300 WR130E robot mower review (Best Buy)
- Stiga Collect 136AE Kit cordless mower review (Best Buy)
- Stihl HSA 56 Hedge Trimmer review (Best Buy)
- Stihl iMow 422P robot mower review (Best Buy)
- Bosch Rotak 32Li review
- Bosch ALS2500 Leaf Blower review (Best Buy)
- Bosch EasyHedgeCut 12-35 review (Best Buy)
- Makita DLM460PT2 Cordless Lawn Mower review (Best Buy)
- Makita DUH551Z Hedge Trimmer review