Battery powered outdoor power equipment has improved significantly during the past few years. Central to this evolution has been new lithium-ion cell technologies which have allowed for both longer run-times and shorter charging times. These advancements, paired with a reduction in their associated costs have now placed cordless equipment as a viable alternative to conventional fuel-driven tools for those in the professional market.
Some of the benefits that battery power equipment offers over traditional fuel:
- Quieter to run
- Typically lighter
- Reduced vibration
- Cordless freedom
- No direct emissions/fumes
Commercial equipment from global market leaders such as Stihl and Husqvarna is already freely available in the Australian market with battery options touted as supplying the same run-time as a regular tank of fuel, and charging times as little as 45min. Larger backpack-styled power packs are also available offering hours of run time and suitable for higher-demand equipment such as leaf blowers. Brushless motors included in most current commercial equipment is also helping to extending these efficiencies further.
Most brands are working with the same model as typical (drills/drivers) battery power tools with tool 'skins' sold separately from their chargers and batteries. This allows the user the ability to cycle their batteries across multiple tool platforms whilst limiting the duplication of upfront battery expenses.
Whilst these battery items are initially more expensive than their comparable fuel alternative, they do have the cost saving and down-time benefit of not requiring the standard engine servicing typical of regular 2 and 4-stroke equipment.
Opportunities for Retailers
Opportunities now exist for retail garden centre businesses to consider the plausibility of selling battery power equipment within their retail stores targeting both the home gardener and trade. Those previously considering stocking power equipment hit a roadblock with the requirement of an on-site workshop for the setup and servicing of the major brands. This has now been largely resolved by the fact that each of these new generation tools requires little in the way of initial setup and little to no servicing. Other general maintenance such as sharpening and replacement parts offer further retail opportunities including consumables trimmer line, chainsaw chain/sharpeners, as well as personal protection equipment.
At their 'Silent City' media event in 2016 power equipment brand Husqvarna launched their vision for the future of power equipment with battery technology taking the spotlight as the way forward over traditional 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines. They revealed a concept hedge trimmer - Ramus that displayed where they are headed with new technologies such as an augmented reality visor showing real-time data about both the tool and user, as well as projecting cutting lines on the screen to work to.
Reductions in noise and the removal of direct emissions could also be seen to help facilitate the adoption of green space into our increasingly urban areas, especially those areas deemed sensitive to pollution such as schools, hospitals and other more general office workplaces.