Pros: LIghtweight, automatic line feed, good power, lower noise, no gas needed, easy to replace line.
Cons: Not great for edging, blower is not very useful.
Late last summer, my gas line trimmer stopped running. It had been giving me problems for some time (see the link for my gas line trimmer review at the bottom of this review). I have used gas trimmers for many years, because I had the perception that they had more power and created a cleaner cut than electric trimmers, especially when used with an edger attachment to edge sidewalks. I based this mainly from having owned a cheap electric trimmer about twenty years ago.
Well, I decided times may have changed, and I was frustrated with dealing with engine problems, constant routine maintenance, and mixing gas and oil for my trimmer's two-stroke engine. After reading a Sears add in the Sunday paper for an electric trimmer, I sped to my local Sears store and picked up the Craftsman Electric Line Trimmer/Edger Model 74547, on sale for $59.
The Craftsman Model 74547 Electric Line Trimmer is powered by a corded 5.2 Amp motor, which is located in the lower unit, and has a 14-inch cutting path. It features automatic line feed, a built in blower, and with the twist of the lower unit, becomes an edger. Although the operator's manual and the Sears website don't say so, the motor has two speeds, low and high, which can be selected by pulling the start trigger half-way in, or all the way in.
This tool is approximately 52 inches in height when fully extended. It has a height adjustment that allows three height settings by pushing a button on the lower unit and sliding it up or down until it snaps in place at the desired height. The lower shaft handle is also adjustable to suit the user by loosening the plastic knob that holds the handle in place and sliding it up or down the shaft. Both handles feature soft, comfortable rubber grips. This trimmer is not able to use attachments.
Neither the user's manual or the Sears website listed a unit weight, and I long ago threw away the box it came in, but I estimate it to weigh about ten pounds.
There was only minor assembly required when I pulled this trimmer out of the box. All that was required was to attach the two pieces that make up the cutting guard and the shaft handle. It only took about five minutes before it was ready to go to work.
Once it was together, I plugged it in and tried it out. The motor was surprisingly powerful. Not as powerful as my old gas trimmer, but seemed to have plenty of power to do the job. It did feel a little strange at first, though, having the motor in the lower section instead of at the top. It didn't take long to get used to, however, especially since the whole thing weighed a lot less than any gas powered trimmer. I can use this thing all day and not get tired.
Another great feature of this trimmer is the automatic line feed. I wasn't sure it would work properly, but so far, it has been flawless. One drawback, though, is that it uses 0.065 inch line, as opposed to the 0.080 inch line my old trimmer used. The problem with this small line is that it wears down more quickly and breaks more easily. I had only used the trimmer eight times when it ran out of line. I got more than twice that with the old trimmer.
Back on the plus side, replacing or rewinding the spool is MUCH easier than on any other trimmer I've ever had, probably due to not having a “bump” head for playing out line. To remove the spool, just squeeze the two side tabs on the cassette housing and pull the cassette out, then pull the spool out of the cassette. Rewinding the spool is the same tedious job for any trimmer, of course, but once rewound, getting it back into the cassette is so much easier than on my gas trimmer. One reason is that the manufacturer used a clever design for the eye that the line feeds through. Instead of it being just a round hole, this unit has a slot that the line is fed into the hole through, but is made in such a way that the line won't accidentally slip back out through the slot. This design eliminates the problem of trying to feed the line through the hole while trying to keep it from spinning itself off the spool from physical memory.
You can buy pre-wound cassettes, but they are a lot more expensive than rewinding the spool yourself. A pre-wound spool with 40 feet of line costs around $7.50, while a 300 foot spool of free line costs about $2.00.
I have now used this trimmer about 10 times, each time for about 30 minutes. I have a pool that takes up most of my back yard, so what little grass is left, I cut with the line trimmer. In addition, I have roughly 300 feet of sidewalk that I edge once every two weeks. Then, there's the usual trimming around the foundation, fence, and flower beds. It has plenty of power to do all of the work I need it to.
There is one thing I don't like about this tool, though. When used as an edger, the handle is rotated 180 degrees and a wire bale is flipped down as a guide to run along the edge of the concrete. Unfortunately, the guide positions the line so that the cut is about an inch back from the edge! This creates a huge bare spot along the edge of my sidewalks, which is completely unacceptable to me. The alternative method that I've been using is to not use the guide and carefully watch the line as I edge. This leads to better results, but still not as good as I had hoped for when I bought the unit. I really miss the clean, sharp cut of my old gas powered edgers with a true edging attachment.
One other feature that needs to be mentioned is the built-in blower. The designers thought that since the rotation of the motor and the string creates air flow, why not use it as a blower. It sounds good on paper, but in practice, it ain't so great. It does create a bit of wind, but it takes a lot of sweeping back and forth to clear the sidewalk, and it doesn't create enough wind to be used as leaf blower.In fact, I still get my leaf blower out to clear the grass clippings off the sidewalk. The blower on the trimmer just isn't up to the job.
I am happy with my decision to purchase the Craftsman 74547 Trimmer/Edger. It has more power than I expected and does a good job, in general. I would like the edger guide to be more useful, but I can live with it. From a cost/performance standpoint, and considering that I don't have to keep a separate can of pre-mixed two-stroke gas around, and don't have to change plugs and clean air filters, I think I got a great deal. Based on these facts, I highly recommend this trimmer.
Many thanks to Dawn (dlstewart) for adding this product for me!
Read the review of my Ryobi Straight Shaft Gas Trimmerplus 775r