Those tall hedges, and worse still those extra wide hedges off of a tripod ladder, were starting to take their toll on my body. I’d been using cheap Chinese two stroke multi tools with extension bars and they were reaching end of life, as were my shoulders. It was time for a change and I thought that a switch to battery machines might tick both the health and environment boxes in one go. It came down to a choice between Stihl and EGO but the single battery system from EGO rather than the two battery system of domestic and pro from Stihl closed the deal for me. It then came to a choice between the multi tool with extension bars or the single extendable pole system. With a four meter reach without having to fix on another bar the PPX1000 extendable pole just edged it.
The actual pole comes in at an RRP of £369 and then you need the cutting unit at £219 and finally the battery and charger, another £150. Not cheap, but that’s battery stuff for you.
Weight wise I think most users are going to be in for a bit of a shock. On paper the pole weighs 3.5Kg, the cutting unit 2.3Kg, and the battery (2.5AH in this case) another 1.26Kg. A total of 7.06Kg, about the same as my petrol machine with extension. The problem is weight distribution. Whereas most of the petrol machine’s weight lies in the engine, the EGO system’s weight is evenly spread. Sounds good? Not really, that cutting head’s mass is on the end of a few meters of leverage as opposed to the petrol machines mass being near to your body. It just makes the pole seem much heavier than it actually is, especially when fully extended horizontally.
Cutting wise it’s faultless. The power is awesome and the cut crisp and sharp, even through yew and conifer. The blade angle can be altered quickly with a simple pull back locking mechanism. It can be adjusted up or down and also the entire blade can rotate through 180 degrees. Initially I thought this was a bit of a gimmick as on the petrol hedgecutter I just twist the machine around to cut the sides. If you try that with the EGO the weight of the battery makes the entire pole try to turn upside down. You soon learn to use that blade rotation feature, albeit a bit of a pain. Another little niggle is the amount of the pole that sticks out behind you. Sounds silly but when you’re going around cars you have to keep checking behind you for fear of scratching the paintwork with the back handle. The machine has two separate triggers, each with a simple double action to operate. Very easy to use and well positioned. The extension just pulls out after twisting a locking grip on the pole. Nice and simple. The blade is 51cm long but comes with no tip protector so you must be careful near walls.
We have found some issues. The pole was quite difficult to pull out when we first got it. It eventually got easier after putting some oil down between the shafts but it shouldn’t have got through quality control like that. Also the rubber grip is starting to come away from the metal just below the extender locking section. What was more concerning was that the gearing mechanism was starting to grind a bit after a couple of months use. I took the gearing casing off and greased the cogs and this cured it. Normal maintenance I hear you say. Not without a grease nipple it isn’t! Quite a long procedure to undo all of those gear casing bolts to get to the cogs. There is an access bolt that you could try to force some grease in but it’s difficult to get it to go in to the gearbox, it needs a nipple really.
Despite the gripes, the machine is becoming a bit of a favourite to use. The battery, just a 2.5AH in this case , lasts a good 45 minutes in normal use. Remember when you’re cutting tops it’s rarely continuous use, there’s climbing the ladder and walking between hedges etc where the battery isn’t doing any work. The recharge time is pretty quick, even with the standard charger, about 20 minutes. As for that weight distribution, you soon learn to adapt. It’s best to treat this like a new type of tool rather than a petrol hedgecutter like for like replacement. For instance, the pole is so long that I don’t need to carry it while climbing my 10ft tripod ladders. I just fully extend, prop it up against the ladder, climb the steps, and then pull it up from the top.
There is also a chainsaw attachment that comes on a 1 meter pole that will fit on the PPX1000. This gives a 5m reach for high branches. There is a special price package for the hedgecutter and chainsaw marketed as the PPCX1000 with a RRP of £689. Worth considering.
All in all a good piece of kit with professional cutting performance and one of the longest reaches on the market. It is a bit heavy though both on the arms and the wallet!