This Stihl Battery Trimmer Weighs Less and Works Harder Than Your String Trimmer
I tested this new Stihl battery trimmer for a month, and I don’t think I want to go back to gas.
Battery-powered lawn and garden tools have come a long way over the past couple of decades. Engineers worked on the problem for a long time, but power and runtime were critical limitations. Since the early 2000s, deep-cycling lithium-ion batteries, high-efficiency brushless motors, and other technical developments have made it possible to build reliable battery-powered equipment that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. These tools weigh less, vibrate less, make less noise, and work equally as hard as their gas-powered predecessors, and every big outdoor power-equipment brand that thrived in the gasoline era is staking its claim in the battery-tool market. They don’t get much bigger or better than Stihl.
Stihl has been a global powerhouse in pro-grade power equipment for generations. It built a strong and enduring reputation for quality by making some of the toughest chainsaws, string trimmers, brush cutters, hedge shears, and leaf blowers on the market, with repairability built in from the start. But that was during the age of gasoline. The question is, will the new battery-powered Stihl equipment carry the torch into the future?
I recently had the opportunity to test a variety of Stihl battery-powered lawn and landscape tools, including the new Stihl FSA 60 R string trimmer. I’ve tested lots of other battery trimmers, including some that run longer on a charge and some that offer a bit more torque, but in terms of overall capability and user experience, this one competes with the top performers. Check out the following review to learn more about the tool and why I recommend it.
Stihl FSA 60 R Battery Trimmer: At a Glance
- Weighs less than 10 pounds with the battery installed but easily powers through tough weeds
- Offers 25 minutes of trimming time per charge, enough to trim 5,000 linear feet or more
- Well-balanced design minimizes operator fatigue during extended use
- Convenience features include an easy spool head, bump guard, variable-speed trigger, and hanging loop for storage
- Relatively narrow 13.8-inch cutting swath is not ideal for mowing broad areas
- Battery takes more than 2 hours to recharge; 6:1 charge time to runtime ratio
Get the Stihl FSA 60 R battery trimmer at:
What is the Stihl FSA 60 R battery trimmer?
Stihl recently unveiled the FSA 60 R as the most powerful trimmer in its AK system of battery-powered tools designed with homeowners in mind. The one I tested included the trimmer, AK 20 battery, and AL 101 charger, but the trimmer is also available as a bare tool. Thanks to an efficient brushless motor and the tough, lightweight polymer material used for the motor housing and debris deflector, the trimmer weighs in at a comfortable 9.8 pounds with the battery installed but offers plenty of trimming power. The AK 20 36-volt (V) 3.9 amp-hour (Ah) lithium-ion battery gives it about 25 minutes of runtime per charge, and it recharges in 2.5 hours.
Stihl FSA 60 R Specs
- Total length: 66.1 inches
- Operating weight: 9.8 pounds
- Cutting diameter: 13.8 inches
- Line diameter: .095 inch (standard) or .080 inch
- Battery specs: 36V 3.9Ah
- Runtime: 25 minutes
- Charge time: 150 minutes
A few standout features on this Stihl battery trimmer include a variable-speed throttle trigger, thumb-operated trigger interlock, EasySpool cutting head, bump guard, battery retaining latch, and hanging loop. The trigger interlock and the battery retainer act as safety features, ensuring that the trimmer is not accidentally activated. The bump guard protects tree trunks, fences, and other delicate surfaces in front of the head for close trimming without damage. The rapid-loading EasySpool system lets the user reload the trimmer line in seconds without disassembling the head. When the trimmer is not in use, the hanging loop makes storage fast and easy.
Customers who are shopping for a Stihl battery trimmer may encounter the similar Stihl FSA 57, which has been around a little longer. While both trimmers operate on the 36V AK battery system, they differ in a few key ways. The FSA 57 is a smaller, lighter battery trimmer designed for the smallest urban yards. It measures 59 inches long, weighs 7.7 pounds with the included AK 10 battery installed, cuts an 11-inch swath, and runs up to 25 minutes per charge. For average-size suburban lots of between a quarter and a half acre, the larger and more powerful FSA 60 R is the better choice.
How well does the Stihl FSA 60 R work?
From the start, it is obvious that the FSA 60 R comes from a company that knows string trimmers. Where some manufacturers seem to begin with a gas trimmer and simply replace the engine with an electric motor, this design is more refined. The front-to-rear balance point is located at a sweet spot slightly in front of the forward handle, so that the cutting head naturally stays at ground level but the operator does not expend extra energy while trimming. Balance is extremely important in the heavier gas-powered trimmers that Stihl makes, and it was nice to experience that level of detail here.
Bearing in mind that this lightweight machine came loaded with a heavy-duty .095-inch trimmer line, I was somewhat amazed at its performance. Battery trimmers are often equipped with a thinner line in order to save battery life or to make up for a lack of torque. This trimmer sliced cleanly and aggressively through everything in its path—grass, weeds, and even thin weed-tree seedlings. Even more surprising was the lack of vibration traveling through the handles. It wasn’t exactly buttery smooth, but the vibration was noticeably less than competitors I’ve tested, and I hadn’t the slightest tingle in my hands after trimming.
As for the comfort and convenience features, they simply worked. The variable trigger accelerated smoothly and allowed me to use less power while trimming grass and more power for coarse weeds. I liked the pull-out bump guard because I could extend or retract it as needed for the task at hand, and it worked as advertised when extended. The trigger interlock did its job and didn’t cause any inconvenience when operating. Same for the battery retainer, which forces the user to double click the battery in place for operation.
I put the FSA 60 R trimmer through its paces on my property. My yard is a combination of average (weedy) lawn grass, interspersed with landscaped beds, natural areas, and a vegetable garden. I used the battery trimmer in all areas in order to find out how well it would handle fine grass, coarse weeds, some dense growth, and occasionally a few thin tree saplings that sprout at the edges of the natural areas. In each case, the trimmer accomplished the task aggressively but with a comfortably refined feel. The combination of slightly forward weight balance, lightweight construction, low vibration, and a surprising amount of cutting power made the FSA 60 R battery trimmer a pleasure to use.
Is the Stihl FSA 60 R worth the money?
At about $300, the Stihl FSA 60 R is one of the more expensive battery trimmers on the market. Light-duty battery trimmers cost just over $100, but they can’t trim anything tougher than grass, and they only run about 15 minutes per charge. Bargain-priced heavy-duty trimmers claim up to an hour of battery life and possibly a wider cutting path and normally go for about $200. In my experience, those work as advertised, but buyers trade operating comfort and/or durability for a cheaper price.
Competitors in the $300 range offer a much better user experience. The machines at this price level deliver plenty of power for all kinds of trimming, a comfortable design, clean cutting with less vibration, and overall less frustration when it comes to getting the job done routinely. This trimmer fits well among its peers at this level, so I consider it a fair price.
Is this Stihl battery trimmer right for you?
If your standard of value is getting the most torque and runtime as cheaply as possible, then the Stihl FSA 60 R will not be a great fit. Check out the Ego 56V cordless trimmer or the Greenworks 80V string trimmer instead; each of these also offers 45 minutes of runtime, compared to 25 minutes for the Stihl. However, if you prefer to pay a bit more for quality tools that will last a long time and give you a satisfying work experience, then you’re on the right track with this Stihl battery trimmer.
With its 25-minute runtime, the FSA 60 R string trimmer is an ideal pick for most moderately sized landscapes between a quarter and a half acre. It offers superior operator comfort, plenty of power to clean up the tough spots, safety features to protect from accidental startup, and is built to last. I may just have to get one for my three-quarter-acre yard and invest in a second battery.
Where to Buy the Stihl FSA 60 R Battery Trimmer
Get the Stihl FSA 60 R battery trimmer at:
Meet the Tester
Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor-living goods.