By Tyler Delin
Reflecting on where we currently are in the outdoor power equipment industry, I can’t help but think of where the power tool industry stood a few decades ago. Many tools were corded, and there were quite a few skeptics of cordless power tools, but cordless tools like the battery-powered drill are now a staple on any workbench and construction jobsite. We’re now facing a similar crossroads in the outdoor power equipment industry. With advancements in lithium ion battery technology, batteries can now deliver the performance of comparable gas-powered equipment. Yet customers are still hesitant to make the change.
At DeWalt, we are working to educate the professional landscaping community and prove that battery-powered equipment is finally a viable solution in the professional market.
Battery vs. gas-powered equipment
When you take gas out of the equation by using battery-powered outdoor power equipment, life gets much easier for green industry professionals. Gone are the constant trips to the gas station, gas spills, fuel mixes, and high-vibration gas engines. Battery-powered equipment also eliminates the need for pull cords, which is a huge benefit for professionals. We speak with landscapers who say they pull the cord on their equipment over a hundred times per day. And for equipment that is used less often, such as hedge trimmers and chain saws that sit for weeks, this number is likely higher due to cold start and carburetor issues.
Another big advantage to battery-powered equipment is that with no gas-related parts, less maintenance is required. By eliminating pull cords, air filters, carburetors, and spark plugs, there is simply less that can go wrong — not to mention, there is no longer a need to winterize the equipment. Carburetors in particular cause significant problems and frustration for users of gas-powered equipment with the ethanol that is now included in fuel.
One benefit that outdoor power equipment users appreciate most is the reduction of noise.
But also consider that with low noise and no emissions when in use, battery-powered outdoor power equipment can be a significant benefit to your customers, and a competitive advantage to your business. A recent survey¹ reported that 65 percent of consumers would choose a landscaper who uses eco-friendly outdoor power equipment over one who doesn’t. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed would pay more for a landscaper who uses quieter outdoor power equipment, and 78 percent believe public parks should use eco-friendly outdoor power equipment for maintenance. These numbers show that customers tend to be fans of eco-friendly, quieter equipment. Not only can it set landscapers apart from the competition and make clients happy, but it can also open up new opportunities with customers with noise or emissions restrictions.
Demand for transition from institutions
As battery-powered equipment becomes more prevalent, many institutions are starting to see these benefits. Facility crews at institutions such as universities, hospitals, resorts, parks, and golf courses work among clients and their guests or very early in the morning. Using battery-powered equipment, with no emissions when the equipment is in use and less noise, makes it easier for these institutions to get the job done under these circumstances.
On the fence?
For grounds maintenance managers, investing in battery-powered equipment might be intimidating. However, keep in mind that although there might be a slight initial cost, there are savings on gas, oil, stabilizer, maintenance, parts and labor, and downtime for the life of the battery. Additionally, companies such as DeWalt have a 2-year-free-service warranty program on batteries, providing some added peace of mind for early-adopters.
Battery technology is now at a point where professional landscaping crews can run productively on battery-powered equipment. We are seeing crews all over the country shelve their gas for battery-powered equivalents. For some, it’s a full truck conversion and for others it’s one or two tools at a time. But if you’re still a skeptic, we encourage you to try it yourself, since seeing truly is believing.
Two decades ago, construction professionals couldn’t have imagined a totally cord-free jobsite and now the battery is standard in the industry. In 2017, the gas outdoor power equipment industry is quickly heading in the same direction.
¹ Source: Reported results from Husqvarna The Green Spaces Survey.
Tyler Delin is a product manager for DeWalt Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE). Delin has more than six years of product management expertise and has helped conceive, develop, and manage the DeWalt 40V MAX* OPE lineup for professional landscapers, as well as the 20V MAX* and 60V MAX* lineups geared toward the construction professional.
DeWalt is a leading manufacturer of professional corded and cordless power tools, outdoor power equipment, power tool accessories, and hand tools. With seven manufacturing locations in the USA, DeWalt remains committed to domestic manufacturing and produced approximately 62 million individual units of power tools, hand tools, and accessories in the United States with global materials in 2015 alone. For more information, visit www.dewalt.com or follow DeWalt on Facebook and Twitter.
With respect to 20V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 20 volts. Nominal voltage is 18.
With respect to 40V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 40 volts. Nominal voltage is 36.
With respect to 60V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 60 volts. Nominal voltage is 54.
This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Landscape and Irrigation magazine, sister publication to ArborAge.com