NORWICH – Last week a number of highway department heads, school groundskeepers, and other work crews visited the Norwich Outdoor Power Equipment business in Norwich to compare battery- and gas-powered tools.
The event was put on by a major international equipment manufacturer, Stihl, and the local business.
The company had an equipment expert on hand and Stihl brought a number of pieces of equipment for local work crews to try out, including chainsaws, blowers, brush trimmers, mowers, and a number of other power tools.
Norwich Outdoor Power Equipment Owner Jon Dunckel said there was no better test than a hands-on experience. “We just hope people come down and take advantage to see for themselves,” he said.
“The demonstrations are kind of showing the new wave of the future for power equipment tools,” said Dunckel.
“They learn a lot about new products, but also how laws and incentives are changing. The big push today is to show the practical advances; there have been huge advances in technology with the battery section. We do have gas powered here, but a lot of government agencies and commercial buyers are looking over to the battery power, which can be a step toward being more environmentally friendly,” said Dunckel.
He said the trend was effecting the industry as a whole and domestic and residential products were also improving.
Brian Graga, Technical Sales Specialist for Stihl, was at the event.
“We're here to just show the advances of battery equipment," said Graga. "No oil fixtures or those maintenance costs. Importantly, depending on the product you're going with, the battery power is at the gas equivalent or better. We are at that point now."
“Honestly, I tell them, it depends on what you are doing, there are no electric blowers across the industry that are there right there, right now, with the gas powered blowers. It is getting there, but it is not quite there. But there is no reason to have a gas-powered hedge trimmer or pole saw these days, they are at equivalency or better now,” said Graga.
Graga was also realistic about labeling battery-powered equipment as “renewable,” when asked by an attendee.
He said, “It depends on where the power for the charge is coming from - a power plant of some kind. But compared to gas it's better, it can be greener, it's a step in the right direction for renewable energy.”
He also said electric was often quieter, generated less vibrations, was often easier to start, and seemed more user friendly to people.
“There is a little less intimidation I think with the electric compared to a gas engine for some,” he said.
Ultimately Graga urged people to just try the battery-powered equipment themselves, and make up their own minds.
“They are better and they are getting better, most things at or past or at the tipping point really, compared to gas,” he said.