I made a bold decision today and bought a Kobalt Battery Powered Lawn Mower. I have always been one to jump on new ideas fairly quickly. While battery-powered mowers are not exactly new, the larger, more powerful 40 volt and 56 volt lithium batteries are a fairly recent innovation which opens up new possibilities for lawn and gardening tools such as mowers. My 18 Volt Milwaukee drill and Impact driver made a lasting and favorable impression on me and so did my Ryobi, 40 Volt Rechargeable Grass and Weed Trimmer. The big question many of us have is this: Could something as big as a battery-powered lawn mower ever replace the long-time, standby gas lawn mowers that we’ve been using for years and years?
The Ryobi RY40210, 40-Volt Lithium-ion Cordless String Trimmer/Edger is a beast. I have struggled with a Black & Decker, Ni-Cad, cordless grass trimmer for the last 7 years. My main complaints were low-power and short battery-life. Still, I tolerated it because I enjoyed the convenience of cordless, no-gas, easy and less, time-consuming start-up times. My third complaint, however, is something I have with 95% of all grass trimmers: the string line doesn’t always feed properly and seems to disappear way too quickly. My prior, gas-powered trimmer was way too heavy and burdensome, so I actually considered getting another electric, corded weed trimmer. Then, I asked myself a question: Do they make a lithium, ion cordless grass trimmer that is as powerful and impressive as the Milwaukee Impact Driver and Drill I purchased last February? Wouldn’t a battery-powered weed eater that was powerful and long-lasting enough be the perfect solution? Do they make such a thing?
Battery Powered Trimmers vs. Electrical Cord Grass Trimmers
The Ryobi 40-Volt Lithium Ion Cordless Grass Trimmer is replacing my Black and Decker Hedge Hog which just doesn’t hold much of a charge any more. My initial guess was that it would be more difficult to keep a grass trimmer running long and powerful enough since it requires more consistent operation than a drill or impact driver. With a drill or driver, you’re using only quick bursts of power where-as a grass trimmer requires long, sustained operation. I did some research and was surprised to find that there are a number of lithium-ion powered grass trimmers on the market that advertise a full 20-40 minutes of uninterrupted, full-power, grass-trimming operation. My Ni-Cad, Black and Decker only lasted 10 minutes per battery and was never all that powerful at full charge. But, if I could get a high-powered, long-lasting cordless trimmer, I concluded that was the superior way to go! Besides, I really only needed a good 30 minutes of full power to get a flawlessly trimmed lawn…or, so I thought. That was before I discovered the 40-Volt RY40210 trimmer by Ryobi.
Long Lasting Lithium Battery Power
To tell you the truth, I am unsure how long this battery will last because I have yet to even come close exhausting it. I spent at least 45 minutes using it on full power the first day I used it. After 45 minutes, the battery indicator was still at full charge. Length of battery-charge was not the first thing that impressed me with the Ryobi grass trimmer, however.
40-Volt Lithium Ion Battery offers Unprecedented High Powered Performance
I was almost shocked by the high-speed growl when I first pulled the trigger switch all the way down on the RY40210. I cannot imagine a gas engine providing more horsepower. The Ryobi gives you an incredible amount of RPM – more than you’ll ever need for basic grass trimming tasks. In fact, I was so taken-aback by the sheer, raw power of the 40-Volt engine that it took me a while to actually learn how well it operates.
Setup an Operation of the Ryobi 40-Volt Lithium Ion Cordless Grass Trimmer
Thanks to my absent minded ways, the Ryobi grass trimmer did probably take me longer to assemble than the average person. Still, it was a relatively easy and pain free experience and I was up and running in about 25 minutes. The remarkable power of this unit fascinated me so much that I didn’t read the instructions as clearly as I should have. I didn’t realize that I needed to release the power trigger a full, 2 seconds in order to allow the string to feed. Consequently, I ended up losing all the string inside the reel. Dreadfully, I had to open the spool and that is when I had the old familiar mess of tangled line. Once I got the thing re-strung and working properly, I began to get the hang of using the machine properly. The Ryobi RY40210 pivots for edging and has a wheel to help guide you along the edge of your line. I must say it works far better than any other dual-purpose grass trimmer that I’ve used for edging in the past. As a grass trimmer, standard, long blades of grass and weeds are no challenge for the powerful 40-Volt motor of the RY40210. Nothing can get in the way of this machine. When I think back to those down the aisle at Home Depot, who picked out gas trimmers that cost $100 more, I can’t help but to think they made a huge mistake. All is not perfect with the Ryobi 40-Volt Lithium ION Trimmer, however:
I still have my doubts and concerns with the old-fashioned, spool and string. I get the cold sweats every time I have to think about re-stringing a weed trimmer. This one appears to be no different than the other one that I had problems with, but then again, that could be said about any trimmer. My other slight, complaint is the weight and size of the 40-volt battery. There is a reason it lasts so long and provides so much power and you can feel it on your back after you’ve used it for a significant length of time. On the other hand, could the weight of the battery possibly be any worse than lugging around a gas engine? Last, I am disappointed that Ryobi does not make a more powerful grass blower for use with the 40-Volt battery. It would be the perfect compliment to the extra charge that is still available to me after trimming the lawn. Ryobi does make a leaf blower that works with the 40-Volt battery, but actual users complain that the power of the unit is disappointing and completely under utilizes the strong capabilities of such a strong, impressive lithium ion battery.
Conclusion and Final thoughts on the Ryobi RY40210 Grass Trimmer
If not for the few complaints above, I would give the Ryobi 40-Volt Lithium Ion Cordless Grass Trimmer a perfect, 5 stars. Still, I cannot imagine a grass trimmer/weed-eater/lawn edger that would satisfy my needs better than this one. I’ll take a high-powered, long-lasting battery over a cord or gas engine any day. The Ryobi Lithium-Powered Weed Eater and Edger is one of the better outdoor tools I’ve purchased in many years. I highly recommend.
Costco Simpson Pressure Washer Updated: April 1, 2017
It could just be my experience with the very poor quality, Task Force Pressure Washer, but my impression remains that gas-powered pressure washers are made of a much more durable quality than the electric ones. I have now owned the Costco Simpson Gas Powered Pressure Washer for exactly four years and it is still running fine. I did have to place a couple of o-rings, but unlike the Task Force, the structure is modular and non proprietary and parts replacement is cheap. I’ve found this pressure washer to be a little finicky when it comes to getting it started after long periods of not being used. Other than that, this unit is 10-times better than the ridiculously poor-quality Task Force.
Original Review from April 2013
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In three years, I went from the failed Task Force Electric Pressure Washer to the Costco Simpson Pressure Washer with a Honda Engine. I’ve been without a pressure washer for two years thanks to the extremely poor quality of the Task Force. The Task Force worked good enough the first couple of times to make me realize how valuable it is to own a pressure washer. Just make sure you get one that lasts. The negative reviews on the Task Force speak for themselves. Don’t get a Task Force Pressure Washer. So far, the difference is like night and day. It’s important to note a couple of things: For one, the Honda Gas-Powered pressure washer you see at Costco has a Honda engine, but is not entirely made by Honda. While Honda has a great reputation for building quality products, we need to keep in mind that they cannot control everything that has their name on it.They build the engines for lawn mowers, power washers and other kinds of equipment. Before we get to the review, I need to answer the all important question that comes up with Electric Pressure Washers vs. Gas Powered Pressure Washers.
How do you rate the Milwaukee Cordless Impact Driver:
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If you never have owned a cordless impact driver then perhaps you are like me and don’t know what you are missing. I chose the Milwaukee Cordless Impact Driver at my Home Depot store as part of a package with the 3/8″ reversible drill. For years, I’ve tinkered around with inferior power tools. From my horribly under-powered cordless, Ryobi screwdriver to my cheesy, 12-volt Skil Power Drill. These tools have lasted long enough for me to spend plenty of years cussing at how meek and timid they are whenever I needed to get s simple job done around or outside of the house. The screwdriver served its purpose for a while, but there are times when you just need a little more ump to drive some screws into places. The Skil 12-Volt drill seemed like a great deal. I paid about $50 for it at Home Depot and it came with two batteries and a keyless chuck. The Skil 12-Volt Drill, however, had three major problems:
It is a pain to pull the battery in and out.
It’s big, clunky and no good for tight places
The batteries wear down, even when you’re not using them
It dawned on me, that I do more driving than drilling. I had never heard of an impact driver before until my brother-in-law showed me his cordless Dewalt driver and sold me on how useful it is. I’m not much of a handy-man like my brother-in-law, so I let him explain to me what it could do for me and why I might want one.
What is an Impact Driver?
The purpose of an Impact Driver is to drive long screws and bolts into wood and other materials. Basically, an impact driver is a heavy-duty, powerful screwdriver that works by giving you extremely strong torque for turning screws while reducing the risk of stripping the screws or bolts. Such a tool is neither a drill nor hammer-drill, but in many cases can be a convenient replacement for both. The important thing to remember is convenience. Would a corded impact driver make sense? Probably not, but neither would an under-powered re-chargeable one that can’t get the job done. Problem solved. Say hello to the 18-Volt, lithium battery which is in my opinion, the greatest thing that ever happened to cordless, power tools. The other feature of the Impact Driver is a socket that holds hex-shaped driver bits into place simply by pulling forward, inserting the bit and letting it retract back into place. Bits will never loosen and it only takes seconds to insert, remove and replace them. Before I settled on the Milwaukee brand, I just want to say that just about any 18-Volt Impact Driver will be a huge upgrade to your tool collection if you don’t currently own one.
Basics of the Milwaukee Cordless Impact Driver
I can’t tell you how many times I stripped screws with my traditional power drill.Every summer, the handle on my fence gate seems to loosen up. I have never been able to get screws that are fat and sturdy enough to hold into place. My new Milwaukee Cordless Impact Driver made a 30 second job of fastening it tight with heavy-duty, 2.5″ Lag Bolts. Some of the published reviews from handy-man publications pointed out that the Milwaukee 18-Volt Impact driver bested the competition for number of lag bolts that can be driven on one battery charge. (Up to 138 bolts). On the other hand some users have complained that the battery drains quickly. This is not a problem if you have two batteries or buy the extended (larger) battery. If you’re not familiar with lithium ion technology, you’ll love the fact that the power never degrades while your using the tools. The Milwaukee driver has a battery gauge that when you press-on-it, tells you how much power is left. The battery only has two states of operation: on or off. So, when your battery is down to it’s final few seconds of life, it is still delivering the same power that it did when it was fully charged. Also, unlike the old, 12V Skill drill, the batteries don’t seem to lose any of their life as they are sitting on the shelf. One other great thing – the battery only takes 20-30 minutes to charge. Finally, another really nice touch is the LED light just under the nose of the driver that lights up only when you are using it. Well, so far I am very impressed and I cannot wait to find some heavy duty jobs to do around the house. In fact, I may have a good reason to test the 138 lag-bolts claim as I have reason to bolt some angle frames into some wood-ties in my back yard. Meanwhile, in case you’re curious, here are some specifications from the user manual.
I’m not one to get overly excited about masculine outdoor, lawn and garden equipment like mowers, so you know I must have been pretty impressed with Snapper lawn mowers to make the decision to review them. My current Snapper Lawn mower was bought used just a few weeks ago and is the only one I ever had. Previously to buying this product at an Arvada Lawn Mower sales and Repair shop, I knew very little about Snapper lawn mowers. While I don’t get excited about mechanical equipment, I do appreciate quality. I cannot stand buying cheap products made from flimsy plastic that either breaks or feels like its going to break when you use it. This is not the case with the Snapper at all. This lawn mower is a beast and I could tell when the salesman and I picked it up and loaded it into the back of my RAV4 SUV. It felt about 3 times heavier than the last lawnmower I purchased from them a few years ago. At $150.00 used, this was more machine than I thought I needed for as a 2nd hand mower for my tiny backyard, but I’ve become increasingly more fond of Snapper Mowers as a brand every time I use it.
Snapper Lawn Mowers Pure Quality
Snapper Lawn Mowers are Expensive for a Reason
I was looking for a cheap, used $100-$150 lawn mower at my local lawn mower shop. I explained that I wanted something small and didn’t need any fancy features. Just a reliable, 2nd hand mower for my small back yard section of grass. The store owner promised that he would have one ready for me next week, but accidentally sold it to someone else just before I arrived. In his attempt to make amends for his error, he took this Snapper Lawn Mower with the $300 price tag on it and sold it to me for $150.00. I reluctantly agreed realizing by looking it over that it was a quality machine – way more than what I needed. Okay, it never hurts to have a 2nd quality lawn-mower and this particular one was heavier and better made than the new Lawnmower I purchased a few years earlier. I immediately became impressed with Snapper, the first time I used it. It had some features I have never had on a lawn mower before.
The Snapper EMLP21601 which I inherited for $150.00 is a Rear bagging mulcher which can be converted to a side bagger. The EMLP21601 has a 3 speed, self-propelled transmission which works amazingly well and became surprisingly useful for me going up the steep slope of my small yard. On the right side is a lever that controls the engine speed and on the left side is a lever that controls the wheel speed. If you lost your manual for snapper lawn mowers, find it right here: Snapper Manual to Mulch, simply remove the bag and the grass cover flap will serve as the plug. Speaking of the grass catcher, the mount for attaching and removing is extremely easy to use and convenient. One thing that really impressed me with this mower was how easy it was to adjust the height of the blade. Cheaper lawn mowers usually have four levers which are difficult to adjust and feel as they are going to break. With the Snapper, you have one lever and it adjusts with ease. Overall, there is nothing not to like about this lawn mower. It is heavy and well built. If you like quality machines, you will love Snapper lawn mowers.
Long Term Update: Snapper Review April, 2014
I’ve figured out why this lawn mower was used and returned to the store who sold it to me. There are several annoying problems with it. One, it’s too big, heavy and cumbersome. Two, the drive belt is always becoming undone. This requires I get a screw driver out to fix and re-position it. It’s a heavy load of junk. The truth is, the drive belt would not even be necessary if the thing wasn’t so darn heavy. I’d much rather have a light, new mower that works and is easy to maneuver. Unless you have a huge lawn and need the drive power, it isn’t necessary. I’d take a good look at the reviews on new snapper lawn mowers before you decide to buy one.
If you’re Looking for a Push Reel Lawnmower to make the noisy, tedious job of mowing your lawn more convenient and quiet, you need to look at the Fiskars 6201 Staysharp Max. As a Push Reel Lawnmower, you might not expect it to cost as much as a gas powered one, but there are some good reasons to pay a little more on the Fiskars 6201. The Staysharp Max 6201 is easier to push, has 60% more cutting power, longer lasting cutting blades and smart technology that throws the grass away from your feet. There are plenty of good reasons to buy a push reel lawn mower over a gas powered mower. For me, I needed something smaller and easier to handle for my tiny backyard grass area. Also, I wanted to be able to cut grass earlier in the morning without waking up the neighbors. I’ve seen and used other Push reel lawnmowers that are cheaper, but the Fiskars 6201 is different.
For small lawns, gas-powered lawn mowers often seem wasteful and too much trouble to operate. They also make noise. A Push reel lawn mower not only saves gas, but time and trouble. Why waste the time filling up a mower with gas when you get the job done in half-the time with a push reel lawn mower like the Fiskars 6201? Obviously, though, it does you very little good if it requires too much time and effort. Trust me, I’ve tried other push reel mowers that don’t make the job very easy. The Fiskars 6201 StaySharp is different from all the others. There are some design features about the Fiskars 6201 StaySharp mower that seals the deal, if you’re considering an easier way to mow a small lawn or second patch of grass.
Best Push Reel Lawn Mower Design
Why Fiskars 6201 StaySharp is Better
The Fiskars 6201 is not only the best design for a push-reel lawn mower, but for any lawn mower I’ve ever used. The curved body design and small wheels makes it easy to get ride up the edging of your grass, yet takes so little effort to turn and push up-hill. These blades, according to over 200 happy users, stay sharp for ever and cut the grass with ease. And Fiskars claim it takes less inertia and effort to mow are right on the money according to hundreds of satisfied Fiskars 6201 StaySharp mowers. Keep your lawn looking sharp with the Fiskars 6201 StaySharp Max Push Reel mower.
I’ve had my Black and Decker Grass Hog for 7 years and so I suppose I’ve had enough time to form an opinion and review. The grass hog is still selling strong on Amazon, so at the very least, we know it’s still a worthy contender among the dozens of choices of cordless, weed trimmers.
What is the Black and Decker Grass Hog?
The Grass Hog, Model # NS2018 is an electric, cordless grass trimmer and edger that comes with two, re-chargeable, 18-Volt batteries
I decided to shop for a cordless, electric trimmer a few years ago for the sake of convenience and simplicity. I don’t know how other gas trimmers are, but my previous, Ryobi gas trimmer was a pain-in-the-butt to start and I got sick of the vibration and noise. The Black and Decker will trim your grass using a reel of the standard, .65MM to .75MM trimmer line. Additionally, with a simple adjustment you can convert the Grass Hog into an edger. Having such a small yard, it got to be a embarrassing nuisance starting up the gas trimmer for a job that took about 5 minutes. That was 7 years ago and since then, I’ve moved to house with a bigger yard and can fully appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of the Grass Hog.
Black and Decker Grass Hog Pros and Cons
Grass Hog Pros
Two Batteries are Included
Converts to an Edger with one simple rotation
Grass Hog Cons
Vanishing Trimmer Line
Grass Hog: The Verdict
The Black and Decker Grass Hogis plenty powerful enough to trim and edge your grass, but I quickly found out that I needed two, fully charged batteries to complete the job on the larger front and back lawns of my bigger house. For some reason, the grass hog seems to eat up trimmer line faster than anything. This is not a deal-breaker; the line is cheap and it’s very easy to load, but where the heck is it going..? If you’re concerned about the battery life, you can buy extra rechargeable batteries for your grass hog. The conversion to an edger is genius – it works great and takes seconds to convert back and forth from edger to trimmer. Overall, I have to agree with the vast majority of other Black and Decker Grass Hog owners and give this product 4 Stars.
Two years after writing this review, I’ve retired the Grass Hog in favor of a much more powerful Lithium Ion Ryobi Trimmer. The Grass Hog still works and is sitting in my garage. The unit held up well and served it’s purpose.
Are Solar Christmas Lights worth the money? In a word, no. In two words, it depends. Let’s start worth the no, then we’ll move on to the depends part of the equation.
If you want to light-up the outside of your home like the City Courthouse, you’d better have enough money to buy the courthouse, if not a good-sized town. One string of 50 Solar LED Christmas lights typically costs $20.00. For kicks, my wife and I decided to try the Solar Lights experiment this year. For starters, we bought two strings of LED lights for $40 and were able to decorate two small bushes in the front of our home. Just think, for another $2,000 we could have purchased 100 strings for a whopping total of 5,000 lights. In case you’re wondering, that falls about 10,000 lights short of competing in your neighborhood Christmas Decoration contest. If cost is not a good enough deterrent for the LED Solar Christmas Lights experiment, we discovered a few other problems:
For one thing, you need to be able to place your solar panel where it gets enough sunshine throughout the day to charge the lights so they will stay lit most of the evening. Since our home faces north it was difficult to find places to stake the solar panels in the yard which are not covered in shade most of the day. If you wanted to put the lights on your eaves or roof, you’ll find that the charging cord is not long enough to reach the ground. You’ll have to mount them on the roof or gutter or somewhere else and here-in is the next problem with solar Christmas lights: Even if you went crazy and bought a bunch of these things, how ugly is your yard, roof or gutters going to look with this square, 4×4” solar panels littered everywhere? If that’s not bad enough, what happens if it’s cloudy all day or snow covers your panels and prevents any sun light from charging your lights? You’ll be left with a plain, undecorated house and looking like the neighborhood scrooge.
Okay, so that covers just about all of the disadvantages of solar lights. At this point, it may be hard to believe, but they do serve a useful purpose. The real purpose for solar Christmas lights is to fill gaps in areas which otherwise might be ignored. Everyone has small bushes, wreathes, windows, roof or other areas of the home that are hard to reach with a wall outlet and require an extension cord. As long as these areas get enough sunshine, you’ll be able to decorate in areas which might otherwise be ignored. In short, Solar Christmas Lights are not well suited for replacing traditional lighting. Rather, they are a useful addition to your yearly Christmas decoration tool chest.
Since first seeing the Snobossshovel at Home Depot last year, I decided to look up some actual user reviews on this large, peculiar-looking snow shovel. My large driveway requires a lot of horizontal and vertical distances to cover with a standard shovel, so I’ve often wondered if there is a better way. The Snoboss (Snowboss or Snow Boss) is a drastically looking looking different tool than the typical, snow shovels I’m used to. While my other two snow shovels are ergonomically designed, they do not have the deep, double-hand scoop of the snoboss. In theory, the snoboss makes the job of shoveling a driver quicker and easier on the back. What specifically is different about the features and physical properties of the Snoboss that supposedly make it superior for shoveling snow?
Snoboss Shovel Physical Properties and Features
The snoboss is described as an Ames True-Temper Snow pusher. A quick glance at the snoboss will tell you that it is better suited for pushing larger volumes of snow. Hopefully, this means you don’t have to cover as much distance, going back and forth to do the job. Additionally the snoboss is ergonomically designed in such a way to minimize lifting and strain on the back. The double u-shaped, handle gives users a dual grip for dispersing the weight of the snow when lifting and pushing. If that’s not enough to push through heavy snow, the snoboss also includes a ledge for
using your feet. Why would I be interested in a big shovel like this? Well, because the current shovel I use (See Picture to the left) is incapable of paving across the width of my driveway without leaving behind streaks of snow on both sides of the shovel. So, even a relatively light snow storm of say 4-6″ means that for every path I pave, I have to make two trips back and forth to pickup the leftover snow. My hope is that the Snoboss is big enough and holds enough volume in snow that I can make a spotless path from one side of the driveway to the other. This looks and sounds great in theory, but before I plop down $38.00 on a snow shovel, what are people actually saying about the Snoboss shovel? Does it do a good job and can I find one review that proves the Snoboss will accomplish the task of being able to shovel a spotless paved path across the width of a large driveway?
Over 34 users of the Snoboss rated it 4 stars on Amazon and another 9 ranked it 4 stars from Home Depot. A 4-Star rating out of 43 users is not bad, but what could keep this product from getting 5 stars? For one, thing there seems to be a number of users disappointed in the bottom blade edge of the snoboss, citing that the metal was soft, poorly made and didn’t stay flat against the pressure of the snow. Well, okay, not a deal killer, but how about making a clean sweep across my driveway without leaving streaks of on both sides of the path? Well, apparently, the snoboss isn’t perfect in that respect either. A small number of users reported that while the snoboss does much better than a standard shovel in this regard, there is still some spillage over the sides when going across the driveway. The other small gripe is that the snoboss shovel is a little bit cumbersome for maneuvering corners. So, what about the positives? Nearly all users of the snoboss unanimously agreed that it makes the job of cleaning the driveway much easier and quicker than your standard snow shovel. Everyone also agreed that this shovel is far easier on the back and makes the job much less straining. Even those, who didn’t rate the Snoboss with a perfect 5-star rating, admitted that they preferred it to their typical snow shovel.
Pros and Cons of the Snoboss
Better Ergonomics for less strain on the back.
Multiple handles provide better leverage for lifting snow.
Large Volume scoop gets the job done quicker.
Flimsy Metal blade on bottom (May have been fixed in newer models)
Large size makes it rather difficult for negotiating turns
Despite large scoop still suffers some spillage of snow out the sides.
Price is about $10 to $15 higher than your typical snow shovel
The Snoboss is not the perfect snow shovel, but I have yet to find one that is. If you live in an area where you can expect more than a handful of rough, snowy days, why not arm yourself with all the help you can get? The fact that the snowboss will help minimize back pain is reason enough alone to buy one. The benefits of getting the job done quicker are merely the icing on the cake – or should we say the snow off the driveway? We’re expecting 5-8 inches of snow tomorrow morning, I wish I had already bought a snoboss shovel
I must have used up at least 750 words ranting and raving about Hunter Sprinklers products last month, so why did I choose an Orbit Sprinkler Timer, instead? I can answer that question in one word: Cost. The Orbit 9 Station Timer, Model # 27999 sells at your local Lowes Store for about $69.00. The Hunter 8-Station XC-800 model does have a few more features, bells and whistles over the Orbit 27999, none of which seemed very significant to me. For instance, the Hunter XC-800 will completely backup your entire program into permanent memory and doesn’t depend on the lithium battery to hold it. Since I plan on changing my battery once a year, I don’t expect that to be an issue and even if it ever becomes one, these digital sprinkler timers are very easy to program and the Orbit Timer is no exception. Before we get to that, what else is missing on with the Orbit versus the Hunter timer?
Differences between Orbit Hunter XC-800 Sprinkler Timer
The XC-800 allows you to power on 3 different solenoids at the same time. That might be a nice feature in a commercial setting, but I fear it would challenge the water pressure limitations of most residences. The Hunter XC-800 has a seasonal adjustment feature which automatically compensates for the varying demands of seasonal temperatures and moisture. For instance, you can increase your watering time percentage in the hotter, dryer August months, or lower the percentage in the cool April, May Spring Months or September, October Fall months. I liked that idea and I was pleased to find out that the Orbit timer has something very similar. Essentially, the Orbit 2799 the same thing, in the name of a Budget dial for dialing in a percentage. Same concept and a good idea which makes it easy to adjust your watering times without having to re-program each and every station. Enough about the differences between the two sprinkler timers: What does the Orbit 27999 actually do and what do I like about it?
Setup and Operation of the Orbit Sprinkler Timer
I wanted an electronic, easy-to-read Sprinkler Timer that offered multiple watering times for up to 8 stations and was easy to program. The Orbit Model 27999 succeeds and adds 1 station for a total of 9. Model 27999 is logically organized via an 8-Position dial with sensible descriptions:
If you think the Orbit timer can be programmed without a manual, you’re absolutely correct. By turning the dial, you can navigate through the 9-stations and 3-programs with the left and right cursors. I fumbled a few times getting the stations and programs confused, but I was always able to get back on track by reading the description of the dial. Each Station can have up to 4 Watering Start times. There are three programs: A, B and C. I’ve set my sprinkler system up so the front and back yard grass are on Program A. Program B is for the Garden and Program C is for the Drip System for watering shrubs. Obviously, it is not necessary to put each of these three areas on their own program, but it makes it easy to understand and provides the maximum amount of flexibility for choosing what to water, when and how often. Each Station can be watered from 1 – 240 minutes. My only real difficult with the Orbit Sprinkler Timer was figuring out how manually water specific stations. It took a little getting used to, but it does make sense after you get used to it. The 27999 timer comes with a CR2016 Lithium Battery for keeping your programs backed up in the event of a power failure. These batteries are durable, long-lasting and easy to find, so I will keep a spare and plan on replacing it once a year.
The Budget dial allows you to adjust your watering times seasonally from 10% to 200%. There is a rain-delay feature which can be ran manually or automatically through a programmable water sensor option. What else is cool? A water-tight door can be be closed and locked to protect the unit. My old Rainbird Sprinkler Timer had a bulky, large transformer; the Orbit Sprinkler Timer plugs directly into the wall with a three prong electrical cord and generates no heat.
Installing the Orbit Sprinkler Timer was the easiest part of all. My 18-year old Rainbird Timer had the wires in place. I simply removed them with a screwdriver and inserted them into the matching numbers on the Orbit. No tools are required to wire the Orbit Sprinkler Timer. They snap right into place. There is a clearly labeled connection for your Common Wire, Pump Wire and stations 1-9 are numbered. The Orbit Sprinkler Timer took about 10 minutes to install and another 15 minutes to program on my very first try. If you’re tired of your old analog system, you will not be disappointed the Orbit sprinkler timer.
I became familiar with Hunter Sprinklers and heads when they became easier to find then Rainbird products. Years ago, it was hard to find anything other than Rainbird sprinklers at my local Home Depot stores. I was reluctant to replace my old sprinkler heads with another brand, not because I loved Rainbird, but because I was not familiar with any other brands. Other brands of Lawn Sprinkler Systems. Replacement heads have their own settings and it can be confusing learning a new way of setting them up every time you need to replace heads. I am no longer intimidated by non-Rain Bird brands. IN fact, Hunter replacement heads are easy to use and last just as long if not longer than the other 3 or 4 brands I’ve tried, including Rainbird. Besides my own favorable experience, there is another good reason to trust the Hunter brand.
History of Hunter Sprinklers
Hunter is not just another sprinkler company spin-off. The company was founded in 1981, making sprinkler systems and products for commercial, irrigation, landscaping and sporting events industries and its own irrigation system. The original owner, Edwin Hunter was a pioneer, inventor and innovator of Hunter irrigation and lawn sprinkler systems since the 1950s. You can see from Hunter Industries website, that their line of innovative products, including Hunter Lawn sprinklers is equal if not superior to any other name in sprinklers. If name and reputation are concerns for choosing an entire sprinkler system, Hunter has you covered. While I am not personally in the market for an entire sprinkler system, I’ve been replacing parts of my old rain bird system with Hunter. Now, that I am about ready to make the next major investment in a new controller, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this brand name once again.
Time for a New Sprinkler Controller?
My old Rain Bird sprinkler system controller came with the house about 22 years ago. Needles to say, the unit is rather antiquated, if not a complete dinosaur. Don’t get me wrong, it still works as good as it did when it was new, but residential sprinklers controllers have improved quite a bit in the last 22 years. For one thing, my sprinkler controller has no back up system, so after a power outage the entire settings need to be re-set. For a yard with multiple zones and drip systems this can be a rather daunting task. The other problem with my old Rain Bird controller is that it’s analog settings is unnecessarily complicated, confusing and time consuming. There are numerous dials to learn and separate switches for each time settings. Also, the old beast is not very flexible. For example, there are only 6, 12, 18, 24, 30 and 60 minute increments of watering times, with no way to choose anything in between. What if I want to water for 11, 15 or 17 minutes? Also, there is no way to choose watering programs by day. It is only possible to choose every day, every other day or every 3 days for watering. This doesn’t work too well for most of us, which is why I began considering a new sprinkler systems controller.
Well, that and the fact that I can get a far superior sprinklers controller to my old one for under $100.00.
Hunter Sprinklers X Core 8-Way Controller
While I was at Home Depot looking for some accessories, the X Core 8-Way Controller by Hunter Sprinklers caught my eye. By merely looking at the X Core display model, I had already figured out how to program it. What could be simpler? There is one dial with 8 settings, Plus 1 To run the entire program:
Hunter X Core 8-Way Settings
Manual One Station
Solar Sync Settings
Seasonal Adjustment Percentage
Current Time Day
Don’t get overly excited hunter sprinklers fans: There is one more dial to learn: a mere cursor, with side-to-side and up-down arrows for changing the values. Now, I ask: What could be simpler than that? Personally, I probably wouldn’t use the Solar Sync which requires an additional accessory. The Seasonal adjustment percentage sounds interesting and I could see that being very useful. Best of all, the entire system is backed up in volatile memory. Even after a power outage, you’ll never have to worry about losing any of your program settings. As it’s name implies, the XCore 800 Controller controls up to 8 stations – that’s more than enough for my big yard with multiple areas, including gardens, shrubs, front and back lawn. If you’re still not completely sold on the Hunters sprinklers brand, it comes with a full, 2 year warranty which is better than the standard 1-year that comes with most consumer products. I’ve had enough experience with Hunter Sprinklers products to know that this is the controller for me. If the X Core 800 is not quite right for you, I bet they have one that is. Hunter Sprinklers makes around 20 different controllers, though the majority of them probably go beyond the typical needs of a residential sprinkler system. The X Core 8 Way controller is perfect for most homes. For under $100, I’ve got another reason to buy from Hunter Sprinklers.
It’s amazing how something as simple as a hose nozzle can cause years of grief before you finally decide to do something about it. Funny thing about the hose nozzles is that we usually need a minimum of two of them for our yard. My current back yard hose is the one that has suffered through more lousy nozzles than I care to remember. The good one always ends up in the front yard for washing cars because that is where it seems to be needed the most. The other nozzles usually end up in the trash after a year or two for the following reasons:
gets more water on you than the plants or car you’re watering
fails to deliver a fine enough or wide enough spray over time
is cracked and mechanically broken
is troublesome and awkward to use
So, why has the one in my front yard lasted so long? More on that later. But for now, let’s admit this much:
We’ve all suffered through bad hose nozzles with one or all of the above symptoms, and we invariably end up going back to the store and spending between $5 and $25.00 for new ones and keep repeating the same mistakes. There has got to be a better way.
Bon-Aire Hose Nozzle
This is what got me to talking about Hose Nozzles in the first place. I was at the Denver Home and Garden show just two weekends ago when I walked past a booth where a very excited salesman was talking about the amazing Bon-Aire Hose Nozzle – made from Aircraft Aluminum; rugged, durable and unbreakable. The salesman also made a very impressive demonstration of the jet-stream power and the way the Bon-Aire adjusted from various levels of spray. He dropped the Bon-Aire on the hard floor to show how durable it was. I was impressed and decided to look into these for my next back yard nozzle. The Bon-Aire nozzle did indeed get some pretty impressive reviews. Amazon users of the Bon-Aire “ultimate” nozzle rated it an average of 4.5 stars. Only a couple of things bothered me: One, a few users said it stopped working after 1-2 years. Some even mentioned that the product was no longer made in America and appeared to be made with cheaper materials. My verdict is that the Bon-Aire is indeed a high-performing water nozzle, but the commentary from users made me very doubtful that it would live up to the expectations of my front yard hose. Now it’s time to confess what I have in the front yard:
A Better Nozzle
Grandpa’s Old Copper Nozzle is Still the Best
Believe it or not, I have been using a hose nozzle passed down from my grandfather 17 years ago. There is no telling how long he has had it since I inherited it after he passed away in 1994. This old, 4″ long copper nozzle has been abused, dropped, thrown around and performed flawlessly for at least 25 years. I’ve replaced a couple of washers in it, but that’s all it has ever needed to continue offering me drip-free, high-pressure, variable water spraying performance in the 17 years that I’ve owned it. Much of today’s sprayers, such as the Task Force Pressure Washer, use too many parts and are therefore likely to break overtime. This good old fashioned copper nozzle is made only from two pieces of copper and a washer. For performance, I might try one of the Bon-Aire nozzles, but I won’t hesitate to add another one of these life-long lasting copper Hose Nozzles that I got from my Grandpa to the backyard hose.