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Old 11-14-2014, 07:11 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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Product Review - Stihl Battery Powered Backpack Blower

Hey all,

I wanted to write a short review of the Stihl battery powered backpack blower. We were able to demo. one unit for a week. It was the AR900 battery and the BGA85 blower that we tried out together, as in this image:



We had high hopes for this blower/battery combo. Since it was a rather large battery, we had hoped it would maybe last the entire work day. Unfortunately, it did not. We tried it out with 4 different crews on 4 different days. The result was the battery didn't last all day and the blower wasn't nearly as powerful as the backpack blowers we currently use (Redmax 8000).

We tried this one out because of the battery size. I figured if any battery-operated product had the ability to really last, it would be this one, with the huge battery. Unfortunately, it did not. Seems the technology just isn't there yet, still. That's too bad. I'd love to find a way around paying for gas!
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:22 PM
rlitman rlitman is offline
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I thought that handheld blower had been out for a while already, though it used a battery in it instead of this backpack. But it's still a handheld blower. No way it's going to match the power of a backpack. For starters, the tube is too small, and there's no way to get as much power out of a small fan that is hand held, regardless of the motor power, as compared to the big fan you can fit in a backpack.

I'm sorry to hear that it won't run all day, but I really don't think a blower is a good use case for this battery.
Do you think you could string trim all day with it though? Or cut hedges? Those should both have much lower power requirements.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:52 PM
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knox gsl knox gsl is online now
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I would consider this type battery and hedge trimmer if it would work. I demoed some core brand equipment and was impressed for battery power but wasn't as strong as gas and more than twice the price.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:26 PM
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Cedar Lawn Care Cedar Lawn Care is offline
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Thanks for the review. I think in the next 10-15 years everything I use for lawn care including my truck will be battery powered. Not quite yet though!
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:27 PM
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gcbailey gcbailey is offline
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Outside of the battery performance, how did it actually work? I just don't see battery (electric) being nearly as powerful as even a mid level gas handheld.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:49 PM
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alldayrj alldayrj is online now
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I almost bought their battery powered demo saw at GIE but they only get 15 mins of cut time. Not wuite there yet
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Old 11-15-2014, 05:39 AM
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Richard Martin Richard Martin is offline
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What was the actual battery run time? A contractor like you would probably use it a lot more than a solo like me.

How well does it do when it gets wet, like if it's raining out? Not all LCOs have enclosed trailers and it might get drenched in a thunderstorm or something while it's out on the road.

Will it fit in a standard backpack rack or does it require a special rack like the BR600 does?
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Old 11-15-2014, 10:20 AM
herler herler is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLewis View Post
That's too bad. I'd love to find a way around paying for gas!
Yes but therein lies your disappointment, because it doesn't work that way...

Ultimately it takes a certain amount of HORSE power. And you can produce this HORSE power any which way you want, but it takes X amount of energy to produce Y amounts of rpm over foot / pounds torque. There is no getting around it, if it takes 1/2 hp to spin up that turbo fan inside the blower for 30 seconds then it takes 1/2 hp whether you produce that hp with a gasoline engine or an electrical motor, they both have to produce it.

And, to produce power you need either fuel that's converted into energy...
The internal combustion engine does this as the name implies, internally.
The ICE takes gasoline, burns it... And in that process produces energy which is transmitted to the crankshaft as horse power.
It's all very direct, little is lost here in the translation because of how short the path between fuel-energy-horsepower.

With an electric motor a power plant up the road has burned fuel that it turned into electricity. This electricity was then used to charge up the battery which was then used to power the motor that turns the turbo fan inside the blower... Very inefficient already if you ask me...

All in all, the SAME amount of energy had to be produced to come up with the end result, unfortunately with electricity a larger percent of energy is lost due to inefficiency. A power plant actually has to over-produce about 20 percent of all energy consumed. Further some electricity is lost as it travels down miles of power lines as well, then more is lost between the electric outlet and the battery, then again between the battery and the motor (like most of us never use a rechargeable battery until it's completely dead, we stop using it when it's about done - whereas with gasoline we can run it until it's out if we want, same power all along).
We, the consumers, pay for this inefficiency.

News flash:
The electricity used to charge the battery that powers the blower is not free.
Actually neither is the battery, these have to be replaced at some point as well.

Now I'll conclude what is going to otherwise result in a really long story:
To this day absolutely no amount of engineering has been able to produce a device or motor that is more efficient at converting fuel-to-energy-to-horse power than the Internal Combustion Engine. Hence you will not find an electric motor that is better than an ICE.

We've known this for a very long time, I vaguely remember it from the gas crunch in the 1970's...
We went through this exact same process then, coming up with all these solar panel things and electric motors...
Why we had to learn this lesson all over again...
Not that I want to know, mind you, I don't have to know why.

Last edited by herler; 11-15-2014 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 11-15-2014, 09:01 PM
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CrystalCreek CrystalCreek is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herler View Post
Yes but therein lies your disappointment, because it doesn't work that way...

Ultimately it takes a certain amount of HORSE power. And you can produce this HORSE power any which way you want, but it takes X amount of energy to produce Y amounts of rpm over foot / pounds torque. There is no getting around it, if it takes 1/2 hp to spin up that turbo fan inside the blower for 30 seconds then it takes 1/2 hp whether you produce that hp with a gasoline engine or an electrical motor, they both have to produce it.

And, to produce power you need either fuel that's converted into energy...
The internal combustion engine does this as the name implies, internally.
The ICE takes gasoline, burns it... And in that process produces energy which is transmitted to the crankshaft as horse power.
It's all very direct, little is lost here in the translation because of how short the path between fuel-energy-horsepower.

With an electric motor a power plant up the road has burned fuel that it turned into electricity. This electricity was then used to charge up the battery which was then used to power the motor that turns the turbo fan inside the blower... Very inefficient already if you ask me...

All in all, the SAME amount of energy had to be produced to come up with the end result, unfortunately with electricity a larger percent of energy is lost due to inefficiency. A power plant actually has to over-produce about 20 percent of all energy consumed. Further some electricity is lost as it travels down miles of power lines as well, then more is lost between the electric outlet and the battery, then again between the battery and the motor (like most of us never use a rechargeable battery until it's completely dead, we stop using it when it's about done - whereas with gasoline we can run it until it's out if we want, same power all along).
We, the consumers, pay for this inefficiency.

News flash:
The electricity used to charge the battery that powers the blower is not free.
Actually neither is the battery, these have to be replaced at some point as well.

Now I'll conclude what is going to otherwise result in a really long story:
To this day absolutely no amount of engineering has been able to produce a device or motor that is more efficient at converting fuel-to-energy-to-horse power than the Internal Combustion Engine. Hence you will not find an electric motor that is better than an ICE.

We've known this for a very long time, I vaguely remember it from the gas crunch in the 1970's...
We went through this exact same process then, coming up with all these solar panel things and electric motors...
Why we had to learn this lesson all over again...
Not that I want to know, mind you, I don't have to know why.
Where to begin on this one. First your talking to a guy who took the time to write a review. Yes the equipment didn't work so great but neither did the internal combustion engine when it first came out many moons ago. I don't think you need to talk to Jim like he's a two year old. Secondly, power plants produce almost everything they send down the line with almost little loss. The line loses are minimal compared to the resistance of all the bearing and moving parts in an engine. Electricity is probably one of the cheapest product we use compared to all other resources. And finally as far as electrical engines being inefficient, why does the railroad industry use electric motors to move fright trains? Yes the engine powering the generator is diesel, but the final drive is electric dc motors. Why. Because they are much more efficient than an internal combustion engine.

So when the producers of lawn equipment finally figure out how to build a suitable battery backpack, I'll be buying one. It's just going to take some time.
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  #10  
Old 11-16-2014, 03:30 PM
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MOturkey MOturkey is offline
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Actually, I think locomotives use electric motors because they eliminate the need for clutches and will run in reverse just as efficiently as in forward, but that is a topic for another thread.

Herler is correct about some of the things he says, but, he forgets that a goodly portion of the electric power in this country is produced using hydroelectric dams and nuclear energy, neither of which causes carbon emissions and does not deplete any natural resource such as coal or petroleum.

I can foresee the day when electric motors on handhelds will be the norm. In all likelihood, they will eventually be produced with trailer racks that plug them in automatically when you hang them up and can be recharged as you drive from your vehicle's electrical system, and/or solar panels installed on the trailer. That would be relatively easy to do even now with an enclosed trailer, and solar panels, like everything else, will likely get more and more efficient as time goes by.

As for mowers, I suspect that may well happen also, but not likely to be in my lifetime. Right now, electric mowers are a novelty, but I would not be surprised to see them become common in the homeowner market within the next decade or so. Battery life will prevent them from being practical for commercial users for some time, I'm afraid.
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