When it comes to keeping your yard or garden well-groomed and manicured, trimmers are often a necessary evil.
If you really can’t maintain your green space with simply a pair of good garden shears, then purchasing the right weed whacker is your next challenge.
And if you’ve decided on a gas-powered model, you need to compare the merits of a 2-cycle vs 4-cycle trimmer before adding it to cart.
Let’s take a look at what makes them tick – and hopefully, you can choose the type that’s right for you.
- 2-Cycle Vs 4-Cycle String Trimmer: The Short Answer
- Two-Cycle and Four Cycle Stand-Off
- 2-Cycle String Trimmer Reviews 2020
- 4-Cycle String Trimmer Reviews 2020
- What is better, a 2-cycle or a 4-cycle trimmer?
- What’s the difference between a 2-cycle or a 4-cycle trimmer?
- Is a straight or a curved shaft trimmer better?
- Do 4-cycle engines use regular gas?
- Can you use 2-cycle oil in a 4-cycle engine?
- How do I mix oil and gas for a 2-cycle engine?
- Is a 2-cycle trimmer louder than a 4-cycle trimmer?
- What is the best gas string trimmer?
2-Cycle Vs 4-Cycle String Trimmer: The Short Answer
Before we break down the differences between a two-cycle and a four-cycle trimmer engine in detail, let’s provide the “too long, didn’t read” answer for those of you in a rush.
Without going too much into the mechanics of each (read on for that information), a two-cycle trimmer is more powerful, lighter, cheaper, and with lower maintenance.
However, a four-cycle trimmer is more fuel-efficient, much quieter, and offers more torque. They are also more durable and longer-lasting than a two-cycle engine.
And the winner is – it entirely depends on what your needs are.
That’s comparing a 2-stroke vs 4-stroke trimmer in a nutshell. Read on to discover the analysis in a little more depth with some sample reviews thrown in for good measure.
Two-Cycle and Four Cycle Stand-Off
First, let’s explore how two and four-cycle engines actually work.
The cycles (or strokes – as they’re also known) represent how many times the piston moves in a combustion engine.
It’s not rocket science here, but rather than go into it at great length with a text that will quite possibly insult your intelligence, take a look at this very useful video below if you feel you need a quick refresher course.
Bear in mind that this is in relation to a vehicle engine, but the principle is the same – just on a smaller scale.
2-Cycle String Trimmers
Easily more popular and readily available compared with four-stroke trimmers, two-stroke engines are well suited to smaller machines and tools and have been around for a number of years.
Like all outdoor power tools, two-cycle trimmers come with their pros and cons.
On the plus side, they are much cheaper than their four-cycle counterparts. This is largely due to utilizing fewer components in their overall manufacture. They’re a lot less complex.
Which leads us nicely onto our next advantage – two-cycle trimmers require less maintenance than four-cycle engines.
They’re also blessed with offering more power. Requiring only two strokes to produce the power required to turn your line spool, you’re getting a harder working engine for your money.
2-cycle string trimmers tend to be lighter, which is a big advantage when working larger areas for a continuous period of time.
Arguably the biggest downside of using a two-stroke string trimmer is that annoying mix of fuel and oil you need to add to the engine to get it running.
For many people, this can be an exasperating stage of the process, as it requires getting the ratios just right in order to use the machine – and keep it operating at peak performance.
Additionally, 2-cycle trimmers produce more emissions and are a lot less fuel-efficient compared to four-stroke versions. Across the board, you’re going to be spending more money in the long run for gas and lubricant.
Finally, two-stroke trimmers are noticeably louder machines, which isn’t ideal if you have neighbors who are sensitive to loud noise or you live in a built-up area – particularly if you have to regularly maintain your yard or garden.
4-Cycle String Trimmers
While usually reserved for larger tools, vehicles, and machines, manufacturers have begun to incorporate four-stroke engines into string trimmers in recent years – for good reason.
At first glance, it might seem that two-stroke trimmers have their four-stroke rivals totally beat. Thankfully, that’s not the case.
While being more expensive, four-cycle trimmers are much more durable and long-lasting than two-cycle versions.
They offer greater fuel efficiency – which means you’re not going to be spending nearly as much to keep the tool in working order and ready to go.
As a result, four-stroke trimmers are preferred by landscapers with a lot of ground to cover, or anyone looking for a heavier-duty machine to tackle tough vegetation and brush.
They don’t require an oil/fuel mix to run, which will also save you time and money down the years, with an easier refueling system.
They’re much quieter than two-stroke engines, too, which is preferable if you live in a built-up area, or you’re simply sensitive to loud engine noise. Two-stroke trimmers can seriously up the decibel level.
And if you can have a gas engine that is eco-friendly, a four-stroke version is a better option for being kinder to the planet (by a nose).
Four-cycle trimmers are heavier than their two-cycle counterparts. They also need more maintenance throughout their working lives as they incorporate more complex parts.
And you’ll part with more money upfront for a four-stroke engine, too. However, it will likely save you money over time as it uses less fuel and oil – all things being equal.
2-Cycle String Trimmer Reviews 2020
Remington RM25C 25cc 2-Cycle 16-Inch Curved Shaft Gas String Trimmer, Orange
This Remington 2-cycle string trimmer is well and truly at the budget end of these power tools, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not without merit. With a 25 cc gas-powered engine and 16-inch curved shaft, it’s ideal for smaller yards and gardens and residential use.
The bump feed allows you to cut continuously without the need to stop and start to replace the line, which is designed to be thicker and more durable at .095 inches. Check out this review on the best string trimmer lines when you do need to eventually switch it out, as having the right line can make all the difference.
- Excellent price.
- Lightweight design.
- Easy to use.
- Ergonomic shaft and handles.
- Not attachment compatible.
- Might be on the small side for some users.
Echo 21.2 cc Gas 2-Cycle Shaft Trimmer
Next up we have a two-stroke gas-powered trimmer from Echo that has a 21.2 cc engine. Like Remington, it also features a curved shaft.
Maneuvering around your yard is easy with this design, with easy-start technology for less effort in getting the machine up and running. Lightweight and dependable, the ergonomic handle is fully adjustable for improved comfort and control no matter the user, while a 16-inch cutting swath ensures the job is completed as fast as possible.
- Affordable price.
- Rapid loader for fast line changes.
- Starting effort reduced by 30%.
- Translucent fuel tank.
- Flex cable drive.
- Not attachment compatible.
- Not suitable for taller folks.
Toro 2-Cycle 25.4cc Gas String Trimmer
This Toro string trimmer has a straight shaft and 25.4 cc engine that has been designed as a commercial-grade product for maintaining larger areas.
Offering a premium carburetor for easy starts, long life, and the best performance possible in this class, the straight shaft also allows you to get to those hard-to-reach areas around your property. The fast-spooling bump feed head is loaded with a durable .095-inch line, and the padded, ergonomic handle offers comfortable use over longer working hours.
The generous 18-inch cutting head is ideal if you have a lot of ground to cover, and the machine is also compatible with attachments, so you have a versatile power tool that covers a lot of bases.
- Quality construction.
- Relatively lightweight.
- Reduced vibrations.
- Translucent fuel tank.
- Line feed isn’t the best.
4-Cycle String Trimmer Reviews 2020
Ryobi 4-Cycle 30cc Gas Trimmer
Ryobi are famous for their range of compatible battery-powered tools, and it appears to have rubbed off with this gas trimmer that is adaptable with multiple attachments. Six additional tools can be swapped out with the string trimmer head, backed by a 30cc four-stroke engine and straight shaft for ease of use and accessing hard to reach areas.
With an 18-inch cutting width, you’ve got plenty of line to get the job done as fast as possible, and the bump head feed will keep your string coming when you most need it. Another quality inclusion to the extensive Ryobi power tool family.
- Name to trust.
- No-tool line replacement.
- Great choice of attachments.
- Ergonomic handle.
- Very highly rated.
- Can be tricky to start on occasion.
- Instructions are not the best.
Husqvarna 324L 4-Cycle Gas String Trimmer
Husqvarna is a by-word for quality outdoor power tools and equipment, and you only have to check out this article on their world-famous chainsaws to understand why. They do a mean line in gas-powered string trimmers, too, and this is their powerful, 25cc, four-stroke model with a large 18-inch cutting head.
It runs on unleaded gas, with no mixing oil and fuel of any kind, and features Smart-Start technology so you can get up and running in no time. A bump feed ensures efficient cutting, and the T25 trimmer head is designed for simple and easy line reloading when the time comes.
- Name to trust.
- Quality design and construction.
- Translucent fuel tank.
- Ergonomic handles.
- Air purge system.
- Not attachment compatible.
Honda 35 cc Gas Trimmer
Honda requires little introduction when it comes to manufacturing engines, and they’ve put their years of know-how into this very powerful, four-stroke, straight shaft string trimmer.
Backed with a whopping 35cc engine, you’ve got a professional, commercial-grade machine here that will destroy unwanted grass and foliage while you barely break a sweat. With an easy start feature, lower vibrations, and unbeatable balance, this beast is a joy to use all around your yard and garden.
Truly one of the best four-stroke trimmer available on the market today.
- Name to trust with engines.
- Excellent build quality.
- 360° inclinable engine that can be used and rotated in any position.
- Automatic line advance.
- Shoulder harness/strap included.
- Very expensive.
What is better, a 2-cycle or a 4-cycle trimmer?
It depends on what you need it for – and personal preference. As outlined above, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Learning what these are will help you choose which machine is right for you.
I would suggest a two-cycle machine is better for a smaller property, if you’re on a budget, or if you require a lighter tool.
Choose a four-cycle version if you prefer a more eco-friendly, fuel-efficient unit, have a larger area to cover, and prefer/require less noise during operation.
Check out these commercial weed eaters if you need something to really tame unruly vegetation around your property.
What’s the difference between a 2-cycle or a 4-cycle trimmer?
The main difference is that one uses two piston strokes to create power, while the other uses four.
In short, a two-stroke trimmer is cheaper, lighter, easier to maintain, and more powerful.
A four-stroke trimmer is more fuel-efficient, eco-friendly, durable, and offers quieter operation.
Is a straight or a curved shaft trimmer better?
Great question. Lucky for you I’ve covered this in a more detailed article on straight and curved shaft trimmers.
Follow that link to get the full skinny and find out which is the best option for you.
Do 4-cycle engines use regular gas?
Yes – just like your car. It’s the two-cycle versions that use a mix of oil and gas in the fuel tank – a balance you need to get right in order for the machine to operate as intended.
A four-cycle engine will still require oil – but you add it to a separate tank, which many prefer as an easier method for lubricating the machine.
Can you use 2-cycle oil in a 4-cycle engine?
There is no real difference between 2-cycle and 4-cycle oil, providing of course you’ve not already mixed it with gasoline.
Both should work perfectly fine in either machine, but I would always err on the side of caution and use 2-stroke oil for a 2-stroke engine, and 4-stroke oil in a 4-stroke engine – just to be on the safe side.
How do I mix oil and gas for a 2-cycle engine?
A great question – because this often causes a bit of a headache for new 2-cycle engine users or anyone (like me) who freaks out when trying to mix quantities of liquids together.
Check out the very useful and educational video below for more information.
Is a 2-cycle trimmer louder than a 4-cycle trimmer?
Yes – much more so. A 2-cycle trimmer can get extremely noisy at the best of times.
Listen to the difference between the two engines in the short but informative video below. If noise pollution concerns you – you’re going to want to purchase a 4-cycle trimmer – no question.
What is the best gas string trimmer?
How long is a piece of string?
The best gas string trimmer will depend on a number of factors and the answer to this question is very subjective. One person’s ultimate weed whacker is another person’s pile of junk – depending on what it’s required for.
But speaking of killing weeds, have a look at this article on the best weed killers for large areas – for when even the most powerful gas trimmer in the world just isn’t going to cut it.
There you have it, folks, the battle between the 2-cycle vs 4-cycle trimmer has pretty much ended in a draw.
It all depends on your own needs and personal preferences when it comes to deciding which one takes the crown.
Let me know which gas-powered trimmer you would prefer and why.