In our continuing series of the battles of the big brands, we turn our attention now to a match-up between the Germans and the Japanese.
In the European corner – we have chainsaw stalwarts Stihl and representing the Asian corner, we have Home Depot favorites Echo.
And in this particular article, we’ll be focussing on keeping your hedges neat and tidy, with an essential maintenance tool that most yards and gardens can’t do without.
The fighters are ready, Stihl vs Echo hedge trimmers – let’s get it on!
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- Echo vs Stihl – In a Few Words
- Brand History
- Best Stihl and Echo Hedge Trimmers
Echo vs Stihl – In a Few Words
In the interests of keeping things short and sweet for those of you pushed for time, he’s the gist of the article up front.
Both companies manufacture world-class power tools and equipment, and if the truth be told, it’s just about impossible to pick a clear winner.
Again, much like the Stihl versus Husqvarna trimmer debate – it will most likely come down to brand loyalty and your own personal preference/experience.
But with Echo seemingly more readily available in the US thanks to their partnership with Home Depot (which is a serious boon for the company), many homeowners might prefer the Japanese brand as a result.
That said, die-hard Stihl fans and professionals will swear by the Germans, as they arguably offer more power when matched head-to-head, although their products seem to be a little heavier.
Either way, they’re both excellent brands developing highly rated machines, and your choice might depend on the best deal you can find on the day.
These days, it’s important to understand who you’re buying from, where they source their materials, how they do their business, and if they strive to be an ethical and environmentally conscious company.
With that in mind, let’s take a brief look at each manufacturer’s brand history, so you know exactly where you stand with them.
Stihl is a household name when it comes to some of the best chainsaws in the world, and their founder, Anderas Stihl, was in fact known as the “father of the chainsaw.”
A Swiss-born German engineer, he set up the company back in 1926, which since then has gone on to become a go-to tool manufacturer for professionals and homeowners alike.
They have a dedicated worldwide community, with fierce brand loyalty thanks to their world-class production values, company ethos, and a business that is still run by descendants of Anderas to this day.
It’s interesting to note that they didn’t enter the weed trimmer/brush cutter market until the 1970s, and when they did, they contacted a Japanese company to be their main supplier.
However, this was only temporary, as Stihl now solely builds in-house designs, with manufacturing plants in Brazil, China, and the USA – while remaining headquartered just outside of Stuttgart, Germany.
They are committed to environmental protection, with the optimization of products and procedures within the company and their sphere of influence. Stihl builds products in the US using global parts and components.
Echo is a subsidiary of the Japanese Yamabiko Corporation, itself founded as late as 2008 thanks to a merger with the Kioritz and Shindaiwa corporations, and headquartered in Ome, Japan.
Of these, the Kioritz company was founded back in 1947 as a manufacturer of forestry and agriculture equipment. It was during this time they developed the CS-302 – their first professional saw bearing their distinctive orange livery.
And while the brand name Echo didn’t come into play until 1978, it was originally founded as part of the Kioritz corporation in Northbrook, Illinois in 1972.
Today the Echo brand has manufacturing plants in Yokosuka, Morioka, Shenzhen in China, and Lake Zurich, Illinois, and is the largest subsidiary of its parent corporation, designing and producing professional-grade power tools and equipment for a global consumer market.
But it’s perhaps their 1994 deal with Home Depot that really boosted their popularity for the homeowner, and provided them with a distinctive and enviable presence in the US.
They boast three decades of environmental awareness programs, developing technologies and products that strive to keep the earth and its climate at the forefront of their practices – including up to 85% reduced engine emissions since 1997.
Best Stihl and Echo Hedge Trimmers
Below, you’ll find some sample reviews from a selection of Stihl and Echo’s best hedge trimmers.
While there are a lot of products out there from both companies, I’ve tried to keep things as balanced and as fair as possible.
Bear in mind that this in no way comments on their wider range of hedge trimmers – or other power tools – offered by Stihl and Echo respectively.
They have been divided by their type, so you can easily find a sample of the version you’re in the market for.
Echo HCS-3810 Gas 2-Stroke Engine Hedge Trimmer
We start with an absolute monster of a hedge trimmer, Echo’s HCS-3810 professional-grade machine that’s part of their X-series range of products. With a powerful 21.2 cc, two-stroke engine, this single-sided hedge trimmer boasts enough power to get those larger jobs done in no time.
A full-length debris shield keeps you protected and helps direct the trimmings safely away, while the razor-edge blades are precision-ground and laser-cut for maximum performance and clean, efficient use.
The forward-facing exhaust is a nice touch to protect you and your hedges from emissions, and at just 10.8 lbs it’s much lighter than a regular double-sided trimmer, so you can keep going all day long with minimal fatigue.
Available with a 28-inch and 38-inch bar, this is designed by professionals for professionals, and probably one of the best hedge trimmers on the market today.
- Solid, durable, long-lasting construction.
- Front and rear rubber support grips.
- Tool-less air filter cover.
- Translucent fuel tank.
- Vibration dampening features.
- Reduced starting effort by 30%.
- Very expensive.
Stihl HS 87 T Professional Hedge Trimmer
In response, the HS 87 T pro hedge trimmer is one of Stihl’s top-of-the-line models. It’s available in 30-inch and 40-inch blade lengths, so it’s slightly longer than the Echo in that department.
The low-emission engine uses 20% less fuel than previous models in this range, and it’s a little more powerful than the Echo with a 22.7 cc gas engine that offers 5000 strokes per minute.
Featuring an anti-vibration system for user comfort and reduced fatigue, you can enjoy more time tidying those unruly shrubs without getting the shakes, and the single-sided blade allows long, sweeping cuts where you have a lot of hedge to cover. Well-balanced and powerful, anyone who owns this hedge trimmer knows exactly what it’s capable of.
- Powerful performance.
- Generous blade length options.
- Translucent fuel tank.
- Reduced emissions.
- Large fuel capacity.
- Heavier than the Echo.
Echo Brushless Cordless Hedge Trimmer
This cordless hedge trimmer from Echo features a powerful lithium-ion battery that offers 58 Volts of power, with a brushless motor for long-life and reliable performance.
With anti-jam technology, it’s capable of tackling branches up to 3/4-inch thick, with a 24-inch bar with dual-action cutting blades for efficient use for the homeowner. It weighs 11.5 lbs, and the two amp battery offers 3400 strokes per minute.
With an extended run time and rapid charger, you’ll be able to get the job done, and the anti-vibration technology will keep fatigue down while you’re doing it. The battery also has a built-in power level, so you know just how long you’ve got left before it needs more juice.
- Powerful brushless motor.
- Battery and rapid charger included.
- Compatible with Echo’s 58V tool range.
- Safety guard.
- Ergonomic wrap-around handle.
- It’s heavier than a lot of gas-powered machines.
Stihl HSA 94 R Battery-Powered Hedge Trimmer
I’ve chosen the Stihl HSA 94 battery-powered hedge trimmer in response, which offers professional-grade performance for the homeowner.
It takes a choice of battery types, so it can cater to your needs, and battery life and the unit’s overall weight will depend on the type you choose. It also has a 24-inch blade length, so there’s no difference there, but the ergonomic handle set up looks to be more comfortable with the Stihl, and is ideal for extra control and making cuts in multiple directions.
A tip protector is included, so you can have peace of mind when cutting close to the ground or near walls that you’re not going to damage the blades.
- Versatile battery choices.
- Trigger throttle lock.
- Well-balanced design.
- Easy to use.
- Lightweight (depending on battery type).
- Quiet operation.
- The recommended battery is still quite heavy.
- Generally more expensive than the Echo.
Echo Gas 2-Stroke Cycle Hedge Trimmer
With a 22-inch shaft and a 21-inch double-sided, double reciprocating razor-sharp blade system, this 21.2 cc gas-powered two-stroke pole hedge trimmer isn’t messing about.
Weighing 12.3 lbs and capable of 4783 strokes per minute, it features Echo’s popular I-30 starting system for reduced start-up effort by as much as 30%, with a 14.2 fluid ounce large-capacity fuel tank. An over-molded front handle increases performance and control while limiting fatigue, as does the anti-vibration system designed to limit the shakes.
The offset gear location at the business end of the machine provides safety space between the operator and the blades, and a commercial-grade air-filtration unit ensures this machine should run and run for many hedges to come.
- Translucent fuel tank.
- Excellent maneuverability.
- Three cutting edges for efficiency.
- Rubber grip throttle handle.
- Solid, durable construction and design.
- Reports of the shaft running a little hot.
- Maybe some issues with the overall balance.
Stihl HL 56 K Extended Length Hedge Trimmer
The answer to the Echo pole hedge trimmer is the Sthil HL 56 K, with a fixed angle, zero degree blade that is perfect for tackling all those hard-to-reach areas with precision.
It comes with all the usual refinements, including the Easy2Start technology, a large, over-molded handle for comfort and control, and a generous 30-inch extended shaft with a 20-inch blade length.
Best of all is the powerful 27.2 cc two-stroke engine, which gives it some serious oomph under the hood compared to the Echo. It’s a little heavier at 12.6 lbs, but that’s to be expected with the much longer reach, and the higher gearbox position significantly improves its overall balance and maneuverability.
- Generous cutting length.
- Fuel-efficient technology.
- Translucent fuel tank.
- Well-designed and built.
- Powerful performance.
- Heavier than the Echo.
With reference to the reviews I’ve included above, let’s take a look at how each brand performs when we put them head to head.
It should be noted that this is based on research and not actually testing the machines out – as to physically compare each model would cost a silly amount of time and money.
We can still make an educated analysis of the machines here, and maybe figure out which brand takes the crown.
Failing that, you can always take a look at these general articles on the best gas hedge trimmers and the best electric hedge trimmers on the market today – particularly if you want to check out how other brands compare.
And watch the video below as two pro landscapers compare a Stihl and Echo hedge trimmer I’ve not covered in this article.
Type of Hedge Trimmer
As you can see, we’ve included three different hedge trimmers for your consideration, with Stihl and Echo’s take on each.
Gas trimmers are designed for larger jobs where more power is required, but remember they will need regular maintenance, plus the cost of fuel and oil.
Battery trimmers are excellent as environmentally-conscious options, with zero fuel emissions and significantly reduced noise pollution (gas-powered trimmers can be extremely loud and not at all neighbor friendly).
Pole trimmers provide the user with an extended blade length and shaft in order to tackle those hard-to-reach areas, or particularly tall hedges and shrubs without the need to climb ladders.
The type you choose will depend on your circumstances and hedge maintenance needs – but I would certainly urge most residential homeowners to consider battery power – especially in built-up areas.
While starting up is as easy as pushing a button if you’re using a cordless model, when it comes to gas-powered tools and equipment, how you get the machine going can be an influential factor when purchasing the product.
Thankfully, both Echo and Stihl recognize that, and have improved start-up technology in their machines, enabling you to fire the engine with less effort – in some cases by as much as 75%.
Either way, they both offer reliable machines that start up first time, so it’s an even draw when it comes to this particular feature.
Even the lightest hedge trimmers will start to feel cumbersome after a while, so if you have a lot of area to cover, it’s important to choose something that’s not going to weigh you down from the get-go.
Although the Stihl professional model provides more power, the trade-off is the increase in weight, as it comes in at 12.1 lbs with the 40-inch blade, compared to the Echo over a pound lighter at 10.80 with the 38-inch blade.
Maybe if the blades were of comparable length the difference would be much closer.
For the cordless versions, again, the Stihl is heavier, coming in at 12.8 lbs compared to the Echo at 11.5.
Finally, when it comes to the pole saws – usually a heavier tool all round – the Echo has a dry weight of 12.3 lbs, while the Stihl is slightly heavier at 12.6 lbs.
Regardless, you should always be wearing a pair of suitable gardening gloves for the job – which will help with the control, and you can also consider using a harness when the going gets really tough with heavier machines or when you’re working for longer hours.
There’s a good selection of blade lengths from both brands, but looking at the options included here, I believe Stihl offers the longer bars.
That might have something to do with the fact that they’re regarded as more commercial-grade products, although Echo certainly can be included in that bracket, too.
Bear in mind that while longer blade bars will get the job done faster, it increases the weight and lowers the maneuverability of the machine.
Suit the blade length to the task, and you won’t go far wrong.
Handling and Performance
Without testing each machine side-by-side (something I would love to do if money were no object) it’s difficult to obtain handling and performance data.
As such, we usually have to rely on reviews and other consumer’s experiences, so it’s always well worth reading what they have to say. You can also check out YouTube videos for product demonstrations.
And again, there are those who are die-hard Stihl fans, while many others champion the merits of Echo.
That said, and only going from my own personal research here, it would seem that Stihl edges it, with the more powerful machines overall.
Stihl’s machines – at least in this review – offer more strokes per minute than the Echo models.
Of the professional models I’ve included here, the Echo is just beaten by the Stihl for strokes per minute, with the Stihl’s 5000 edging the Echo’s 4670.
But who’s counting?
Plus, I personally prefer their ergonomic handle designs and body moldings, from both an aesthetic and a performance-based perspective.
For the professional trimmers, the Stihl wins out again with a generous 15.6 ounce fuel tank capacity, while the Echo comes in with a significantly lower 12.5 ounce offering.
When it comes to the cordless models, data is difficult to come by – and it depends on which battery you’re using with the Stihl. But the fact that you can have a choice is a real plus point for the Germans, here.
With the pole saws, the Echo offers a 14.2 fluid ounces of capacity compared to the Stihl with the smaller 11.5 ounces – which can make a difference if you have more hedges to trim on those longer jobs.
Overall, it’s fairly balanced, but in researching other models, I would say that Stihl generally offers the larger fuel tanks and longer-lasting battery packs.
Remember though – that’s going to make the machines heavier, which can lead to some serious fatigue.
Most – if not all – of the gas-powered machines come with translucent fuel tanks, so you know when you need to fill up, and you can see how much juice you have left to finish the job.
How much a machine costs plays a huge part in deciding which one you’re going for, and as mentioned previously, it often comes down to what sort of deal you can find when you’re ready to purchase.
Overall, it looks like Stihl products are generally more expensive than Echo, but where this is the case it’s usually not by much or negligible.
Always suit your budget to how much use you’re going to get out of the product, and buy the best you can afford without breaking the bank.
The Overall Winner
Wow, that was a tough one! Two superb power tool brands duking it out for the title – and once again – I’m not sure that there’s a clear winner.
The Stihl’s tend to be more powerful, with (arguably) the better overall design, but Echos are often lighter and cheaper – as well as being more accessible – at least when it comes to the US market.
I’m quite happy to call it a draw – but feel free to chew me out for that in the comments, below.
Which is better – Stihl or Echo hedge trimmers?
How long is a piece of string? This is an almost impossible question to answer, and so in the end I’ve called the contest even.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages over the other – especially in terms of weight, power, and price, and so it just depends on what caters best for your needs and priorities.
Which is the best hedge trimmer on the market?
Again, that’s another difficult question that is pretty much impossible to answer.
There are several hedge trimmers that can lay claim to this title – and not just from the brands discussed here.
Kawasaki, Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee, Husqvarna, Honda, Craftsman, Greenworks, Poulan Pro…and more…the list is seemingly endless of quality hedge trimmers from quality brands.
In the end, it’s what’s going to be the best for you – as there’s no way anyone can compare them all.
But If anyone wants to pay me to try – I’ll be more than happy to oblige.
Are Echo hedge trimmers any good?
Yes – they are excellent hedge trimmers and ideal for the residential homeowner market. They also make some quality, commercial-grade tools and equipment for the pros.
You only have to read genuine reviews of Echo products to know that they can go toe-to-toe with the very best brands out there.
What hedge trimmer do professionals use?
You’ll find professional landscapers use a variety of different hedge trimmers – and much like homeowners – it depends on their personal preference and years of experience.
Stihl, Husqvarna, and Echo are arguably the most popular and common brands you’ll see the experts wielding, and you should take a look the next time you see a commercial landscaper hacking a hedge into shape.
I can bet my bottom dollar the color orange will be somewhere on the machine. Or maybe red – depending on which Echo model it might be, and/or if you’re color blind.
Is Echo as good as Stihl?
Yes, very much so. The two are more-or-less on equal footing when it comes to quality power tools and equipment.
That said, each leads the other in certain departments, and you could argue that Stihl offers more professional-grade machinery, while Echo has the residential market cornered – particularly in the US.
And nobody touches Stihl when it comes to chainsaws. Except for Husqvarna, maybe.
The battle of the Stihl vs Echo hedge trimmers has rightly ended in a draw – or has it?
Have your say in the comments below. Are you a die-hard fan of either brand? Do you think they’re both poor compared to a certain other company? Who should have taken the top spot?
Feel free to vent whatever you like and share your thoughts and experience with the community.
Stay safe out there, and happy hedge trimming!