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Every so often, a product comes along that takes a well-worn concept and flips it on its head. Having had the chance to put the Lehr Eco Trimmer through its paces, I’m convinced that it is one of those rare products. At first glance, the Eco Trimmer looks like your run of the mill weed whacker. In fact, it works like one, too (which is a good thing). So what’s the big deal? The Lehr Eco Trimmer is the first bit of lawn care equipment to eschew traditional gas-powered engines in favor of cheap, clean propane. Hit the jump to get my hands-on take.

lehr-ecotrimmerAccording to Lehr, propane power has myriad benefits to both the consumer and to this here terrestrial globe. Check their propane-loving run down, which is actually a fascinating read. In the war on gas, propane offers a host of pollution and toxicity-reducing benefits, as well as some economic advantages. Most impressive to me is the fact (vetted by the EPA), that American homeowners spill 17 million gallons of gasoline annually in their uncoordinated attempts to fuel lawn and garden equipment. I’m sure that I’m personally responsible for at least half of this, since I often accidentally dump excess fuel all over the steaming metal cowling of my mower. I don’t know about you, but I’m for saving that $40m in gas and stealing propane from my camping supplies, instead. That, and the ability to exorcise my fears of small, exploding engines.

Thankfully, the Eco Trimmer gives me the opportunity to offset that shortcoming by offering a simple, secure connection to any common 16.4 oz propane canister via their proprietary Twist ‘n Go fueling system. The Eco Trimmer requires no choke or priming; you literally connect the propane canister, pull the cord (in my experience, no more than 3 pulls was ever needed), and get to work. In this case, simple=awesome.

I’ll admit, having tested non-gasoline trimmers in the past (cordless electric, corded), I was skeptical about the performance capabilities the Lehr might (not) be packing. Those fears were soundly dashed as I had no trouble obliterating the unruly shoots along my fence line. I actually found the Lehr to be every bit as powerful as my grizzled, commercial-grade Shindiawa gashog. The Eco Trimmer incorporates all of the features that you’d expect from its gas-powered equivalent and is offered in both straight and curved-shaft configurations; each shaft also is also offered in a two-piece model which allows for an optional attachment such as a tiller or pruner.

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As for build-quality, the Lehr Eco Trimmer is a rock solid piece of equipment. It’s a tick on the heavy side, but its lime green engine cover easily balances out any minor gripes I may have about its heft. In addition to the empirical benefits of propane combustion, the Eco Trimmer is considerably quieter than the alternative and doesn’t envelop it’s wielder in a haze of black exhaust. Whether you are in the market for a new lawn toy tool or you just think the idea of a propane-powered weed whacker is the greatest thing you’ve ever heard of, I can heartily endorse the Lehr Eco Trimmer to you as a great option. Better yet, you’ll finally have the opportunity to one-up your snooty neighbor… unless he reads Gear Patrol, too.

Cost: $209 | Also available at: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, TruValue, Sears, and Amazon

Click here for more info on Lehr and their upcoming products.