The Kobalt 40V Max Outdoor Power Equipment ($149-$399) lineup is Lowe’s new family of cordless yard care products. With two lawnmowers, a string trimmer, hedge trimmer, leaf blower, pole saw and chainsaw available at launch at affordable price points, their comprehensive collection seems aimed at homeowners who are ready to wholeheartedly embrace the cordless revolution. Backed by a five year warranty and powered by the same interchangeable 40V Lithium Ion battery, each tool is designed to run fade-free for full cycle performance. With a full selection charged, ready and waiting just outside of Jacksonville, we ditched our parkas and went to work.
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Blame our affinity to the Evil Dead trilogy, but we started our day with a chainsaw ($179) in hand. Lightweight and maneuverable, this 12-inch pulp shredder made easy work of the 3-5 inch diameter logs. It’s rated to tackle up to 75 cuts of 4×4-inch pressure treated lumber on a single charge; provided you don’t try to fell a redwood, there should be no issues with performance here. A self-oiling mechanism and tool-free tensioner kept adjustments clean and easy. Our only complaint is its lack of heft: compared to a beefier gas-powered unit of similar size, much more effort was needed to power through cuts.
We weren’t the only ones putting the Kobalt 40V Max lineup through its paces. The Lowes Racing Team quickly figured out that a good leaf blower can come in handy down in the pits. On a couple of occasions we spotted them getting rid of debris in pit row as well as passing time during this year’s Daytona 500 deluge.
*Kids, don’t try this at home. The Lowe’s Racing Team are trained professionals — including videographer Andrew Childers.
The 8-inch pole saw ($169), on the other hand, fell right into sweet spot territory. With just shy of 11 feet of reach (fully extended), the unit was impeccably balanced at rest and had just enough head weight to let the saw do all of the work up above. Rated to handle up to a 6-inch diameter cut, it quickly proved itself both pruning tiny branches and making coasters out of the leftover chainsaw stumps.
We’ve been trapped in a Polar Vortex far longer than we care to remember — the last green thing we laid eyes on was our neighbor’s decomposing Jack-O-Lantern — so filling the air with the scent of fresh cut grass was a sweet relief. There are two options available in the Kobalt family, a 20-inch ($399) twin-blade model or the the standard 19-inch ($349) model. Both units feature shift-on-the-fly height adjustments, the ability to bag, mulch or side-shoot, and come with both a 2-amp and 4-amp battery. Both units were slightly portly yet easily manoeuvrable and incredibly quiet. At ignition, the motor spools up on overspeed before settling in on cruise control. The 20-inch model’s ability to automatically switch from a dead power pack to its second source mid-swathe adds 50 percent more run time (45 minutes), making it the smarter option for anyone with a larger yard, but for homeowners that tackle their weekend lawn work in under an hour already, the move to either cordless mower is a viable option.
Moving on to those final touches, we reached first for the 12-inch string trimmer ($149). Designed with the look and feel of a gas-powered unit, the weight savings of the cordless unit was immediately appreciated. Flipping from trimming to edging was a comfortable affair with the variable speed trigger ideally placed for righties or lefties. The inherent lack of vibrations was also welcomed.
We’ve been trapped in a Polar Vortex far longer than we care to remember — the last green thing we laid eyes on was our neighbour’s decomposing Jack-O-Lantern — so filling the air with the scent of fresh cut grass was a sweet relief.
The hedge trimmer ($149) shares the ambidextrous approach. Its variable speed trigger is easily modulated in either hand, while the 24-inch, dual action cutting blade makes mincemeat out of anything 3/4-inch in diameter or thinner. We did note that all operations come to a halt if the operator tries to speed through a cut or take down a little too much at once, a failsafe that ensures the drive motor doesn’t over-amp itself and leave users with a black and blue paperweight. Simply yank the battery and push the blades against a solid surface to reset things.
The leaf blower ($149) was our favorite piece in the bunch. Its incredibly small stature and lightweight design fell comfortably into the perfect position. Combine that one handed operation with 250 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of air movement at up to 140 mph and you may actually start looking forward to fall. We were amazed by its capabilities for something so wieldy — of the bunch, this tool most proved cordless’s merit.
On the whole, the entire family of Kobalt 40V Max OPE tools exemplifies an attention to detail and performance that is noticeably absent in other competitors at this price point. Sure, we wouldn’t recommend leaning on them to support a green-thumbed career change or to keep Augusta impeccable, but for dispensing of your weekly outdoor duties, the only thing easier is hiring someone else.
METHODOLOGY:To reacquaint ourselves with yard work that doesn’t involve snowblowers or shovels, we consulted the Major Leagues and set our sights on the sunshine state for a little spring training. Armed with the new Kobalt (OPE) line, we had seven ways to tackle some overgrown swampland and an excellent excuse for a cold beverage in the warm sun.
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