Gas vs. Electric - Electric hedge trimmers are quiet, light (five to eight pounds, easy to run and easy to maintain. The bottom blade is usually stationary and the top blade moves back and forth (called single action). They are perfectly satisfactory for most home trimming jobs. The gas trimmer is able to be used anywhere because there is no electric cord to haul around and the gas trimmer is more powerful so it will handle tough jobs where the material to cut is thicker than a pencil. With the gas trimmers both blades move reciprocally giving a better cut (called double action). With gas you have more noise, more weight, and more maintenance. If you have a need for the power of a gas trimmer for just one tough job, most rental agencies carry these tools.
Safety Features - All quality electric trimmers must conform to the safety standards set by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), so look for the UL seal. Some gas trimmers voluntarily comply with the UL standards. Don’t buy a trimmer with a three pronged plug. That means the tool lacks double insulation which prevents shocks.
Tips for Safe Use
Whether you use a hand shears or a power trimmer, these tools can cause small objects to fly up into your face. So always wear safety glasses when using a hedge trimmer. Good solid shoes, long pants, and good gloves are also important. When using a gas trimmer, ear protection is definitely in order.
A good rule is to always hold the power trimmer with both hands when it is running. If you need to free up some material stuck in the blade, never reach over with one hand while the machine is still running. If you keep the two hand rule, then you will first turn off the machine and then you will free the material that is stuck.
Another good rule to follow is to not trim the hedge any higher than your shoulders when you are standing on the ground. You should always have both feet firmly on the ground in a comfortable balanced position. It is when you try to overreach and get off balance that accidents are more likely to occur. Does this mean you can’t work off of a ladder? Not at all. It just means that whenever you are working off the ground on a platform or off a ladder, your need to be extra careful about balance is most critical.