mantis tiller power: gas vs. electric ?

plantaseedJune 29, 2008

Does anyone know from experience if the Mantis electric tiller is just as powerful as the gas models to get the job done? Assuming distance from an outlet is not too long and proper guage extention cords are used. I'd rather fiddle with the cord than gas but don't want to sacrifice power. Thanks.

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gas powered is plenty powerful and easy to start. An extension cord and whirling tines doesnt sound like a good combination to me.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 6:25PM
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I second that of getting the gas. I have so much problem using corded power tool, now all my stuff has to be cordless. I cannot imagine the electric Mantis is any weaker, but that is so not the point. You make a mistake and the tine cut the cord.....That will be funny!!!!

On the side note, I use my Mantis for dethatching, I LOVE IT!!!! No bouncing, just work. I am surprise nobody use it as a dethatcher!!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 8:03PM
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petrowizard(z5a NE IL)

Hey plantaseed,

I bought an electric last winter and used it on my garden this spring. It was using a friend's gas mantis last year that convinced me to buy a Mantis and also to go electric. Her machine was relatively new and just out of the shop for tuning, nevertheless, it was hard to start. I had always wanted a Mantis, but had heard lots of complaints about the hard start, so I had always shied away from it. My friend was swearing at her machine trying to get it going, and started mumbling, "I should have bought an electric..." At which point I said, "I didn't know they made an electric!" I am not an engine person, and just figured electric would be easier for me to maintain, plus I'd get to put my energy into tilling, not pulling a cord. My electric is just so cool, I'm pretty happy. It did feel like it was slightly less powerful, but that may be just a slight difference in the soil this year compared to last year. I don't think it was quite as dry as last year. I have heavy clay soil that compacts if you look at it wrong, and I had enough power to get through it. It was also very "rooty" this year, and that may have added to the perception that the electric has less power. I had the same concerns as mentioned above, dealing with a cord. The cord is simply not all that troublesome. Mantis offers their "cord management system", although I thought that was pricey and didn't buy it, so I just use a regular 14 gauge cord, 100 feet long and it reaches pretty much where I need to go. The electric is maybe not as "freewheeling" as the gas, you are tethered with a cord, but I didn't find that a major drawback.

I also discovered what I considered to be some advantages to the electric. I like the handle design better than the bicycle grips on the gas, I find it easier to hang on to it. Also, on the gas model, if you start to bounce, which with my clay, happens pretty often, the instinctive reaction is to hang on tighter, which makes the gas model go faster and the bouncing gets worse. That doesn't happen with the electric because it doesn't go faster, and if you just let go, it stops, completely. I also like the three speeds, although the lower speeds are not all that much lower. Last, I do a fair amount of container gardening, as well as in ground gardening. I ended up mixing all my container soil with it, using a 20 gallon utility bucket, and the Mantis like a giant stick blender. That worked very well for me, and while you could do this with the gas model, you'd end up letting it idle quite a bit in between batches. The electric is turned off with no concern about starting over and over, or letting it idle while you get your components dumped in and finished soil emptied into the container.

I think the real question you have to ask is does the electric have enough power to do what you need to do, not whether it has as much power as the gas model. It works for me, I'm hoping to get lots of years out of mine. ...

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 11:13PM
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On the note of Echo engine hard to start. I have the HC151 which have the same engine. Try this.
1) Prime hard 10 times.
2) Close the choke all the way and start pulling.
3) Should start in 3 to 5 pulls.
4) Open the choke as fast as you get to it. Let it idle for 20 seconds and it's ready to go.

It is a funny little engine. I used to have a lot of trouble starting it, I experiment and settle with this way. Not having any problem starting for the last eight months. Hope this will help.

I have the Honda, one to two pull start with the above steps.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 11:28PM
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My Mantis 2-cycle takes a few pulls, but starts and runs fine. The 4-cycle is supposed to be easier to start.

I don't consider starting a problem, yungman's strategy sounds about right to me, maybe not a full 10 prime pumps, but at least several works for me.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 8:51PM
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After I posted the last one, I decided to do some planting, I have to aerator tine came with the dethatcher tines set. I was thinking maybe the aerator tines being straight, may not catch the soil as hard. So I change the tines and do the digging.

WOW!!!!! Make a day and night difference. It did not bounce unless hitting some old dead roots!!! It worked really well!!!! Anyone tried using the aerator tines for digging holes or tilling??

I am new, so if you think this is childish, I understand. I am just experimenting since so many people like the Mantis.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 9:39PM
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Hey Petro, thanks for the detailed review. It's really helpful to get your feedback since you have tried both gas and electric models. Does the circuit breaker ever trip on the machine when it gets stuck? I wonder if the gas model would stall if it hits an obstruction or just continue to idle?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 12:01AM
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The gas would not stall. I just caught a dead root and it got stuck and jam the tine. The clutch just slip, I let go of the gas immediately, pull the root out and keep on digging again. No harm done.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 12:49AM
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Thanks yungman. Good idea with switching the tines! Have you tried the aerator on the lawn yet? I've wondered how slicing up the lawn compares to core aeration. Are the arerator tines the same as the border edger tine? I am thinking of getting the dethatcher attachment too. Can you adjust the height of the tines on the dethatcher? Does the thatch just stick to the tines and you pull it off later? I've never formally dethatched my lawn so I'm not even sure if I need one.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 2:16AM
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Hi Plantaseed
I have not try the aerator tine for aerator. I bought the dethatcher aerator tines combo which save money than buying separately. I just use a manual stepping cord ( not spike shoe )aerator from OSH. The aerator is not the same as edger tine. Edger have only one tine, they put a rubber wheel on the other side.

The dethatcher is a spring tine type. There is no height adjustment, non do I think you need to adjust the height. I did dethatching on grass that is 4" long and worked perfect. not need to worry. It is very gentle to the lawn but pull stuff out fast. 2 passes of pulling backward at about one foot per 2 second speed will do the job.

If you never dethatch your lawn, you probably need it!!! My lawn look so much better after that. The tines look to be high quality, should last for years. Get the dethatch/aerator tines combo.

The dethatcher are a separate pair of tines. You remove the original tines, and put them on. They are pretty hefty. The weight help to prevent bouncing. It does not bounce at all while dethatching.

On the side note, I think the Echo engine is very good also, just be aware it is very LOUD. It screams!!!!! I have the Echo hedge trimmer and I am buying another one. I can't stand it even I use a good ear muff. The Honda is so quiet.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 2:45AM
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Hey Yungman, how do you like the manual core aerator? I was looking at getting one of those because I read that core type was better than spikes or slits.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 3:31PM
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I like it. I only do my own yard, so it take 2 hours once a year. I did dethatch and core aerate at the same period of time, together the grass looks a lot nicer. Don't know which one is more important.
Have fun, keep us inform what you end up getting and how does it work.
Do you know Redmax CV22 has the same gear box and most of the stuff from Mantis, only the engine is different. THey are the 22.5cc 2 ring engine. I wrote to them whether it will take the dethatcher tines from Mantis and they cannot confirm one way or the other. I think it will take the tines. I ran out of time so I got the Mantis with Honda.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 4:09PM
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petrowizard(z5a NE IL)


I've never actually had it stick. Usually, it starts to bounce on a hard spot. Sometimes I just let it bounce, or I stop and move the tiller a bit so it's going at a different angle, and keep working at the hard spot, until I get it worked. Sometimes it's my really hard soil, or sometimes I discover a good size root that eventually gets cut.

Nor have I ever actually had the circuit breaker trip, so I can't describe under what circumstances that might happen.

One suggestion, measure the distance from your socket to where you want to work. For up to 50 feet the manual requires a 16 gauge cord, for up to 100 feet, a 14 gauge cord, and beyond a 100 feet a 12 gauge cord. However, I couldn't locate a 150 foot 12 gauge, although I assume they exist. With a measurement, you can figure the extra cost of the heavy duty cord.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 8:13PM
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I went to HD today and had a look at the Echo tiller. A very nice machine compared to a Ryobi they had. And the 2 core manual aerator sure looked nice and simple to use. Well.. time to make up my mind.. Thanks for all the feedback guys. I really appreciate it!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 11:48PM
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Echo till should be exactly the same as Mantis. The magic price is $289, anything lower would be good. Have a nice July 4, celibrate but starting up the new engine!!! That will make some noise!!!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 12:00AM
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As an older woman, I have enough to deal with without dragging a cord out and dragging around with me, plus much of the work has to be done going backwards. It's really hard to work on a hill for me so far, sure don't need a cord to worry about, and don't need to trip and fall over a cord let alone cutting it, don't know how to splice but could find out.

I'm interested in learning more, don't know about dethatching and probably should be done, but the least of my lawn worries at this point. I do wonder if anyone uses the trencher attachment or if the regular tines will do for what I need that for, don't mind doing a little manual digging if not too hot and my back isn't acting up. What else would the trencher be good for apart from a vegetable garden which I don't have?

Starting it I haven't found to be much of a problem unless I forget to turn it on or get too much oil in it again. 3-5 pulls sounds about right, understand about the choke and cold start vs. warm start. It's easier to pull the cord and start than my snowblower or lawnmower which are both good ones.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 12:00AM
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I am not familiar with the trencher, but my understanding is that it attach to the back of the Mantis. It work if only the Mantis moving forward....which is not a good way of tilling. Usually I go back a forth the same sport. If moving backward or back and forth, the trencher is not going to work.
Seems like tilling is the majority of the work. After tilling a straight line, all you have to do is to use a chovel to work through the tilled line as a trencher, it should work just as good.

Just my guessing, I never use the trencher before, it just don't make sense to me.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 4:28PM
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yungman, thank you very much, and I was kind of thinking just what you suggested for 2, possibly 3 trenches. And I may be able to get away for one with a grassed waterway, would rather not have rocks on the surface like you see places, surely must be for controlling drainage and preventing soil erosion, usually on longer, steep slopes near commercial property.

Just use the tiller as deep as it will let me go (don't know what I will run into down deeper, probably just clay and some gravel, and scoop it out with a shovel as I go, then hand dig the soil the tiller won't loosen, doesn't have to be very wide, makes better sense than buying new tines, especially if they are heavier and behind, wouldn't like that at all.

I don't really have much tilling left at the moment, but I like the border attachment for making a clear cut and outling my planting areas; then I can use the other for the weeds and grass there. Cultivating, the way I'm planting, when plants fill in more, I won't need that much either.

Two years ago, I think, didn't have the tiller yet, I did dig and install a french drain, and was down pretty deep on the low end, but it wasn't quite as long as these will need to be. That was hard work, but I did it in stages, and it's working pretty well actually, the water pools a little, but we've had record heavy rains, and it drains off much more quickly than before and doesn't flood my garden space any more like it was.

Maybe there is a better way to dethatch for me, may just hire it done even though my yard isn't that large but a terrace all along one long side of my lot, not terriby high maybe 5' but steep. I don't want to buy more tines unless I'm going to get my money's worth out of them.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 7:46PM
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Too bad I don't have a steep patch to try out the dethatcher. Can't tell you anything about it. The dethatch pull forward, maybe if you stand on the low side of the slope and run the Mantis upward, it will move forward for you and you don't have to put much effort....I am just guessing now!!!

If you can do dethatching yourself, you definitely can get your money's worth by just one time!!! The dethatcher and aerator combo is only $169 order direct and cheaper from Alamia etc. I don't know whether Mantis offer one year refund on tines like the tiller itself. Or else, you can order from Mantis and they even pay for the return postage if it does not work. If you are interested, call them up and ask. I use my aerator tines to dig holes for planting. It work a lot better than the regular tines, not jumping nearly as much. I am going to try the aerator tine for tilling and cultivating soon, I'll update my experience after I try it. I don't like the original tines came with the tiller at all. Hope the aerator tines work better, not jumping as much.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 9:21PM
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Nice to meet you here.

Sorry to know that you have troubles with hand start.We make power tillers with electric starter
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We also supply OEM service,for example,tyre,gear box and other spar parts for the main engine according to your request.
Please feel free to contact me if there is anyting I can help you and I look forward to your reply soon.

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Add.: SINOLOOK Building-D2207, Dongfeng East Street, Weifang Shandong, China 261041
Tel: +86 536 8468630, Fax: +86 536 8468631

Here is a link that might be useful: power tiller

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 3:36AM
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I've had a gas 2 stroke Mantis (older model) for years. Some days it starts and runs great; some days not. I aerated half my lawn one day. Went out to finish the next and the 2 stroke engine started to cough sputter and die. Tried of buying new spark plugs and fiddling with the carb. Went out and bought an electric. Marvelous! We have a large property and I'll need the gas in spots but having a Mantis now that I know will just work is great. The lack of noise is also a big benefit. Some of my jobs are more than 2 hours. I probably should buy a bigger machine but I don't wan to be taking up space storing large machines that only get used once or twice a year. Renting is a hassle because of having to load and unload. Plus, it never seems to fail that the day you want to do something everybody else does too and you miss your window.

I have the dethacher and the aerator. The dethacher works great. MUCH better than the type you put on a rotary mower. It doesn't destroy the lawn an gets out more of the thatch. The aerator also works as a dethatcher. the problem is if you have a lot of thatch in the lawn it quickly gets clogged with the thatch. Another reason I like the electric. No problem at all just stopping it (engine off), clearing the thatch and then just squeeze and you're off again. Managing the cord was no problem. You're working backwards so your legs/waist keep the cord away from the tines.

If I was buying new and could only have one I'd get the Honda hands down. Mixing 2 stroke fuel is for the birds. What's worse is my McCulloch gas weed whacker takes a different fuel mix; isn't that always the way? Even with the small Mantis bottles of oil it seems I'm always dealing with how to get rid of fuel that's gone bad. If it's straight gas, like the Honda you just dump it into you cars gas tank.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 1:57PM
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You can get Mantis with Honda engine. That is what I have. Now they even have the bigger 31cc engine model that drive a bigger tine.

I am glad you like the electric Mantis.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 3:19PM
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I've had both, For my use the elect. was better for me (short distance from a 110V plug in or if I need to take it on the road, I got a generator). Yes, you got a cord and you have to be aware of that. I have above ground boxes and really only use tiller about 1 hour year, and it sets hanging in the garage the rest of the time.

As for gas I don't have to worry about carb. plugging up mixing oil, checking oil, or starting problems. I found that the elect. seens to be just as powerful and maybe be more powerful, I got three speeds and don't have to feather the throttle. No Noise or gas fumes to smell. Clean up is very easy just wash the tines off relubricate and I'm done. Don't have to drain no gas or worry about carb. plugging up.

If you don't pay attention while your using your equipment then there would be chance you wind the cord up in the tines. The tines are very shape and will surely cut the cord. For this reason if you not paying attention gas would be a better option, but it you don't due routine maintenance on gas it will eventually not run where the elect. will run after you repair the cord?!?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 7:58AM
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Unless you plan to be a small engine mechanic who specializes in Chinese-made cheap parts, buy the electric. I spend far more time maintaining and repairing my Mantis 2-cycle engine than I do actually using the tiller. I like gardening, not rebuilding carburetors, starter mechanisms, ignitions, contact points, rotors and other cheesy bits. The 2-cycle engine is intended to be inexpensive and not to particularly work. It is cheap, but it is too poorly made to be anything close to dependable. When it runs, the Mantis tiller is spectacular. I don't think I have run mine even 30 hours, yet it has been repaired several times. I have yanked the starter cord thousands of times and broken six of them. I moved to Southern California where there are apparently no Mantis dealers, so I have had to learn small engine repair in order to use my tiller. The problem, as I have come to believe, is 'Made in China' and government intervention in engine design (CARB).

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 8:34PM
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