Echo vs Stihl power heads: Are my perceptions right?

gearhead36(7)July 24, 2012

I'm in the market for a trimmer, blower, and edger. I'd prefer to get a multi attachment system, so I'd only have one engine to maintain. My engine choice is 2 cycle. I'm not new to trimmers. I had a McCulloh gas trimmer which lasted about 15 yrs. Would have lasted longer if I could have gotten parts for it. I've also tried battery powered, and electric. I need to trim around a house, edge along a sidewalk and driveway, maintain a ditch at the back of the property, and blow grass off hard surfaces after mowing. For my application, I feel a low powered gas trimmer (with attachments) is the best option. Battery trimmers don't have enough power, and I'm tired of dragging around a cord. I'm pretty easy on equipment, and pretty good with small engines, so I could probably get away with a cheapy from Wally World... but I don't want to buy from Wally World. Or Home Depot or Lowes either. I prefer buying where they actually know how their product works. In this area, that leaves Echo and Stihl.

So I've been researching. I don't think I need anything high powered. My old McCulloh trimmer had a 21.2cc engine, which had more than enough power for my current needs. The lowest output power head from Echo is the PAS 225, and from Stihl, it's the KM 55R, both of which I think have more than enough power. From my research, here's my perceptions of the two brands:

Power

Advantage: Stihl, by a decent margin.

Price

Advantage: Echo. But if you move up to the Echo with equivalent power, the price advantage goes to Stihl.

Vibration

Advantage: Echo

Noise:

Advantage: Echo

Durability & Reliability

Advantage: Toss-up

Ease of starting

Advantage: Echo

Ease of servicing

Advantage: Echo. I've read that on a Stihl, more screws have to be removed to do things like cleaning out dirt & debris, and cleaning out the exhaust screen.

Maintenance

Advantage: Toss-up, so long as we're talking about 2 cycle engines, which I prefer.

Attachments

Advantage: Toss up. Stihl's attachments look a little more beefy, and their blower is definitely better, but I also think the Echo blower is adequate for my needs (blowing grass off hard surfaces after mowing). But I've read that Echo's trimmer head works better for feeding line.

Weight

Advantage: Stihl, by 2lbs with the trimmer head.

Ease of use

Advantage: Echo (probably), due to it's lower power, lower noise, and easier starting. However the Stihl is 2lbs lighter.

Dealer

Advantage: Stihl. I know... this is a local thing, but for me, this is the reality.

It looks like if you're trying to get maximum power for your dollar, Stihl is the best. If power is not an issue, Echo wins. Is my research right?

One thing I haven't been able to determine. Which one is easier to start in the Spring after sitting untouched in the garage all Winter? Which one is more tolerant of old gas?

On paper, the Echo looks to be my best bet, but even if it is, I still can't overlook the fact that I feel the Stihl dealer is better.

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ladylake(minnesota)

I think Echo will have the advantage in durabilty and realiabity as they don't make any low grade machines, Stihl does but also makes real good machines that cost a LOT. Far as power Echo should have more cc for cc compared to Stihl's lower priced machines. In chainsaws Echo is way ahead of homeowner Stihl's, not all Stihl's are created equal, Echo's are. Steve

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 5:29PM
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gearhead36(7)

Thanks for the info. I guess that pretty well decides it for me. I'm looking to get something that will last at least 10 yrs. Once I go to the trouble of figuring out how to repair & service something, I want to keep it for a while.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:55AM
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gearhead36(7)

A follow up. I bought the Echo PAS 225 VBP. The first time I used it, I tried to do the edging with the trimmer. I won't do that again. It wore my arms out, and the results weren't that good, which I attribute to the operator. So I picked up an edger attachment. Also, during this first use, I was a bit unhappy with how the engine ran. It seemed to be running too lean. It hesitated every time I "punched" the throttle. And it became VERY hesitant to get to full throttle. I used it again today, and it ran flawlessly. I guess it just needed a bit more breaking in. The edger also worked MUCH better than using the trimmer head on its side The guys who do this every day can probably get just as good results either way, but I do much better with the edger. I'm happy with it now, and I'm happy with my decision to go with the Echo.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 3:32PM
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evdpgh

"I'd prefer to get a multi attachment system"...I'd reconsider this. The multi-attachment systems aren't really cost-effective if you do the math.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 8:14AM
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gearhead36(7)

""I'd prefer to get a multi attachment system"...I'd reconsider this. The multi-attachment systems aren't really cost-effective if you do the math."

I did the math. That's one reason I went with an attachment system. I bought the PAS-225VPB and an edger attachment. Buying 3 separate tools of similar capacity would have cost another $230.

The other reasons were:
- One engine to maintain instead of three.
- One cold engine to get running on "yard work day" instead of three.
- One tank of premix to use up before it gets old instead of three.
- This current setup takes up less room than three complete tools.

I tend to over-analyze any purchasing decision. Drives my wife crazy. What did I miss?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 10:58AM
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hotwired

I'm a professional landscaper and my two cents are: Our local Echo dealer is cheaper and easier to deal with than our huge local stihl dealer. That being said, my opinion is that echo weed wackers are the absolute worst choice, while the Stihl FS90R is the best weed wacker I've ever used outside of the old Shindaiwa before Echo took them over. Never liked echo weed wackers. We like to remove the guards and prefer the style where you can slide the guard up and down the shaft vs. being fixed. I've never used Stihl split shaft but am in the market. Used Echo and actually had decent luck with them. I like the fact that Stihl has carb screws still though!! I use my HT attachment and chainsaw attachment mostly. I would never use a weed wacker attachment just because I don't believe Echo makes a decent ww. After reading your analysis though, I think I'm going to stick w Echo split shaft vs. moving to Stihl. Though I am going to buy another FS90R!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 7:23AM
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hotwired

I'm a professional landscaper and my two cents are: Our local Echo dealer is cheaper and easier to deal with than our huge local stihl dealer. That being said, my opinion is that echo weed wackers are the absolute worst choice, while the Stihl FS90R is the best weed wacker I've ever used outside of the old Shindaiwa before Echo took them over. Never liked echo weed wackers. We like to remove the guards and prefer the style where you can slide the guard up and down the shaft vs. being fixed. I've never used Stihl split shaft but am in the market. Used Echo and actually had decent luck with them. I like the fact that Stihl has carb screws still though!! I use my HT attachment and chainsaw attachment mostly. I would never use a weed wacker attachment just because I don't believe Echo makes a decent ww. After reading your analysis though, I think I'm going to stick w Echo split shaft vs. moving to Stihl. Though I am going to buy another FS90R!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 7:54AM
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ladylake(minnesota)

Echo makes mostly only good high quality tools while Stihl makes both high quality and low quality junk

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 5:51PM
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gearhead36(7)

I went with the Echo PAS-225VPB and an edger attachment. Admittedly, I've only had it for about 2 years, but so far, it's worked flawlessly. My 14 yr old daughter recently wanted to start doing yard work to earn some money, including the trimming, edging and cleanup (blower). She's fairly strong and athletic, but she can crank it cold without my help. I have no complaints.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:02PM
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