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This two-stroke gas trimmer has the performance to spare and interchangeable tools
The Husqvarna 330LK is a gas-powered trimmer that has a lot of power, plus interchangeable tools that make it handy around the garden. Most homeowners will be better served by a battery-powered trimmer, though.
Gas power means longer trimming times and plenty of performance
Interchangeable tool heads add chainsaw, sweeper, and edge trimmer options
Uses two-stroke gas, which needs oil mixed in
Noisier and dirtier than electric models
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Gas-powered garden tools? Isn’t that a bit, well, 20th century? Perhaps, but retro isn’t always a bad thing. The Husqvarna 330LK is a powerful, capable string trimmer that runs off gasoline rather than a battery. That’s both a plus and a minus, as it runs for longer than electric trimmers, has plenty of power to cut through the weeds, but is also nosier and smokier to use than electricity.
If you’re looking for the best string trimmer and are leaning towards a gas model, the Husqvarna 330LK is certainly worth a look. To test this model, I followed the same process as with the other models in the buying guide, clearing a particularly overgrown patch in my garden and looking at how it handles in terms of power and accuracy. I also looked at the running time, how easy it is to change the string and general operation. To read more about T3’s testing process, take a look at the how we test page.
The 330LK is priced at $279 and is available both on Husqvarna's own website and all major outdoor stores, including Lowes (opens in new tab) .
Husqvarna offers several gas-powered string trimmers, with the 330LK in the middle of the range. It is a fairly large and heavy trimmer, weighing in at a hefty 14 lbs and measuring 6 feet in length. Most of the weight is in the back from the motor, though, and it feels well balanced in use, with a handle on the shaft that lets you easily maneuver this large trimmer. The string trimmer has a wide 20-inch cutting path, and a RapidReplace head, which means you can replace the string line without removing the spool.
The 330LK is a gas trimmer, so that means it works a little differently from the electric ones that are most popular at the moment. Rather than a battery, it is powered by a 1 horsepower two-stroke engine that runs off a 17 fl. Oz. gas tank.
This is a two-stroke engine, which means there is no separate oil system to cool and lubricate the motor. Instead, you have to mix the two-stroke oil with the gas or buy pre-mixed two-stroke gasoline. The latter is a little more expensive than normal gas: you’ll pay about $60 for about 1.5 gallons. That will keep you going for a long time, though. I found that a tank full of the pre-mixed gas lasted for several hours of heavy use, and a gallon of fuel is enough to fill the tank more than six times. If you have gas in your car, you can put it into this trimmer but once you mix in the two-stroke oil, you can’t then put the excess gas back into your car.
This tiny gas motor took a few tries to start. To prepare it, you have to pump the air purge fuel bulb ten times to make sure the system is ready, then engage the choke and pull the starting cable. That took several attempts before it worked, but the motor eventually started on my third attempt. Once the motor is started, you wait a few seconds and disengage the choke, then you are ready to start trimming by holding down the safety switch with your thumb and pressing the trigger with your index finger. The trimmer is fairly heavy, but well balanced, with the handle at a good balance point with the weight of the engine at the back. That makes it pretty easy to maneuver and control, so you can trim around your plants and foliage.
You do also have to remember that the motor keeps running even when the trimmer is not spinning, so it is definitely a noisier experience than an electric trimmer. A decent pair of earmuffs or noise-canceling headphones are recommended. The motor also produces a small, but persistent amount of smoky exhaust, so expect your gardening clothes to smell of gas after using this trimmer for a while.
The string trimmer attachment that comes with the 330LK has a wide 20-inch cutting path, so it clears larger spaces quicker than the 17- or 14-inch paths of most of the electric models. That’s a big plus if you are clearing a large space or bigger weeds. The wider path means the string spins faster and can cut through thicker stems. The motor may be small by car standards (with a cylinder capacity of 28cm), but it produces enough torque to cut through large grassy areas or lighter woody stems.
The 330LK uses a RapidReplace string spool, which means you can replace the line without having to remove the spool or head. To add more line, you just twist the base of the spool holder to align two arrows, push the line through until it is even on both sides, then turn it until the line is wound onto the spool. It’s a simple process, and with up to 22 feet of line on the spool, the line should last a good amount of time. When the line breaks, you just tap the base of the spool on the ground and it puts out more line.
If you have other jobs in mind, Husqvarna offers several attachments that replace the string trimmer, including a leaf blower, sweeper, edge trimmer, and a small chainsaw for cutting trees or trimming hedges. These cost between $90 and $200.
Once you are finished trimming, you press the stop button and the motor stops immediately. The trimmer can also be taken apart easily. Twist the knob on the clamp in the middle of the shaft, and the strimmer and motor come apart, which makes storing it easier. One thing I did notice, however, was that the engine had a tendency to leak if it was not stored upright. You don’t have to empty the tank every time you use it, but Husqvarna suggests draining the tank if it is not going to be used for a while, such as over the winter.
Do gas-powered devices like the 330LK still have a place in an electronic world? Yes, because they still have advantages: they run for longer and can be taken further away from power sources. So, it makes sense to go gas if you have a large yard that needs frequent trimming, or if you regularly trim other people’s yards as well as your own. However, for the great majority of gardeners, an electric trimmer might be the easier option. They are cleaner, easier to use, and don’t make your yard smell like a motorbike track.
Richard Baguley has been writing about technology since the 1990s, when he left a promising career in high finance to work on Amiga Format magazine for Future. It has been downhill for him ever since, writing for publications such as PC World, Wired and Reviewed.com. He has tested gadgets as diverse as 3D printers to washing machines. For T3, he covers laptops, smartphones, and many other topics. He lives near Boston in the USA with his wife, one dog, and an indeterminate number of cats.
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