Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

SEP 2017

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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Above, Left The voltage of a battery relates to the torque or "horsepower" of it and the ampere hours (Ah) is how much energy it can store, similar to how much gas a piece of equipment's fuel tank holds. This all figures in to the runtime of that equipment before a "refueling" is needed. That is one area that technological improvements are trying to improve upon. Another is increasing the number of cycles (discharge/ recharge) a battery can go through before their power starts to degrade. Presently it is about 500 cycles. Above, Right The manufacturer of this battery-powered hedgecutter publicizes its noise level at 96 decibels, or half as loud (approx. 99 decibels) as similar combustion engine devices (since a decibel is a logarithmic unit, by just lowering noise output three decibels, the volume of a piece of equipment is decreased by 50 percent). but they can also be used in series, which then essentially increases the capacity of that battery. For example, using only 10 cells at a time of an 80-volt model rated at 2 Ah would cut the volts to 40 but in - crease the Ah to four. "What we are seeing in the market right now are higher amp-hour cells coming out," says Glueck. "Now you are seeing two and a half and three amp-hour ones and soon they should have four amp-hour cells coming into the market." Brushless motors, which have been in use for about a decade, have proven to be efficient and reliable because there are not many moving parts and not many parts that touch. This also increases the life expectancy in these motors. As far as the landscape maintenance tools themselves go, and whether battery- powered versions of all of them have found acceptance by professionals, Glueck sin - gled out leaf blowers as having the hardest time doing so because of runtime issues. "With a two and a half amp hour bat - tery, you get about 15 to 18 minutes at highest speed," he asserts. "And everyone wants to use the highest speed." This problem was echoed by profes - sional landscapers at a recent city council meeting in Palm Springs where residents voiced their opinions about a proposed gas-powered leaf blower ban. Local broad - caster KESQ-TV reported that some com- plained about the efficiency of battery- powered blowers. "It is just not going to be effective for us," said Raul Salgado, owner of Salgado Landscaping. "Battery-operated stuff for us gets one hour or two hours. It's just not enough time," Glueck said the most efficient hand - held, battery-powered tools are chainsaws and hedge trimmers, and his company's ZTR gets about six hours of runtime on their new 13.8 kilowatt battery, or as he puts it, "enough to get you through your day." On another topic, Glueck was asked if he is coming across companies that use battery- powered equipment as much as a marketing tool as anything else. "We have seen landscapers where that is the pillar of their business model - where they acquire customers on the fact that they are less noisy while they are working and cleaner for the environment." As an example of this, Mean Green Mowers recently reported that the elec - tric maintenance division of International Landscaping, based in Ontario, Canada, launched in 2016 and has already grown to about 500 acres serviced each week. Michael Anthony Gucciardi, the compa - ny's account manager, is confident about future demand for this special service. "We're getting to the point now where we have the technology and the equipment that we need, as Right According to Glueck, the cells in most batteries in the industry each deliver about four volts standard so a 40-volt battery would have 10 cells. Individual cells can have higher voltage but that changes the makeup of the battery and the size. PHOTO: STIHL PHOTO: BOSCH PHOTO: GREENWORKS September 2017 33

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