Gardening Tips and Tricks : Buying An Electric Leaf Mulcher? You Should Know This First!
These particular machines are described as either leaf mulchers, leaf shredders, or leaf mulcher/shredder/chipper. The terminology can be a little confusing because not all of the products accomplish all that these names imply. The basic electric leaf shredder is a light duty machine designed to shred leaves. When working well these little machines can turn 9 or 10 bags into one bag of shredded leaves in a fairly short time.
Some owners argue that they are in effect shredders and the term mulcher does not apply based on the end product they produce. Actually these machines when properly used are well liked by most owners with a few complaints of issues that range from a nuisance to shabby product design and construction. Even the harshest critic though seems to always mention that they like the machines and would only use more care when making their next purchase.
These machines effectively do the job they were designed for which is to shred or mulch leaves and with some models even chip limbs and twigs up to about 1 1/2 in diameter according to manufacturers. As with any yard implement that you expect to serve you well for a number of years a little research will go a long way in helping to make a quality purchase. Here are some important items that you should look for.
First these machines as advertised are run by electric motors. Many home owners choose these just for that reason. Their hope is that the machines will require less maintenance, do not require fuel and oil and will run quieter than a gasoline engine. This seems to be the first complaint of most owners. They were not prepared for the noise level that some models produce. The noise in the case of these electrical driven units is not produced by the motors but rather by the internal machinery and blades.
Another issue is the amount of dust some models develop. Operators should always wear at least a dust mask or maybe even a respirator. Goggles and ear plugs should always be worn. Eye damage can occur from dust and small particles thrown about and noise will surely damage hearing over time. However these precautions are only common sense when operating any machinery and should not be considered an obstacle to the convenience these machines provide.
Among the complaints about shoddy construction are weak base stands or that the machine is unstable on ground that is not perfectly flat. Assembly instructions seem to be less than adequate in some cases. Many of these machines use the same material that string trimmers use. These strings will wear and in some units it is somewhat difficult to get access to replace them. Some owners stress that they find the best operation is achieved by changing the strings after each full bag of shredded leaves is complete. This makes easy access to the strings a much desired feature.
Almost every owner stresses that only dry leaves should be shredded. Wet or damp leaves can quickly clog the machine. Some machines tended to clog easily and tended to clog every open space available. A few models have adjustable opening that allow yo to adjust the size of the shredded leaves. Unless your machine is designed to chip limbs and twigs the owners mention that care should be taken to keep any thing but leaves out of the hopper as even some small twigs can quickly wear the strings.
Some models use metal blades which hold up much longer. How ever they will from time to time need sharpening or replacement. Some owners claim that it is fairly easy to sharpen these blades but are glad that their unit came with a spare set of blades because they can be expensive.
Using care when feeding leaves in the machines so as not to overload them is a common suggestion. Most owners admonish that the most important thing to remember is to consider what these machines are designed to do and to not overload them. Just as with any leaf mulcher or other yard maintenance tool it would appear that price is a governing factor in the quality and ability of these machines. Units with larger electric motors in the 14 or 15 amp models of course will handle more material faster and more efficiently than the smaller motors.
The important thing to take away from this discussion is that these machines are well liked and seem up to the job if you just take a little time to research the features available and read the owners comments and do not depend only on the manufacturers claims.