By: Hal Jones
When we first got the HSA 65 to review I was interested in the 36 volt platform Stihl had just introduced. First off, 36 volt batteries are heavy and although the 36 volt tools run circles around their smaller brethren, their weight makes it difficult to achieve an ergonomically balanced tool that won’t lead to muscle exhaustion with extended use. Our friends at Stihl asked us to try the new belt system it had created to house the battery of its 36 volt systems. The system arrived from Stihl and we immediately began to put it through its paces.
The first test we ran was checking the HSA 65’s ability to cut through the thick stuff. Our guinea pig shrubs were the large hollies located outside of our office. not the one that face the road, but the big boys that were planted to hide the dumpster behind the building. What we found with this test and all cutting diameter tests during the year of this review, was that if the branch fit into the teeth opening, the HSA 65 cut it, period.
Our tests for commercial equipment requires us to have the tool tested by an outside commercial lawn care or in this case a city parks and recreation maintenance crew. After using the HSA 65 the crew loved hedge trimmer. It performed well and not having to deal with starting an engine were important features. Remembering to charge the battery at the end of the day was the only comment that was less than high praise and I wouldn’t consider that to be a manufacturing concern, but more of cordless tool use in this category requires some modification of ‘end of day’ procedures to include placing the battery in its charger and then removing it the following morning.
Other than lubrication of the blades, the HSA 65 required no maintenance during its first year of operation. The charging operation is efficient, and you might consider getting the optional higher capacity charging unit if you have a significant amount of daily hedge trimming. There was one worker who commented that his favorite feature was not having the exhaust fumes of a gas fired hedge trimmer. If you have issues with exhaust fumes bothering you then I suggest going down to your Stihl dealer and trying one of these products out.
We hope to be reviewing some of the other tools in this 36 Volt category from Stihl. Both Matt and I really appreciated the belt system used to house the battery separate from the tool. The belts large surface area did a nice job of supporting the weight of the 36 volt battery. If you backpack much, the belt will remind you of the belts we use to support large backpacks and the heavy loads required for extended trekking.