Joseph has had a lawn and irrigation business in Florida for almost a decade and has experience with many brands of lawn equipment.
What's the Best String Trimmer?
Anyone who has ever used a string trimmer knows that having one that is easy to use, light, and delivers the best cut can make the best of a tough job. Carrying around a heavy, ineffective tool in the heat of summer will make anyone want to throw their string trimmer on the ground. The following comparison will break down the two most popular string trimmers and help you decide which is best for you.
Echo vs. Stihl Trimmers
Each of these brands has many different varieties of string trimmers, and you would be well advised to try several of the options out. This comparison, however, will be a good starting point to help you find the right option and the right brand.
Which String Trimmer Has the Power?
Anyone who has had to use a string trimmer knows that the ability to deliver power to the tip of your string is what decides how quickly and effectively you can finish the job. If you are doing a job that requires blades rather than a string, power means that much more due to the weight of the blades. Either way, for lawn professionals, a stronger engine means a tool that will last longer and finish the job faster.
Stihl Is the Winner, With Some Caveats
For overwhelming power, one needs to look no further than the Stihl line of weed trimmers. Although the Echo trimmers provide some punch, reaching up to a 28.1 cc engine, there are still three more levels of displacement in the Stihl line. Stihl offers powerheads in 24.1, 27.2, 28.4, 31.4, 36.3, and 37.7 cc.
Of course, power does come with a price. The larger Stihl trimmers pack a heck of a punch, but they can be harder to handle. They are a little heavier and, for safety reasons, most retailers recommend that you wear a full face shield rather than just a pair of safety glasses. However, if you plan to do much more than just trimming around the edges of the yard, needing a solution that can take care of thick, heavy grass weeds on a regular basis, one of these options is a must!
The Echo line of string trimmers offers just four sizes of powerheads at 21.2, 22.8, 25.4, and 28.1 cc.
Sizes of Echo and Stihl Trimmer Engines
Ease of Use
Both of these brands have adapted their tools over the years to make them easier to carry. The throttle triggers and on/off switch are both similarly located. Although they both offer similar circular handles that are fairly comfortable, Stihl also offers their bike handle grips for their heavier trimmers. These trimmers are slightly easier to handle this way, but it still seems uncomfortable to many people.
Stihl's trimmers range from 9.3–15.9 lbs, while Echo has models that come in at 10.1–13.5 lbs. While the Stihl trimmers are, on average, heavier than the Echo, they try to make up for it with the above-mentioned bike handle and also by adding a strap that clips onto the shaft of the trimmer. Both may seem like overkill, but believe me, the power of those trimmers is surprising.
For myself, it seems that how comfortable the particular round grip of the respective brands is in large part due to personal preference. Both are quite comfortable and are laid out well. Throttles, chokes, and more are all readily accessible and easy to locate.
I will say that the Echo string trimmers are, on average, about a half-pound lighter than the Stihl options. Most likely this is due to the size of the Stihl power plants, but either way, a half pound is not much until you are carrying it around for 20 minutes in the hot sun.
Echo and Stihl Trimmer Pricing
When discussing the pricing of these two brands, one should remember that these are well-established, commercial-grade brands. However, both of them do offer models at $200 or less. In fact, Echo has six options at or below $200, including one straight shaft model, and Stihl has three models under $200, so they both offer models that are well within the homeowner's reach.
Stihl Has the Higher Average Price
For the higher end of their brands, the Stihl can be much more costly. With five options listed above $400, the Stihl brand has a higher average price. The top-end Echo is only $400. Yes, the strongest Stihl is 9.6 cc larger than the strongest Echo, but with the Echo's "high torque" model that has a half-inch larger cutting swath, one has to wonder if the Stihl is actually worth another $230.
Read More From Dengarden
Echo and Stihl Price Comparison
GT 225, GT 225i, GT 225L, GT 225 SF, SRM 225
FS-38, FS-40CE, FS-50CE
SRM 225i, SRM 230, SRM 266
FS-56CE, FS-56RCE, FS-70R
SRM 2620, SRM 2620T, SRM 266S, SRM 266T
FS-91, FS-111, FS-111R, FS-111RX, FS-131R, FS-90R, FS-94R
$400 and up
FS-131, FS-240, FS-240R, FS-310
Overall Pros and Cons
Each of these brands has its own pros and cons. For instance, the Echo trimmers may be a bit lighter than the Stihl trimmers and easier to handle, but the Stihl trimmers have a larger string guard, keeping clippings off your clothes and out of your eyes. Also, Stihl is "Made in the USA." Of course, they use some parts that are manufactured in other countries, but the item is put together here in the United States.
On the other hand, Stihl has a two-year residential or commercial warranty, whereas the Echo trimmers come with a two-year commercial warranty and a five-year residential warranty. So users looking for a trimmer for home may want to have a trimmer that has more than twice the warranty.
In the end, both of these brands are very similar in how they lay out their starting mechanisms and if you have experience starting and using one, you will not have a hard time starting and running the other. While I, personally, like the rugged power of the Stihl string trimmers and their ability to truly take a beating, the weight, price, and comfort of the Echo trimmers have kept me an Echo customer in the past few years.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Will Craftsman attachments fit Echo or STIHL trimmers?
Answer: I'm not sure. Most powerhead trimmers are specific to their brand of attachments.
Gerald corbitt on August 09, 2020:
Echo Equipment is the BEST. STYL PRODUCTS IS TOO HEAVY AND WHEN I GO TO ALL MOWERS REPAIR SHOP, YOU SEE MORE STYL PRODUCTS BROKEN. STICK WITH ECHO PRODUCTS
MAT on May 25, 2020:
I have been using a Shindaiwa B450 for 20-plus years (after melting the clutch box of 2 Craftsmans, lol) to cut grass, weeds, brushes and brambles. Awesome power, control, comfort, still roars like a lion, and still is my favorite machine even as parts are becoming hard to find! It has been replaced by the Echo SRM-410U. That said, I also own Stihl FS-94R, FS-111R, FS-131R (just sold it) and FS-240 (no R).
If I could do it all over again - already on my 50s - here are the only choices I will select (no particular order): Echo's SRM-410U, SRM-3020U, SRM-2620U; Husqvarna's 336FR, 525RJX; Stihl's FS-240, FS-111, FS91. Why all with bike-handles? I am 6'3, have lower back issues, favor long stretches of trimmer work over very overgrown profitable properties and the Husqvarna Balance XT harness makes my life at the office a breeze.
Now, couple of notes. Husqvarna offers many trimmer models yet, like Echo's units mentioned above, are called brushcutters. Yes, they all could handle lines just as blades with relative ease so the naming is just that. All these machines might be overkill for most owners or small yards. They will handle commercial, residential and agricultural properties with relative ease. Yes, there are other brands; these are the ones I use, abuse, service and recommend. Finally, go with the brand most easily serviced close to your home. And, whatever machine you select, it has to be fun to use. Hope this helps!
Mort on May 03, 2020:
I have been using an Echo SRM 2310 for the past 30 years, medium to heavy use, and it still runs, with just minor servicing replacement parts needed over the years. Recently i bent the bike handle and have been having more difficulty starting so instead of spending money on fixing i may start looking for a replacement. I thought about Stihl but after reading the comments and research and longevity of my Echo, i think i will stay with the same brand.
BC on May 03, 2020:
I have 20 yr old echo srm-210 and about echo chainsaw both run great on original plug no repairs ever except string and chains. My older brother who is completely FOS tends same amount of acres is on 3rd Stihl trimmer and 2nd saw. Stihl is inferior and won’t hold up to hard use or I’ll advised demonstrations of power fueled by sibling rivalry!!
Gino on April 28, 2020:
I have 6 y/o Stihl weed whacker. If I get a more commercial mdl., will i be able to cross some of the parts...(ie..Shafts, heads, guards, etc.?)
P Ross on April 14, 2020:
I've never used echo but have Stihl. To get the best of either you must not use ethanol gas. No matter what brand ethanal gas will cause carburetor issue regardless. As well when season is over gas needs to be drained completely out for longevity. I got a base model stihl and got 8yrs tending to 2 acres. I won't try another brand.
Ronald KiserRon on March 14, 2020:
I just purchased the SRM 225i echo.
So far i like the feel and power it delivers. Also the quick feed 400 head you don't need to take anything apart to re string your line is a plus.
If your on a budget but don't want a weedeater that vibrates and is heavy which will cause fatigue go with the echo straight shaft also get the black diamond trimmimg line.
Victor on January 12, 2020:
Ive been in the lawn business for over 33 years and ive said it echos will outlast stihl any day we have had tons of stihl and echos and they all get used the same but stihls were the ones always breaking down losing power i mean it got to the point where i totally gave up on stihls its funny how some guys claim stihls will outlast echos if you ever get a chance to look at echos engine internals and stihls engine internals echos internals are superior.
Greenkings on December 27, 2019:
Somebody already brought this point up, Echo DOES make larger models of trimmers than you mentioned. While the 220's & 230's are great little machines, they are for homeowner use in my opinion. We run 260,280 and 3100 trimmers. 1 is over 20yrs old, and STILL running strong with original carb on it!! 1 Echo trimmer has let us down to date. Have 5 out of 7 Stihl's that are no longer useable....and yes, ALL are "PRO" series Stihl's. As compared to 1 out of 13 Echo. Each truck had 1 Stihl and 1 Echo on it. We have found Echo to work better for us. They are generally lighter, power is very close, but Echo is cheaper with better warranty.
Professional landscaper here on November 30, 2019:
First off, Echo makes a larger trimmer than the ones you listed. Secondly, every Echo trimmer currently made is more powerful that it's Stihl counterpart. A 30.5 cc SMR-3020 will absolutely run circles around a 31.4 cc FS-111. Add in the high torque model that echo offers, and it's on par with a 36.3cc FS-131. Add to this, Echo makes a more reliable machine and has for quite some time. Commercial grade Stihl products are assembled in the United states with international parts just like Echo. The biggest difference is that Echo uses less Chinese parts while also incorporating legit 2 stroke Japanese motors that will beat the brakes off of Stihl motors. If you want to pay stupid amounts of money for a legit German made Stihl chainsaw, you will not be disappointed; however, ever since Stihl started focusing on their residential grade market and electric tools, they've lost a step. They've never been the best, but in 2019, brands like Echo, Redmax, Shindaiwa, Maruyama, and Efco all make a better trimmer than Stihl. Unfortunately, Stihl has put all their focus into the bottom line and marketing just like Husqvarna has, and the results haven't been good for the professional user like myself. I gave up on Stihl over a decade ago because of their drop in quality.
Jeff Hughey on August 21, 2019:
Stihl is and always will be the best, proof is in the pudding.
John Closs on May 18, 2019:
My Echo started more easily than my new Stihl. The Echo wore out after 10 years.Stihl had a better sale price this time
Lee Palidin on April 22, 2019:
We're enjoying our new Stihl, just purchased it this week from Power Equipment Warehouse. Been using Ryobi for years though.
Renzo D. on December 13, 2018:
I own 5 trimmer (power heads) 1 echo pas266, 2 stihl fs90r, 1 km93r and 1 133, in conclusion echo is lighter when doing small houses the stihls is great or when we deal with heavy tall grasses the stihl is the go, when dealing with 1+ acre properties echo is lighter which helps but you can go a tad faster with the stihl, in fact the stihl km93r is almost as light. The only problem with echo is the carburetors they get bad if you leave gas for long periods of time and thebget clogged a lot faster they are more delicate than stihl carbs which run withouth maintenance for 2-3 years (at least mines do. They both are good brands but i like knowing i have enough power for all kind of tasks with the stihl
Darrell on December 09, 2018:
Granted Echo trimmers are lighter and easier to use, Stihl trimmers have more power and get the job done quicker plus they're better quality, thus last longer especially the 4 mix models.
Bill on July 16, 2018:
Got stihl weedeat from the early 2000s and they run commercially every day. Still running up to now and the only thing you have to do is chamge the carburator every 5 years bc of the fuel nowadays. Some of the weedeater im talking about are residential series as well and there still running.
Jon on July 07, 2018:
I have an old echo 200r from 2000. It starts up, runs, and beats the stihl my lawn pro uses.
Douglas Adams on July 01, 2018:
I have a echo srm 225 I bought from home depot in 2008 and it still runs to this day. Echo is a great product so don't be fooled by stihl fans . I also have a stihl fs80 that I bought used and it runs boggs down when I give it throttle. So stihl and echo are both mechanical and are just like any other product you buy with moving parts. They will eventually break down. That's why they are still in business.
Turf Commando on June 30, 2018:
Echo has a longer warranty because it won't last. Stihl on other hand will be running long after echos warranty runs out.
joe on June 22, 2018:
switched over to echo machines from stihl. big mistake. every echo string trimmer, hedge trimmer are brutal to start. had my stihl sitting in the attic for 10 plus years, changed plug starts on first pull
jon on June 18, 2018:
stihl trimmers are overpriced. bought three and they all ran less than a year. parts hard to find.