What is an electric tiller?
An electric tiller is a piece of garden machinery that is powered using a battery or mains electricity, used to improve soil quality and drainage by breaking up compacted soil ready for planting.
Are electric tillers any good?
Higher wattage electric tillers which are comparable in power to their gas counterparts should still be able to do a most tasks but with the limitation of needing to be within range of an electrical power outlet. Cordless electrical tillers which use rechargeable batteries do not have the same amount of strength to turn heavy soil in larger gardens compared to corded versions but will still be convenient to use in established beds for less strenuous jobs.
Electric powered tools are also better for the environment compared to a gas powered tools due to their efficiency and the option to run from renewable sources such as solar or wind.
- 1 What is an electric tiller?
- 2 Are electric tillers any good?
- 3 How does an electric tiller work?
- 4 What garden tasks can an electric tiller do?
- 5 Electric vs gas tillers
- 6 Should I use a corded or cordless electric tiller?
- 7 Sources
How does an electric tiller work?
An electric tiller works in much the same way as a gas powered tiller works, however the main difference is that it uses an electrical motor powered by rechargeable battery or mains electricity fed from an electrical outlet rather than filling it with gasoline. The electric motor turns the forward rotating tines which loosen up soil.
What garden tasks can an electric tiller do?
An electric tiller with a strong high wattage motor should be able to complete the following tasks around a garden without the hassles of a gas-powered engine:
Bringing fresh soil to the surface by turning the earth.
Creating garden beds from scratch which can be used for planting vegetables, flowers, and fruits.
Turning over grass to re-seed the lawn.
Improving drainage and irrigation.
Mixing in manure, compost, lime, and fertiliser into the soil.
Working on large areas which might be too labour intensive to dig manually using hand tools.
Quickly and thoroughly removing weeds from an existing garden bed between rows of plants.
Crumbling and breaking up the soil so that the roots of plants can grow deeper into the ground.
Improving the texture of the soil so that moisture gets to the roots of the plants.
Electric vs gas tillers
An electric tiller needs to be within range of a power outlet compared to both gas and cordless tillers which are fully portable, these give you more flexibility when working remotely compared to a corded electric tiller. Refilling a gas tiller will involve having access to a can of gasoline which might not be very convenient, a cordless tiller will of course need to be recharged in a location with access to a power outlet.
Power comes a price, with gas powered models typically having a higher price tag, being more polluting and exceptionally noisy. In comparison a high wattage corded electrical model is a lot quieter, making about as much noise as an electric lawn mower which might be more considerate for regular use in a residential environment. Cordless electric tillers are even quieter making what can only be described as a subtle whine, and probably a favourite with neighbours.
A gas powered tiller might be more expensive in comparison to a corded electric tiller. Simple cordless tillers might be a similar price however when adding spare tiller batteries to the overall cost the overall price can quickly escalate.
Cordless electrical tillers are unsuitable for creating new beds as they simply do not have the strength to turn compacted soil, however the power and build quality of tillers powered by gasoline or high wattage electric will be capable for creating a new bed suitable for growing flowers and vegetables.
Gas and high wattage electrical tillers should both be able to turn tough, hard, rocky ground containing roots, however a cordless tiller is more fit to work in softer drier soils. All types of tillers will be suitable for stirring compost, manure, and other organic material into the surface of the soil.
The engine on a gas powered model makes the entire tiller heavier and therefore harder to manoeuvre compared to the lightweight build on electric tillers, especially cordless tillers.
A cordless tiller is unsuitable for clearing a lawn or removing thick patches of weeds, however gasoline and high wattage corded electrical tillers will both make light work of both tasks.
Ease of use
Using an electrical tiller is simply a case of plugging in, selecting a speed, and then pushing a button to start. Operating a gasoline tiller isn’t as straightforward, you’ll need to correctly mix the oil and gas to prevent clogging up the carburettor and get the right amount of choke. Unless you have a tiller with power take off then you’ll need to yank hard on the pull cord and making sure you don’t flood the engine.
Gasoline powered tillers typically require more maintenance than their electrical counterparts due to more moving parts, all types of tillers should always be cleaned thoroughly after use to maintain their efficiency and prolong their lifespan.
The battery capacity on cordless tillers typically last around 30 to 45 minutes, for smaller sized established beds with finer soil it might be best to go cordless.
Those looking to clear larger gardens where the soil is tougher with rocks and thick weeds then a gas powered or high wattage corded electrical tiller are both suitable; one is portable and one is tethered.
The size of electric tillers are typically smaller than gas powered tillers due to their smaller motors and lack of gasoline tanks, making the tillers easy to store and more manoeuvrable.
Should I use a corded or cordless electric tiller?
Deciding whether to use an electric tiller with a cable or go cordless electric tiller comes down to two factors, the size of the garden and the toughness of the soil as these both affect how long a cordless tiller battery will last.
The biggest disadvantage of a corded electric tiller is the electrical cord itself, often requiring an extension lead to reach distant parts of the garden, continually having to reroute or untangle the tiller power cable during operation and the dangerous risk of electrocution through catching it on tiller blades. Should you have lots of small areas to cultivate in the garden then a cordless electric tiller makes it convenient to move between patches without having to redirect extension cables.
Batteries on cordless electric tillers have the disadvantage that they might run out during operation, so unless you have multiple batteries you may find yourself waiting up to 3 hours to recharge the battery on the tiller before you can finish the job. With between 30 to 45 minutes of operation per battery this makes typically makes them suited for much smaller jobs. Corded electric tillers are therefore more suitable for larger areas with thicker, damper areas of soil containing tough weeds and roots due to the extra strain being put on the motor which subsequently draws more electricity.
If you are planning on creating a new bed from scratch then definitely use a corded electric tiller due to the additional power required to turn thick soil, a cordless electric tiller might struggle and become stuck. Alternatively rent a gas powered tiller to create the new bed and purchase a cordless electric tiller to stay on top of maintenance.
A cordless electric tiller is more suited for lighter work such as cultivating crumbling soil between rows of vegetables and plants, tilling weeds, aerating, and mixing manure and compost.
- bestreviews.com – Buying guide for best electric tillers. As long as there have been gas and electric garden tools there have been arguments about which is best – 14th September 2020.