15” trimmer options and low speed “finesse”

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Does the variable speed control on 15” models really give low thru high speeds? Some of the videos I have seen show only speeds that would peel the plastic from my composite decking or shred my landscape edging.

I have read some reviews noting good control. It seems best on the ST1502, enough on the PoweHead, and mediocre on the ST1521.

Many reviews on the newest carbon fiber model state it starts at “medium” speed with a high “kick” from the torque and has no low end or “finesse” compared to gas models. Maybe the trade-off for gas torque for powering thru thicker weeds is the loss of low end speed.

Thoughts from those with real life comparisons?
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Don

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Posted 5 months ago

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Ken, Champion

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The variable speed is great on the "regular" (aluminum shaft) 15-inch trimmer and powerhead trimmer. It works the way you would expect.

I was greatly disappointed in the variable speed on the carbon-shaft trimmer, which jumps to life at about half speed, with no slower speed possible.
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Don

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Thanks for the response Ken. Do you feels it could have been a defect in the particular unit you received or a design intent?

I was leaning toward the combo of the ST1521S and the PowerHead Edger as the Combo of both (incl 2.5ah battery) is a great deal. The full Powerhead combo trimmer powerhead) with 5ah is $100 more. I had not really given thought to the ST1502 as I am buying new and figured to go with latest offerings
(Edited)
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Ken, Champion

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No, I contacted the company. It was a deliberate design choice because some customers wanted their trimmers to start more quickly. My argument was that they could just squeeze the trigger all the way.
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dhau001

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I have the carbon trimmer.  Not true variable.  Its low, medium and high.  And low is too high.  Low is faster than my ryobi 40v trimmer at max. Great for eviscerating large weeds but not so good for delicate work.  Sends mulch flying everywhere on slightest contact. 
(Edited)
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Don

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Thanks so much. Then the ST1521 is out of contention if the performance is not as good in field. (The “plus” was the powerload head, but seems the rapid load is very nice too.)

To wrap up,
Out of the Multi-Tool string trimmer STA1500 and the ST1502 dedicated trimmer which is best?
I intend to buy the multi-tool PowerHead for the edger in either case, but as I said the price at HD is $80 less expensive if I go with the edger and ST1502 in combo vs the STA1500. Given the 2.5ah battery option for both.

If others want to weigh in on the ST1521 delicate side, or lack thereof, feel free. Seems still odd that the quick start (less lag) could only be solved by dropping low rpm.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Hi Don,

I have the original ST1500 straight shaft trimmer.  It is true that there is a slight delay between first pulling the trigger and the tool getting up to speed, but once it's running it's very responsive.  The super slow low speed and progressive throttle really give you a nice feeling of control, though there is a small dead spot between where it first starts up in low speed and where it starts to pick up.  Once I was used to it I found it very nice to use.

The carbon ST1521 jumps to life noticeably quicker than the older ST1500, but as has been mentioned, loses it's super slow speed.  I would argue that the minimum speed is likely a matter of personal preference, and unless you previously had a string trimmer with a very low slowest speed, the slowest setting on the ST1521 might be just fine.  It is more of a "med-high" feeling rather than "low-high".  Having said that, I prefer the older ST1500.

I agree with you: eliminating the start-up delay should have nothing to do with the speed range of the tool.  I seriously think this was a misunderstanding between customer feedback and the Engineers.  It doesn't make much sense.

The STA1500 trimmer attachment + Powerhead is a whole other animal.  It's got a slightly heavier, more robust feel to it.  It feels like a piece of commercial power equipment and spins CCW like commercial trimmers do.  It also has commercial levels of power - it's insanely powerful... the Powerhead was intended to drive attachments with much higher power requirements than the string trimmer.  The only way I could stall this thing was when I got thistles tangled up and wrapped between the head and spindle.  If you want to do heavy duty work, this is your tool.  However, it's similar to the ST1521 in that it starts at more of a medium speed.

The main advantage of the Powerhead setup for the average person is the flexibility to add other attachments.  If you don't need the power, the attachment options might still appeal.  But for light duty and/or delicate string trimming, it might be a little too much.

With thinner .080" line it might be ok?  I'm using .080" line in my ST1500 and I like it for just trimming around the yard.  The smaller line might cause less damage in the trimmers that start at higher speeds.

I have not tried the ST1500SF, which is the newer standard trimmer with Rapid Reload head.  I can't tell you how its speed range compares to the ST1521.

There is a 90 day satisfaction guarantee at Home Depot, so if you were to buy one of these and it didn't meet your needs you could exchange it for a different model.  Food for thought.

Hope that helps.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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I should add that the Powerhead has two speed ranges, but this only varies the maximum speed.  The tool's lowest speed is the same in either of the two speed settings.
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summetj

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I just bought a carbon ST1521, and I'd say it has 3 speeds (Lowish, medium, and WOW!). The control paddle is "touchy" and when I fist press it I generally find myself in medium speed, and have to very carefully release it a bit to get down to lowish speed (which is still quite powerful).

I'm upgrading from an old B&D 18v NiMH trimmer, so every speed is more powerful than what I had, which isn't a bad thing. I haven't used it too much yet, but so far I don't mind the faster speed / more power, I'll make up my mind over time as I do more edging.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Low, Medium, and WOW!

Now that’s one for the Marketing team! :-)
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40mmrrsmith

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I have the carbon shaft power load head model. If you start it first, then back of the trigger you can get low speed. But with the weight of the trimmer and moving it around it is nearly impossible to maintain a steady slow speed especially as you begin to tire. I used a piece of packing material, it is like spongy rubber to solve the issue. Placed it under the trigger. Now it has enough resistance to control it better. Squeeze harder and you have high speed. I had to fix that because after I installed good line, It lost med and had only high and scalp.