2 Cycle vs 4 Cycle Trimmer: Everything You Need to Know for 2020

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As lawn products are becoming more diverse than ever, we are more than often hanging between 2 Cycle vs. 4 Cycle Trimmer and wondering if either of them is better than another.

In order to know the answer in an unbiased manner, it's important to scrutinize the differences between the two technologies. Not just that, understanding the pros and cons of each engine will also facilitate your buying decision. 


2 Cycle Vs 4 Cycle Trimmer - Comparison Review

1. Mechanism

2 stroke vs 4 stroke trimmer

The most notable difference, which results in all the differences in the below features, is how each engine works.

As the name refers, a 4-cycle trimmer's engine operates in 4 stages - down, up, down, up, respectively are power stroke, exhaust stroke, intake stroke, and compression stroke. 

Its crankshaft consumes two revolutions to deliver the four strokes with the power stroke is the one to propel the piston through the other three stages. 

In the case of a 2-cycle trimmer, only two stages are involved in generating power. One stroke combines power and exhaust stroke, and the other one is made up of intake and compression stroke. 

This means that when the piston travels to the top of the stroke, both power and combustion stages occur. In the meantime, both the exhaust and intake stages happen at the bottom.

So instead of taking two full revolutions as the 4-cycle engine, a 2-cycle engine only needs one to initiate two strokes and send the piston through the complete cycle. 

2. Moving Parts

compare 2 cycle and 4 cycle trimmers

As a consequence of the difference in their mechanisms, 4-cycle movements take up more moving parts - camshaft, crankshaft, lifters, valves, connecting rod, and piston.

2-cycle movements, on the other hand, are much simpler; they only need a piston, crankshaft, and connecting rod.

And as the 2-cycle engines combine two actions in one rotation, they are normally smaller in size and displacement.

However, the size does not tell much as different people may expect different things in a trimmer. We will now look closely at what matters. 

3. Power

Given the same size of the engine, a 2-cycle trimmer produces more power and generates a higher rate of revolutions per minute (RPMs). This advantage is understandable if you notice how the two engines operate.

With fewer stages in one full rotation, a 2-cycle engine creates trimming power more quickly (twice as much as a 4-cycle engine)

4. Fuel

2 cycle versus 4 cycle trimmers

When it comes to fuel economy, 4-cycle trimmers have their time to shine. With the four stages in one rotation, they burn materials much cleaner than the 2-cycle counterparts. 

A 2-cycle engine does not utilize different cycles to send the gas mix into the cylinder and pull out the exhaust gases. Instead, some of these exhaust gases are re-compressed for the ignition later.

Some fresh new gases are also pushed out to the exhaust without actually doing any job. 

5. Noise

More powerful than 4-cycle trimmers, 2-cycle trimmers have their reason to be louder. Even though noise is still an inevitable part of a lawn product, a 4-cycle engine has made it less of a problem when in operation.

Because both exhaust and inlet valves shut completely when the third cycle happens, the gas mix will be almost fully combusted when entering the final cycle. For this reason, the noise coming out will not be so considerable. 

6. Weight

2 cycle vs 4 cycle string trimmer

4-cycle trimmers are generally heavier because they require more parts to get them going. The weight of these parts accumulates to the trimmer's load, which may affect the ease of use and ergonomic handle.

With the less complicated design, a same-size 2-cycle engine will generate more power, so you can still get away with a more lightweight machine.

7. Cost

Trimmers these days fall into many different budget categories, it's thus hard to claim if a 2-cycle or 4-cycle trimmer is more affordable.

As 4-cycle trimmers are larger, they usually take up higher price tags. However, there are still so many reasonable deals out there for both options. 

8. Ease of Use

2 cycle versus 4 cycle trimmer

With the advent of product design and engine technology, both 2-cycle and 4-cycle trimmers can now offer excellent manoeuvrability.

As the weight of the tool can affect the overall trimming performance, those with heavier weights will be more of an exercise when operating. And in this case, it is 4-cycle trimmers that are generally heavier. 

9. Maintenance

A 2-stroke engine contains few moving parts, which makes it easier to maintain and repair. However, when it comes to durability, it's a completely different story.

4-stroke engines run cleaner, so they will last for a longer time and suffer from less wear.

2-stroke engines are more prone to dirtier combustion products, which puts more tears into the system. Since you have to mix fuel with oil and maintain a container of this mixture, extra maintenance is necessary for the 2-stroke. 

10. Pollution

difference between 2 cycle and 4 cycle trimmer

As compared to electric trimmers, both 2-stroke and 4-stroke trimmers can't hold the candle because they all consume gas to produce power. Between the two choices themselves, 4-stroke trimmers are still a bit more environment-friendly.

Their engines burn gas more efficiently and leave less waste. In a 2-stroke engine, the oil/gas mixture reduces fuel efficiency and, at the same time, brings out more harmful emissions. 

11. Lubrication

The 4-stroke trimmer separates the fuel from the engine oil. This lubrication system allows for less effort to start the engine. You need to keep the oil topped up, and the trimmer will keep self-lubricating.

This lubrication system is not present in any 2-stroke trimmer. As said, you need to mix the gas and the engine oil for its operation. It's then fair to say that the 4-stroke trimmer is the undisputed champion in the "lubrication" aspect. 

Pros And Cons Of 2-Cycle Vs. 4-Cycle Trimmer

Each type of engine has its own edges, that's why both of them are still seemingly prevalent on the market.

Here are some pros and cons in each option, giving you a clear view of what they can do best and what they are not cut out for. 

2-Cycle Trimmer 

  • More lightweight – The engine is the heaviest part of a trimmer. And since the 2-cycle engine is simpler, it weighs less
  • More affordable – As the engine design of the 2-cycle trimmer does not contain many parts, it costs less to produce
  • Higher power-to-size ratio – Only two strokes are in need to make power. The trimmer’s engine is imposed with less pressure, producing more power
  • Easier to repair – It has fewer moving parts, which means fewer things will go wrong and need fixing
  • Noisier – In every “down” stage, the 2-cycle engine generates combustion with a loud explosion
  • Less durable – Dirtier combustion product reduces the overall life of the 2-cycle engine, losing its prime performance over the long run

4-Cycle Trimmer 

  • More fuel-efficient – As a 4-cycle engine has more stages in one revolution, it allows for better control over exhaust cycles and air-fuel intakes
  • Easier to lubricate – There is a separate container from which the oil is injected, which provides the engine with better lubrication
  • Lasts longer – 4-cycle engines involve less wear because their lubrication system works more effectively
  • Less pollution – With greater complexity, 4-stroke trimmers perform a cleaner operation, making it less harmful to the environment
  • Not lightweight – The engine has more moving parts, adding up more weights to the trimmer
  • More costly – More 4-cycle trimmers are on the high-end spectrum of the price

Which Trimmer Should You Use? - Trimmer Buying Guide

2 cycle vs 4 cycle engine trimmer

There is no correct answer to whether the 2-cycle or 4-cycle trimmer would be a better buying option. After walking through all the pros and cons, you probably agree that they are just in different games.

But it doesn’t mean that you should not have your own winner. Depending on your personal preferences in a gas trimmer, the answer should be clear to you by now.

So instead of giving a single answer that won't apply to all cases, it'd be a much better approach if you can prioritize your criteria. Among all of the aspects mentioned, how do you yourself rank their significance?

If you want a compact yet powerful trimmer, the one that won't require too much care from you and won't hurt your budget, a 2-cycle trimmer is a go-to choice.

However, if your concern shifts toward a trimmer that is material-economic and lubrication-effective or a quiet trimming buddy that will stay with you for a long time, a 4-cycle trimmer is then more recommendable. 

Final Verdict

Your final buying decision between 2 cycle vs 4 cycle trimmer should be the one that best aligns with your needs. The two options of the trimmer are very different from each other, which is thoroughly proved above.

Choosing the perfect match will help you tidy up your lawn with enjoyable working experience.

All the best!

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