Chainsaws are a great tool for heavy-duty yard work, but they may be an overkill for regular pruning and cutting branches. Alligator loppers are special type of lightweight chain saws with a scissors-style design. This makes it ideal for cutting up logs and branches that are hard to reach with a traditional chain saw. The cutting teeth inside the blades ensure that the wood is sliced safely, quickly and efficiently.
A standard, manual lopper has the great disadvantage that it relies on your muscle power. It does the job when there’s only a couple of branches to trim, but that’s usually not the case.
There are two main kind of powered loppers: corded and cordless. As the names indicate, they vary based on whether they use battery power or plug into a mains outlet.
There are pros and cons to each of these approaches based on where you will work and how much space you have available. In this post, we will review one of the best value buys in each of these categories to provide you with some good options.
Even if you do not wind up buying one of these alligator loppers, you will learn about their pros and cons to help inform your search for the best garden lopper.
What is the best garden lopper in 2018?
Black & Decker LP1000 Alligator Lopper 4.5-Amp Electric Chain Saw
- Innovative clamping jaws grab and cut in one easy motion
- Scissor action makes cutting branches effortless
- 4.5 amp motor for powerful, fast cutting
- Heavy-duty cutting bar and chain quickly cut thick branches and logs
- 4″ cutting capacity cuts limbs too big for manual loppers
- Replacement Chain No. RC-600
The LP1000 are corded alligator loppers with a cutter capacity of 4 inches. It is small enough to lift and carry without much difficulty. It can use a standard 120-volt outlet with any extension cord that can reach it.
The LP1000 does not come with its own extension cord and you have to supply your own. It has to be said that it struggles with anything larger than 4 inches in diameter.
The alligator loppers jaw of the LP1000 will take anything that has a diameter of four inches or less and slice it in half. The bar length is six inches, so anything that is six inches wide will also fit, like the fronds of a fern or a flattened branch.
The motor runs 4.5 amps, which is what gives it the power to slice through hard woods. It measures 8 inches by 9 inches by 25 inches.
The jaws move, grab, and slice into anything placed between them, which falls in two halves on either side of the tool. During the cutting motion, the jaws hold the wood in place.
Convenience and Design
The long jaws at the front look heavy, but the handles balance them very well, allowing for ease of use.
At 6.5 pounds, having this balance really matters because it takes stress off the arms and back.
The location of the outlet is quite convenient because it pulls the cord up, reducing the chances that it gets snagged on a rock or branch on the ground.
Reviewers love the fact that the LP1000 is powerful, yet easy to use, so that senior citizens or people who have trouble using manual tools can slice up branches or prune trees much faster than they would otherwise.
They also praise the versatility of the cutting jaws because there are many different types of wood that they can cut.
Some reviewers noted the importance of having enough chain oil to keep the blades sharp.
Additionally, they enjoyed how quickly the blades cut and how much faster they could accomplish yard work by using the LP1000, instead of a traditional chainsaw or a manual snipper tool.
The LP1000 has a 2-year limited warranty.
The LP1000 has a lot to offer to anyone who frequently has trouble with branches and trimming.
For example, anyone who lives in a part of the country that gets a lot of storms or hurricanes will see downed branches and will need to prune overhanging branches all the time.
As mentioned above, the intelligent and solid design means that just about anyone can use the LP1000 without difficulty. That is a rare ability among power tools.
The gripping jaws also increase safety by making sure that the wood does not fall or fly off unexpectedly, giving you more control over where it ends up.
Black & Decker LLP120 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Alligator Lopper
It can handle branches and other wooden objects up to 4 inches in diameter within its jaws.
The LLP120 uses a rechargeable battery so that you do not have to deal with trying to get it close enough to an outdoor outlet to use.
The battery will make about 150 cuts that are each 1.5 inches in diameter. Using bigger branches will lead to less cuts per charge. It takes approximately 8 hours to charge the battery from empty to full.
The LLP120 weighs nearly 7 pounds, which is a little heavier than the corded models.
The charge is big enough for most jobs, but a significant cleanup task might take more than one charge to do. The modern Lithium-ion battery is designed to last long, and the Energy Star charger is certified to be efficient and inexpensive to use.
The alligator lopper feels balanced and lighter than it looks, making it accessible to nearly all users.
The jaw guards and direction of the cutting motion mean that it is impossible to drag the teeth into the ground. This can happen with a traditional chain saw and it dulls the cutting edge.
The package comes with the lopper, the charger, the battery, a wrench, a bar and chain to mount, a bottle of oil, and an owner’s manual.
Top tip: although it has a max capacity of 4 inches, it is possible to cut things that are a little larger than that by sliding one cutting edge around the diameter, duplicating the effect of a traditional chain saw.
Convenience and Design
This BLACK+DECKER alligator lopper is designed for safety, speed, and strength at the same time.
The jaws catch and hold the target, which reduces missed cuts, uneven cutting angles, or inconsistent power output. The handles are the right length to balance the jaws and provide valuable grip. The buttons and switches are all easy to reach from the active hand position.
Customers enjoy the convenience of a cordless power tool that can quickly cut up branches.
It does tend to be a little weaker than corded models. Many customers were able to swap in 20V batteries from other tools instead of buying one new.
The long charging time also caused a small amount of irritation from some users who had a lot of work to do, but you can prevent this by buying an additional battery to swap when needed.
The LLP120 has a 2-year limited warranty. This includes the tool itself as well as the battery and the charger.
Whether they are still attached to the tree or are on the ground, the LLP120 has no trouble grabbing and cutting them. It will slice up all but the largest branches. The teeth won’t slide around, get jammed, or get caught in the wood because the jaws hold everything in place and the motor does the rest.
The LLP120 alligator loppers stands out because it can do so much without being tethered to a cable. The farther away from a power source you have to work, the more important this feature will be.
Sometimes the cord itself just gets in the way, and this model circumvents that problem.
I hope it is clear that there is no one best Black & Decker alligator lopper for you. It depends on what you plan to cut, where it is located, how often you need to use it, and how much power you need.
A lopper is not a complete substitute for a chain saw, but it can do a better job at many of the tasks that a chain saw has difficulty with.
For that reason, it makes a nice addition to your shed, tool bench, or garage even if you are happy with the chain saw you already have.
All that remains is to decide how much you want a cordless model. If you have yard work experience, then you already know whether or not power cords are a problem or not.
In general, the lopper doesn’t do anything that another tool cannot do, but it does things much faster and with greater safety. A job that takes a week might be reduced to a day, and a daylong task is the work of a couple of hours.
The more work you do in the yard, the more that time savings adds up.
A lopper is therefore most valuable to someone who does more yard work than they want to be doing and wants to spend that time on other things.
Their design also makes them a good choice for seniors who find other power tools too heavy to control.
If you choose to buy a chainsaw instead, go ahead and read our Ultimate Chainsaw Buying Guide!