Green maintenance in Bonn

City turns to quiet leaf blowers and hedge trimmers

Strom statt Benzin für den Laubbläser: Immer dann, wenn ein altes Gerät ausgedient hat, rüstet die Stadt ihre Mitarbeiter mit Geräten aus, die zwar über weniger Leistung verfügen, dafür aber mit Elektroantrieb leiser und umweltfreundlicher arbeiten.

Electricity instead of petrol for leaf blowers: whenever an old machine wears out, the city will equip its employees with tools that have less power, but an electric drive, so that they work more quietly and are more environmentally friendly.

Bonn. The city plans to use battery-powered leaf blowers and hedge trimmers for green maintenance in the future. The devices are quieter, but less powerful.

Petrol-powered leaf blowers, chainsaws or hedge trimmers, like many other garden tools, are sometimes unbearably noisy. The Jamaica coalition in Bonn's city council has therefore put a major question to the Environment Committee: the politicians want to know whether the noisy appliances used for urban green maintenance can be gradually replaced by appliances with quieter electric drives. A statement by the administration now indicates that this will be the case in the future.

The city explains that the household budget does not make it possible to carry out a general and immediate exchange of all leaf blowers, hedge trimmers and similar equipment. However, as soon as individual tools and devices are no longer usable, it is being considered today “whether a device previously driven by a combustion engine can be replaced by a battery-powered device”. The administration recognises the specific advantages that electric drives possess, particularly by avoiding annoyance from exhaust fumes and noise for residents and municipal employees. General operating costs would also be reduced. The administration has calculated, for example, that the purchase and maintenance of a petrol-powered hedge trimmer would cost 2,495 euros, whereas the corresponding battery-powered device would cost 1,196 euros. The electric drive would thus save about half of the costs.

Currently, 201 out of 763 devices at the office for urban green spaces are battery-powered. This corresponds to about one-quarter of all hedge trimmers, power saws, leaf blowers and brush cutters in operation. The municipal subsidiary Bonnorange has 56 such tools, 17 of which have an electric drive.

An electric starter reduces equipment running time

According to Bannorange, the company plans to replace a further 14 petrol-powered devices within five years. Twelve of the tools with combustion engines currently in use are also equipped with an electric starter, which allows them to be easily switched off and restarted at the push of a button. “This reduces the engine running time by almost one half”, says Bonnorange.

However, battery-powered devices also have their disadvantages. According to information from Bonnorange and the office for city green spaces, leaf blowers with internal combustion engines are still much more efficient than those with an electric drive. At the current stage of development, the use of battery-powered devices would entail an even greater workload and result in longer working hours for city employees.

The administration also points out that “suitable battery-powered devices are not currently available on the market for all types of equipment and for every purpose”. This is also confirmed by Marcel Dahm, owner of Gartenbau Dahm in Bonn: “our hedge-trimmers are already battery-operated, but we resort to more powerful motors for our lawnmowers”. The situation is similar in Kissener's garden market. As managing director Marcel Kissener explains, half of his garden tools have so far been equipped with combustion engines and the other half with electric drives, but he wants to switch completely to battery operation by the end of the year.

Original text: Judith Nikula; translation John Chandler