There are attributes everyone looks for in a pole saw: low weight, high power, long extension, durability, and more. Sometimes, you have to trade off one to get the other.
Luckily, the Black & Decker LPP120 makes that tradeoff fairly painless. It provides a good balance of one without giving up too much of the other.
20V Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery
The key feature of any pole saw, as with any chainsaw, is the powerplant. But a pole saw introduces special considerations, chiefly because in this device the ratio of power to weight is so critical.
One solution is to incorporate an electric motor, rather than a gas-powered engine. But that can introduce the difficulty of what to do with the cord. Most homeowners have a property small enough that an extension cord doesn’t limit use too much. Few have to trim trees in the middle of forested acreage. But that wire can still get in the way of branches, especially when working high up.
The Black & Decker LPP120 offers a way out of this all-too-common dilemma. As a cordless electric, it offers a reasonable amount of power without having to get tangled up with an extension cord. Here, that means a 20V rechargeable Lithium-ion battery.
That power isn’t the largest cordless around. But, even at mid-range size, it will let you trim for about an hour before having to recharge. You can lop off several dozen 2″ branches in that time, with a bit of practice. You’re likely to want to stop after that anyway. Even the more athletic among us are subject to arm and back muscle fatigue eventually.
You’d do the same job much more slowly with a corded electric. Equally helpful, the LPP120 has an added advantage over NiCd models. Nickel cadmium batteries aren’t bad. But they do tend to have more “memory” effect than lithium, and they often offer lower cycle totals than their cousins. On the other hand, they are usually less expensive.
Black & Decker 20V MAX System
As a not-trivial aside, the battery on this model is part of Black & Decker’s 20V MAX System. That system allows you to interchange the battery component with other Black & Decker devices that use the same type.
However, keep in mind that any rechargeable battery will require replacement eventually, typically after two years or so. Some will last longer, even as long as five years, but that’s rare.
Replacements currently run around $40, though there’s no predicting what they’ll cost when you need one. Innovation could drive the price down or inflation might increase it substantially. With luck, they may also last longer in the future.
Useable 6.5′ or 10′ Pole Length
The pole portion of the LPP120 offers a similar level of quality and benefit. The telescoping extension lets you prune branches to 14 feet high from the ground. The center portion extends up to 10′. If you don’t need it, you can simply leave the middle piece out when you assemble the pole and work with a pole saw that is about 6.5′ in length.
Naturally, a ladder will let you get up even higher and this pole saw is light enough – 6.3 lbs – and sturdy enough to make that practical. Being cordless only adds to the feasibility of that scenario, of course.
I’d like to see this model come with one more extension, but that’s because I have quite tall trees and don’t like to work on a ladder. In your situation, this model might very well be ample.
At the end of the job, you can disassemble the pole for easy storage. There’s also a carrying bag if you want to take it to a neighbor’s house or do a little charity work around town. Anyone with a cracked branch after a storm or one that’s grown too close to a power line will see just how valuable the LPP120 can be. Owners with garages or sheds where it’s tough to find a tall corner will be very grateful, too.
I’m grateful the thing is so easy to pull apart and put back together. I’m pretty much all thumbs when it comes to assembling stuff. I shamefacedly offload TV stands and bookcases to my clever wife. The pole parts of this one simply screw snugly together or easily apart. Even I can do that!
8″ Bar Length
For some buyers, the bar length is going to be a bit short. At 8″ long, you won’t be going after too many 6″-diameter branches, the maximum the company lists. It’s possible, but awkward. Still, that thickness is pretty rare, even around my property of several acres of forested land. Most of the trees in my yard, as is probably the case with you, tend to be smaller.
Of course, you’ll judge according to your personal situation. However, for those with a lot of truly thick branches to trim, a gas-powered model is more likely to be what you want. And, a longer bar is likely to bring with it more weight. Two to four inches of bar itself isn’t very heavy, but the units with longer bars tend to come on gas models or units with longer, thicker poles.
For safety, there’s a blade guard. Many tend to accumulate chips and sawdust. The latter happens more when the chain teeth are used dull and we sometimes get lazy from time to time when it comes to sharpening. This one has a sawdust “vent” that helps to keep the guard clear for optimal operation.
It would be nice if this Black & Decker allowed for angling the bar. An adjustable angle is helpful when your approach to the branch is hindered. That might happen when you have to stand in a small gap between the tree and an out building. Or, it can occur when the branch grows at a weird angle. It’s generally best to get a cut parallel to the trunk.
Black & Decker LPP120 Summary
As a battery powered pole saw, the Black & Decker LPP120 offers convenience. But this model also offers adequate power and good quality, combined with low weight and ease of use. It’s not quite long enough or powerful enough for my needs, but for a lot of buyers it can be the perfect pole saw.