Husqvarna 220iL string trimmer: It cuts both ways

A solidly built string trimmer that offers plenty of performance and a useful dual direction feature

Husqvarna 220iL String Trimmer
(Image credit: Husqvarna)
T3 Verdict

The Husqvarna 220iL is a solidly built trimmer that offers excellent performance for the price, and is the only one we tested that can spin in both directions. That’s a genuinely useful feature for small spaces.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Powerful trimmer

  • +

    Decent battery life

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Slightly prone to string tangles

  • -

    Replacing string is overly complex

Most of Husqvarna’s range of string trimmers are gas-powered, but the Husqvarna 220iL that I reviewed here is their cheapest rechargeable battery model. It has a 16-inch cutting path and is driven by a 40V, 4Ah Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. It is the only model I’ve tested that can spin the cutting head in both directions. It’s also one of the lightest and easiest to handle, which makes it great for small spaces and flipping over to clean edges.

Husqvarna 220iL String Trimmer: design and build quality

The control system of the Husqvarna 220iL is a bit more hi-tech than most. The features of the device are controlled by a set of four buttons on the top of the handle, including the power, the high-speed mode and the direction of the spin. The speed control is under the handle, where it falls comfortably under the index finger. The speed control also has a latch that stops you from accidentally pressing it when you lean the trimmer against something.

I was impressed with the overall build quality of the Husqvarna 220iL, which felt well-constructed and robust. It should stand up to some rough treatment without issues. Much of the weight of the trimmer (including the motor and the 4 Ah battery) is in the back of the trimmer, which makes it easier to maneuver the business end of the device around. It also feels fairly well balanced, with an adjustable handle that makes it simple to find the balance point.

Husqvarna 220iL String Trimmer

(Image credit: Husqvarna)

Husqvarna 220iL String Trimmer: Performance and accessories

The Husqvarna 220iL has it where it counts: the two cutting lines made short work of plants and weeds small and large, cutting through everything but more woody stems and those thicker than three-quarters of an inch or so. It also cleared ground effectively, brushing away most traces of weeds above the surface. I found that the bump plate required a firm bump to work: the trimmer only let more line out when you firmly bumped the bottom of the spinning head against a rock or firm ground.

The DualDirection feature is also unique, and genuinely useful. This allows you to switch the direction that the trimmer head spins. This is useful because the direction it spins determines where it cuts and which direction the debris is thrown, so you can change the direction to throw debris onto the path where it is easier to sweep up, rather than into a flowerbed. It’s a simple, but surprisingly useful trick.

You do have to be a little careful, though. If you switch cutting direction and keep trimming on the same side, you get a face full of plant debris, and more dangerously, the small stones that get thrown by the spinning line. You should always wear eye protection when using any trimmer, but it seems especially relevant here.

To load a new line into the trimmer, you take a length of line (Husqvarna recommends about 18 feet), insert one end into one of the line outputs on the trimmer head, then push it through until it emerges from the other hole. You then pull it through until there is an equal length on both sides and rotate the cover and bump plate until the line is all wound onto the spool. That takes a long time and involves a lot of winding. The PowerLoad feature of the Ego trimmer is similar, except there is a motor that does the turning for you, which is much easier.

I also had a problem with the line getting tangled. On two occasions during my tests (which involved several hours of trimming), the line got tangled inside the trimmer head and did not extend when I bumped the base to play out more line. In both cases, I had to remove the cover, lift the spool out and manually rewind the line into place, a rather awkward process.

Husqvarna 220iL String Trimmer

(Image credit: Husqvarna)

Husqvarna 220iL String Trimmer: Battery life

I found that the 4 mAh 36V battery lasted just over 30 minutes in my tests clearing a patch of medium to heavy brush using the lower power setting. That’s a little shorter than most, but it is acceptable. That is long enough to clear a decent-sized patch of brush with this powerful trimmer. The heavy battery took about 90 minutes to charge.

The BLi22 battery is also compatible with other Husqvarna devices, which range from chainsaws to leaf blowers, and all manner of garden tools.

Husqvarna 220iL String Trimmer

(Image credit: Husqvarna)

Husqvarna 220iL String Trimmer: Verdict

There’s a lot to like with the Husqvarna 220iL. It has plenty of power to cut through vegetation and is light and well-balanced in use. Replacing the string is a bit of a pain, but it isn’t the worst trimmer that I’ve tested in that respect. If you have other Husqvarna tools and batteries, it’s a great pick, but I’d recommend the DeWalt or Ego if you aren’t yet committed to one system.

Richard Baguley
Richard Baguley

Richard Baguley has been writing about technology since the 1990s, when he left a promising career in high finance to work on Amiga Format magazine for Future. It has been downhill for him ever since, writing for publications such as PC World, Wired and Reviewed.com. He has tested gadgets as diverse as 3D printers to washing machines. For T3, he covers laptops, smartphones, and many other topics. He lives near Boston in the USA with his wife, one dog, and an indeterminate number of cats.