- Author: Kathy Low
Expensive feature laden electric tillers aren't necessarily the best tiller for you. You have to consider the ergonomics of the tiller. I found this out the hard way.
I purchased my original electric tiller new many years ago for about $100. I've been very happy with it. But I often wished it still did not take me so long to till the back yard every spring.
For years a gardening friend told me I should upgrade to a popular brand tiller she called the “Cadillac” of tillers. So this year I thought I'd indulge and purchased the supposed luxury tiller. Both my old and new tiller have an 8.2 amp engine. But my new tiller has three speeds, opposed to the one speed of my older tiller. But the cost of my new tiller was $350.
The first time I used it, I began to regret my purchase. I completely forgot to consider ergonomics before purchasing it. First, let me say I'm no Spring chicken and I don't have the strength or mobility I used to have when I was in my twenties and thirties.
My new luxury tiller did not come with wheels like my old tiller. Although the manual said I could “walk” the tiller to the yard, I didn't have the strength to force walk the tiller into the yard. Weighing about 20 pounds, it was too heavy to carry so I had to load it into my garden cart to roll it to the backyard.
Once I was ready to start tilling, per the manual, I set the speed to the slowest level. When I started the tiller, it pulled me forward so strongly I almost fell forward before releasing the start grip. Although the tiller was heavy, it still bounced around on surface of the hard clay soil for a few seconds before the tines dug into the soil. Once it started digging into the soil it took considerable effort to keep the tiller steady, and from dragging me forward against my will. It was also difficult to maneuver it when it was on. I realized a big part of the problem was the length of the non-adjustable handles which were way too long for my height. The handles were less than a foot shorter than my total height, making the tiller difficult to control.
The tiller also had a bad habit of falling on its side while tilling. I suspect this problem was related to my lack of strength in keeping the handles straight while it was on. Also, the lack of wheels made it less easy to balance. I doubt I will ever use the two faster tiller speeds out of concern for my safety.
The tiller width of both my tillers is about the same, but the tines are very different. The tines of my old tiller are elbow shaped, as you can see in the photo. But the tines of my new tiller are more like daggers. The dagger-like tines break up the clay soil more easily and faster than the elbow shaped tines.
My new tiller would be wonderful to use if I were taller and stronger, and if it had wheels. I may decide to pay an additional $70 for wheels for my new tiller to help make it easier to transport and hopefully keep it from falling on its side. But while I decide, I will continue to use my old tiller which is a much better ergonomic fit for me.
Bottom line: When selecting an electric tiller to purchase, don't forget to also consider if the tiller is a good ergonomic fit for you.