STIHL battery garden pruner GTA 26

Trent Loane, Team Leader, Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Australian Garden in Cranbourne, Victoria, recently trialled STIHL’s GTA 26 Battery Garden Pruner for Power Equipment Australasia magazine.

The team at STIHL Australia was kind enough to give the staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in Cranbourne the opportunity to trial and review the new battery-powered garden pruner, the GTA 26.

While the GTA 26 features the same chain used on a number of STIHL’s chainsaws, the tool is actually designed for pruning trees and cutting timber up to 8cm in diameter, making it extremely versatile and a handy tool to have.

Setup and charging

Setup is simple with a quick overview of the manual and product features, with the main considerations being operator safety, chain sharpness, tension control and battery charging.

Changing the tension on the chain is really easy, and is controlled via a retractable wing nut on the side of the machine. This is very convenient with no tools required to achieve correct chain tension so you can do it wherever, whenever. Charging is simple with the small charger which indicates the battery charge status and over-charge protection.  

Usage and performance

The machine is really well balanced and comfortable to hold. Two handed use is essential for safe operation and also helps to keep the tool steady while cutting. We did find that using the tool with two hands often meant that cut branches were not easily controlled unless you cut close to the base of the branch and the body of the machine. 

We trialled the GTA 26 cutting living branch material from Acacia binervia and Eucalyptus pulverulenta. Branches cut ranged from small, green material of approximately 5mm diameter, right  through to woody branches up to 70mm. Branches over approximately 15mm and woody can be cut cleanly, however long branches need to be reduced before removing final stubs.

It was on the medium sized (20-70mm) living branches that this machine really shined. Cuts were made cleanly, quickly and with minimal effort from the operator. The GTA 26 can save significant operator fatigue and time when multiple cuts are required in a short amount of time.  Accurate cutting was easy to achieve due to the manoeuvrability of the tool and the small bar length meant cuts were always visible to the operator.

Battery life will depend on many factors including thickness and type of wood being cut, chain sharpness and number of cuts. We performed approximately 20-30 cuts through 50cm branches and only noticed one bar decrease in battery life. 

Cleaning and storage

Cleaning is simple with the wingnut used to open the housing and clean out any sawdust that builds up. This is something that should be done after use and before storing. 

Safety considerations

As with all power-operated tools, operators must be inducted into basic power tool safety and operation. The inbuilt chain guard seems adequate to keep the operator safe if the correct two-handed cutting technique is employed. Cleaning and chain maintenance is also safe with the battery removed and the low-noise and vibration ensures operator fatigue is greatly reduced.

Overall, the GTA 26 is an excellent addition to STIHL’s battery range and is great for all kinds of users. For continued, heavy duty work a larger saw might be more appropriate, but this tool is easy and efficient for a wide range of smaller projects in the garden, offering effortless power and excellent cutting performance.