How to buy the best electric tiller

When it is time to get a small garden plot ready, or if you simply want to refresh the soil in your planting area, the best tool for the job might be an electric tiller.

These machines (which are often also known as mini-tillers or cultivators) are quiet, dependable and efficient and they are powerful enough for most small jobs.

They have advantages over their gas powered cousins in that they are easy to maintain, easy to use and economical to buy.

Here we look at the corded models.

As long as you can stay within 100 feet of an electrical outlet, a corded electric garden tiller could be the perfect tool for your needs.

Just beginning your garden tiller research? You may want to start with our definitive guide on how to buy the best garden tiller.

Size and power of corded electric garden tillers

Corded electric tillers are smaller and lighter than gas-powered models, but they are not nearly as powerful. This is why they are typically only recommended for use in smaller areas for light-duty tasks.

The electric motors featured in these machines are rated for power in terms of amps. Smaller electric tillers use motors rated around 5 or 6 amps, while larger units feature motors rated at up to 10 amps.

Although this might not seem like enough power, these electric motors are strong enough to the kind of tasks these units are recommended for. As a comparison, a good quality electric snow blower will have a 13 to 15 amp motor and a good electric lawn mower will have a 12 or 13 amp one.

Tillers in the corded electric category typically weigh much less than gas machines typically 25 to 30lbs, so they tend to be much simpler to maneuver. They will till swaths between about 8 to 12 inches wide and to depths of around 6 to 10 inches.

If you are concerned about your garage or storage shed space, electric tillers feature very small footprints, plus many models can be folded compactly when not in use. If you have limited space available for gardening equipment, this can be very valuable.

How do corded electric garden tillers compare to cordless electric and gas-powered tillers?

Even though these machines essentially do the same job, there are some important differences between corded electric tillers and their counterparts in the cordless electric and gas-powered categories.

Obviously, corded electric tillers must be plugged in to operate. This is the major difference between corded models and cordless units. Corded models are also a bit more powerful since they are always connected to a source of electricity when in operation.

Beyond additional power, corded electric tillers are also able to operate for longer periods of time than cordless models. However, corded tillers can be cumbersome to operate since you’ll always have a cord, which can damage sensitive garden plants, trailing behind you as you work.

Gas-powered garden tillers are more powerful than corded electric units and there are many more gasoline-powered tillers available than there are corded electric models.

Gas tillers can be found in the form of mini tillers designed for lighter-duty work, or they can be purchased as ground-ripping behemoths. The smaller gas models are the most similar to corded electric tillers in that they are meant to do similar work. Though the gasoline-powered tillers are definitely more powerful, they are also more expensive, louder, heavier and less friendly to the environment.

Features to look out for in corded electric tillers

Most corded electric garden tillers feature similar designs. Typically, the motor is placed above the tines, and this apparatus is attached to a handle assembly containing the necessary controls for the machine’s operation.

Electric tiller: Mantis model
Electric tiller: 3 speed, 240 rpm Mantis model showing 4 tines and folding handles

Even though the designs seem the same, there are some features that you should consider when you are ready to buy. Look out for:

  • Number of tines – Some models feature 2, 4 or even 6 tines.
  • Rotational speed – Look out for a maximum tine rotation speed above about 180 to 200 rpm.
  • Variable speed – Some models feature variable speeds, so that you can till more slowly for light cultivation.
  • Folding and carrying handles – These make transport and storage easier.
  • Wheels – again, these are made to assist maneuverability over hard surfaces.
  • Cord lock – a cord lock system ensures your tiller keeps going in the garden without getting accidentally unplugged.

Best uses for corded electric tillers

These machines are not cut out for heavy-duty work. They are best suited for small tasks like preparing garden plots. They are not recommended for cutting up hard unbroken earth and they are not really suitable for plowing and heavy earth turning.

However, they are perfect for homeowners requiring a machine to help them get their small garden plots ready. They are also ideal for cultivating flower beds. Though they are not especially powerful, corded electric garden tillers are light, easy to maneuver and fairly inexpensive.

Also, they should require very little maintenance.

Summing up

For many people, corded electric garden tillers are perfect for the job of preparing soil for planting in smaller areas. These machines offer terrific versatility and ease of use, plus they are economical.

Although gas-powered models and cordless electric units might be better for some applications, corded tillers are terrific for owners of smaller homes who want quiet, dependable cultivating power with a low price tag.


There is no doubt that one of the best electric tillers on the market is the Mantis electric tiller. With its 15 amp motor, 4 tines, 240 rpm tine speed and 3 speed operation, the Mantis ticks most of the boxes. Read our full Mantis electric tiller review here.

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  1. Paul says

    Nice summary. You spoke of the relative power of the electric tillers compared to the gas ones, and the relative utility of both. Very helpful. Thanks!

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