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The pros and cons of electric lawn mowers


Electric lawn mowers have specific strengths and weaknesses.


Ry Crist/CNET

Once upon a time, all lawn mowers were gas-burning beasts whose pull-start motors relied as much on elbow grease as internal combustion just to get started. These days you have more options. While big-box stores still have plenty of gas-powered models on display, there’s a growing number of electric mowers available to purchase. 

If you’re new to electric lawn mowers, there are some things you should consider before buying one. Electric mowers certainly offer some unique benefits, but they have some performance limitations you will want to be aware of too. 

This guide examines both the benefits and drawbacks of electric mowers. By the time you’re done, you’ll hopefully have a sense of whether or not they’re a suitable fit for your specific lawn care needs. 

Ego Power Plus sells a popular line of electric lawn mowers.


Ego Power Plus

Pro: Quieter operation

Electric mowers can produce up to 75 decibels (think washing machine volume), whereas gasoline mowers are quite a bit louder at 95 decibels (motorcycle volume). If you live in a suburb, an electric mower will be a less disrupting option for your neighbors. 

Pro: Less maintenance

One of the biggest perks of electric mowers is there is less maintenance involved. With gas mowers, you have to replace parts annually. Examples are spark plugs, oil and air filters. That’s not the case with electric mowers. And these savings will increase every year, making an electric model more economical.

Pro: Easier to maneuver

Electric lawn mowers are lighter than their gas powered siblings. That means they’re easier to whip around tight corners and navigate through your yard. For example, the EGO Power Plus 56-Volt 21-in Push Cordless Electric Lawn Mower weighs 62.6 pounds after assembly. 

The Craftsman M250 lawn mower.


Craftsman

Conversely, gasoline lawn mowers can be much heavier. The Craftsman M250 160-cc 21-in Self-Propelled Gas Push Lawn Mower with Honda Engine weighs a hefty 90 pounds. While the self-propelled engine improves maneuverability when you mow, it is still a heavy object to lug around when it is not in operation.

Pro: Cleaner for the environment

Gasoline-powered mowers emit lots of airborne pollutants. According to the California Air Resources Board, one hour of mowing generates the same pollution as driving a car for 300 miles. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency states that gas lawn mowers contribute the lion’s share of nonroad-related air pollution generated nationwide.

A clear clean alternative is the electric lawnmower. The Electric Power Research Institute notes if we replaced half the gas-powered lawn mowers with electric ones, it would reduce the same amount of emissions as removing two million vehicles from the road. 

Pro: They can be less expensive

If you are looking to save money, electric lawn mowers might be a wise option to consider. Electric models start as low as $88, the price for the 11-inch, 10-amp Electric Hover Walk Behind Push Mower from Sun Joe. However, this model has a relatively narrow cutting width. 

Alternatively, prices for gas-powered mowers tend to start at around $170. For example, the Yardmax 20-inch 166cc OHV Gas Walk Behind Push Mower and 20-inch 125 cc Briggs & Stratton Gas Walk Behind models each cost $169 and cut wider swaths of grass. 

So saving a little cash also means you’ll take more time and effort to cut the same area than you would with a bigger mower. Generally, the wider the cutting platform, the more money you’ll pay. For instance, the wider Sun Joe Mow Joe 20-inch model will set you back $170 even though it’s an electric model. 

Con: Shorter run times

If your yard is more than half an acre, then an electric model might not be the best choice. Many electric mowers, like the Sun Joe Hover Walk Behind model use a cord. It allows you to mow a yard up to a quarter of an acre. However, that tether can also be a hindrance as you work. 

Other electric models run on charged batteries and offer runtimes ranging between 20 and 45 minutes. If it takes longer than this to mow your yard, this limitation is a problem. To finish the job, you’ll have to wait for the mower to recharge. A better solution is to keep another charged battery on hand to extend your mowing time. However, that requires you purchase an extra standalone battery.

Ryobi is known for cordless power tools, but it also sells electric lawn mowers. 


Ryobi

Con: Not the best for larger yards

For homeowners with hilly or larger yards, finding the right mower can be a challenge. A riding lawn mower like the gas-powered Torro IronForged Deck Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower will do the job. It has a huge cutting width of 60 inches and will definitely finish big yards quicker. 

You can purchase electric riding mowers as well. The Ryobi 42-inch 75ah Battery Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower offers a decent cutting width of 42 inches. Still, if you have a yard encompassing multiple acres, it will take you longer to finish the job with an electric model like this one. 

Con: They are not as powerful

When shopping for a mower, one thing to consider is its torque rating. Torque is the driving force behind a blade’s rotational movement. Electric lawn mowers generate substantially less torque on average than a gas mower does. It means a gas mower will be a much better choice to tackle challenging terrains like hills and dips. 

Overall, the lawn mower market continues to expand with diverse offerings. For homeowners with larger yards, gas-powered mowers will still be the best fit, as they have the durability and power to tackle large projects with ease. 

Meanwhile, if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, then an electric lawn mower is the wise way to go. Either route you take can help you gain a healthy-looking lawn that boosts the curb appeal and value of your home.

In the meantime, here are some other tips to keep your yard looking great:

Read more:

How to maintain your lawn during the summer

How to make a cheap, simple lawn sprinkler system

How to start a compost pile: A beginner’s guide



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