Best Electric Lawn Mower
In this day and age of increasingly common extreme weather events, high levels of pollution in urban areas, awareness about the effects human society is having on the global climate is affecting consumers’ decisions on a larger and larger scale.
Hybrid cars are more popular than ever, clean burning fuels are en vogue, energy efficient appliances are the norm, and it seems like every time you turn around someone else is proposing a new alternative form of clean energy. We all want to be responsible citizens of planet Earth, but it can be hard to figure out exactly what an individual homeowner can do.
But as you are probably already quite aware, one of the best steps homeowners can take to improve their relationship with the environment is to reduce the overall carbon footprint of their households. Perhaps not surprisingly, I think many of the best ways you can do this lie in your yard and garden. Of course, you can switch to organic gardening methods, eliminate chemical fertilizers and weed killers, and compost and mulch your yard waste instead of throwing it away. Those are all great first steps, and they can go a long way to improving the sustainability of your yard.
But one area in which you can have the highest impact on your overall carbon footprint is simply by switching from gas powered yard appliances to electric ones. If you are like most Americans, your lawn takes up the most space in your yard. The EPA estimates that gas powered residential lawn mowers are responsible for over five percent of the total carbon emissions produced by American households every year. Running the average sized walk behind gas lawn mower for just one hour puts as many pounds of carbon into the atmosphere as driving a sedan for seventy miles would. Overall, gas lawn mowers are responsible for consuming as much as 800 million gallons of gas each year. And it’s not just carbon emissions: gas mowers give off plenty of other toxic pollutants as well.
Once you understand just how much of an impact a gas powered lawn mower can have on the environment, you will probably want to switch to electric if you have the right yard for it. Most electric lawn mowers do not have the ability to cut much more than about 1/3 of an acre, so homeowners with very big yards generally do not have the option to switch to electric just yet. But the vast majority of American homeowners do have yards that are 1/3 of an acre or less.
If you are one of these homeowners, you can enjoy the considerable advantages electric lawn mowers offer. But finding the best one can be difficult: there are dozens of different mowers out there, and they range widely in price and features offered. But by paying attention to a few important characteristics that the best electric lawn mowers have, you can be sure you are getting the perfect one for your yard.
1. Best Electric Lawn Mower Characteristics
1a. Power Cords & Batteries
Electric lawn mowers run on one of two types of power: onboard battery packs or power outlets. Which one is best? Well, that one depends on a few different things, including the size of your lawn, how available power outlets are around your property, and your own personal preference. There are advantages and drawbacks to both batteries and power cords. Batteries give you more freedom of movement than power cords, because you are not tied to an outlet, and you also do not have to worry about the hassle of tangled extension cords or accidentally running over a power cord that is hidden in tall grass. But power cords have the advantage that they never run out of juice, so you can run a lawn mower off of them almost indefinitely.
I think that if you can find an electric lawn mower with a solid battery at a good price, it is almost always better than a power cord, particularly if you have a big lawn or a front lawn that is far away from any power outlets. There are a few characteristics to look for in a battery powered electric lawn mower that will indicate that it is the best one out there. First, traditional batteries are lead-acid, but in the past several years, lithium ion batteries have become cheaper to manufacture, and so they have begun to be more common. A lithium ion battery is almost always superior to a lead-acid one, although electric lawn mowers with these batteries are going to be slightly more expensive than ones with traditional batteries.
But in any battery you choose, there are a few features that will make one better than another. In a nutshell, you want a battery that charges to full power quickly and then holds that charge for as long as possible. Some electric lawn mowers have batteries that can take as much as twelve to sixteen hours to charge. That means you basically have to leave them plugged in overnight once they run out of juice before you can use them again. It’s much better to find a battery that charges in four to six hours. That way, you can hit the back lawn in the morning, charge the battery, and knock out the front lawn in the evening. Better still is a battery that can hold its charge for long enough to do both yards. There are batteries out there that can hold a charge for 45 minutes or more; try to find one of those.
1b. Cutting Deck
Electric lawn mowers have limits to how wide their cutting decks can get, it’s true. But that does not mean you have to settle for a tiny cutting width that is going to force you to spend all morning trundling back and forth over your lawn to get it cut. In recent memory electric lawn mowers have gotten slightly wider almost every calendar year, and these days they are comparable in size to plenty of small and medium sized gas powered lawn mowers. Electric lawn mowers have cutting decks that start at about fourteen inches and can go all the way up to twenty or more. Twenty inches is a pretty good width to ensure you finish cutting your lawn quickly and efficiently.
A wider cutting deck that is backed up by a battery with a solid run time will allow the average suburban homeowner – even those with lawns that are on the high side of medium – to cut all of their grass on a single charge. And it goes without saying that this is what you want. It’s best this way not only because you do not have to wait to recharge the battery before you can finish the job, but also because cutting your lawn in fewer passes saves you time and energy, and the less time you spend on your lawn chores, the more time you can spend doing what you want to do – relaxing with your family or cooking out with your buddies.
The design of the cutting deck will affect the lawn mower’s performance significantly. First of all, you want to make sure the lawn mower has the kind of hardened steel blades that are going to be able to tackle tough varieties of grass and power through dense patches on the lawn. Make sure the blades are made of heavy gauge steel, too. This is another reason to find a lawn mower with a solid battery, by the way: you want to be sure the battery can power the cutting blade reliably through whatever kind of grass you need to cut. It is also best to make sure the cutting deck is nice and deep so that air can circulate properly through it. Without proper air circulation, the cutting blades will just blow grass leaves down and pass over them, and will result in a lot of missed grass, forcing you to go back over the same ground twice.
1c. Solid Materials
When you are investing in a new yard machine like an electric lawn mower, you want to make sure your money is being well spent. The last thing anyone wants is to drop several hundred dollars on a brand new lawn mower, only to find out that it is made of less than the highest quality materials and that it will not hold up to the rigors of periodic use. Worse still is buying an expensive electric lawn mower only to have it break down or have the battery give out after just a year or two of use.
You want a lawn mower that is going to hold up to the long term, rarely if ever need repairs or servicing, and keep cutting your lawn for years at a time. Consumers who continually stick to gas powered lawn mowers in spite of the fact that great electric lawn mowers exist often do so because they do not trust electric lawn mowers to have the kind of durability that gas lawn mowers often boast. But there are plenty of solid electric lawn mowers out there that are just as durable as gas powered ones; the key is to know what to look for.
As I already mentioned, you absolutely want to make sure you are purchasing a lawn mower that has durable steel cutting blades – heat treated ones, if possible. But that isn’t the only part of the lawn mower that should be durable. The deck housing (or body) of the lawn mower should also be made of durable materials. Of course, steel is going to be the toughest material you can find for an electric lawn mower. Usually these machines are made of stamped, rather than welded, steel. For residential use that is fine. It should be enough to protect the mower from dings and dents.
Plenty of electric lawn mowers have deck housing made of plastic, though. This can also be fine, provided you get one with the right kind of plastic. Make sure the housing is made of a tough composite polymer that is not going to crack or break with the slightest bump. Similarly, the wheels should be made of tough material. Rubber tires with deep treads are always the best, but these are not always available on electric mowers. Make sure the wheels are big and made of tough composite materials just like the deck housing.
1d. Lightweight & Compact
Electric lawn mowers come in a variety of sizes, and some are considerably bigger than they need to be. A lawn mower should only be a few inches wider than its cutting deck is; there is no compelling reason to have a deck housing that is six inches wider than the deck or more. When this is the case, all it does is create more work for the operator. That is because you will not be able to maneuver the cutting blades as close as possible to fences, walls, or other obstacles on the lawn. And due to that you will wind up having to go back over these areas with an edger to trim all of the grass that was missed. To minimize this, make sure the cutting deck width is as close as possible to the total width of the lawn mower.
The overall dimensions of the lawn mower are going to affect other aspects of its convenience as well, though. An unnecessarily big and bulky lawn mower is going to be much more difficult to find storage space for in your garage or tool shed. You want to find a machine that can be easily tucked away in a corner until you need to use it – especially if you are like me and have a garage that is already full of wheelbarrows, hand carts, planters of all shapes and sizes, mulching and composting supplies, and all kinds of gardening equipment. Even better is if the lawn mower has a handle that folds down for even more convenient storage; then you can tuck it away underneath a work bench or shelving unit.
I also recommend finding a unit that is not so heavy that you will have difficulty maneuvering it around your yard, especially if you are a senior citizen like me and your physical form is not quite what it used to be. Battery powered electric lawn mowers are almost always going to be heavier than plug-in units, because the batteries themselves can weigh a lot. Lithium ion batteries, by the way, are considerably lighter than lead-acid ones, which is yet another advantage to them. Electric lawn mowers with lead-acid batteries can range from forty to ninety pounds, while those with lithium ion batteries tend to be between thirty and fifty pounds. Make sure you are getting one that is light enough for you to maneuver it easily.
1e. Great Accessories
Someone once said that it’s the little things in life that make all the difference, and in my experience that is definitely the case. It is true for everything in the garden from hand trowels to lawn tractors, and it certainly applies to electric lawn mowers as well. There are plenty of additional features beyond the basics that will have a huge impact on the overall grass cutting experience one lawn mower can give you as compared to another. Once you have narrowed down your selection to a few electric lawn mowers based on power source, the cutting deck, materials and manufacturing, and size and weight, it is time to get down to the accessories.
A big one is the propulsion mechanism. Most electric lawn mowers are push mowers, but models exist that have self-propulsion drives, and that can be convenient. Make sure if you decide to get a lawn mower with this feature that it has a range of speeds and that it has a battery that can support both the cutting deck and the rear wheel drive – otherwise you’re going to have a dead mower on your hands.
Next are the grass management options. All mowers have the same basic grass management platform, in which clippings are discharged out the side of the deck. I prefer to have options – as does anyone – and I think it is better to find a model that has a mulching option that allows you to chop clippings into tiny pieces that will break down faster into the soil as well as a rear bag for collecting clippings for composting.
Features like the ease of adjusting the wheels can make a huge difference. You want to be able to select the perfect height to keep your grass looking healthy and lush, so a wide range is best, and within that range you should have a number of options. One-touch adjustment is more convenient than having to change every wheel independently.
A removable battery is always better than an integrated one, especially if you have a big yard, because this gives you the option to switch the battery out for a fresh one when it runs out of juice. It also makes it easier to service or trade in the battery if you are having problems. And a charger with a battery indicator life can be a huge help.
Finally, safety features like a child proof electric key start are important. I also like my lawn mowers to have a dead man switch that shuts off the cutting deck if you let go of it – that way you can be sure to avoid any unnecessary accidents.
2. Best Electric Lawn Mower Reviews
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