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Battery-Powered Lawnmowers Make the Cut

Thanks to high customer demand, the day has finally arrived when battery-powered mowers perform just as well as a gas-powered ones. Cordless, battery-powered push mowers are now mainstream. These environmentally-friendly mowers are 30-40% quieter than gas ones, require minimal maintenance, usually start on the first try and don’t spew noxious fumes. Now may be the perfect time to invest in a battery mower, especially considering the current high gas prices.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself to determine if a battery-powered mower is right for you and your lawn:

  1. Will you enjoy:
    • Never having to change the oil or spark plugs, or worry that the gasoline will go bad?
    • Less noise?
    • A lightweight (about 20 pounds compared with about 80 pounds for gas-powered), easier to use machine?
    • A machine that folds up for easy storage??
    • Saving money? (Battery-powered mowers use just $3-4 of electricity per year compared to gas mowers that use at least $30-40 annually in gas and oil.)
    • Protecting the environment?
  1. Is your lawn less than an acre?
  2. Do you mow about every five days in the spring when grass grows rapidly? (If grass is allowed to grow tall it will stress the engine because it requires extra force.)

Here are some considerations for choosing a battery-powered lawnmower.

Determine your lawn size. Use Zillow or Redfin to find your lot size, or try measuremylawn.com to accurately determine your lawn size. For any space less than one acre, a battery mower should be up to the task. A battery mower typically runs 25-40 minutes on a single charge. A large lawn may require you to switch to a second battery (about $40 to $150), unless you opt to mow the front and back on different days.

Purchase a reputable brand. For major equipment purchases, resourceful consumers know to shop name brands with strong track records. It doesn’t particularly matter where you buy your mower from as long as the brand has a solid reputation for products and customer service. Look for unbiased reviews online and/or watch video reviews to watch the machines in action.

Overwhelmed by choices? Shop from an authorized dealer to help you evaluate your lawn needs and answer questions. You will also have an opportunity to test-drive various models to get a feel for which one has the best fit for you. Buy your new mower with a credit card that offers cash back and rewards, so you’ll earn money back or points on your purchase.

Take advantage of a one-battery system. You may own other products that use the same battery and charger, such as a string trimmer or leaf blower. Manufacturers are trying to ensure that their rechargeable battery is interchangeable across all power tools. So you have two choices: You can either buy the full version and swap the battery from your other tools for additional run time; or, you can purchase the tool without the battery and save money.

Hand-push vs. self-propelled (vs. robot). There are two types of push mowers: hand-push and self-propelled. With self-propelled, you simply walk behind the machine as it cuts the grass. One aspect to consider is that battery-powered mowers aren’t that heavy and the self-propelled function quickly drains the battery and increases mower cost. But the choice is yours. If you’ve saved a good chunk of change you may want to consider robot lawn mowers that do their work autonomously.

Ask the retailer about repair logistics. One of the most important aspects to consider is how to resolve an issue that may arise with the mower, so ask your retailer before purchasing. Some companies have authorized dealers, others insist you ship it back in the box to the factory for repair, and others allow repairs from a local establishment.

Look for durability. Metal decking protects the mower motor. It’s typically recommended to avoid plastic decking. Nearly all newer battery mowers have a brushless motor, but you should confirm this with the retailer. Brushless motors are more energy-efficient and run longer than brushed ones.

Easy maintenance and storage. Although battery-powered mowers require little service (no gas, oil, air filter or spark plug changes), you should have the blades sharpened at least once a year and recharge the battery before each use. Also, you can store your mower covered or in a non-temperature-controlled space, but keep the battery and charger indoors where it’s safe from moisture and temperature swings.

Extra features. With several companies competing for buyers, some manufacturers offer extra features to distinguish their products. For instance, some Toro models come with Personal Pace—the faster you walk the quicker the self-propelled mower runs, and it slows when you do. Some mowers have an eco-­mode that slows the blade to save battery life; others can sense if the grass is thick and will ramp the power when you need it. The one feature you really shouldn’t pay for is lights. Not only is it a battery killer, but it’s inadvisable to mow in the dark. You can find other money-saving tips on our Financial Know How page.

Switching to a battery-operated electric mower has serious appeal. Today’s mowers are capable of effectively cutting most small yards and a few rival the gas-cutting power of traditional gas-burning machines.

Resources: familyhandyman.com, Washington Post, cnet.com

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