Buying Guide and Advice
Some years back, gas-powered lawn mowers were the common preference, but with the advent of electric tools, it became apparent that the latter is a better choice. Gas mowers are heavier and louder than their electric counterparts, and they also require more maintenance and emit toxic fumes. Electric lawn mowers, like other outdoor equipment for gardens and yards, do a fine job of cutting and trimming grass, and are environment-friendly at the same time.
What are electric lawn mowers?
Electric mowers are efficient with many advanced features, depending upon the model you choose. There are two kinds of electric mowers – corded, which draw power via electric outlets and cordless, which uses an on-board – most frequently an advanced li-ion – battery. They demonstrate simplicity and ease of use and usually start with just a single push of a button and don’t need much maintenance (you just have to clean dust, grass clippings and other debris and sharpen blades). They are the absolute choice for casual and medium to lightweight gardeners.
Who can use electric lawn mowers?
Corded and cordless electric mowers are essentially suited for lawns that are less than 8,000 square feet. That would be the area of a square lawn 90 feet on a side, or a rectangular lawn 65 feet wide and 125 feet long. These tools are best suited for grasses that grow slow, in cool climates. Lush foliage and fast growth of warm-climate grasses can provide more resistance that could prove to be tough to bypass for an electric lawn mower. They will usually be more light, agile, less prone to vibration, and easy to move around and so would better suite younger users.
Performance is judged by the cutting height adjustments, cutting path width, and battery run time. To ensure you get good performance, your lawn mower should offer single-lever, but multiple height adjustments, while the cutting path width should be at least 14 inches. When it comes to wheel sizes, you will find that units with equal sized wheels at front and rear are easier to maneuver and turn and have greater all round stability as you mow. Cutting heights should fall within a decent range, as the height of cut at different times of the year also varies. Clearly, the wider the cutting deck, the more grass you cut in one go and the faster you get the job done. However, if you have limited storage space, narrow access ways or lots of narrow twists and turns to mow around, you may need to settle for a mower with a smaller deck.
Battery run time is also important because stopping and waiting for the battery to recharge halfway through cutting your lawn is a huge hassle. Electric lawn mowers don't operate as long as gas lawn mowers – a gas mower can run as long as there is fuel in the tank, but an electric lawn mower’s battery life is limited. Some last 30 minutes, while others could provide power for an hour. To compensate for battery life, some models are equipped with two batteries (it doesn’t mean a longer run time with an extra battery). Higher-voltage batteries create stronger torque and a smoother cut. This means that when cutting thick grass, the lawn mower doesn’t use more power from the engine and battery than it does for thin grass, and it still delivers an even cut. Keep in mind that hills and thick weeds can drain battery faster.
Some models have batteries that are removable and can be charged separately. Few have battery indicators so you know exactly how much power the battery has left before needing a recharge. Options like discharge and mulching are standard options available on most models, while units have a bag that holds grass and other debris for emptying out later on. Convenience is also measured by taking into account the weight of the lawn mower – the more lightweight and compact it is, the easier it becomes to operate and push around, as it eliminates stress and strain on the body.
Corded and cordless electric mowers are typically quiet with an average of 75 decibels, so the noise level doesn’t disturb you or neighbors. Gas-powered mowers, by contrast, operate at around 90 decibels, a noise level that means you should wear ear protection. An added benefit is they don’t emit exhaust or other pollutants, which make them safe for the environment too. They are economical because they don’t require gasoline, tune-ups, oil changes, spark plugs or air filters.
As mentioned above, electric lawn mowers are designed differently than gas-powered ones. The latter tend to be made using mostly metal as they need to house bulky engines and gas tanks. Because their engines aren’t as large and they typically use batteries that weigh less than 3 pounds, cordless electric lawn mowers are usually made from plastic (natural) or polymer (synthetic) materials. That is why electric units weigh much less than gas mowers.
Safety is also an aspect that should be considered – some models are started after insertion of a key and then pulling a starter handle, while others use a key and push button. There are options available with a safety mechanism built into the lawn mower’s operation, which minimizes accidents.
Some models come with the batteries and chargers included as part of the package. Accessories include mulch plugs, grass discharge bags, auxiliary cords, etc. However, you might need to buy the battery and charger separately at times – it is recommended that only original parts and batteries be used.
Warranty & Service
Most lawn mowers have a standard 2-year limited warranty, although some models offer up to 5 years as well. A few models are listed in such a way that the tool itself has a separate warranty, while the battery has a warranty as well. Proper customer support is also necessary especially if you have after-sales queries. Reputed companies usually provide good support via email or phone. Before buying you should check to see which companies offer timely email and phone support, convenient service center locations, and thorough information to help you get the most out of your mower.
Electric lawn mowers are handy accessories to have at home, but make sure you study and understand the features, performance, and convenience of each model before coming to a decision.
See below a list of the leading products in the category I reviewed.