Why mow electric?
Gas mowers were the best option to mow lawns for a long time. Some of the first gas-powered lawn mowers arrived as early as 1902. But the engines that power them are noisy and some of the most polluting out there since they don’t have emissions reduction technologies.
Electric mowers, which were originally underpowered—even when corded, have come a long way. The battery power provided by lithium-ion technology has amped up and become less expensive, meanwhile, the brushless motors that power them have become more powerful. In fact, Consumer Reports observed that electric lawn mowers were capable of rivaling gas models in 2017 and prices have come down significantly since then.
Are electric lawn mowers any good?
Battery-powered electric mowers are now as good as gas-powered mowers since they can go anywhere other mowers can. Battery-powered mowers are becoming cost-competitive with gas mowers at the store, and have a much lower lifetime cost since they don’t require gas or oil to operate.
Electric lawn mowers offer the same set of features that gas-powered mowers do. They include grass-cutting height adjustments; grass clipping management, including mulching bagging options and side discharge; push mower, self-propelled and riding mower options; and many conveniently fold down for storage. They offer advantages over gas-powered mowers, too. Chief among them lower operating costs and less maintenance. They’re also quieter to operate, which means you’re more likely to hear kids playing around behind you when you’re mowing the lawn. They’re also easy to maneuver, as the motor and batteries for an electric mower are lighter than the gas and engine on a gas mower.
The cost of operating an electric lawn mower is significantly cheaper than a gas mower. Back in 2017 WiseBread estimated that the cost of energy to power a push gas mower when gas cost $2.30 a gallon is $1.50 per half-acre. For a battery-powered mower, it costs 10 cents to mow a half-acre assuming electricity costs 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. On an annual basis that equates to $24.00 for a gas mower and $1.60 for a battery-powered mower. Maintenance costs for electric mowers are much lower than for gas-powered mowers, too. Just think about it. No oil, spark plugs or filters to change, just sharpening the blade and maybe changing the batteries after 5 years of use. Over 10 years that adds up to $250 of maintenance for a gas mower, compared to $175 or less for a battery powered mower.
The overall use costs of an electric mower over 10 years, including maintenance and energy, are about $191. The overall use costs for a gas-powered mower including fuel and maintenance over 10 years are much higher, at $490. When you consider that the cheapest battery-powered electric lawn mowers available at retail stores like The Home Depot and Lowes are models like the Sun Joe 14-inch 28-Volt Battery Push Mower, which runs $165.99 at Home Depot, they’re really cost-competitive with gas-powered mowers. The cheapest gas-powered mower at Home Depot is the Yard Machines 20-inch, 125 cc Gas Push Mower, which runs $165.00.
How long do electric lawn mower batteries last?
This is a multi-faceted question. Lithium-ion batteries have run times and lifetimes. As previously mentioned a mower battery should have about a five-year battery life. If replaced, it can extend the mower’s life to 10 or more years. Depending on the voltage, and amp hours (Ah) offered by the battery, costs vary significantly as does the run time of the lawn mower. Most mower battery packs have a cut time between 30 minutes and 60 minutes, which will allow a homeowner to mow between a half to a third of an acre or so. If you have a small lawn you won’t need a giant mower or battery. For a bigger lawn consider a mower with a higher voltage and higher Ah battery pack. If you want a self-propelled electric lawn mower you might need an even bigger battery.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a battery-powered lawn mower is whether you want it to be part of an ecosystem of electric tools. Companies like Ryobi, Stihl, DeWalt and Black & Decker, offer electric lawn mowers and electrified tools like weed whackers and trimmers—or even drills and saws. These offer opportunities to share batteries and chargers among many pieces of equipment.
What is the best electric lawn mower?
EGO’s line of 21-inch deck lawn mowers are leading most lists in 2020. The mowers offer the same torque and power of a gas mower, thanks to their 56-volt 7.5 Ah batteries, which offer up to 60 minutes of mowing and a 40 minute charge-up time.
The EGO line is on the expensive side, starting at $399 for the push version and $499 for the self-propelled version, at The Home Depot. Prices were lower on Amazon, but without the charger and battery pack. There are plenty of other great options—depending on what you need. But some quick things to note: a smaller deck means a smaller mowing area, which is okay for small yards. More voltage and Ah mean stronger motors and longer operating times. Of course, prices are subject to change.
Also, when checking prices, always check whether the mower comes with a battery pack and charger. It might cost a lot more to buy them later on. But if you’re buying the mower as part of an ecosystem of tools—you might save some cash by not buying the mower with the battery and charger!
Here are some of the top brands and models that make the cut for different mowing needs in 2020:
As mentioned earlier, with its 21-inch deck lawn mowers, EGO’s set itself up as the company to beat. Its mowers offer up to 60 minutes of cut time and boasts a 40-minute charge time. Like any decent gas mowers, EGO’s mowers can mulch, bag and side discharge. The mower is adjustable to 6 different deck heights. Since the company offers other battery-powered products like chainsaws, leaf and snow-blowers, and trimmers, you can interchange batteries if you don’t like to have a tea or beer break while mowing.
Ryobi’s 20-inch deck, 40-volt push mower is another leader. It has a 5 Ah battery. The company claims it can mow a 1/2 acre on a single charge with a run time of about 40 minutes. It has a bay for an extra battery, which means if you have other Ryobi 40-Volt tools you don’t have to wait 90 minutes to recharge while mowing. It’s available in both push and self-propelled versions. The deck is adjustable to 7 cut heights and it has a telescoping handle. The Ryobi also offers the ability to mulch, bag, and side discharge grass clippings. The push model’s retail price is $299, self-propelled is $379.
Greenworks offers some pretty impressive features on its mowers, too. Its 80-volt 21-inch deck model has two, 2 Ah batteries, each of which will charge in 30 minutes and each last for 60 minutes. You can also buy it without the batteries. With two batteries it can almost handle a full acre of continuous mowing. The adjustable mowing deck has two blades and also offers standard features like mulching, bagging and side discharge. The mower has a suggested retail price of $499.
Greenworks also offers great battery-powered mowers with smaller batteries and deck sizes, which are ideal for small properties. Its G-Max has a 16-inch deck and uses a 40-volt, 4 Ah battery. It has five cut heights and offers bagging and mulching, but not side discharge. Plus it looks kind of like a Formula-1 racecar, which is cool. It has a suggested retail price of $299.99.
If you’re looking for an even more budget-friendly electric lawn mower for a small lawn, consider the Sun Joe iON16LM. The 16-inch deck push mower features a 40-Volt, 4 Ah battery that can deliver 40 minutes of cut time. It has six height adjustments and has a rear bag for collecting grass clippings. However, it doesn’t mulch or have a side discharge option. The Sun Joe has a suggested retail price of $279.00 with a battery or $219.00 without if you have other Sun Joe or Snow Joe products.
What about the robots, you know, the lawn Roombas?
There is an increasing number of automated, electronic robotic lawn mowers but they’re still pretty expensive. Most of the best-rated ones cost about $1,000 and Husqvarna Automowers, which received some of the best ratings from Consumer Reports and PCMag, start at $1,999.00.
The Worx Landroid WG794 was rated Consumer Reports’ best buy for a robotic lawnmower. Its setup requires the installation of a perimeter wire. Then, like a dutiful, battle-hardened Roomba, it will course over your lawn looking for errant blades of grass to battle with and cut from anywhere between 1.6 inches and 4 inches. It self-docks and can cut up to about a quarter acre of grass. On Amazon it’s listed at $999.99.