Electric Lawn Mowers – Types, Costs & Benefits

Electric Lawn Mowers – Types, Costs & Benefits

Yard maintenance is increasingly becoming electrified, California recently banned fossil-fuel burning “small off-road engines” that are primarily used in gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers.  Did you know that, according to the California Air Resources Board, operating a lawn mower for an hour produces as much smog-forming pollution as driving a car about 300 miles? In addition, lot sizes are continuing to get smaller.  Over the last 20 years the median lot size of a new single family detached home has shrunk from roughly 10,000 square feet to a little more than 8,000 square feet.  Smaller lots mean less lawn. Manufacturers of yard maintenance equipment have positioned themselves well to capitalize on these trends by leveling up their battery-powered lawn mowers to the point where they perform as well as their fossil-fuel burning counterparts.  There’s never been a better time to make the move to an electric lawn mower yourself.  

In this article, we’ll explore the three types of electric lawn mowers, those that you push, those that you ride and those that just mow themselves (well for the most part).  We’ll also examine the best electric lawn mowers on the market today as well as the costs and benefits of electric lawn mowers. Feel free to skip to the section you’re interested in:

Types of Electric Lawn Mowers
Corded vs Cordless Electric Lawn Mower
Pros and Cons of Push Electric Lawn Mowers
What is a robot lawnmower?
Electric Riding Lawn Mowers
Electric Lawn Mower Buying Considerations

Types of Electric Lawn Mowers

There are three types of electric lawn mowers; Push, Riding and Robot.

  • Electric Push Lawn Mower – electric push lawn mowers or walk behinds are the largest category of mowers on the market, which we can further refine to corded or cordless as well as self-propelled or manual push operated.
  • Electric Riding Lawn Mower – electric riding lawn mowers or ride on mowers are categorized as either classic lawn tractors or zero turn mowers.
  • Robot Lawn Mower – also known as smart lawn mowers, this class of mower is relatively new to the world of yard maintenance, but there are nearly a dozen models to choose from already 

Corded vs Cordless Electric Lawn Mower

There are two types of walk behind electric lawnmowers: corded and cordless. Corded mowers need to be plugged into an outdoor electrical socket while cordless mowers use a battery to power the mower.

Although both mowers are electric, they’ve got some differences that matter.

Mower Maintenance

Both corded and cordless mowers require very little maintenance outside of proper blade maintenance.  However, the biggest hassle, if you can call it that, with a cordless mower is the battery. It needs charging after every use, and if you forget you might be left waiting another day before you can mow your lawn.  A cordless mower’s battery may only last 7 years before it stops holding a charge. As the battery ages your run time and power will diminish.

Mower Costs

If you’re on a budget, a corded lawn mower is cheaper upfront. You will also eventually need to replace the battery for a cordless lawn mower.  However, battery systems in most electric mowers are swappable with other yard maintenance equipment from the same manufacturer, which can justify multiple batteries.  Having two or more batteries will increase the run time of your mower, but allowing you to swap out the discharged battery with a fresh battery mid mow.  A cordless lawn mower will cost you about $0.02 per hour to run compared to a corded version costing $0.20 to $0.60 per hour based on the price of your electricity.

Mower Mobility

A cordless lawn mower is the fast and easy way to cut your grass. The lack of a cord means you’ll be able to maneuver your mower around trees and gardens more easily, and you will find that you can travel farther away from your home without being tethered to an electrical outlet.  Cords have a way of being a nuisance. They’ll get in the way of your mower and you’ll spend a lot of time moving them. On the other hand, cordless lawn mowers are heavier than corded ones because of the battery pack. 

Mower Power

Your electric lawn mower needs power to do its job and make your life easier. The key question is, will it come from a cord or a battery? Generally speaking, a corded lawn mower is more powerful than a cordless, but as battery technology continues to improve that gap is narrowing.  With the battery, more voltage equals more torque and power to cut through grass efficiently.

Mower Run Time

So this comparison is probably pretty obvious, a corded lawn mower will last as long as you need to do the job (unless of course you pull a Clark Griswold and forget to plug it in).  Batteries in a cordless have run times ranging from 50 to 90 minutes before needing to swap it out for a fresh battery or charge the drained battery.

Push Electric Lawn Mowers

  • Ryobi RY401200
  • Ryobi RY401110
  • DR Power Equipment CE75021XEN0
  • Ego LM2101
  • DeWalt DCMWP233U2
  • DeWalt DCMW220P2
  • Atlas 80v Brushless 21″
  • Hart HLPM011
  • Stihl RMA 510
  • Kobalt (Lowe’s) KM 2041B-06
  • Snapper 1687884
  • Wen 40441
  • Makita XML03PT1
  • Sun Joe 24V-X2-17LM
  • Sun Joe MJ401C-XR
  • Black+Decker CM2060C
  • Black+Decker CM2045
  • Black+Decker CM2040
  • Oregon LM400-A6
  • Worx WG779

Self Propelled Electric Lawn Mowers

  • Ryobi RY401150US
  • Ryobi RY401140US
  • Ego LM2156SP
  • Ego LM2142SP
  • Ego LM2102SP
  • Ego LM2135SP
  • Makita XML08PT
  • Toro Recycler 21466
  • Sun Joe iON100V-21LM
  • Skil SM4910-10
  • Atlas 56992
  • Kobalt (Lowe’s) KMP 6080-06
  • Hart HLPM031
  • Hart HLPM021
  • DR Power Equipment Pulse CE77021XEN0
  • Stihl RMA 460V
  • Snapper 1687982
  • Greenworks MO48L520
  • Greenworks MO80L510

Pros and Cons of Push Electric Lawn Mowers

While the list of reasons to buy an electric lawn mower is really compelling there are a couple of tradeoffs to understand as you continue on your electrification journey.

Electric Lawn Mower Pros:

  • Little to no maintenance compared to fossil-fuel burning alternatives
  • Batteries are typically interchangeable with other tools from the same manufacturer
  • Easier to start (push of a button)
  • Lighter and easier to maneuver
  • Much, much quieter

Electric Lawn Mower Cons: 

  • More limited run times
  • Higher initial purchase price, but better ROI over the life of the product

What is a robot lawnmower and how does it work vs plain electric lawn mowers?

As we continue the transition to an electrified, fully connected world no machine is immune from getting smarter and the lawn mower is no exception.  A smart lawn mower, mowbot or robomower is actually an electric, battery powered mower that looks like a Roomba on steroids compared to a traditional electric mower that looks similar to their fossil-fuel burning, gas powered walk behind, push mowers you are used to using or seeing.  Robotic lawn mowers use similar technology to robotic vacuum cleaners with the help of a perimeter wire placed around your yard to prevent them from mowing all the lawns in the neighborhood.

So, how do robotic lawn mowers actually work?

Let’s take a closer look at how mowbots work, examining the cutting technology to the algorithms used to wander around your lawn while you are watching the game.

First, let’s start with how robotic lawn mowers actually cut the grass.  Conventional walk behind lawn mowers are typically very powerful, with larger cutting blades designed to help you mow your lawn quickly and effectively.  While robotic lawn mowers have smaller cutting blades,  designed to mow your lawn more frequently.

Different mowbots use one of two primary cutting systems; a rotating disc with small blades attached to the perimeter or solid cutting blades, usually a set of three.  The rotating disc system uses less energy and is quieter than the solid cutting blade system, but both systems are much much quieter than gas powered lawn mowers.

Both of these cutting systems are engineered to cut your lawn more frequently than you would with a traditional lawn mower. This is a design decision based on the constraints of battery technology and run time, but also more frequent cuts provide the benefit of having a healthier, recently mowed lawn look.

Robotic lawn mowers weigh roughly 20-40 pounds and are about the size of a large suitcase.  Their low center of gravity allows them to move with relative ease over different slopes in your lawn without falling over.  Mowbots don’t move fast and collisions with trees, firepits, gophers or pretty much any other backyard obstacle were taken into consideration. The exterior shell can bump into an obstacle without damaging the inner workings. In addition, the combination of low ground clearance, on board lift and tilt sensor that automatically stop the spinning blades make mowbots incredibly safe to operate.

The brains of the mowbot use a low-power sophisticated computer system that controls the mowing pattern as well as the mowing and charging schedule.

Finally, unlike robotic vacuums though, robotic lawn mowers require the use of a boundary wire to define the “walls” in which they need to mow within and also act as a guide for the mowbot to return to it’s charging station.  Some models of robotic lawn mowers also use the help of GPS to define their boundaries. 

How much is a robot lawnmower vs a plain electric lawn mower?

Robot lawn mowers range in cost from $800 to $3,500 compared to electric push lawn mowers, which range from  $300 to $800.  The major manufacturers of robotic lawn mowers are Husqvarna, Worx, Greenworks, Gardena and Robomow.

  • Husqvarna Automower 115H
  • Husqvarna Automower 115H with 4G
  • Husqvarna Automower 315X
  • Husqvarna Automower 430X
  • Husqvarna Automower 430XH
  • Worx Landroid WR140
  • Worx Landroid WR143
  • Worx Landroid WR147
  • Worx Landroid WR153
  • Worx Landroid WR155
  • Gardena Sileno Minimo 5400
  • Gardena Sileno Minimo 2700
  • Gardena Sileno City 250
  • Gardena Sileno City 500
  • Gardena Sileno Life 750
  • Robomow RT300
  • Robomow RT700
  • Robomow RK1000
  • Robomow RK1000 Pro
  • Robomow RK2000
  • Robomow RS625 Pro
  • Robomow RS635 S

Did you know that, according to the California Air Resources Board, operating a gas-powered lawn mower for an hour produces as much smog-forming pollution as driving a car about 300 miles?

Electric Riding Lawn Mowers

If you have a larger lawn to mow there are actually some solid options in the battery powered riding lawn mower market.  Prices range from a low of $2,800 to $9,900.  Manufacturers of electric riding lawn mower include Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Ego, Mean Green, Ryobi, Turf One and Weibang.

Electric riding lawn mowers offer similar benefits to walk behind electric lawn mowers.  You can expect little to no maintenance.  There is no need to change oil, oil filters, spark plugs, belts and air filters like you would with a fossil-fuel burning internal combustion engine.  Electric riding lawn mowers are just more convenient.  No more filling up jugs of gas and wiping up spills as from refills.  Electric riding lawn mowers are much quieter than gas-powered ones, but you may find you still want to wear hearing protection when the blades are engaged.

While electric riding lawn mowers cost substantially more upfront you’ll actually save more over the life of the product compared to a gas riding mower.

Electric Lawn Mower Buying Considerations

Battery, Motor & Runtime

There are so many choices for electric riders on the market, which is why there are so many different specs. The first thing to think about is the type and number of motors. There are two main types of electrical motors – brushed and brushless. Not to get into the weeds (requiring an electric weed whacker) but brushless motors are considered better than brushed ones because they produce less heat and provide better performance. In addition, brushless motors have a longer life span, because they don’t need to be replaced or have their brushes changed.  Brushed motors can be found for less money but are less powerful. Brushless motors are more expensive but require less juice. Batteries range from 40V and 60 Ah to 72V and 100 Ah, but what really matters is the type of battery. Lithium-Ion is preferred because it lasts longer.

Deck Size And Adjustments

The most important measurement to consider is the width of the lawn mower. This number ranges from 28 to 48 inches. The number of height adjustments also varies. Good electric lawn mowers have anywhere from 10 to 15 height settings. The best ones come with a one-handed lever for easy adjustments without getting off the rig. If you have grass to cut on properties with different types of grass or terrain, this is the most important factor to take into account.

Comfort And Ease Of Use

One factor many people tend to overlook is the comfort and ease of use of a lawn mower. This is important and should be a primary concern while shopping for a lawn mower. A comfortable seat, easy-to-use controls, and a steering system that fits you well are important considerations given how many hours of seat time you’ll clock over the life of your mower.

Sound Level

Quiet operation is an important factor in any mower purchase. Thankfully, modern electric riding mowers are generally available with very reasonable dB ratings, ranging from 70 dB to 90 dB.

Price And Warranty

You should also think about the long-term use and cost of the electric riding lawn mowers you are considering. Not just the price, but take a close look at the warranty and what it covers, what are the costs to replace key parts like blades or tires. 

In summary, electric lawnmowers whether they are robotic, walk behind or riding offer many benefits from quieter, cleaner operation to less maintenance and a much lower impact on the environment.

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