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How to Pick A Lawn Mower

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), traditional gasoline lawn mower is a public nuisance to say the least. Using one of them for an hour generates as many volatile organic compounds—dangerous airborne pollutants known to exacerbate human respiratory and cardiovascular problems—as driving a typical car for 350 miles. The EPA estimates that, with some 54 million Americans mowing their lawns on a weekly basis, gas lawn mower emissions account for as much as five percent of the nation’s total air pollution. Beyond that, homeowners spill some 17 million gallons of gasoline every year just refueling their lawn mowers.

But going electric has some minor trade-offs. Electric mowers tend to cost up to $150 more than their gas-powered counterparts, and the plug-in varieties can only go 100 feet from the closest outlet without an extension cord. And the cordless models last only 30-60 minutes on a charge, depending on battery size and type, though that’s plenty sufficient for the average lawn (just remember to re-charge it in time for the next mow).

And, of course, just because electric mowers don’t consume fossil fuels or spew emissions directly doesn’t mean they are totally green-friendly. Most people derive their household electricity from coal-fired power plants, the dirtiest of all energy sources. Of course, running an electric mower on electricity generated from clean and renewable sources (solar, wind or hydro power) would be the greenest of all possibilities, and those days may be upon us soon.

In the market for a new lawn mower, but not sure which type is best? Let us help you navigate the debate on electric vs. gas lawn mowers.

With more lawn mower models on the market than ever before, and so many sizes, styles and features to consider, making the best choice isn’t as simple as it once was. And now, electric mowers are making a big splash in the lawn care industry.

Not long ago, mower motors required too much juice for a cord or batteries to be practical. Not anymore. Modern refinements and innovations allowed corded and battery-powered electric mowers, such as twin-battery mower, to burst onto the scene with gusto.

Gas-burning mowers ignite a mixture of air and fuel, compressing it in a cylinder, then igniting it with a spark to create a miniature explosion which is harnessed to power the machine. Electric mower motors, however, feature magnets interacting with electromagnets, energizing metal coils to move rotors and create power. Electric mowers can be powered by batteries or a 120-volt receptacle via extension cord.

Motor Power

Lawn mower manufacturers can be disingenuous about the real world power levels of their products. It’s not uncommon for electric mowers, for example, to have their “max torque” specs touted as evidence they match gas-burning models in power output. This is deceptive.

Max torque gives an inflated perspective of a mower’s true power because it measures engine torque under little or no load. The fact is, horsepower is the only reasonable unit of measure for lawn mowers, which I suspect is why electric mower manufacturers don’t share this figure. The real-world horsepower of most electric mowers is half, or less than half, the horsepower of a similarly sized gas-powered machine.

How To Choose the Right Mower

Battery-powered mowers work best for people with small lots who want to minimize maintenance, noise and carbon emissions. But if noise and exhaust don’t bother you, and you just want to mow and be done with it as quickly as possible, you’re probably better off using gasoline engine.

Whether you go with gas or electric, it’s important to choose the right model for your needs. If you’ve got an acre or less to mow, a self-propelled walk-behind mower is probably your best bet. If you’ve got a larger lawn or simply don’t like walking and mowing at the same time, a riding mower will make your life much easier.

More detailed considerations like engine power, blade speed, deck width, regular range and other features come down to personal preference and available budget.

Our 2020 cordless lawn mower head-to-head will answer the question of whether cordless mowers’ performance “cut it” when compared to a gas-powered mower.

Garden Tractors

Garden tractor is lawn tractors on steroids, capable of everything lawn tractors can do plus tilling, furrowing, towing heavier cart loads, and more. Their rugged decks, anti-scalp wheels, and powerful engines enable them to slash through tough brush.

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