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.
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.
It’s hard to measure exactly how much run time you’ll get from a tank of gas in your average fuel-burning mower, because much depends on the speed you run it and the density of the grass you’re cutting. It’s a safe bet, though, that a tank of gas will last longer than a fully charged battery on any equivalent electric model.
Most electric mower manufacturers give a maximum run time estimate, which for push and self-propelled mowers is almost always an hour or less. Riding electric mowers might run two hours, tops, on a single charge. Plug-in mowers don’t require batteries and will keep running continuously unless there’s a power outage. In that case, a generator with sufficient voltage capacity can keep you going.
The Environment and Noise
While power and run time certainly favor gas-powered mowers, noise and environmental considerations support electric. Battery-powered mowers have zero carbon emissions, so running one won’t contribute to climate change.
Noise is also a factor worth considering. Many municipalities regulate the acceptable amount of yard noise. Big, beefy gas-powered mowers can easily exceed these guidelines, but battery-powered mowers almost certainly won’t.
Note: Some users find vibration is more severe and bothersome with gas burning mowers than electric.