I recently took the first step towards home electrification by switching out my gasoline-powered lawn mower for an electric one. In this article, I’m going to compare my new electric lawn mower vs my gasoline powered one and weigh up the electric lawn mower pros and cons.
For me, the first mow of spring always brings on a slight feeling of anxiety. Will the mover start? Starting a gas-powered mower is never easy. Starting one that has been sitting idle in a shed throughout the New England winter is harder still.
And this year, despite my best efforts (and more than a few curse words) it wouldn’t start.
The truth is, I could probably have taken it to a local shop for a relatively inexpensive tune up and everything would have been fine for at least a few more seasons. But I run a website called Switching to Electric so it was time I made this switch.
But just because I made the switch, that doesn’t mean that electric lawn mowers are for everyone.
In this article, I’m going to delve deep into electric lawn mower pros and cons and weigh those up against their gasoline-powered counterparts. We’ll also consider the pros and cons of corded vs cordless electric lawn mowers and talk about early mowers and how far they’ve come in recent years.The aim is to help you figure out of you’re ready to make the switch to electric garden tools.
Early Electric Lawn Mowers
In the early days, electric lawn mowers were limited by their cords and the need to stay at least reasonably close to an electric outlet. As you might expect, these early machines didn’t exactly fly off the shelves.
It is only in the last few years that cordless electric lawn mowers have started to gain traction with homeowners. Now there are several brands of lawn mowers that can do just about everything a gas-powered mower can do – often more elegantly and efficiently.
Electric Lawn Mower Pros and Cons
While electric lawn mowers have clearly come a long way, they’re still not for everyone. Here, then are our seven pros and cons to owning one.
1. Environmental Benefits
Obviously, we’re a website devoted to saving the planet through full home (and garden) electrification, so we’re going to lean towards electric lawn mowers over gasoline-powered ones.
Electrifying your garden tools is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce your carbon emissions. Using gas-powered tools emits far more CO2 than most people realize, typically releasing 20 to 300 times more pollution than a standard automobile.
That is because garden tools have not been subject to the same strict emissions standards that the automobile industry has had to abide by in recent years. What’s more, the Freedonia Group estimates that there are 650 million gas-powered outdoor tools in use today. So there are a LOT of machines out there, each having a disproportionately large impact on the climate crisis.
Electric lawn mowers help in this regard by offering emission-free operation. So in theory, this makes them the natural choice if you are keen on reducing your carbon footprint.
But emissions don’t just happen in the garden. How the electricity you use to charge your lawnmower is actually generated, also plays into the calculation. The good news here is that everyone’s electricity is getting greener, although just how green varies depending on where you live.
In New England, where I live, an average of 25% of our grid power currenlty comes from renewable sources, with mandates already passed into law that require that percentage to grow over time.
So even before I install my solar panels, I’m definitely lowering my carbon footprint with my electric lawn mower. When I get my solar panels installed, a far higher portion of my own electricity generation will shift to renewables.
What About the Batteries?
Most modern cordless models come with rechargeable batteries which can typically be expected to last for 10 years. For my Ego 56v self-propelled electric lawn mower there is a phone number for Call2Recycle printed on the battery that you can call for recycling information.
It turns out that my own home town’s transfer station, less than three miles away, is listed as a drop-off location. Easy peasy.
2. Noise Levels
If tranquility matters when doing yard chores then a quieter-running electric lawn mower might be appealing. The lower noise level also gives you more flexibility on when you can mow.
I prefer to mow early morning and can do so now without disturbing the neighbors. And I have one busy friend who can now mow in the early evenings, after she’s put her toddler to bed, without fear of waking up the sleeping child.
3. Ease of Operation
Electric lawn mowers are much lighter than their gas-powered equivalents, which makes them easier to operate. There are also self-propelled versions that require less effort to push them, and the multiple speed settings means you also need less effort to stop the machine when you’re approaching a flower bed or a tree.
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve cut the head off a pretty flower when I was unable to pull back my old gas-powered lawn mower in time and ran the blade over the edge of a flower bed. That never happens now with my electric lawn mower.
4. Faster Cut Times
One surprising benefit is that mowing just takes way less time with an electric lawn mower vs a gas-powered one. Every time I have to stop to either empty the bag or move some garden furniture, it just takes a push of a button to get mowing again, compared to 3-4 pulls of a cord with my old gas guzzler.
And if I have to refuel mid-mow, it takes a trip to shed to find the gasoline can, a walk back to the mower to fill the tank and then I have to put the can somewhere safe while I finish mowing.
A few seconds here and a minute or two there may not seem like much but it shaves a surprising amount of time off a chore that I’d like to get finished as quickly as possible.
5. Easier to Transport
The lighter weight also makes them easier to transport. One of my occasional household chores is to occasionally mow my father-in-law’s lawn. Not every week like ours but a few times each summer.
Their house is about a mile away from ours and that involves loading our mower into the back of our SUV. Our new electric lawn mower is so much easier to take over there than the old gas-powered one was.
6. Ease of Maintenance
When we compare typical routine requirements between an electric lawn mower and a gasoline-powered one, it’s clear how much more convenient owning an electric model could turn out to be.
Without the constant need for oil changes, air filter replacements, spark plug cleaning and other maintenance, it’s clear that owning an electric lawn mower is far less hassle.
The only maintenance that you’ll need after switching to electric is to sharpen the blade, which you may need to do more frequently than for a gasoline-powered mower. That’s because gas-powered mowers offer a consistent level of power as long as there is fuel, which means you can get away with a slightly dull blade for longer.
Meanwhile, electric mowers may slow down as the battery drains so a really sharp blade is more important.. That said, for me it’s still only twice a season – once in the spring and again in time for leaf mulching in the fall.
Maintenance, of course, usually involves cost, so it’s something that needs to be taken into consideration when discussing price. While electric lawnmowers are typically more expensive than their gasoline-powered equivalents, you have to look beyond just the initial purchase price.
Total cost of ownership (TCO) is a concept we need to get familiar with as we make the transition to an all-electric future. As with many electric machines, the upfront investment may be higher, but this could easily be offset in the long run through lower maintenance and operating costs. Furthermore, local utilities often provide incentives towards promoting cleaner energy appliances which might help bring down the overall expenditure even further. I was able to get a $75 rebate from MassSave to offset my initial purchase. The online application was quick and easy.
As you probably gathered, there were a whole lot of pros there and not too many cons. Fact is, I love my new electric lawn mower and can’t stop telling anyone who’ll listen just how much better it is than my old gas one.
I can’t believe I waited this long to get one. I’ll be electrifying the rest of my garden tools as soon as my budget allows. It really is the low-hanging fruit of the home electrification movement.