Battery Powered Lawnmower Debate: Is it Right for Me?
If you’ve been around Home Depot, Lowe’s, and even Wal-Mart this spring, it’s hard to miss the Lithium-Ion Battery Powered Lawn Mowers that have hit the shelves. The displays look nice and it’s awfully tempting to not have cords in the way or gas to mix. There’s that nagging feeling that you might be about to pull the trigger on a $400 mistake though. Have no fear, we’re here to help you decide if it’s a reasonable investment for you!
How Much Power do Battery Powered Lawn Mowers Have?
The most popular brands battery powered lawn mowers like Ryobi, GreenWorks, and Kobalt are running off of a pair of 40 volt Lithium-Ion batteries. EGO is the exception, doing the same job with a single 56 volt battery pack. We did our testing on lawns with bahia, which is a relatively light density grass. All the mowers we testing plowed through that with absolutely no issues. Realistically, any of these mowers should be able to handle any lawn, including thicker varieties like St. Augustine and Floratam. A word of caution though, you need to stay on top of your mowing. We tested one mower in some grass that had been allowed to grow to around 10 inches. It cut through it, but the quality of the cut suffered significantly and the grass stopped the blade several times. Taking a couple inches off the top will be fine, but you’re going to run into issues if you need to cut much more than that, especially on thicker lawns.
How Much Run Time Should I Expect from a Battery Powered Lawn Mower?
Run time is pretty easy to measure. The mowers we’ve tested and taken a look at will run for about 45 minutes on a single charge. Some of the dual battery systems come with a combination of 4.0 and 2.0 amp hour batteries, and could run a little longer with two 4.0’s. Some reports I’ve come across say that they will run a little over an hour. Under load though, I’m confident in the 45 minute mark. More than that will depend on how hard the motor is working.
What is the Cut Width on a Battery Powered Lawn Mower?
The smallest cut width we saw in the current generation of battery powered lawn mowers was 15-1/2 inches. The largest we’ve seen (so far!) is a 20 inch cut. Kobalt did a nice job of blending cutting width and battery efficiency by using a pair of ten inch blades instead of a single blades. Remember that a greater cut width means fewer passes to get the job done.
Any Other Considerations or Benefits?
One of the great things about battery powered lawn mowers is that they are lighter weight than gas models. This makes them much more friendly for everyone. With no gas to slosh around, they can also be stored in positions that take up less space than their combustion brethren. Running a mower off of a Lithium-ion battery is a study in efficiency. To maintain the cutting integrity, you’ll need to make sure you can keep the blades sharp and the mower clean. I’ve also noticed that the blades are lighter weight than a traditional gas mower blade. This leaves some questions into the durability of the blade if you’ve got rocks in your lawn or bounce it off the driveway. We just haven’t had ours long enough to know if that will become an issue.
Okay, Bottom Line, Who Benefits from Battery Powered Lawn Mowers?
With a run time of 45 minutes for most battery powered lawn mowers, you should be able to handle lawns up to 1/4 acre. Much more than that and you’ll need to take a break for the battery(ies) to charge or spend some money to have a spare set on hand. If you stay on top of your lawn cutting chores, you should be fine. If you mow only when code enforcement leaves you a note, you’ll want to stick with gas.
Go with a battery powered lawn mower if:
- Your lawn is a 1/4 acre or less
- You only let your lawn grow a couple of inches before cutting
- You will remember to charge the batteries
- You are good about cleaning your mower and sharpening the blades as needed