Electric Lawn Mower Buying Guide
Regularly cutting the grass is as important to the health of your lawn as regularly watering and fertilizing it.
When you are looking to buy a new lawn mower, an electric lawn mower can be a very good choice.
In the last twenty years, electric lawn mowers have become an increasingly popular option for lawn care as more and more homeowners give up gas powered mowers for the quieter, more environmentally friendly option.
Gas powered mowers are more expensive to run than electric lawn mowers and they require you to keep smelly gas cans and messy oil cans in your garage.
In addition, the EPA estimates that gas powered mowers are responsible for over a million tons of carbon emissions every year; electric lawn mowers are the clear option for environmentally conscious lawn care.
There are a number of aspects to consider when you are looking for an electric lawn mower, including whether to buy a cordless or plug-in mower, the size of the mower’s cutting swath, grass management, height adjustments, and safety features, whether to buy a self propelled or push mower, and finally, how much you should plan to spend on an electric lawn mower.
Because there are so many options to consider, shopping for an electric lawn mower can seem like a confusing, overwhelming chore. But there is no reason it has to be. This guide is designed to help you figure out exactly what you want in an electric lawn mower, and will thoroughly cover the ins and outs of each of these options. After you have read it, you will be able to shop for an electric lawn mower with confidence.
1. Electric Lawn Mower is a Good Buyer’s Choice
Opting to buy an electric lawn mower is an excellent choice, and here’s why. The easiest argument to make for using an electric lawn mower is that it will save you money. Instead of spending money on gasoline, oil changes, and new spark plugs, as you would have to with a gas powered mower, you will save money with a mower that runs on much more inexpensive electric power. Over the course of one summer, you will spend less than twenty dollars powering your electric mower. Gas powered mowers, on the other hand, will cost hundreds of dollars every year to power and maintain.
Another reason electric lawn mowers are a great choice is the environmental factor. Gas powered mowers are huge polluters, spewing out carbon emissions every time you use them, and filling your yard and clothes with fumes. Electric mowers run on emission free power, and opting to use one will help to reduce your overall carbon footprint significantly.
Also, electric lawn mowers run much more quietly than gas powered mowers, which has several advantages. You will not be contributing to noise pollution in your neighborhood or bothering your next door neighbors with a loud mower if you go electric. This means you will be able to mow your lawn early in the morning without disturbing your neighbors, before the hot sun is beating down on your backyard. Then, you can relax while your neighbors are sweating away, mowing their lawns in the midday heat!
So as you can see, there are a number of reasons why an electric mower is a great choice. Now, let’s consider what you should be looking for when you are shopping for an electric lawn mower.
2. Electric Lawn Mower Buying Specifications
2a. Cordless or Corded Electric Lawn Mower?
You have the option of either buying battery powered, cordless electric lawn mowers, or corded electric lawn mowers that plugs into an extension cord. There are pros and cons to each, and you will have to weigh them against your own needs to decide which one is best for you.
A plug in mower requires you to buy one or more extension cords, and its range will be limited by their length. You will also have to take care while you are mowing to avoid accidentally tripping on the power cords, or worse, running over them with the mower and slicing them in two. Using a plug in mower is usually better if you have an outdoor power source and a lawn that is not too big. You do not want to have to string several power cords together in order to reach the furthest corners of your lawn. Power cords can be a bit of a hassle to store and maintain; if you do not make sure to carefully wind them up every time you put them away, they can quickly become a tangled mess. But plug in mowers are advantageous in that you never have to worry about whether they will have enough power to finish the whole job in one shot. Also, you don’t have to worry about a battery holding less charge as it gets older or eventually dying altogether.
While those are the major drawbacks to battery powered lawn mowers, there are a number of advantages batteries offer that plug in mowers can’t. You will never have to worry about power cords getting in your way or accidentally pulling out of their socket when you are at the far end of the yard. You do not have to wind up and store any power cords, and you can easily maneuver a cordless mower all around your house. Its range is unlimited, and your only concern will be how much you can finish before the battery runs out.
Because of that, battery life is an important consideration to carefully look into if you are thinking about buying a cordless electric lawn mower. Manufacturers provide estimates of both the area a fully charged cordless mower can cover before the battery runs out as well as the total time the mower can run on a single charge. Some mowers will have batteries that can run for longer than others, although there is almost always another area where performance suffers. Usually it will be the mower’s power. Cordless lawnmowers that can run longer or cover more ground than others sometimes will not be able to cut through thicker varieties of grass such as St. Augustine or Bermuda grass.
You will also have the option of buying a mower with a removable battery or an integrated battery. Removable batteries do not hold as much charge as integrated batteries do. However if you have a particularly large lawn and run the risk of draining the battery before you are finished mowing it, a mower with a removable battery can be a good option, since you can switch out batteries during the job. Also, if your battery breaks or dies altogether, a removable one will be easier to replace than an integrated one.
2b. Deck Size and Cutting Swath
The next feature to consider when you are shopping for an electric lawn mower is its deck size, which is a shorthand way of describing the width of the mower’s cutting swath. A mower that has a wider deck size will cut your lawn in fewer passes, which will save both time and the amount of electricity you are using (which translates to saving money). An electric lawnmower with a twenty inch deck size will cut your lawn in 75% of the time a mower with a fifteen inch deck size can. But does less time necessarily mean you will be doing less work? Not exactly.
A larger lawnmower will be heavier and therefore a bit harder to maneuver around your yard. Also, the fact that it will be cutting through more grass at once than a smaller mower will make it harder to push through that grass. This is especially true if your lawn is planted with thicker varieties like St. Augustine or Bermuda grass. The extra work will drain the battery more quickly, which can be a problem if you have a larger lawn. And the heavier mower can be a problem if you have a slight build. If you are a burly, strong person, it will not be as much of a problem. Finally, a more compact mower will not take up as much space in your garage or tool shed, which will make it a bit easier to store if you are running short on space.
Generally speaking, then, it may be best to look for a mower with a deck size that is neither too wide (more than about twenty inches) or too small (less than about fourteen inches). A mower that splits the difference will provide a good compromise between the number of passes you will have to make and the difficulty of maneuvering it around your yard and storing it in your garage.
2c. Grass Management
The next thing to look at when you are shopping for an electric mower is the kind of grass management options that are offered. The kind you want depends on how you typically prefer to manage the grass, and whether you want to have several options available. Mowers can either shoot grass clipping out the side, or they can collect them in a bag for mulching and disposal, or they can mulch the clippings back into the lawn. Which do you typically prefer to do? If you are fine having the clippings shoot out the side, and then raking or sweeping them up after, then you only need a mower with that option. But if you would rather have the mower do all that work for you, so that you just have to dump the grass clippings into the trash or compost pile, then a mower with an attached bag is right for you. If you prefer to mulch your lawn – which is a great way to help the overall health of the lawn as well as prevent invasions by weeds – then you should look for a mower that offers that option as well.
But maybe you prefer to mulch the lawn in the backyard, bag the clippings in the front yard for disposal, and shoot the clipping out the side along walkways. Or perhaps you do not want to mulch the clippings back into the lawn every single time you mow. Maybe one person in your household likes to sweep up the grass clippings, and another prefers to have them bagged by the mower. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then you should look for a mower that offers all three options. These mowers will be a bit more expensive than those that only offer one grass management option, so you should shop wisely, and find a good compromise between what you need the mower to do and how much you want to spend.
2d. Height Adjustment
The next important thing to consider when you are shopping for an electric lawn mower concerns height adjustment. Height adjustment is important because according to lawn care experts you should never cut your grass to less than thirty percent of its overall height. This is, in fact, more important than how tall the grass should be after you have mowed it. If you cut your grass at a level shorter than thirty percent of its overall height, it weakens it, leaving it more susceptible to disease and less resilient in the event of a hot, dry spell. Grass that is cut too short is more likely to turn brown or yellow during heat waves – even if you do water it regularly. The height of the grass will be variable when you mow it for a variety of reasons: you may have gone out of town for a few weeks or otherwise neglected to mow it; or, even if you do mow it on a regular schedule that you never deviate from, it will grow faster or slower at different times during the year. So it is important to be able to adjust the height of the mower to correspond to the height of the grass.
There are two aspects of height adjustment that you should consider. The first concerns the ease with which the mower’s height can be adjusted. Some mowers have a separate lever to adjust each wheel, and these can sometimes be difficult to adjust precisely so that the mower is level. Other mowers have a single level that adjusts the height of all four wheels simultaneously, although these can sometimes be hard to operate. Check what kind of height adjustment system the mower uses, and look at online reviews or other users’ feedback to find out about the ease of operating the height adjustment.
The second aspect of height adjustment to consider concerns how many height options the mower offers as well as the range of height. It is best to have a mower with at least four height options; some come with as many as six or seven. You also want to make sure the height range is between 1.5 inches and four inches.
2e. Starting Mechanism and Safety Features
Next, look into what kind of starting mechanism and safety features the lawnmower offers. One of the great advantages electric mowers have over gas powered mowers is the fact that you do not have to prime the engine and pull a heavy starter cord to get them going. But there are still different options for starting the mower. Some are started by inserting a key and pulling a starter handle. Others use a key and starter button option. Those that start by pulling a starter handle often have a safety mechanism built into the lawnmower’s operation: if you let go of the handle, the mower shuts off. This is an excellent way to minimize the risk of accidents, but it also means you can’t let go of the handle at any time while you are operating the lawnmower.
Some lawnmowers also offer a safety option that requires the user to insert and turn a child-proof plastic key before you turn it on. If you have small children, this is an excellent safety feature. Other safety features that lawnmowers offer include guards or shields around the deck to prevent small rocks from being flung out of the mower by the blades, prevent the user from adjusting the height while the lawnmower is running, and a heavy rubber flap on the back to protect the user’s feet from debris.
2f. Push Type vs. Self Propelled
Finally, you will have to decide whether you want to buy a push type lawnmower or one that has a motor to propel it. Self propelled lawnmowers are going to be a bit more expensive than push type mowers, but they have several advantages. If you are buying a large, heavy mower with a wide deck, or if you have thick grass like St. Augustine or Bermuda grass, a self propelled mower will be easier to operate. A self propelled mower will also take much of the work out of mowing your lawn regardless of what kind of grass you have, which can do a lot to save your back and legs from strain.
On the other hand, if you have a relatively small lawn with Kentucky bluegrass or Tall Fescue, you probably do not need a self propelled mower and will do just fine with a push type mower. Also, a push type mower will have fewer parts that could potentially break down or need maintenance, and will be cheaper in the long run.