For many decades, gas powered lawn mowers dominated the market. Although manual and electric mowers have existed for a long time, their inferior performance inhibited sales. However, in recent years, rechargeable electric mowers and even robotic models have made great strides. Improved performance and extended battery life have driven sales, and now electric and robotic mowers are viable options for many homeowners.
Battery-Powered Electric Mowers
Early electric mowers required a cord, which was inconvenient at best and at worst, downright dangerous. Today’s battery-powered electric mowers are cord-free, running on rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs that generally hold a charge long enough to cut one-third of an acre, and the purchase of additional batteries can extend mowing time and acreage considerably. Some brands even offer interchangeable batteries that work with their other outdoor tools.
Battery-powered mowers come in both push and self-propelled models, and they offer many advantages over their gas-powered cousins. Electric
mowers tend to be lighter and therefore more maneuverable. They offer an easy push button start, run quietly and are much easier to maintain since they don’t require constant tune-ups or oil changes. Regular recharging and occasional cleaning and blade sharpening are all you need to keep your electric mower in top condition.
Best of all, electric mowers have improved substantially in terms of performance. Last year Consumer Reports even proclaimed that the best battery-powered electric mowers cut grass just as well as gas-powered mowers.
There are few drawbacks to electric mowers. If you have a large yard, you’ll probably want to invest in a gas-powered riding lawn mower that doesn’t require recharging or a battery switch every third of an acre. Also, electric mowers do come with a higher price tag than comparable gas mowers, although you’ll make up the difference over time since you won’t be paying for gas, oil or tune-ups.
Much like the robotic vacuums that have become so popular, robotic mowers have been gradually improving and coming down in price. Current prices start at almost double the price of the best electric push-behind models, however.
Surprisingly, some robotic models can handle up to half an acre of grass, and although most models work best on relatively flat lawns, newer models claim to work on inclines up to 30 degrees. Keep in mind that robotic mowers cannot handle tall grass. If you procrastinate and your grass gets too high, you’ll have to use a push mower to cut the grass down to a manageable height for the robot. Some have a programmable feature to run on a set schedule to help with this issue.
Robotic mowers vary in battery capacity, deck size, decibel level and ability to dodge flower beds, trees and other obstructions, so it’s important to comparison shop based on your yard’s needs. All models require wires installed around the perimeter of the yard to maintain mowing boundaries, and some include anti-theft features, rain sensors and mobile controls.
Early adopters have complained that the robotic mowers are difficult to set up—some requiring professional help—and that the guide wires break easily, getting snagged when people walk through the yard. However, if you have a flat yard of less than half an acre, watching your lawn mower do all the work while you sip lemonade in the hammock may be well worth the extra cash.
Check out our recent post for tips on choosing a manual or gas powered mower. If you haven’t already, scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email to receive our digital newsletter so you never miss a thing!