Right now is an excellent time to consider an electric lawn mower. First of all, they’re much better for the environment than gas models. In fact, some areas of the country are planning to ban fossil fuel-powered lawn care tools outright.
Today’s crop of electric mowers is also the most capable yet, and a few rival the grass-cutting power of traditional gas-burning machines. Electric lawn mowers have dropped in price, too, making them a competitive alternative to old-school solutions. Best of all, operating an electric lawn mower costs less than a gas mower. That’ll save you cash down the road.
So if you’ve been eyeing these gizmos in the outdoor aisle with curiosity, this guide is for you. Here I’ll explain what electric lawn mowers are all about and why you just might be tempted to snap one up.
Mower types and coverage area
Just like gas machines, electric mowers come in three main categories: push, self-propelled and riding. There are basic push models that provide a motor to spin the mower blades only. You have to provide the energy (muscle) to push and maneuver these mowers around a yard yourself. That makes push mowers best suited for small backyards, up to a quarter-acre in size. Push mowers tend to cost the least amount of money.
One step up is a self-propelled model. You still walk behind these mowers and steer them, but they have an additional motor to power the wheels. Some machines even boast variable speeds for more control as you mow. This enables these mowers to tackle yards up to a half-acre in size.
If you need to maintain a large lawn of up to 2 acres, a riding mower is the way to go. Most of these machines are of the zero-turn variety: They can turn on a dime, mow fast and offer lots of cutting power. And the latest model from Ego even lets you add up to six battery packs at once. The company says this enables the mower to handle up to 5 acres without a recharge.
The upfront price
Electric lawn mowers can cost as little as $230 for a bare-bones model. Keep in mind that this is the price for just the mower itself: Batteries and charger are not included. Expect to pay between $400 and $500 for a kit that includes at least one battery pack and charger.
By comparison, self-propelled gas mowers from name brands can cost a little less (under $300). That said, some models can be closer to $900. You can always shell out more for bundles with multiple batteries in the mix. Hardware stores even sell beefed-up packages that typically include several batteries and maybe compatible electric yard care tools, such as string trimmers and leaf blowers.
Save money over time
Not spewing out noxious fumes and creating less noise pollution isn’t the only upside to electric lawn mowers: You’ll save in the long run because you also eliminate trips to the gas station. For example, the typical self-propelled gas mower has a tank capacity of 0.25 gallons — usually enough fuel for a half-acre mowing session.
Right now, the average price of gas in the US is $4.21 per gallon. That comes to about $1.05 per mow. You should mow your lawn once a week, and the mowing season is four months long, so expect to spend $16.85 per year on gas. It doesn’t sound like much… but over 10 years, that’s $169.
Now, let’s calculate the cost of fueling an electric mower. The current average price for electricity in the US is 14 cents per kilowatt-hour. Let’s also assume that we need to charge a robust 56-volt battery from a capable machine. Rated at 7.5 amps, this battery needs a charge time of an hour. That means prepping this mower for one session costs $0.58. This translates to $9.28 per year and $92.80 over 10 years.
So by moving over to electric power, we’ve saved $76.20 after a decade. Not too bad.
Other factors will certainly affect your bottom line. That includes variables like the price of gas and electricity in your area. Even so, you’ll likely pocket at least a little extra if you pick electric over gas, which is always nice. I also didn’t mention the added cost of other gas mower components such as spark plugs, air filters and oil.
I’ll bet switching to an electric mower is beginning to have serious appeal. I don’t blame you: It is for me, too. And the neighbors will probably give you a thumbs-up as well.