For decades, lawnmowers were gas-guzzling, emissions-spewing beasts that were difficult to start and loud enough to wake up the neighborhood. But the new generation of electric-powered models is changing the lawn care game.
Although gas-powered models still dominate the ranks of the big box stores, a growing number of affordable electric mowers now provide a compelling alternative, whether your priority is power, convenience or durability. If you’re in the market, you have more options than ever – and the best electric lawn mowers are now good enough to compete with their gas-powered rivals. We’ll break down the pros and cons of electric and gas lawn mowers to help you make a buying decision.
Pro: Electric mowers are quieter
Lawnmowers are noisy. While standard gas-powered lawnmowers typically operate at 95 decibels—equivalent to the noise produced by a motorcycle revving its engine—electric lawnmowers average about 75 decibels, closer to the noise of a washing machine. If you live in a neighborhood, an electric lawnmower is the less disruptive option.
Minus: Shorter operating times
Once you start mowing, you want the job done in one fell swoop – but that may not be possible with an electric mower, especially if you have a sizable plot of land. Electric models max out at between 45 to 60 minutes per charge, which should be enough to treat up to half an acre of grass.
Some electric lawn mowers, such as this Sun Joe “hover” cable model. will provide unlimited mowing time as long as you have a power source or a long enough extension cord. However, most electric models run on batteries and offer a run time of 20 to 45 minutes. If it takes you longer to mow your yard, that’s going to be a problem – or at least a delay while you recharge. You can keep a second battery on hand, but this will require an additional purchase.
Pro: Easier to maneuver and less maintenance
A gas-powered lawnmower requires periodic maintenance, including possibly changing the spark plug, oil filter, and air filter. However, electric lawnmower components require less regular maintenance, which should increase your savings in the long run. Thus, the electric model can be more economical than the gas-powered counterpart.
Most electric lawn mowers are also relatively lightweight, making them easier to move across your lawn and maneuver around tight corners. Our top electric pick, the EGO Power Plus, weighs 62.6 pounds—making it significantly lighter than the Craftsman M250, which weighs an impressive 90 pounds. Although the self-propelled engine improves maneuverability when mowing the lawn, the mower is still heavy to push.
Pro: Better for the environment
Gasoline-powered engines produce a surprising amount of carbon emissions and a host of pollutants. According to the California Air Resources Board, one hour of mowing generates the same pollution as driving a car for 300 miles. And the Environmental Protection Agency says gas lawn mowers contribute to the majority of non-road-related air pollution generated nationwide.
Electric lawnmowers are a much cleaner and energy efficient alternative. The Electric Power Research Institute notes that if we replaced half of gas-powered lawn mowers with electric models, it would reduce the same amount of emissions as taking 2 million vehicles off the road. This is certainly an important factor to consider when purchasing a new mower.
Minus: Electric mowers are not as powerful
Lawnmower power is measured by torque, which quantifies the driving force behind the rotation of the blade. The higher the torque, the more powerful the cutting motion – and the less likely the mower will get stuck or caught in a clump of grass or other obstruction.
The average electric lawn mower has between 2 and 2.5 lb-ft of torque. The average gas powered mower is between 4.5 and 8.75 lb-ft, which is about three times the power. This means that a gas powered lawnmower will make it easier to tackle challenging terrain such as hills, dips and slopes in your yard. And homeowners with larger lawns or yards with hills or slopes may require heavier equipment like a lawn mower. While most lawn mowers are gas-powered, there are electric ones on the market, like this Ryobi model.
Pro: They can be cheaper
If you are looking for a new lawnmower, a regular electric lawnmower is cheaper than a regular gas lawnmower.
Electric models can start at around $100, the price for Sun Joe is circling model tested by CNET experts, but it’s a particularly cheap diversion. Most rear push electric models can cost anywhere from $250 to $550.
Prices for gas powered lawn mowers can start around $200-$250. But the most popular lawnmower brands have basic gas-powered models that fall in the $400 to $1.00 price range. Some gas lawnmowers can even go as high as $2,500.
Overall, the lawnmower market continues to expand, with a range of diverse offerings. For homeowners with larger yards, gas-powered mowers may still be the best fit, as they have the durability and power to handle larger lawns with ease. That is if you are comfortable with the environmental impact of gas lawn mowers.
If you want to maintain an average-sized yard, reduce your carbon footprint (and even save some money) in the process, then an electric lawn mower is probably best for your needs. Whichever route you choose can help you achieve a healthy lawn that increases your home’s curb appeal and value.
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