The 9 Best Electric Lawn Mowers
Something's Always Got To Burn
One of the things that draws consumers to electric mowers is that they seem to be a cleaner means of cutting your lawn than their gas powered brothers.
This is true at the ground level. You won't have to deal with the noxious exhaust spewing out of your mower in a cloud of stinky sadness if you go with electric.
Also, the kilowatt hour cost to charge a battery powered mower is usually less than a dollar, making it that much more economically feasible than gas. There are no spark plugs to change, no oil to gauge or filters to replace. Really, there's a lot to like about these electric units.
But we should be clear about one thing: the majority of electricity in this country comes from burning coal, which has its own set of environmental terrors to it, from mountaintop removal to the horrendous pollution of water sources around mines, as well as the carbon emissions from coal fired power plants.
Am I telling you not to get a powered mower at all, to go out and get a push mower that might drive you mad with the sheer effort of it? Absolutely not.
In fact, the point I'm making is that, even if stationary coal emissions come with their own problems, your electric mower will get progressively greener as the grid does. That makes it the best possible investment in your lawn care future.
The Question Of The Cord
With electric mowers, the biggest question is whether to go with a corded model or to get yourself a battery operated unit.
When I was 11, I went around the neighborhood with a corded electric mower offering lawn service for $20. It was a lucrative summer. I did three to four lawns each day for three or four days a week, depending on the weather. I worked in the morning, and had the rest of the days ahead of me.
Which is all to say that I have some experience with the cord wrangling that a corded electric mower necessitates.
I was a kid, so I made a game of it, treating the cord like a lasso and playing at being a cowboy. I was a big Gene Autry fan in those days. It was necessary for my sanity, even at 11, so I could only imagine what it's like to work a corded mower with the less childlike mind of an adult.
You're almost always going to get more power out of a corded electric, as the battery powered mowers need to conserve as much energy as possible to get the most out of their charge.
I could never have done my summer schedule with a battery powered model simply because after one or two lawns it would need to be recharged. Then I never could have afforded my first guitar, which, for the record, was a great little knock-off stratocaster made by Fernandes.
If you have a very large yard, and you like to take your time with your mowing, to really enjoy being outside in your space, you might be better served by a corded model. This is also true if you have especially gnarly grass, as corded models can cut with more force.
If you've got a smaller space with lighter grass, a battery powered unit will save you time in cord management, and valuable hours otherwise spent in psychotherapy.
Lawnmowers With Horsepower
If you want to get technical, the first lawnmowers weren't really lawn mowers in the way we think of them today. They were animals, grass grazing animals, to be specific.
Keeping animals on your lot for milk, meat, or wool would also provide you with a free (and often delicious) source of grass management.
Still, some land owners, gardeners, and groundskeepers found that the scythe was awfully labor intensive. In the 1830s, the first lawnmower cropped up in England, and it was more or less identical to the kinds of push mowers that are still produced today.
As with most such innovations, though, advancement was inevitable, and before long mowers were bigger, and were often pulled along by the very animals that land owners once relied on to eat the grass.
Around the turn of the 20th century, gas powered motors increased the power and efficiency of the common lawnmower, and those specs, along with nuances in collecting and distributing cut grass, the fine adjustment of cutting height, and the weight and durability of materials have all been tweaked to near perfection over the last century.
Now, we move with confidence in the electric direction, with mowers at least as powerful as the gas powered units sold alongside them. And the landscape will only get greener as solar and wind power make their way deeper and deeper into the grid.